Recital Time!

It’s finally that time of year, recital! I’ve known some of my dances since last August and others since about January. Myself and the girls I dance with have put a lot of work into our dances and I’m really excited for everyone who comes to the recital tonight to see them. This year we have a very large range of dances which will keep the audience on their toes wondering what is next. This year is my fourteenth dance recital and my second to last one as a student. With the end of this dance year comes the end of my school year next Thursday.

This week I have been spending every night at a local high school (Linn Mar) in preparation for my recital that is tonight. Monday through Wednesday we had onstage rehearsals and yesterday was our dress rehearsal. In addition to recital tonight have two dress rehearsals tomorrow and two recitals on Sunday. I love this week so much but it’s been stressful because I’m still in school and preparing for finals. This means I’m juggling school work and all this time I have to devote to dance.

Tonight I will be doing twelve out of the forty-seven dances in the senior dance recital. The senior show is only Levels four and up including the adult classes (levels 4, 5, 6, advanced and adults) I’m in the opener, Advanced Modern, Advanced Elite Jazz, Advanced Ballet, Advanced Hip Hop, Advanced Pointe, the Advanced and Advanced Elite Production, a trio, Advanced Elite Tap, small group, Advanced Elite Contemporary and the closer. Needless to say I am going to be very tired by the end of the night, but at least I know I’ll sleep really well before having to be back at Linn Mar by 9 to help with the Primary and Junior shows. The primary show is our three-year olds, combo 1, combo 2 and tap/ballet with experience and our junior show is levels 1, 2 and 3.

As I said above the school year is quickly approaching an end. As many of you may have figured out I have been writing this blog as a year-long assignment in my AP Language and Composition class. Since the school year is ending so will my time writing on the blog. I have really enjoyed being able to express myself and what I love most throughout this year. I hope you all enjoyed my posts and got some sort of value out of it.

Mr. Ziegler

This year the varsity show choir at my school fundraised and paid their way to Shoe Choir Nationals in Nashville Tennessee. At this competition they placed fourth overall and won a few other awards including best tech crew. But what most exciting for myself and many of my peers both back home in Iowa but also in Nashville was that our head director of Chorale Music and Kennedy won the “National Director of the Year” award. All of us in the Kennedy Choir Program can agree that there is no one who deserves that award more than Mr. Ziegler. While I may not have gotten to work closely with him this year because I was not a member of his group I know that I could go to him with anything if I needed help or advice.

He is constantly putting his students before himself and doing everything he can not only to give them a fabulous chorale education but also to show them that he cares about each and every one of them and that they can come to him for aid. What I think is truly remarkable about him is that winning doesn’t matter, he wants to teach and help raise good citizens. Of course winning is always a plus and he’s happy when his group is successful and wins, but it is not the focus of his teaching. This past year Happiness didn’t win a single grand championship but Mr. Ziegler and the members of the group couldn’t be happier with how the year went. That is because this year their show was about more than just entertaining the audience it was about paying tribute to the men and women in the armed forces of the United States military. Mr. Ziegler has produced many grand championship winning shows and groups throughout the years but nothing is more important to him than creating good people. He is truly an inspiring person and I am so thankful that I get to be a part of his amazing program. If you ask anyone about him and his program I bet you hardly anyone has anything negative to say.

Below is a link to the article our local newspaper did on him:
http://thegazette.com/subject/news/cedar-rapids-show-choir-director-earns-national-award-20140525

Musical Regrets

As you can tell from many of my other posts music is a huge part of my life. However I have quite a few regrets when it comes to music. The first of many is that I quit piano lessons. When I was in elementary school I took piano lessons from one of the best teachers in the area. However at that age I didn’t want to put in the effort to learn, I just wanted to magically know how to play the piano. This lead to me never practicing and in the end quitting. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy playing the piano, I just wanted to be good at it right away and be able to play whatever I wanted instead of playing what I was assigned each week.

Another regret I have is not doing both choir and band in middle school. This is because at the time I didn’t think I was going to do show choir in high school because frankly I hated show choir because I always had to go to my sisters show choir competitions and I didn’t have any friends to spend time with and she never could come to my stuff because she was too busy with her high school schedule. This is why I focused on band because I wanted something that was mine and that she couldn’t take from me. But as I reached the end of eighth grade her and her friends talked to me about how much they loved show choir and her friends that were still going to be at Kennedy as seniors when I was a freshman promised me they’d spend time with me, cheer for me and let me wear their happiness jackets. So I decided to give it a try and audition for Chanteurs. In the end I made it and I was so excited because I hadn’t sung in about three years because I only did band in middle school and could no longer do church choir because it conflicted with dance.

If I had done choir in middle school I feel that I would be a much better singer than I am now. This is because while I can read music and decipher notes much better than many of my class mates they all learned the correct singing techniques sooner than I did. They all came into freshman year knowing the basics but I hadn’t learned these and had to be taught the correct placement and technique for singing and tones. I also had to learn solfege. But thankfully my sister’s voice lesson teacher let me become her first underclassmen student because I just took my sisters time slot. This allowed me to improve at a faster rate than I otherwise would have just doing choir classes.

While I have many regrets pertaining to music there are many things I am glad I did throughout my life musically. Including being a part of my church choir, taking piano (even though it wasn’t very long) and voice lessons, and being a part of band. I think it has made me a fairly well-rounded musician and they all taught me that you don’t always get something right away but if you try hard enough you can achieve anything.

Choir Banquet

Tonight is the annual choir banquet that the choir program at my school puts on. It is used to celebrate all of the accomplishments that have happened in the past year. The banquet takes a rather long time because it doesn’t celebrate just the core choirs achievements. It also celebrates the show choirs achievements and awards a few outstanding parents. This means that there are three show choirs, seven choirs and select parents to award. In addition there is a senior slide show where they first show a baby picture and then the senior picture. It is super fun to guess which baby picture goes with which senior. In addition to that there is also a show choir slide show where they find the original versions of each song that the three groups did, then they add in a bunch of the different pictures that had been taken throughout the year.

The banquet starts out at 5:30 with socializing and getting pictures taken, the last few years there has even been a photo booth which is super fun! After that we have a dinner, all the seniors and their families sit at one table and everyone else sits with their family and friends at different tables. It’s a nice way to give the seniors a little bit of extra attention since this night is so special for them. After the dinner we all file into the auditorium and the awards begin. It starts with the freshman show choir and choirs and their awards. Then it proceeds onto the prep show choir and middle choir awards (my groups) and then ends with the varsity show choir and top choir awards. Freshman year I was awarded a dance captain award in addition to the certificate that everyone in Chanteurs receives for being a part of the group. Sophomore year I received another dance captain award, a Protégé participation award, and a state solo and ensemble award. This year I will for sure be getting another dance captain award and Protégé participation award. Any other award I get will be a surprise to me!

I’m really excited for tonight. Not just for getting awards, but because I get to spend my night with some of the best people I’ve ever met. What makes it ten times better is that it’s also my birthday and I get to spend it with the people I love the most!

The Last Week

This week is the last week of classes at the dance studio before dance recital. Starting next week we will have onstage rehearsals and then a dress rehearsal on Thursday, a recital friday, two dress rehearsals on saturday and two recitals on Sunday. The last week of classes at the studio is always a little bit stressful because the teachers are trying to squeeze in last-minute changes and cleaning of the dances before we perform them for an audience. While I love dance and love being able to perform by this time in the year I am ready for a change. This is because by this time in the year we’ve been doing the same dance in our core classes since November or December and in our Troupe classes we’ve been doing the same dances since June or July. I really do like all of my dances this year and I am excited to perform them for an audience but I’m also excited to begin new dances.

With recital so soon our teachers have been focusing more on our dances which means that we don’t spend as much time practicing technical things during class. While this isn’t a bad thing if it’s only for a few weeks I do miss the practice. Working on technique this time of the year is my favorite because like I’ve said I begin to get bored with my dances and it gives me a nice challenge and something new to work on. This is why I am super excited to being summer classes because other than troupe classes the summer classes are purely technique which really gets us ahead in the long run. However in troupe classes we begin learning the dances over the summer because we compete starting as early as January where as in the non troupe classes we can start much later because we don’t perform until June. These next few weeks are going to be a little hectic with not only recital but ending the school year. Wish me luck!

Graduation Parties

As June approaches so does graduation. This means many of my upperclassmen friends will be graduating, with myself following in just over a year. This past weekend was the beginning of grad party season and of course the first one was my three best guy friends. It was really bitter-sweet because while I am so proud of them and know they’re going to do great things in college. I am truly going to miss them so much, but I know that we will do our best to stay as close as possible. Since I will be graduating in just over a year, this year I have been paying extra close attention to the foods, picture boards and other such things at parties. In order to get ideas for my own. It’s all so exciting and I’m not going to lie I already have my own party tentatively planned out.

Graduation parties are one of my favorite things this time of the year! It’s so fun to go and celebrate your friends accomplishments while eating delicious food and socializing with friends. Not to mention the funny and adorable pictures of your friends growing up. But what is perhaps my favorite part is thinking of new and creative presents to give. This year I made three blankets for my three guy friends to take to college with them. They were the ones where you tie the knots and each side of the blanket is a different color. I made their blankets with their school colors and then sewed on the first initial of their first name into the corner so that they would be personalized. It was so much fun and they really loved the home-made present. In addition I got them each something that reminded me of them. Graduation parties are such a fun way to celebrate and I’m so glad I live in the midwest to experience them because from talking to a friend who graduated last year I learned that her friends from the east and west coasts don’t do graduation parties and they think it is such an odd idea.

Dance Pictures

his past weekend recital season officially started. Recital season begins with pictures, followed by the last week of classes in the studio then onstage rehearsals and finally four days of dress rehearsals and recitals. Picture week is such a fun week because we get to do our hair and make up however we want to and get our pictures taken in our costumes. It’s almost like we’re models for a dance catalog for a week of time. All of my pictures except for one I got done on Sunday. Every year the schedule is the same, pictures begin with the Teachers and TA”s getting their pictures done at 9 am. Then for the next three hours the top two troupes: Advanced and Advanced Elite get their pictures done along with all of our other Advanced Placement classes and Level 6 classes. This means that I got my TA picture taken along with my Advanced Ballet and Pointe pictures, Advanced Elite Tap, Jazz and Contemporary pictures, our Production picture which is composed of Advanced and Advanced Elite Troupes, and my Advanced Hip Hop Picture. In addition I got my trio and small group pictures taken because they weren’t scheduled but we were ahead of schedule so we squeezed them in. Straight from pictures I went to my normal weekend classes, needless to say my Sunday was filled with dance!

Tonight I have my last picture; Advanced Modern. In addition to getting our pictures taken the TA’s are asked to work pictures because the owners of the photograph business we get our pictures done at can’t do it all by themselves. Tonight I am working pictures 6 to 8:15. When you work pictures it’s you and one other TA helping the photographer. I’m lucky enough to have gotten to work with one of my best friends tonight. One TA sits at the door that leads into the studio and takes the names of the dancers that are getting individual pictures taken and writes them down in the order that they are getting their picture taken. Then they make sure that the dancers stay in their order. The other TA helps set the background for the picture and get the dancers into their poses for the picture. It’s really a lot of fun helping with pictures because you get to spend time with your dance friends outside of the studio, you get to see all the different costumes the dancers have this year and the photographers are really fun to work with. Overall dance pictures week is one of the most fun of the weeks leading up to recital because it’s completely stress free. I mean who wouldn’t want to get dresses in their costumes and have professional pictures taken of them?

Below is a picture my “Little” and I took while we were waiting to get our contemporary picture taken professionally. I put little in quotations because first of all she’s taller than me which is funny. But she really is my little because in my group this year there are six returners and six new girls. So each girl who has been in the group for more than a year was assigned to a girl who’s first year it was.

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