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Friday, February 26, 2016

black and white in america

Off to Alabama tomorrow! We were invited to sing at a conference called Black and White in America: How Deep the Divide?  so I thought it apropos to write a little on that...

My life is very influenced by color. It always has been. My first memories in fact are not of the soft melody of a lullaby or the chattering of two older sisters, not of clear images of the faces or surroundings that established home to me, not of scent or taste or tears or laughter... but of color; colors that to this day remain my favorite; colors that evoke emotion and tell me a story just by existing. Color continued to affect my feelings towards the things that entered and exited my life, just as I think it does everyone. When I was six though I came to discover the reason color may have influenced me more than most: I had terrible vision. So when others were using faces and shapes to familiarize themselves with the world, my strongest tool was color. Colors of clothing and places and movies and nature.

But never skin.

I know I have always had a naive personality, but color and race was never something I saw. Just recently I spent some time with the group of people that I saw almost every day when I was younger: my dance classmates. Granted I was by far the youngest of the crew I was still shocked by my new unfamiliarity with these girls. The things I would identify them by now were not at all the same things of my younger self. So much so that some of them were a race I had never distinguished or assigned to them before. This awareness disconcerted me, made me actually a little ashamed. I can no longer see through the eyes of innocence, of truth, bound by this arbitrary mindset put upon me by the attitude of America over the past 8 years, and by my own susceptibility to this influence. Sadness truly overcomes me though when I look at the kids I work with and see that the small amount of time they should've had to welcome in the world with open hearts has been torn away. They instead spend their time judging the world with open eyes and artificial learned stereotypes. They can not be blamed though, it's only human to be affected by atmosphere. It is impossible to remain completely untouched by an entire culture. We cannot expect to walk through a fire unscathed. Instead it is up to us to put the fire out with a wave of truth, of humanity, of justice, of brotherhood, of love.

America spent such a short period of time coming out of the healing phase. It was a time when things felt “happy.” It has always rung true that the entertainment industry and pop culture reflects and is influenced by the feelings of our people, and vice versa. It has always been a give and take relationship, but enough truth can be found in the overall emotion that is given off by television and movies of any era. So though of course I'm only referring directly to my small corner of America, I think its safe to say that the “happy” feeling was generally widespread. I'm blessed to have had a childhood in this time. I know what it tastes like, that sweet sensation of joy, the carefree spirit, and I know how possible it is to live like that. That time should have allowed my generation to grow into the people who would eventually finish unleashing the unthinkable power of a united society. But it was cut short. We were stripped of our innate ability humans possess which was finally effectuated in us to see all the good, to explore the creativity and uniqueness and innovation of an age not held back by the confines of branding. There were always jokes, always stereotypes, always connotations, but not so much that a person was reduced to a mere culmination of those meaningless things. The stereotype was assigned to the individual, not the other way around. That is where we are now and it is a dangerous place to be. I don't believe there truly is much “racism” anymore, in my personal experience we don't have the hate in our hearts that is necessary for that. We can't have it, it doesn't belong to us. We have fall prey though to seeing race first. As a result of this we have been forced into “political correctness,” we have become immensely more sensitive, unable to care for the person next to us because we're too busy watching our own backs, individually insecure on every level, fostering a chip on the shoulder of our youth who have no justification for it whatsoever, the overall lack of trust and sense of unease, and the list goes on. It has invaded every area of our lives and blurred all sight beyond color. It all snowballed so fast, like a ribbon unraveling, but that can also be the saving grace in a fickle people: the ability to turn everything around and get us back to where we were 10 years ago so we can start building from there.

The ease with which we talk about race could have been a positive thing once upon a time. But that isn't the case here and now. Especially with the lack of knowledge and understanding of true history, people need to be made aware of (or reminded of) what matters. And color shouldn't be on that list. Race doesn't matter. Yes, cultures should be celebrated, yes stories should be passed down. Yes, we are all different, we are each of us unique. But that should not be pointed out in any light which is not a positive one. We need to be shown what our country has been through, and has made it through, and we need to honor that purpose, that mission, that sacrifice. Our way was paved for us, and all those who dedicated their lives to that purpose, all the sacrifices made to pave it, weren't made so we can turn right around and walk back. Inflated news stories and figmental prejudices are tearing us apart... and for no reason. Justice is blind, and trying to open wounds which don't even exist in the majority of a people is setting yourself up for failure. Our differences make us strong, make our bonds tighter, make our hearts bigger, which in turn creates a society which is allowed to thrive and shine as an example. So stop looking down. We're tripping on our own shoelaces. Look up and see what's in front of you. We can only move forward if our eyes are up, and we can only move forward together. We have shown in our past that we are strong enough. We are good enough. We don't need to build a city of angels. We can build a city of man.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

This Season!!!

Happy Wednesday Everyone!
So it's a new year and a new season for Sing For America!! We have a great line up of shows for this year...We are starting off with Godspell, summer will be The Little Mermaid, and the last two I will keep a surprise for now hehe😜
But even if I wasn't too keen on the last two shows we pick for this season I would be pretty content, because these first two are dynamite πŸ’―πŸ˜ I am so excited to get started!
I have loved Godspell for so long. We were in one production of it at our church years and years ago and we have seen it performed multiple times (I do have to say though that so far the movie version is still my favorite); each time making me love it a little bit more and making me itch for the day that we finally get to bring our vision of it to life! And that time is finally here!
However...if there is possibly something to be more excited's The Little Mermaid!!!!
Ariel has been my absolute favorite Disney Princess since before I can remember! I have so much Little Mermaid paraphernalia, my favorite color is blue ( the color of the ocean haha), my favorite color combo is blue and yellow (Flounder), and the list goes on. Whenever we swam when we were little Taryn, Teara, and I would pretend to mermaids (I mean who didn't) and Teara and I would were always "competing" to see who could sound more like Ariel when we sang the famous "ah ah ah..." sequence she sings when Ursula takes her voice... Not to toot my own horn or anything but I pretty much had it in the bag every time 😜 haha!
Anyway, I just can't wait for summer! I can't wait to make the costumes, learn the songs, choreograph the dances (swimming included), everything! I just hope I can make it live up to my expectations. It is an EXTREMELY difficult show. We have to make people look like they are actually swimming underwater, we need to have a shipwreck, actors need to somehow walk with fins on, birds need to fly, and that's just skimming the surface...see what I did there...πŸ˜†

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

My Best?...Your Best?...Our Best?

I forgot to post this last week haha!

All of us have something sometimes that keeps us from being or doing our best. There are a million and one obstacles when it comes to things getting in our way, no matter what we are trying to do, in any and every aspect of life. But one hindrance that I can be sure we all have in common is something that if we dig deep enough (or in some cases not deep at all) we can pinpoint as the actual source of more than half of these issues...can anyone guess what it is?....Ourselves. 

We are our biggest challenge because we are the only ones that can stand in our way. No one can force us to reach our full potential and no one can force us not to. It has to be a decision we make every day. 

In my experience alot of the reason we can't get past ourselves is fear. More directly, fear of failing. Like the line from "Dancing Through Life" from Wicked..."Those who don't try never look foolish..." I have always had that tendency, to think that as long as I only try a little bit I won't be embarrassed when I'm not as good as the next person. But having that philosophy means that we never know if we are actually good at anything cuz we never got our feet wet when it was time to test the waters. Now that's a very straightforward example, but many more roadblocks are not so prominent. We disguise them with excuses from every page in the book. But we have to look for the source of them and fix it from there. Nobody wants to fail but sometimes its easier than succeeding. But we have to remember and accept that  it's not easy and it won't happen with the flick of a switch; but the ability is in all of us. 

We fight the fight. 
We win or lose. 
We make the choice.


So there is no intro to my blog this week I'm just gonna start right off the bat with....good and evil. More the absence of good evil? Is the absence of evil good?

I think that the absence of good is almost always evil, and the absence of evil is almost never good.

Basically, when there is no good or evil it is neutral and neutrality breeds evil. Evil (or the Devil) is always actively seeking somewhere, someone, something to latch onto and make his own. We, as humans, are very easily we are easy targets. When we have no good (God) to shield us we are in danger of falling into the Devil's trap.  Especially in our world today. There are so many things going on that I never could have imagined happening, and we need the presence of good more than ever. As human beings, we naturally want and need something to hold on to and believe in, if that thing is neutral, it then becomes an open invitation for the Devil to insert himself into our lives. If we don't have the armour of God with which to fight, then we do not have any chance of winning the fight. We need good.

This is one of the very reasons we wanted to create our own theatre company. The arts in general is mostly a neutral environment. People really like to say they are artists for art's sake...or because it is their passion and it's what they love and they do it for their own self satisfaction and the entertainment of their audience. Sure, this is all a part of why we do what we do, too....but it can't be the whole purpose. I mean there are always the people who talk about God and thank Him and all but in my experience with too many people, it is more of a "for show" type thing than the real deal. Many of those same people will do immoral or inappropriate things in the name of 'theatre.' And once it's in the name of 'theatre' or 'art' it becomes more about ourselves and less about God. Selfishness is a vice that is too easily fallen into. As artists, we have to be so careful about how we tell the story and if we are compromising any of our actor's morality. We have to be sure that our purpose remains pure, to spread Gods's Light and to show His glory!

Friday, November 20, 2015

"Things that stop you dreaming"

     If you are of flesh and blood; if the gears of a mind turn within you, shifting from moment to moment; if a heart beats inside you; if you are human... then you've had a dream. From the wisps of a child aspirng to be the very picture of goodness and courage as a superhero, or thirsting for the beauty and responsibility of being looked up to and loved by so many as a princess, to the dreams of having a name and changing the world by becoming the next great inventor or scientist of our time, to the wild fantasies that are not quite impossible like being a rockstar or an astronaut, to the heartfelt wants fueled by love such as wanting to build a better future for your children or traveling the world as a missionary, all the way down to the hopeful daydream of Bobby asking you to the dance or simply wild salmon for dinner. 
     There is no way to deny it, we have all had a dream. And the beautiful thing is, as with most personal experiences, there is no way to quantify a dream. We are born with the full capacity to dream. It is true that a child who dreams of a new toy for Christmas can want it just as badly as a person who's devoted twelve years to finding a cure wants the answer. And what does that mean? That that emotion exists in us for a purpose, we are not meant to stifle them or brush them off, leaving them behind in a dusty corner of our heart. 
     Some of us have a childhood dream which morphs into its "real life" equivalent because after all the avenue seen in our heads is just a means to fulfilling the deeper need of our beings. Like maybe our little superhero from earlier now sees himself displaying his leadership and strength as a professional athlete. Many of us change our dreams every day, but the thing is they are all entangled in one massive and masterfully weaved web. They are all connected. Connected by the root of all dreams: love. Because when all is said and done no one really "dreams" of wealth in the material sense. Sure some people think that's what will make them happy and some people fall prey to the vicious cycle of money and power, but underneath even the greediest even the most misguided of characters you'll uncover a heart that wants love. All our different passions and talents are instruments to in one way or another show love, give love, get love. That is why the most happy and fulfilled people are most often those who devote their lives to the service of others. So in a way, every time a person gives up on a dream a little bit of faith, a little bit of hope, and a little bit of love die. And who can afford that in this world? We all watch far too many dreams die every day, a few right when kids start to grow up too fast, a few when it comes time to be "realistic," a few when you get caught up in the politically correct "way," and the rest when you give up altogether on becoming who you once thought you could be. All the while being bombarded with images and messages of how you should be who you are as long as who you are fits within the criteria. 
     So yes, it is true that sticking to your dream when the going gets tough and it starts being attacked and torn down is not easy. It means deciding what it's worth, it means making sacrifice after sacrifice, it means taking the hits day in and day out, it means sticking your neck out on a daily basis, it means giving up on the world's "dream" for you, it means making some people very jealous and angry, it means never sleeping as much as you need to. It also means being proud of who you are, it means emboldening others to believe in something good, it means learning to love where you are in your journey and trusting that you're on the right path, it means truly understanding that "normal is an illusion," it means letting go of worry and doubt and stereotypes and gossip and and mockery and prejudice and ridicule and embarrassment and fear, it means knowing that you may fail one hundred times before the smallest success and being willing to risk it anyway, it means laughing more and loving more and hoping and praying, it means being able to see each tomorrow as better than today, it means doing it all for something greater. For as Mother Theresa said in one of my favorite quotes: "It was never between you and them anyway." 
     I'll leave you with this last thing. Give this song a listen. Really listen. Ever since I first heard it I regarded it as one of the saddest songs ever written. Listen and promise yourself that that'll never be you. If you can listen to this song and internalize it without getting the slightest bit choked up or misty eyed, then I think you, along with too many others, have forgotten what t is to dream. And that, my friend, is the saddest story of all.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Greetings From Cali!!!

Hello all! So update...I am actually in California right now helping my friend. She is in law school at Chapman university and she is wheelchair bound. She has MD so I am here being her aid for two weeks.
We have known each other since we were kids; we met because we both sang for Dream Kids, which was a group that raised money for the Dream Come True foundation, and we have been close friends ever since!
Being one of her aids is a more recent thing though. She asked me about doing it a couple months ago during an internship she was working in DC for the summer. She was having a real issue finding people for three days out of every week so I was happy to help. Since this is her first year of law school she asked me to come while she got other aids set up and to train a couple. I was a little apprehensive when she asked because I left the week Addams Family rehearsals are starting. I don't like missing boot camp and everything but I figured I could probably get away with going before things get too too hectic. And she is one of my best friends so I didn't want to pass up the opportunity to spend time with her and care for her. I also didn't want to leave her stranded in California without help! That would make me a very poor friend indeed!
 Taryn and Teara are going to have alot to handle while I'm gone because Jewel and Jorne are pretty indisposed since football started:/ But they said they didn't mind so off to California I went.
I have been here since Saturday and I'm staying till September 12th. The best thing so far is that it is HOT! I love summer weather and I know it will definitely be Fall when I get back home so I am really hoping I can get a little tan in before I leave HahaπŸ˜‰

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tornado Warning!

Here is my email and rehearsal speech from our 5th to last Hairspray rehearsal!!!! Enjoy!!!!

This show can be more than we have dreamed. I am so proud of each of you. Here is the full text from tonight, get your sleep fam, you are gonna need it!

     "The final journey began yesterday! How about the first full run? How about the 2nd day of tech week? Man this is something special.
You are all the strong, the committed, the humble, and the proud. We lost many cast members and that is ok,this was not for them, we gained some family too though. TROY, ETHAN,TONY lets hear it for them.
These are the nights we decide our own legacy. I believe you can all be great, I know -- can be great. Now it is time for you to believe it, and treat every moment as if it defines who you are. We etch our name in sweat, we etch it in tears, and in smiles. Integrity, honesty, what does your name mean. Who are you? It is in the footprints of giants we decide that. When we are put in a situation where it is easy to be selfish, to give up, to pity ourselves, or to break our word those are the moments that make us who we are, who are you?
It is hard to care , it is hard to love, a selfless love, but it is the greatest gift on earth, it is why we are here. We have a problem today with being vulnerable everyone is shelled up, we are afraid to show people who we are. Every day I heard and saw be yourself in school and tv, I saw the posters, but as I did every responsibility and foundation which creates that person was taken away from me. I few do not take our opportunities to do what is right we will never live to the full potential of our lives, there is a plan for you greater than your dreams.
"I don't make bonds, I'm afraid they will break." We don't invest, we try to look out for #1 because it seems like if I don't, who will? I can count on one thing in life and that is death! Easy and dangerous way to think, stripping us of our value. You are more, make it a mission to connect with people, you may be the ONLY one who does, when they spit in your face, lets open more, when we are betrayed let us show loyalty, when we are wronged let us show right. That doesn't mean we ever disrespect ourselves but instead respect ourselves enough to elevate above the base, the scrum, be proud be humble. It is hard but the moments when you see a smile spread across a face you put there it's all worth it. We need innovators and leaders, believers and fighters. let us be the difference. We will be ridiculed for it but that is the nature of this world. We can find solace in Someone greater, if we take the leap, to fight for it.
Thank you all for being a part of this cast, parents siblings and everyone who has contributed, now it is time unleash! - Jewel (your hype director)"
Tech Schedule: Wednesday/ move in 10-6 Zoellner
rehearsal 4-10 Comfort Suites
Thursday/ build 10-6 Zoellner
(tbd) rehearsal 4-10 Comfort Suites
4th of July break/ build
Monday and Tuesday we are in Zoellner from 8am to 11pm, there is a possibility of rehearsing in the morning. For those who do work, we have to see where we are after the next two rehearsals to know exactly what we will need. The latest call time probable on our 2 dress runs is 4pm, please be ready to come in earlier.