lifebeyondexaggeration

What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stranger

Keys to the Kingdom August 31, 2015

So the  theatre that I worked at on the resort wasn’t at all like Dirty Dancing. Mostly because Patrick Swayze wasn’t there to be all sexy, but also because the actors and the servers were not allowed to socialize.

The servers were never allowed to come into cast housing, and fraternizing after hours was looked down upon in the hope you don’t get fired sort of way.

Of course, as with all rules, there were some really good reasons.

Like the time an actor had sex with an underage server.

Or the time the actors and the servers discovered that, with their powers combined, they had the keys to the kingdom.

See, the theatre folk had the keys to all the theatre buildings: the theatre itself, the rehearsal space, the prop shop, the set shop. You know, all the places where illicit fun can be had. The servers had the keys to the place where the karaoke equipment and beer kegs were kept. I think you can see the story starting to build. (more…)

 

#GratefulAuthor August 17, 2015

My mother has always been a little indulgent. Not like buying my sister and me the coolest shoes that all the kids had to have, or buying me a puppy any of the million times I asked for one. More like my sister decided that she desperately needed to go to summer camp, so my mother became the camp’s arts director so my sister and I could go to camp for the summer. Or when I decided I need more dance classes and she found another studio where I could moonlight.

But my favorite was the day my sister decided she needed a bag of cement. My sister didn’t know what exactly she needed the cement for, only that it was vital that she make something out of it.

Most parents would probably have refused to by their thirteen-year-old a bag of cement, and even more would probably have been furious when that child proceeded to ruin a chunk of grass in the backyard, experimenting with the cement until that child managed to produce a thing that almost resembled really sandy art.

But the best part of the story is today my sister is a ceramic artist and art professor. And it all started with my mom sighing and buying my sister a bag of creepy concrete.

For me and writing, it was not so difficult to get the supplies to begin. (more…)

 

Conductor Down! August 12, 2015

When I was a freshman in college, I was cast in an operetta. Not as a singer, as a dancer. A male dancer. You see, when the music department had cast the show, they hadn’t bothered to cast any men for the big cancan scene. By the time they asked the dance department for a few boys, there were no boys left to be had. So, being a girl with broad shoulders, I was cast as a male dancer in my first college show. It was also the first time I ever performed on stage with my husband.

A lot of the story isn’t interesting. I had to learn to do coffee grinders and a half-a-hand stand. I wore a bow and slicked my hair back.

No. The interesting part was the conductor. It was a university, so most of the pit were music majors. But the conductor played the piano. It was a fine arrangement that you see in a lot of regional theatres that can’t afford to have a person just to use the baton.

The problem was that this conductor was a raging alcoholic. (more…)

 

May the Tap Gods be with You July 20, 2015

I went to college for dance. It was a great program that I had a lot of problems with. You were weighed in… a lot. And your weight affected everything from your ballet grade to your scholarship. I’ll let you think of that what you will.

Some of the professors really pushed the weight thing, some tried to stay in the back of it, but only one teacher really fought it.

He was a tap teacher and a really fantastic human being. Not only did he manage to inspire confidence and perfectionism all at the same time. He also genuinely cared about his students.

There was a legend about him at school. I can’t prove how true it is, but I do believe every piece of it.

There was a girl who had come to the school as a fantastic tapper, but she had natural hips and wasn’t built like a board. So the weigh-ins pushed her and pushed her until she became really badly anorexic. It had time for adjudication, and she went in to meet with the entire dance faculty.

The department head complimented her on how much her turns had improved, the girl said, “Yes, but I’m not eating.” (more…)

 

The Bridal Bailout May 4, 2015

I’m back! Sorry for the missed post on Saturday. Chris and I just got back to Alaska, where we’ll be working again for the summer. It was a whirlwind of a few days, and I didn’t have the chance to post this. But I now present to you: What Should Have Been Saturday’s Post.

We just closed a production of Funny Girl. As I was not in fact playing the Funny Girl, Ms. Fanny Brice, I spent my show running around changing costumes, and every once in a while I danced a few steps.

One of the numbers that I was in was “Beautiful Bride.” I tip walked in a huge costume and looked pretty. It was great.

photo 1

But those hip baskets were pretty heavy, and the giant headpiece was a beast as well. But since it was just walking, it wasn’t too bad to balance the extra thirty pounds of weight I had just added to my body.

A few days ago, I was doing the bride number, and everything seemed fine. Until I went up onto the tiny little cake platform. It was two steps high, and the surface I had to stand on was barely large enough to fit both my feet. Well, I was “dancing” on my little platform, and suddenly one of my feet had lost the ground. Normally, I would have just put my lost left foot back onto the platform and continued on with life. But that extra thirty pounds of weight was just too much for me. I began to teeter sideways! (more…)

 

The Weight of the Legend April 15, 2015

And now for the grand conclusion of the sad tale of the department encouraged body dysmorphia!

For parts one, two, and three, please click the appropriate number.

As though it wasn’t bad enough to teach students who are going to owe student loans for the next ten years that their worth is based on their weight, the department also liked to ignore the problems it encouraged. Now, I understand that weight is important in dance. You have to be small to be lifted, and a certain look is generally more desirable to producers. But if you tell a dancer that weight equals worth in an extremely competitive atmosphere, you’re going to end up with eating disorders.

There was one girl who was an amazing tap dancer. She was truly gifted, but the department wanted to weigh her like she was a ballerina. She lost more and more weight, and eventually became truly anorexic. (more…)

 

The WP in Permanent Ink April 11, 2015

The Dance Major scale phobia saga continues…

Part One

Part Two

And now, Part Three:

After the first shock of seeing everyone being weighed my freshman year, I almost got used to the concept. Three times a semester, we’d all line up and hop onto the scale, hoping that the number wasn’t high enough to get our ballet grade docked or get kicked out of company.

I was fine with my weigh-ins during freshman year. I didn’t gain any weight and didn’t give enough of a shit to try and lose any weight to please the department.

Then when I was gone doing summer stock the summer after my freshman year, I got a letter in the mail. (more…)