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My voice is heard

A few days ago, I received a request from Sharon Eberson of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. She wanted to do one last push to promote the final episode of Broadway or Bust.  We had a candid conversation which ultimately led to this feature on the Community Voices Blog.  

After reading the feature, I appreciated Sharon's understanding of my role at the NHSMTA.  I was concerned that I would be edited for entertainment value and only be seen or portrayed as the "task master".  PBS has done a really good job with showing the range of emotions and responsibilities I deliver.  I knew Sharon "got it" when I read this statement: 

"She acts as mother, psychologist, teacher and, when necessary, task master to get the most out of the participants so they can be seen in the best light possible." 

Here's the feature...enjoy!

Broadway or Bust



Feeling nostalgic...

My mind is consumed with thoughts surrounding the PBS premiere of Broadway or Bust.  Much of this week has been focused on promoting the TV series, which documented the 2012 National High School Musical Theater Awards, the Jimmy's.  I appeared on our local Pittsburgh KDKA morning show with two of the participants and President and Director of the NHSMTA, Van Kaplan.  During the interview, Pittsburgh CLO Gene Kelly Award Best Actress Brooke Tate, explained that the program changed her life.  Before she arrived in NYC to participate in the NHSMTA, she explained that she planned on attending college to major in psychology.  After her experience, she changed her mind and decided that she wanted to pursue a career in theater.  I remember having a conversation with Brooke on Tuesday after the show in NYC.  Brooke's words stay with me:  "I just have to do this".  Her genuine, infectious energy reminded me how much I believe in this program. 

I'm not sure what to expect with Broadway or Bust, the TV version of NHSMTA.  I haven't seen the show.  I'll be watching from my living room just like everyone else.  All I know is that the NHSMTA provides defining, life changing moments for young artists.  Something special happens throughout the process.  Something happens to every single person involved with the program.  Something changes in us.    

As the lights fade after the final bows and participants part ways to return home, the dust settles and reality sinks in.  Every year on the plane ride home, I take some time to reflect on my favorite moments and comments from the kids.  I hear the following often: "I didn't realize I could do that, but I did it." - "This was the most amazing experience of my life." - "I just performed on Broadway!" These handful of comments remind me that this program matters.  It impacts lives and stimulates the human spirit.  The one thing that I think we all walk away with is hope.  I believe in this program, as I am a true believer in the power of the arts.  

I hope that the audiences of Broadway or Bust get to experience just a piece of this magic.  I can't wait to see the faces of those very special - very talented 60 participants. I look forward to reliving each and every one of their glorious triumphs.  As I see it, the NHSMTA celebrates young talent, builds character, empowers young artists, and reiterates the significance of the arts.  I hope you get to see that too...

KDKA - Pittsburgh Today Live







First to wonder

PBS has released another teaser.  This one really got me thinking about my first trip to NYC.  I instantly thought about my first dance class at the Broadway Dance Center.  That class had such a huge impact on my life.    

Free.  That's the word to describe how I felt after taking my first dance class at the Broadway Dance Center. To this day, I still credit this one class as a key- transitional- defining moment in my dance life.  David Storey began his warm up moving in ways that I never knew existed.  All I knew is that I liked it.  The more I moved, I loved it.  It fit me.  As a new dancer, with mostly a gymnastic foundation, I relied on my technique and strength to get me through.  But something happened during this class...something that had never happened to me before.  I felt something...something inside. For the first time, I let go and danced from my heart...from my soul.  I forgot about everything and just danced.  David explained that the style was something new: Contemporary.  I still remember the beginning of the combo choreographed to "More Than Words".  From that moment on, I knew that dance was going to be my life.  Contemporary movement had set me free.  

I'm sitting here reflecting on my other "firsts" in NYC and all that comes along with those memories.  I remember: my first Broadway show: The Will Rogers Follies, my first cab ride, my first slice of pizza from Ray's, my first hot pretzel, my first subway ride, my first equity audition as a choreographer, my first trip across the Brooklyn Bridge, coming around a building and looking up to see my first close up of the Brooklyn Bridge...I have a huge smile on my face right now.  

I am reminded that life is full of wonder.  Interesting...I had a conversation earlier today and was told that we don't seem to use that word enough.  Maybe we don't stop long enough to appreciate the true wonders life has to offer.  So we simply forget to wonder. 

Well, today I'd like to take a moment to celebrate firsts, as this PBS clip reminds me that first experiences can lead to us to wonder...

Watch New York Moments on PBS. See more from Broadway or Bust.




NHSMTA Student Cam 

Watch Student Cam: Backstage Moments on PBS. See more from Broadway or Bust.

I saw this behind the scenes clip on facebook this morning.  Their smiling faces warmed my heart.  I was reminded just how special these kids really are.  I was also reminded how much I miss them.  


Ready to Rock and Roll

I had a great time working on this show.  Choreographing in the round was an interesting experience. As a dance maker with a deep appreciation and passion for "space", I really enjoyed carving the movement through every inch of the playing area.  I approached the choreography wanting to challenge myself with structure, pattern and smart storytelling.  I feel like I accomplished all of my goals...and even provided a little entertainment along the way.  

I am so thankful for the amazing, "adjustable" cast (insert smile here).  Each and every member of this production deserves a tremendous congratulations!  This production of All Shook Up is fun, energized, exciting and well, quite memorable.    

Inspired and stimulated...I'm back and ready to rock and roll! 

Check out the reviews!