Category Archives: dancing

Sleep No More…It’s No Jersey Boys

PHOTO: New York Times 

“I heard it’s better on shrooms”

So said our waiter Nestor at Son Cubano, a Nuevo Latino supper club that featured both intoxicating coconut mojitos and delicious Serrano ham croquettes (dubbed “ham balls” by our party). And Nestor, like his character in The Odyssey, was wise in pointing out that Sleep No More is for those who partake regularly in acid trips.

Here’s a few thoughts…

The Set…is freakin’ impressive. The scope of this production is amazing. The show takes place over several floors in a warehouse. The rooms are decorated to look like a nasty old-timey hotel. Think HBO’s Carnivale meets Clue. The McKittrick Hotel also contains a forest and a psych ward. Because why not? You are invited to open drawers, go through closed doors, and snoop around. In fact, the host told us, in his put-on Christopher Walken accent, that “bold will be rewarded.” Rewarded with what? I didn’t find shit. Blank envelopes in an office? Fish tackle? If I wanted to snoop around a musty place with weird items, I’d go to my Oma’s basement. This brings me to my first disappointment: I would’ve enjoyed Sleep No More if I wasn’t given the impression that I could make meaning of the stuff I found in drawers. I felt like I was wasting time.

The Plot…is a challenge. Speaking of “making meaning,” there really isn’t much of a plot. The play is based on both Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Hitchcock’s Rebecca. (I knew about Macbeth but not Rebecca—knowing both would have helped). All the characters have their own sequence that they repeat a few times in the course of an evening but I didn’t catch how many of them connected. I spent the majority of my time in the McKittrick trying to figure out how others fit into Macbeth’s story (and looking for my others in my party). That’s the problem with basing a production on well-known story. Viewers try to organize new information according to what they already know.

At the end of the night, we were presented with a book that explained everything. Purchase this coffee table book and find out what the hell was happening. My friend aptly reacted, “That would have been helpful three hours ago.” Indeed I wonder if this is how Jackson feels when he watches Yo Gabba Gabba. Maybe his internal monologue is similar to mine: “This shit makes no sense but I can’t take my eyes off of it.”

The Dance…is awesome. It’s nice to see a successful production largely based on contemporary dance. Dialogue is nonexistent so dance has to do the work of storytelling.  Grunts, screams, shouts abound. But the only line I heard was Mrs. Macbeth whispering “Let me see your face” to her bloody husband. Mr. & Mrs. were stirring, athletic dancers. It was a shame I couldn’t find many other dance “scenes.”

 Should You See It?

This was definitely the most interesting theatre experience I’ve ever had. I’m happy I got to experience it (note I used the word “experience” not “see” or “view”). The play is full of sensory overload and truly is an experience. Moreover, while I didn’t enjoy Sleep No More at every turn, I thought about it for a long time afterward—still trying to make meaning of what I saw. Sleep No More clearly straddles the divide between a show and fine art in this respect. When you go see a Broadway show, there’s really no room for dialogue beyond what was your favorite part? or didn’t you love that guy’s voice? But with Sleep No More, each member of our party saw different things, had different information to relay, and different impressions to report. The conversation on the way home was very informative.

See Sleep No More if you like…

contemporary dancing


Haunted Houses

Feeling like you don’t know what the hell is going on

Don’t see  Sleep No More if you like…

melodious, fairly recognizable music

symmetrical choreography

sitting down

a spoon-fed plot

Jersey Boys

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Filed under dancing, entertainment

Good Night, California

goodnightcaliI went to my last dance class here on Thursday. Jill Strauss put together a great combination to Heather Headley’s “Your Love is Like Rain.” I enjoyed dancing it. There were lots of moments were you had to fill up the counts because of the reggae beat behind the song.

Afterwards, some of the ladies from the class took me out to lunch. They also gave me Good Night, California (a new regional version of Good Night, Moon for future “Samplers.”) I totally lost it. I don’t even know why–the tears were flowing. The gesture was so sweet. I will truly miss Jill’s class and those ladies.

If you’re ever in LA and looking for a great jazz class, be sure to take Jill’s class. Her Luigi-style jazz class is a great workout, a great workout to say the least. She’s a phenomenal teacher. I credit her with teaching me that I can do this for the rest of my life as long as I take care of my body. Some teachers don’t push self-preservation and feeling how your body is different each day. A little twinge in your lower back should be attended to, not ignored. If you ignore it long enough, that little twinge becomes severe pain and all of sudden you can’t wear high heels anymore or sit in certain desk chairs for long periods of time. I think I’m over the whole self-inflicted punishment makes you better. I got a bad right ankle from that attitude.


Filed under dancing, friends, santa monica

So You Think You Can Dance (season four)

I’m so excited for Joshua, the winner of So You Think You Can Dance this summer. He was a brilliant dancer. Here’s his first routine to “No Air” choreographed by Tabitha and Napoleon. He’s dancing with one of the final four dancers, Katee. This was the last routine of the night when the Top 20 performed. By this time, I was ready to turn in. I thought SYTYCD had gone all Idol. The talent would be sub-par and the judges would continually tell us that it was the BEST. SEASON. EVER.

The latter happened time and time again. I really hate it when judges on those shows use superlatives (the best cast, the best hip-hop dancer they’ve ever seen, the best routine of the season). On SYTYCD, the judges have clear favorites and use a lot of their screen time to stroke the choreographers’ egos. Don’t tell me who I’m supposed to like. And stop saying how brilliant Mia Michaels is. The woman is certifiably insane.

While this season wasn’t as good as seasons past, it was not bereft of talent either. In fact, I think Joshua is one of the best and most relatable dancers to ever grace the stage.

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Filed under dancing, entertainment, TV Squad

The Wiz soundtrack

I just bought The Wiz soundtrack today. I found out this week that one of my new jobs at Preston will be to direct the musical. I’m so excited about this — I can’t even begin to explain it. Previously, I only had “Ease on Down the Road” in my iTunes library. But today, I went ahead and finished the album. I’ve been listening to it all day. Surprisingly enough, the birdies were quite calm listening to the songs from the “super soul musical.” Sonja and Misha usually freak when we play music. But some songs have the magic touch as it were.

An interesting anecdote–this past year has been a rough ride for CK and I. When I was feeling particularly down, I would play certain songs in my car as I drove to an event for TV Squad or todance class. I know it’s cheesy but for some reason, Broadway songs always made me feel better. Perhaps it’s because each song is part of a narrative and I could escape if just for a moment into that story. I played “Ease on Down the Road” a lot this year. Those of you who know the lyrics can understand why. Weird how things work out sometimes.

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Filed under dancing, work

I *heart* my dance teacher

I have the greatest jazz teacher. Her name is Jill Strauss (click on her name in my Blogroll and it will take you to her site). She does Luigi style jazz–it’s pure, it’s body-conscious, it’s extremely rhythmic, and above all, it’s fun.

If any of you are in the Santa Monica area and looking for a great dance class (fantastic warm-up, great combinations), you should definitely check out her class.


Filed under dancing