Artists Careers

This one time

There’s nothing like live theatre. A play may be performed 8 times a week, but the time you see it can never be exactly replicated. When things go wrong, those are extra special performances to witness, seeing performers in all their humanity and vulnerability. Here are some of my finest [insert sarcastic tone] once-in-a-lifetime moments:

Stumbled in front of 5000 people in the opening number on opening night of my first season as a Radio City Rockette.

Got my fishnets caught in the trombone during one of the many shows at Casino Windsor. Only 250 in the audience that time.

Popped out of my costume during the opening number of Elvis To the Max at Casino Windsor. Guess where the audience is looking now!

Parade Of the Wooden Soldier pants split in the, um, crack during the opening night performance of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, once again, in front of 5000 people.

Got dragged off stage by my sheep in the Living Nativity during, you guessed it, opening night of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. This time there were only about 2000 people in the audience.

Got called the “low point of the show” in a review by some local weekly paper in St. Louis, thankfully not the New York Times.

Still here.

Artists Careers Trends

Kick it old school, also don’t

It’s convenient to shrug off current trends and say, “I’m old school”. That way, it’s easy to stay comfortable, not worry about what’s new and stick to what feels good.

Then we get disconnected. Then we feel obsolete. Then all this time passes by and shoot, we need to catch up. The other choice is sitting around grumbling about how it’s not like it used to be. Full disclosure: that’s still going to happen sometimes.

If there’s an upside to the increased time on my hands, it’s that I have gotten to stop and look around. I actually know songs that are current now. I get Tik Tok! I get it! I understand why people love it. I want to be better at it. It helps me work on skills that I can apply elsewhere like ideal camera angles, good lighting and comedic timing.

What is driving the culture right now will never supersede what is classic and timeless. But if we insulate ourselves from the constantly changing, hyperconnected world, it will be much harder to continue thriving.

Artists creating

Be simple

The most memorable pieces of art are those with one simple concept that is brought to vivid life.

No matter our differences, we feel the same emotions. Love, loss, joy, anger…

I remember a piece titled “What Was Left”, because at the end there was one dancer left on stage.

Members of a Dutch ballet company performed a duet about the painful, awkward, uncomfortable moments before the end of a relationship. She brushed against his body as they exited opposite sides of the stage. That was 14 years ago but it seems like yesterday.

In simplicity we find the relatable, and in the relatable we capture our audience.

Artists Careers rejection

Go out there and be terrible

Have you been laughed at, ridiculed or given a bad review? No? Well then, try harder.

Seriously though, you have to be terrible before you are good. If you are always good at everything, are you reaching enough?

The faculty hated that Pink Floyd piece I choreographed in college and reluctantly put it in the concert. I sang and tap danced in a showcase and got completely laughed at. There are many other instances. I learned so much from all of them.

Being formulaic is a comfortable place to be. If you do A, B and C, it will look like this and conform to expectations, like #1 songs on the Billboard charts. Check all the boxes.

The path to being remarkable is full of trying things that fail, being wrong, being rejected and being criticized. The sweet reward of this path is looking back and knowing that when you wanted to try something, you did.

Artists Careers

Popularity contest

One highly rewarding thing about being an artist is having a group of true fans that will always show up for you. It doesn’t mean you are popular, and being popular doesn’t always mean you are good.

The gold, the best stuff, the reason to keep going is the people who care about what you have to give. I take time to design my tap classes each week, and I take pride in the work I put into them. My classes weren’t packed in New York City, and less people signed up to perform my choreography in the showcases than the other choreographers on the bill. To me that made it more special. The dancers that were with me believed in my vision.

Popular does not equal best, and you don’t need everybody to love you. You need a consistent group of people that show up and believe in your ideas and your work.