... dance, fitness, food, health, life...

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Sexy AND warm mission accomplished!

Can't write much - must start my party prep with a quick nap and the time is a-tickin'! - but must report on the NYE get-up...

As of this morning, I still had no idea what my NYE outfit was going to be... this was unacceptable. So, despite being hella tired from a late night out last night with my former roomie but forever partner in crime Nicodemus (not her real name, but my name for her... and a very long story as to why she has a dude's biblical name... mwah ha ha), I ventured out in search of something that would be comfy, warm and sexy all at once.

I tell you what, Ross Dress for Less never lets me down. NEVER. In a time and money pinch, I always find something. I usually find too much, actually, but that's besides the point.

Today Ross provided me with a cute jersey (comfy) boat neck sweater dress (warm). Oh, and it's a mini-dress, taking care of the sexy. And it was only $8!!! Fo' shizzle! Add to it some black tights, silver jewelry, my tall Italian black boots and some rockin' hair, and I'm good to go. Game on, New Year's Eve!

Okay, nap time... eeeeeeeh, I might be too excited to sleep!!...


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Staying in shape thanks to Billy Blanks

That's right, the 90's Tae Bo phenom. When I don't have dance classes to take, a gym to go to or it's too friggin' cold outside to want to do anything out there, I rely on my good ol' Tae Bo videos, circa 1999. Before there was Zumba, before there was Jillian Michaels' Shred, there was Billy Blanks' Tae Bo!

(an original video cover)

I remember Tae Bo classes being offered at a local Tae Kwon Do dojo (dojo? is that the right word??) back in the day. I religiously attended. I loved the total ass-kicking. All good things must come to an end, though, so once I didn't have the funds to keep paying my membership dues, I quit the classes. But I couldn't quit Billy, so I bought the videos.

Tae Bo will rock your socks. It still rocks mine, every time I dust of the ol' VHS (yes, I still own a VCR). I use my "newer" DVD (circa 2003) for cardio, but go back to the 1999 VHS for the ab and butt conditioning. Holy shiz-zam! Nothing has transformed my body like dance has, but Tae Bo is a very, very close second. And my dance teachers always tell us to cross-train, so this is my cross-training of choice.

I even have Billy's book...

(awwww, I just love him)

Billy isn't just about chiseled abs, even though you will be well on your way to getting them with his workouts... he uses a holistic approach, constantly mentioning your "heart" and "spirit" in his videos. On his website, he describes Tae Bo as a "combination of self-awareness and control of martial arts, the focus and strength of boxing, and the grace and rhythm of dance." Some might think his holistic focus weird, but I'm totally on board. Because, really, if you aren't fully engaged mind, body and spirit with transforming your life to a healthier place, it ain't gonna work.

Once upon a time I was a certified aerobics instructor, and I remember dreaming about going out to Cali someday to get Tae Bo certified and meeting Billy. I don't think you can get certified anymore, but I could still meet him! Who knows, maybe I will someday?

If Zumba or Shred is your thang, more power to you... seriously, I'm not dissin' either one. You have to find your groove and I've always been a HUGE proponent of physical fitness and health, so whatever gets you moving, do it, no excuses. But my loyalties always have been and always will be with Billy.


Monday, December 28, 2009

Take a peek under the ballet tights and you will find fishnets...

Who'da thought that a little musical about a playboy Italian film director in the 1960's trying to regain his artistic mojo while balancing a handful of sexy, beautiful women, would bring back my mojo???


Go see Nine. NOW. Even if musicals aren't your thing, or if you're a dude and you think that it's a chick movie... puh-lease. There is enough eye candy in this movie to go around twice and still have some left over!

I can't get the title song out of my head... Beeeeee Ital-ian!... And it's taking every bit of self-control to not start dancing around my apartment like a sassy jazz dancer... 'cause I can. Oh yes, I can.

You see, once upon a time, long before ballet and modern and the CSU dance department, I rocked the retro, vintage scene as a swing dancer...

(I'm the one on the far left, all up in A's business...)

And in the midst of my days as a swing cat, I did some more "cabaret" style jazz from time to time...

(I hypnotize yet another man with my swagger...)

This included some French Can Can dancing and some Fosse-style jazz (think Velma Kelly in Chicago). Back in those days, I had sass... I had passion... I came alive on stage... not to say the dancing I do now doesn't feed me, but, well... it's more like beans and rice. Jessi wants champagne and filet mignon and creme brulee...


I'm bringing my inner cabaret, burlesque, Fosse jazz dancer back. She's been hidden away for far too long. I'm pulling out my fishnet tights, my feather boas and my red lipstick. I'm getting my derriere into jazz classes. Local studios re-open classes next week and I will be there, even if I have to sell most of my stuff to pay for classes.

Last night, I saw a couple of dance friends from this bygone era of my dance life while they were in town for the holidays... one guy now lives in New York City, and the other in LA. Both are making a living dancing. I asked my LA friend, whom I mentioned in my previous post, for some professional advice... I asked him what is one of the most important things I can do right now to prepare myself before I head out into the professional world. He told me to find my niche. Know who I am as a dancer and a performer. And hone in on this, fine tune it, announce it to the world. Directors and choreographers will see it shine in auditions and that is what will land me jobs.

So there you go. I don't know why I pushed it back, tucking it away in the back of the closet, thinking I was done once I started ballet and modern training... but I'm not done. The fishnets and feathers and cleavage and crimson lips and bedhead hair in Nine reignited the fire, reminding me what really gets me all jazzed...


Holiday blues

I wish I could echo what most of you lovelies have posted about your own Christmases, but I would be lying. And I'm not a good liar. The whole heart-on-my-sleeve thing? Oh, I've got it down to a science.

So, my Christmas was disappointing. I'm not talking presents or anything material... presents are always very minimal in my family, which is okay... a very tight budget is our reality, and you learn to live with it. And for me, that's not what it's all about anyway. It's about the heart and love and all that smarmy Christmas cheer, none of which was in abundance this year. Some family drama went down about a week prior to Christmas, setting the mood for everyone. I did try... I baked cookies, I cheerfully wrapped gifts, I listened to Christmas music and watched holiday movies... all of which put me in the Christmas spirit, but once I actually got to the fam's house, it all disappeared. I felt anxious and edgy until the moment I got back into my car and drove home.

Unfortunately, this was not the first Christmas like this. Each time it's happened, I tell myself that the next year I will just take myself to Mexico or Europe and have a holiday that I enjoy... but of course, the reality of me doing that is pretty slim. I mean, for me, Christmas should be spent with loved ones. That would be hard to accomplish if I'm somewhere else all alone. And, as each new holiday season approaches, I think that maybe it will turn out differently this time, that it will be happy and joyous and blah blah blah. And the cycle continues.

I feel bad about being so Scroogey, loves... that's why I didn't post sooner. Reading all your posts about your holidays made me feel guilty about being such a downer. I really wish I could say that my Christmas was full of good cheer... but like I said, I'm not good at lying. So, I'm glad Christmas is over. There, I said it. I feel better now.

I'm effing ready for the New Year. I'm ready to get back to dancing and eating normally. I'm ready to start new projects and get some shiz done! I've always loved New Years and the feeling of starting over. I get excited about making resolutions and goals. I love the anticipation of turning the calendar from December to January, the empty page wide open for so many new possibilities! So that's what I'm focusing on now... goals and resolutions are forming in my mind, ready to be put down on paper in just a few days.

AND, I'm going to go see Nine tonight with my friend K. The trailer gives me goosebumps, and a dancing friend who lives in LA (who got to see the preview with the cast back in October, the lucky dog!!) told me it's off the hook, so I'm crossing my fingers that I love it as much as I love Chicago... tonight, I will be Italian...


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Look out, Project Runway...

Well, as usual, I'm late... but in the spirit of my blog (and my life, really), better late than never!

First, the dance scoop... So as some of you might recall, I had some serious creative block at the beginning of the fall semester. I began choreographing a dance piece for the Student Dance Concert, and I had a general theme, found a couple songs to use and had an idea in my head what the finished result looked like... that is sort of how I roll with my choreography, as a side note. I get inspired by a song or an idea/theme, then I start seeing the final production in my head, onstage with lighting and costumes and everything, and then I start putting it together step by step. Well, I got as far as seeing it all in my head, but kept getting stuck with coming up with movement. I know every artist goes through this, myself being no exception, but it was worse than usual this semester.

Well of course I finally finished it. The theme of my piece is anti-racism... I used the song "Anne Braden" by The Flobots and an old spiritual called "Oh Freedom" (this version is cut short and more dramatic than how it was performed in my piece). Three of my dancers sang this song a Capella while the rest of us danced.

After I finished choreographing, I wasn't in love with it at first. I think I felt insecure about it since I struggled with it so much, plus I felt so much pressure to come up with movement that would match the significance of the songs' lyrics. But then during tech and dress rehearsals, I started getting positive feedback from peers and faculty. I stood out in the audience and watched during some rehearsals (I danced in this piece, which I won't repeat, for future reference... trying to choreograph a piece that you also dance in is hella difficult...) to check spacing, formations, etc., and was pleasantly surprised with how it had all come together. And I started to feel excited about it.

Then, a couple cool things happened... first, my piece was one of the student pieces selected to be featured in the Fall Dance Concert. Sweet! Then my roommate tells me that she knows a girl who is on the planning committee for Martin Luther King, Jr., events at CSU in January, and she wanted to talk to me about my piece potentially being included in the event lineup. I was very flattered by that! That didn't end up working out because they couldn't squeeze my dance into the schedule this late in the game, but now I'm talking with a guy who is planning a variety show in February for Black History Month and really wants my piece included. Again, I'm quite flattered! And to think that I was just going to write my piece off as a failure...

And now the costume scoop... I took Costume Design this semester, and for the final project I had to design and make a dance costume. It was to be for "Romeo and Juliet", but we could pick any time period, past, present or future. I decided to go with a Greco-Roman-inspired design, thinking that a tunic, or something like it, would be the easiest thing to sew. I was hella worried about this project, as I discussed in this post, since the most sewing I do are buttons that fall off my clothes or ribbons and elastics on my ballet shoes.

As some of you may recall, this is the picture that inspired my design...

I didn't have a pattern, and never found one that was close to what I had in mind, so my teacher actually helped me draw my own. It wasn't too hard, surprisingly. Then I got to cutting and sewing and oila! I have a costume!

Here are the pics... now, I'm no Project Runway contestant or DIY goddess like the lovely Maegan, but I'm pretty proud of myself on this little number. I surged a hem, I sewed bias tape at the neckline and arm hole, and I put a zipper in, y'all... boo-ya!

(the front)

(the side)

(the back)

Oh, and I got an A on the project... yay!!

So, yeah... if anyone needs any costume designing, I'm pretty much an expert now. You know who to call... ha!


Monday, December 21, 2009

I'm out of excuses... and I got nothin'.

I've been out of school for almost a week now, so I can't use that as an excuse as to why I'm not gracing the blogging pages with my profound ramblings... I don't really have too much left to do for Christmas - putting up my mini-tree took all of 1 hour last weekend, I don't mail out cards, I'm not baking this year and my shopping is almost done - so I can't blame Christmas, either... I guess I'm just uninspired to write. And that makes me sad.

"Uninspiration" seems to be the theme of my life over the past four months... some of you may recall my whining at the beginning of the semester about my struggling with ideas for choreography. And I never really mentioned this, but my spiral down the uninspiration drain continued steadily through the semester. The deeper I got the more frustrated I became, which just bred more uninspiration (I love that I'm repeatedly using a word that doesn't really exist!)... I finally finished my dance piece (which I have fun news about, btw!! more below...), but I just wasn't feeling the creative love in classes, with school projects (ooh, ooh, I have follow-up on my costume design project... more below...) and then eventually with my blog. UGH.

I'm still not sure the source of this creative apathy... I think about it a lot because I would love to purge myself or my life of it so I can get the show on the road with the writing and dance projects that are swirling around in my head... but seem stuck there in a nebulous, half-formed fog! But I'm not depressed about it or anything... I'm not wallowing in woe-is-me, self-pity about it all... it just nags at me like a mosquito that I haven't yet whacked. And good lord I'd love to whack that little beyotch...

SO! Fun news about my dance piece and the results of my costume design project... actually, I'm going to save it for tomorrow... mwah ha haaa!! Sorry... I luuuuurve being a little tease...

Toodles until then...

xoxo J

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Done with finals and a li'l award...

I'm done I'm done I'm done!

And holy whoa, I have SO much catching up to do with all of your blogs... I miss all your lovely bloggy faces!

I turned in my last final at 9:30 yesterday morning and promptly peaced out of there. And headed straight to the office cave. Back to being a 9-to-5 gal for four weeks... she works hard for the money [do doo, do doo]... so hard for it honey [do doo, do doo]...

Upon getting to work and checking my email, I discovered that the lovely Jen from Welcome to the Jungle surprised me with a blog award! Yay! Here it is:

The rules:
Copy the award image in your post.
Then, list 10 things that make you happy, try to do at least one of them today, and tag 10 bloggers that brighten your day.
For those 10 bloggers who get the award, you must link back to my blog!

10 things that make me a happy li'l camper...

1. Dancing (duh), but not just what I do at school... putting on some tunes that gives me no choice but to get down with my bad self is one of the quickest, easiest ways to make me genuinely happy down to my soul.

2. Good food and drink. I love making it, eating it, sharing it... the way to my heart is definitely through my stomach. Little did the BF know this when he made me the most amazing spread for our first/second date (we disagree on what our first date actually was, lol...). I was his, hook, line and sinker.

3. Beignets. Pronounced "ben-yays" for those who've never experienced these hot little French donuts of heaven. Breakfast is my favorite meal to go out for and my fave place, Lucile's, is known for their beignets. Eaten hot with their homemade strawberry-rhubarb jam, O...M...G....!!

4. Dogs. I love seeing the happy, tail-wagging doggies in the dog park next to where I have classes. They are just so content to repeatedly fetch the balls and sticks thrown by their owners and play with the other dogs. I wish my life were that easy.

5. New Years Eve. I think I get more jazzed about NYE than Christmas. I just love having a damn good time with friends while we eat yummy food and drink champagne (there's that food and drink thing again).

6. Travel. I love the feeling of getting on an airplane and going somewhere. I love seeing new things and meeting new people. Sometimes I get really, really antsy to just hop on a plane and GO... I've been experiencing this a ton lately... I have a very bad case of wanderlust, to the point where it physically hurts sometimes, and I've had this dull ache for weeks and weeks now... le sigh...

7. Warm, sunny weather, and everything associated with it... the pool, my bikini, the ocean, coconut-scented sunscreen, fruity drinks with little umbrellas in them...

8. Big cities... I love the pulse and energy of a big city, the myriad of things to do and see, the huge variety of people and languages and cultures, the shopping... oh, the shopping... dammit, Colorado, where is our H&M???

9. Laughter. It really is the best medicine. Laugh easily and often, I say!

10. My friends and family. They make me laugh, kick my ass when I need it and just plain make life an adventure... and I love me some adventure!

And now I pass this award on to eleven (sometimes I don't follow rules very well!) of my lovelies...

The West Meets Wisconsin

gabby, she wrote

It's Unbeweavable

... love Maegan


The Pilgrim Congress

Iva Messy

life is BANANAS

District of Chic

Brown Girl Blogs

BonBon Rose

Happy Thursday lovelies!!
xoxo J

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Quick, I only have 2 seconds!!

I'm buried under finals and birthday stuff... so... busy... no time... for... blogging...

Finals week is actually next week, but in Dance Department world, we started this week... wheeeeee!!

And YES, it's my birthday week!! Oh, heck yes, I celebrate for a week. The actual day was Tuesday... had a nice dinner, dessert and drinks with the BF... tonight I have a dinner theater date with my mom... Saturday night will be birthday margs with friends... LOVE my birthday!! I'm 31. Holy whoa. I don't feel in my 30s, honestly. I still feel like a firecracker 20-something, boo-YA!!

Okay, back to work... I miss you all!! Be back soon!!


Monday, December 7, 2009

Counting the days...

... 'til my birthday (tomorrow!!)

... 'til the semester is over (this Friday)

... 'til BF's birthday (next Tuesday)

... 'til my last final exam is over (next Wednesday)

... 'til Christmas

... 'til New Year's Eve!

Tick tock, tick tock...


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Sugar and caffeine will see me through!

I made it to the weekend, woohoo! I had a lovely week of poor sleep, so I had a good time this week... schmeh. I hate it when I do this! Bad sleep means I'm anxious about something, but all week I couldn't figure out what I'm anxious about... the BF suggested "everything"... and maybe he's right. There isn't one big thing I'm anxious about, but I think I'm thinking of so many little things that are adding up to be like one big thing. And bam! I sleep like crap.

I woke up again in the middle of the night last night, but at least I was able to sleep in this morning, thanks to it being Saturday. I made myself french toast and it was nice to be able to relax and eat. Now I'm applying heat to my sore muscles as I type before I massage out the soreness... how nice to actually have time to do this! Ideally I would do this everyday, as suggested by dance books and articles I read in order to best take care of my dancer body, but seriously, when?? I'm readying this book called The Dancer's Way, and the end of this sentence made me laugh out loud when I read it: "Further ways to reduce stress include balanced meals, aerobic exercise, and sufficient sleep (ten hours per night is ideal)." Ten hours, huh?? Yeah, SO realistic, thanks. What normal person with work, school, rehearsals, and the thousand other things in life, sleeps ten hours a night?? Puh-lease! That's why sugary, caffeinated beverages were invented, mwah ha ha!! :) [O.M.G. I finally, after mentioning a trillion times here and on Twitter, got myself a caramel brulee latte from the 'Bucks yesterday... so deelish. Nectar-from-heaven deelish. I-want-another-one-today deelish... and tomorrow... and the next day...]

So! Despite my anxiety and crappy sleep, I'm ready to DANCE today! Oh yes... the senior dance concert opened last night. The show went well... dress rehearsal on Thursday night wasn't so great for me, but they say a bad rehearsal means a great show, and last night went much better than Thursday's dress. Hopefully it only gets better today! We have two shows, a matinee at 2 pm and the other at 8 pm. Matinees are not my favorite... typically the audience is meager, which makes the energy for us dancers lower. Generally matinees feel like more of a rehearsal than a performance for us. Nothing beats the energy of a night time performance!

But today will be great, nonetheless. The matinee will get us warmed up for tonight's show, and following tonight's show is a cast party hosted by one of the seniors/choreographers. I'm excited to do a li'l celebrating post-performance tonight!

Happy Saturday everyone!


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I'm a list girl

December rolled in with some snow and single-digit temps... it is COLD out there y'all!. Tomorrow's high will be somewhere around 16 degrees F... yowza!

So. I don't have rehearsal tonight. I'm not held prisoner at the studio until 10 pm. I'm sitting at home and its only 7:15 pm! I don't even know what to do with myself. Oh believe me, there are many things on my to-do list... and I usually have a constant stream of "god, I wish I had time to do this and this and this..."thoughts as I run around like a crazy person... but when I unexpectedly have huge chunks of open time like I do now, I suddenly can't function. I don't know what to do with myself. The to-do list and I-wish-I-had-time items suddenly vanish from my mind and I find myself planted on the couch or in my desk chair staring vapidly at the TV or computer.

Which is why I'm a list girl. If I don't write things down, it's like it never existed. For example, I can't function at the grocery story without a list... I will be on my way there, and if I realize I forgot The List, I will turn around and go back home to get it. Seriously. If I don't, I'll end up with a random assortment of groceries, none of which I can make real meals out of.

So, to ensure I don't stare at the TV like a zombie tonight, here's my list (and a few are already done!)...

* Wash a load of dance clothes to prepare for the upcoming concert - DONE!

* Cook something for tomorrow's lunch - DONE!

* Sew the elastics on my new ballet shoes

* Write a blog post - in progress!

* Pack my dance performance bag for tomorrow's dress rehearsal (makeup, hair stuff, performance clothes, warm-ups...)

* Do some work for my job

I think that's plenty... it's now almost 8 o'clock, and even though I don't I have my late rehearsal, I'm a tired cookie. There's a good chance my motivation might run out very quickly tonight...