November Fall Photos

Hi beauties!

Yesterday the foliage in NJ hit it’s peak! My best friend and I made sure we took advantage of the fall aesthetics before winter creeps upon us with a fun photoshoot. By next weekend, all of the beautiful golden and red leaves will have fallen off the trees and I will have to stare at barren forestry for the next 6 months. UGH. As the leaves die they are beautiful, but once they have fallen and are actually dead, everything turns gray for many months and it is so dreadful. And this daylight savings nonsense has me feeling some type of way with it being 5:30pm and PITCH DARK outside. Either way – I really like the vibe from all of these photos!

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My best friend and I go out multiple times a year and take fun photos of each other! It’s something we’ve always done and always have fun doing. I just wanted to share some of the images with you. I feel very introspective/introverted lately in the sense of not sharing my feelings with people as I figure out my own way to process what I need to. These images reflect those sentiments, and I decided to work a lot with my hands to abstract how I’ve been feeling.

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Confused, random, sleepy, happy, feminine, and grungy are all words I would use to describe my current emotional state and these photographs. Many of my most favorite images from these were taken when I wasn’t trying to make anything particularly beautiful, and it’s really amazing to see what my best friend decided to capture – purposefully and accidentally – and see what she thought was beautiful about these moments.

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We traveled to a nearby farm near rolling mountains and fields of dead corn stalks as one of our backdrops. There is something about setting sunlight which makes everything seem angelic and feel okay.

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I am so fortunate to have such an amazing best friend. Her name is Kelsie, and if you get a chance definitely check out her photography Instagram. It is at the handle @kdeckerpics. She is a phenomenal lady and artist!

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I hope you like these images because they bring me some joy! They remind me of all of the onlookers who gave us funny looks or car honks from where we were taking photos, and all of the funny moments trying to create a cool image.

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday babes. Thanks for reading.

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Photoshoot with Jessica Warren Portraits

Hi everyone!

I had the privlege of working with another photographer this summer! Her name is Jessica Warren and she is based out of Philadelphia. She is new to the dance photography realm, but she needed models for practice photos and I was able to help her out! My shoot with her seemed to be more of a learning resource for her instead since she is very new to the dance photography niche.

These photos are a bit roughly edited, however, they are pretty nonetheless. The key to dance photography is great lighting, accurate timing, and the willingness for the dance and photographer to move about the room A LOT to get the right angle for the right shot. Some of these photos would have looked better at other angles, but the results were still beautiful.

I am wearing a charcoal gray set from Double Platinum Emballe line sold at DiscountDance.com, and a one-piece leotard dress from Capezio.com. I LOVE both of these dance outfits so much, and they photographed so nicely.

I love taking dance photos, and can’t wait for fall foliage to be able to shoot some photos outside surrounded by color! It is incredible to think I set my mind to making 2018 my year, and I’ve been falling into so many amazing opportunities!

What do you think of the photographs? How do you like them?

Happy Sunday!

xoxo

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2018 Goal Check-In

Hi ladies and gents!

I realized this month is almost over, which means 2018 is 2/3 of the way through! We only have 4 more months of 2018 (I really can’t believe it), and although it is not too much time, it is still a significant amount of time to get sh*t done!

At the start of this year, my goals included being persistant in the pursuit of my dreams… It’s quite vague really. I didn’t know what to specify because I had so many goals and so many options up in the air, I was very confused as to where I was headed and where I wanted to go. I am certain now, however, that 2018 has been a year to work on many goals relating to my bigger dreams. My dreams relating to dancing, training, and constantly growing.

Below is a list of my goals, and some updates on where I’m at with them!

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Photography by John DeSanto

Dancing professionally: This year, I’ve had the pleasure to continue dancing for the company I dance with in Hudson Valley, NY; in addition to landing some apprentice positions in companies based in New York City. This month has been particularly demanding, as I’ve been auditioning my butt off for a bunch of different NYC-based companies, some of which I am still waiting to hear back from. The fall is looking like it will be really busy for me commuting in and out of NYC (especially in October), so I cannot wait to see how much farther I will go!

Graduate School for dance/movement therapy: I did a LOT of research, and finally found another dance/movement therapy program I want to attend (that is also low-residency!!). It is at Lesley University in Massachusetts, and they actually were ready to admit me in the spring before I even submitted an actual application! I would have sent in my application as well, but I attended the American Dance Festival for June and July, and the timing of the festival interfered with the first summer session for the graduate program. Alas, I am not in graduate school (YET!), but I will definitely be applying in the fall for this summer (2019)! Fingers crossed!

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Photography by John DeSanto

Barre instructor certification: As you all probably saw, I’ve been working on my certification for Xtend Barre (see my post if you are not familiar! Xtend Barre Training). I am very close to finishing my certification and being able to teach my own classes! I will keep you all posted when I do. This is something I’ve wanted to do for years, so the fact that it is actually happening is SO exciting!

Travel: I road-tripped down to the American Dance Festival and had the most AMAZING 6 weeks ever (see I’m Back and Ready to MOVE!). I tried new food, new drinks, made so many new friends and connections, and experienced so much! I always wanted to attend the American Dance Festival, and I made it happen (on scholarship no less!). I also can now say I drove from North Carolina back home, by myself, in only 9 hours! It was incredible, and I hope I can take a few more smaller, fun trips with friends before the year is over!

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Photography by John DeSanto

This is where I am at right now with my goals and my life, and I am so excited to see what the last third of 2018 has in store! I am sure there will be plenty more dances to be danced, and projects to completed before we can kiss 2018 goodbye and welcome 2019 with open arms. But I am not ready to look to 2019 (not yet anyway) – there is still so much to do in 2018!

How are the goals you set at the new year coming? Are you working towards any or all of them?! Let me know in the comments 🙂 I would love to hear how you all are crushing it!

Xoxo

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Is Being a “Professional Dancer” an Achieved Status or a Mindset?

Hello everybody!

Today I want to address something important. This is especially important for all of my fellow dancers who are just coming out of a college dance program, or those who are only one or two years removed from undergrad.

See, in undergraduate dance programs, the professors and dance directors warn students that finding professional work is hard (Most do, but if not, than THEY SHOULD). They say the performer life is hard because a lot of professional dance company work (especially in NYC) is unpaid, or a stipend is the only compensation for MONTHS of time and energy put into rehearsals. They warn students they will hear more “No’s” then “Yes’s”. They even warn students that most of the time, they will be paid more to teach dance than to perform dance.

When young dance graduates find a company or dance project to work with, how do they handle putting in a ton of effort for little or sometimes no pay? Does little or lack of pay make what they’re doing any less “professional”? If the company someone dances for doesn’t offer benefits or a steady income, is she not as “professional” as someone who dances for a company that does provide those benefits and income?

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I’ve discovered a lot in this past year removed from undergraduate school. What I’ve discovered is all of what my dance director and professors warned me about is true. I’ve discovered I will see the same 60 people at every small contemporary/modern dance company audition because we all want the same jobs. I discovered I will pay more money to commute in and out of NYC to audition for jobs and companies that are not even willing to pay me even if I was hired.

However, I also discovered that the small companies and dance projects I work on require just as much time and energy as projects within a “bigger” company would. If I am working on a contemporary dance piece for a private, small company that requires unpaid weekly company class/rehearsal, and weekend rehearsals/traveling/shows, what separates the professionalism of that situation from a company who does the same thing but has a more well-known name (ie: Paul Taylor Company, Alvin Ailey)?

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Is it because more well-known companies are established and have a historical legacy? Yes, that probably has something to do with it. And it makes sense to feel that way when people perform with a small dance company not many people have heard of. But, if I take myself and my work seriously, I will be viewed seriously. And if I am viewed seriously in my dance endeavors, why would I not be viewed as a professional? Even if I do not necessarily like the choreography I am dancing, if I keep my attitude towards it professional, I will act and be viewed as such.

The title “dancer” or “artist” in general is very unspecified. Just because someone doesn’t have a piece of their art in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC doesn’t make them any less of an artist. If they are mentally and physically invested in what they are creating, they are a creator. They are an artist because they view themselves as one! Granted, if the opporunity arose to have art displayed in the MET or to dance with New York City Ballet for example, obviously those achievements are milestones in someone’s artistic career that should be celebrated. However, what I’m saying is not any one who makes artwork can call themselves an artist (although they did create something classified as artwork).

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A real artist or dancer (in my context) is someone who is investing most of their time and sometimes even most of their life to their craft. They are the people who are constantly in search of improvement and knowledge in their field, while simultaneously teaching others about their craft through sharing their craft with others and with their community. Their mindset is focused on consistently bettering their art.

Let me put it this way – the CEO of a Fortune 500 company doesn’t walk into work everyday thinking she or he cannot handle the day, and that their job responsibilities are outside of their skillset. No. The people who make it to CEO, CFO, principal dancer, company soloist, “professional”, etc. KNOW their worth and they KNOW their skillset. That is why they are in those positions. They believe they can handle whatever tasks are thrown their way because this is what their years of training, education, and experience has prepared them for. Even if someone is dancing for a small company and is not being paid as much as much as she would like to be or thinks she deserves to be, it is still an achievement and progress to have made it into a company after graduating a college dance program.

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In short, professionalism begins with the right mindset. The more someone believes they are a professional, the more they will begin to act like one. And once opportunities arise, even in small companies (or small art galleries!), the more it will reinforce the professional mindset. This mindset is what will bring someone to where they want to end up in their field (dance, art, business, whatever!).

Aim high, shoot higher. Don’t lose sight of who and where you want to be.

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Dancers, Fairies, and Road Trips!

Hello beautiful readers!

Holy apologies – I have been so absent lately for good reason, and I wanted to update you all on my life and tell you what is coming next for me!

Last week was my final week of teaching, and my final week of rehearsals for the company’s big show. On Saturday June 9, the Warwick Dance Collective presented A Midsummer Night’s Dream ballet, and I danced the roles of a lead fairy attendant and a maid of honor at the triple wedding in act II.  (See Related)

Related: A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Fairy Makeup and Hair

I am not a ballerina, however, the company I dance with right now performs mostly ballet, and I am trying to teach myself how to dance gracefully in pointe shoes! This show was particularly challenging because I have never danced en pointe in a show for any longer than 5 min. I realized the brand of pointe shoes I’ve been rehearsing in are not the best shoe for my feet.

Anyway, there will be official video and pictures emailed to me, but below are images of my official fairy/bridesmaid makeup, and a picture my dad snapped of me from the audience.

In addition to having a fun time performing, I was accquainted with new dancers! My director brought in all of the male dancers from other companies, and they were all so fun and kind. I’ve never met a better bunch of dancers to work with on a project! Although hectic, overall Midsummers was a great experience!

The following day, Sunday June 10, I drove 10 hours south to the American Dance Festival in Durham, NC! The drive was not bad, and my mom came with me. I drove all 10 hours because I wanted to see if I would be able to do it when I was that tired – and I did! I was exhausted from my crazy week, but I knew it would be a push from show weekend until the end of ADF.

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Can’t stop won’t stop! Am I right?

I am officially here, and my first day of work was today. I am working in the performances office, and I am so excited I have the opportunity to meet a lot of the choreographers who come to dance, teach, and perform at the festival. Today, they literally put my ass to WERK. I did so much manual labor I feel like my arms are going to fall off. And tomorrow I have to pick up dancers of Shen Wei Dance Arts from the Raleigh/Durham airport. Crazy right? I might be picking up the ACTUAL Shen Wei – uhmm what?! So cool!

Thursday is the official start of this year’s festival, and I have a crazy weekend coming up as well. There will be a lot of auditions, classes, and work to do so I may not get around to posting until Sunday to let you all know about my week. I am going to do a summer series of ADF posts on my journey here, my work, progress, and the adventures I find myself on!

Also, I just want to quickly shout out my beautiful mother for being an ABSOLUTE ANGEL and driving with me, going food shopping for me, helping me move in, and providing more love and nurturing than I deserve! She helped me prepare and execute SO MUCH for this trip, and this trip would not have been as comfortable or smooth if she was not here to help me. So thank you momma! I love you!

Until next time, I hope you all have an amazing week!

Xoxo

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