Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Being the YES Girl

Kids, never take the opportunities you have for granted.


Because you never know where those opportunities will lead you.

Without further ado, here comes a massive Name-Drop session. This is not to boast about my accomplishments. Well, maybe just a little. A little. But mostly because you can accomplish beyond what you ever dreamed your life would be.

Back in 1998, when I still lived in Fresno with my parents, I was flipping through the 7 watchable TV channels we received from our rabbit-ear antenna. I stopped at Channel 18, our local PBS station because there was something beautiful happening before my very eyes. I didn't know what I was watching at the time, but it was gorgeous and I couldn't keep my eyes off of it. I immediately pushed "record" on my VCR (Yes kids, before DVR, we had VCRs) and it recorded over whatever I already had on that VHS. Because it was THAT beautiful. It was three men, on a darken stage, accompanied by a Piano Waltz, and there was a rose. I think I must've watched this program a hundred times. I remember thinking, "That world is untouchable." In high school, we were shown a lot of dance videos by our dance and colorguard instructors of ballet and modern to educate us and inspire us. They were performances of Martha Graham, Alvin Ailey, and New York City Ballet. It was great to have these videos because these companies NEVER come into town. So this world to me, was untouchable. 

Fast-forward to 2002 when I was asked by Riverside Community College's Dance Program to play for their dance classes, that lead me to move out of the Inland Empire into Orange County. There, one teacher introduced me to another, and another, and never once, did I say "No" because I just wanted to work in dance. It eventually lead me to play for a random spur-of-the-moment Master Class with Amanda McKerrow and John Gardner. At the time, I thought to myself, "I know they are kind of a big deal even though their names aren't familiar to me." When I told a friend who I played for the previous day, she just about dropped to the floor and said, "You know who they are? They are the ones who did 'Leaves Are Fading.' Have you seen it?" She then stuck in the DVD of Variety and Virtuosity: American Ballet Theatre Now, and I realized, "I have this! I recorded it on PBS and I must've watched it about 100 times." Then it hit me. Holy Sh*t! I just played for someone from that program I recorded in Fresno back in 1998. A few years after that conversation with my friend, I got a call asking me to play for Vladimir Malakhov. One of the three men in that "dance with the rose" that I know so well now as "Remanso." Who would've thought?!

I figured it out. Here I was, knowing I didn't have the virtuosity in dance to ever take class taught by these amazing people, I found a loophole to work WITH them AS a musician.

As I reflect on this last school year, I got to play for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for the fourth year in a row. I know I am one of the lucky ones, but I also got here because I was in the right place, at the right time, and I said "Yes" to every opportunity as long as I was available. 

Sometimes it's very frustrating to me when I see dance students lay around because they "don't feel good" or complain about how certain teachers are mean to them, they have NO IDEA how lucky they are to have the opportunities they have. I see it. I came from a little town that only puts on Nutcracker at Christmas, and that was it. 

So kids, never take your opportunities for granted.

Because you might be able to touch that "untouchable" world.

Vladimir Malakhov (American Ballet Theater, Staatsballetl Berlin)
Sascha Radetsky (ABT, Center Stage (2000)) and Gennadi Saveliev (ABT, YAGP Founder)
Edward Villella (New York City Ballet, Miami City Ballet Founder)
On Stage with Trey McIntyre Project
Matthew Rushing (Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater)
Company Class with Alvin Ailey

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