Monday, November 21, 2011

Finding Wonderland

I haven't talked much about it lately, but the last 3 months of my life have been filled with preparations for this year's annual dance recital at Yanarella School of Dance.

If I said it was a lot of work, I'd be lying!  It was a ridiculously huge amount of work!!! I spent most Sundays teaching and rehearsing for 10 or 12 hours.  I've been teaching for 28 years now

My labor of love begins with auditions for the story ballet back in August. I prepare several pieces that I teach in a 2 hour time frame.  The girls learn as much as I can produce and decide which roles they will be auditioning for.  I invite a few teachers in to watch with me and judge and within 4 hours I've filled all the roles. 

Right after Labor Day I start having these marathon rehearsals.  I take time with my leads choreographing and teaching their parts - directing them.  After a few weeks, we add the other classes to the mix to create the balance of the story.  Each class usually gets a special part and of course a coordinated bow. 

This year, my story ballet was Alice in Wonderland.  As I described earlier in this blog, I went to see Wonderland on Broadway with the intention of using it for my ballet and it didn't disappoint.  The score is so clever and colorful!  I took the score and cut it all up to fit my storyline and started to put together dances.  We had about 8 of these long rehearsals - some with groups up to 70 dancers.  It was long and arduous and fun and exciting all at the same time.

My regular classes were moving along but not as quickly and seamlessly as I'd like.  I teach a group of intermediate 12 year olds and their classes were doing well.  They can always use more work, but I was very happy with their progress.  Workshop was working on 3 dances - Bless Our Show, Orange Colored Sky and another song. 

The other song... Late in the game, I changed the song to I'm Gonna Love You Through It - a Martina McBride song about the breast cancer experience.  Bob loved the song and felt it was very powerful.  I didn't change the song without clearing it with my Workshop class - everything we do is a team effort.  They loved the concept and the message.

So, I began to shift my focus to this new song.  Each week I would come to class with new choreography but nothing seemed to work.  I was really distraught about it.  I approached my former student Juliane for some help from long distance but it was too difficult to work together.  I just kept pushing through fixing, reviewing, adding - whatever it took.  We were almost there when I heard a different version of the song at the Silhouette of a Woman Fashion Show.  This was one week before the stage rehearsal!!! I had to add a couple of steps in the middle and a whole new ending.  I called an emergency meeting after one of the 10 rehearsals to work it out... and it worked!

I wanted it close to finished for rehearsal so we could get the audience to buy into our story.  We wore our costumes to get the full effect.  I had recorded my voice to begin the song - 'My experience began 10 days after last year's recital...' it was the first time the class had heard it and it was haunting.  We all immediately started to cry but it created the spark we needed.  The dance worked ... it just gelled into something beyond what we had even intended.  Jackie described it as 'Organic' - perfect description. We finished telling our story and as we all hugged and wiped away our tears, I looked into the audience and they were doing the same.  They got it... we conveyed our message.  I called it 'Experience of a Lifetime'.  Here it is:
This year's dance recital was a complete success!  The last song our story ballet was called Finding Wonderland and the are amazingly ironic.  I believe the journey over this past year allowed me to find my Wonderland.

Finding Wonderland
We move to fast
We miss so much
We seldom see all the miracles in front of us
A warm embrace
A human touch
And so it goes
I race around
Search high and low for a truth I used to know
When there was magic to be found

Cause finding wonderland
Is taking time to see
The child within has always been there smiling back at me
So when I close my eyes I just remember and I cant hale finding wonderland

Its not to late
Here in my prime hearts can un-break in the story's nick of time
A happy ending
A perfect rhyme

Cause finding wonderland is finding who you are
The child with in has always been there like a shining star
So when i close my eyes I see forever and I keep on finding wonderland

Ordinary magic happens every single day
Wonderland is never far away

Cause finding wonderland is going home again
To feel the love another gives and giving back and then
If you should lose your way reach out for someones hand and you'll be finding wonderland
Youll be finding Wonderland


Kimberly Sabatini said...

It was amazing--all of it. So proud to be a part of it. And you...we couldn't do it without you. <3

DOI said...

I watched the video and cried, full of admiration for you, Mary -- with your 100% range of motion, body and energy of a person half your age, and beautiful face and spirit.