Guest Choreography

Over the past several years, our studio, Lake Area Dance Center (LADC) has branched out into having guests choreograph different routines. Most years, it has been small groups or solos. The exception has been that the Senior Hip Hop group was the only large group having guest choreography. Choreographers have included teachers from other local studios, and, in more recent years, other professionals from the dance world.

The benefits of having guests choreographers are many. Dancers who learn from a variety of instructors, whether it be guest choreographers, or through Master classes or conventions, become better dancers. They get to learn new techniques and styles they might otherwise not experience.

Grace’s first experience with a guest choreographer was 3 years ago. She was in the Senior Hip Hop Group. Katelyn Bloomquist (formerly Rademacher), was the choreographer. The routine was called “Bake Shop”. It was a fun routine, with a unique twist on hip hop and baking. 🙂

2017-2018 – “Ya Ya” with Anthony Gabriel and Cory Booker

The next year, her hip hop routine, “Starving”, was choreographed by Anthony Gabriel. It was a smooth hip hop routine. They got special judges’ awards for their style and performance. Last year, her hip hop routine was also choreographed by Anthony Gabriel, with Cory Booker as a co-choreographer. This was a hard-hitting routine called “Ya Ya”. Our dancers again received judges awards for this routine, with comments about how different this routine was from any they had seen from LADC before.

2017-18 – “Love Me or Leave Me” with Kaleena Miller

Last year, her tap small group was choreographed by Kaleena Miller. We have been to many of her tap shows before, and are big fans of her style. Last year’s piece was called “Love Me or Leave Me.” Her rhythmic tap style made for a happy, fun routine that challenged our dancers. This piece was also selected to perform in the 2018 Twin Cities Tap Festival. This year’s tap small group routine has also been choreographed by Kaleena Miller.

 

2018-19 Graduating Seniors – lyrical small group with Katelyn Bloomquist.

This year, Grace has 5 routines (including the tap small group listed above) that are guest choreographed. She has lyrical and contemporary small groups, both choreographed by Katelyn Bloomquist.

Her hip hop large group has been choreographed by Erik Saradpon. Once again, this is a very different style of hip hop for their group.

 

2018-19 Hip Hop with Erik Saradpon

 

She is also part of a new Heels large group that has been choreographed by James Kinney, and Alex Nordin. This group routine has a completely different feel than any our studio has performed before. The girls were all extremely excited when they finished their choreography session with these two!

2018-19 Heels routine with James Kinney and Alex Nordin

Grace loves all of her dances she has learned so far. It’s going to be a great Senior year!

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Ghoulbusters – WBL Lions Club Show 2018

Last month, Grace and I were part of the 72nd annual Lions Club Show.  It is one of the largest fundraisers each year for the White Bear Lake Lions Club, typically raising about $12-$14,000. Money raised goes back into the community. One of the current projects the WBL Lions Club is working on, is the refurbishing of the Veteran’s Memorial Flag Pole in downtown White Bear Lake. According to their website:

“The White Bear Lake Lions Club Foundation is committed to serving our community through many different ventures such as:

  • Annual Holiday Toy and Food Drive
  • Lions’ Eye Bank and the collection of used eyeglasses for recycling
  • Lions’ Hearing Programs
  • Lions’ Diabetes Programs
  • The White Bear Lake Area Emergency Food Shelf
  • Local Scout Troops
  • Local Seniors’ Services
  • Area Schools
  • Scholarship Programs
  • Community Park Improvements”

The title this year was “Ghoulbusters”. It was a musical loosely based on “Ghostbusters” written by Lion Lisa Rockwood. The show was directed by Lion Janine Delage. Choreography was done by Carol Anderson from 4th Street Dance Centre, and Jen Finger, a fellow cast-mate with great skills!

This was my 4th year being involved in the show, and my 2nd favorite (the first being the year I played Lena in “Lena and Ole’s Wedding”).  This year, I played a waitress who got “slimed” with silly string. It was a fun role, with lots of singing and dancing – my favorite part of doing the show! This year’s writer  Lisa, was the other waitress. Our boss was played by Dave Hunt, who I have known for many years. We had a great time being the “staff” of the Beartown Cafe! Thank you Beartown Grill for supporting the show.

 

Just a small portion of the set that looks like real stores from White Bear Lake.

The sets were amazing. I was so impressed with the work done by our set crew! Their goal was to recreate our town of White Bear Lake, MN; they did a fantastic job! We had some incredible painters this year! Our backstage crew cannot go without mention either. They worked so hard to get set pieces on and off stage quickly in order to keep the show flowing. They run like clockwork! Sound and lighting have been done by Jeff Willey, who works for the school district. We are fortunate to have him, as he is really good at what he does!

I mentioned that Grace was part of the show. This was her 2nd year being on the hair and makeup crew for the show. Due to her dance and work schedules, she doesn’t have time to take on a role. She enjoys doing makeup, so this is a great way to be a part of the show, and do what she enjoys.

The Lions Club Show typically runs the first weekend in March. It traditionally features a local dance studio. Cast members are members of the local Lion’s Club, and community members (like myself) who are not part of the club. We are always looking for new members of the cast and crew. You can reach out to the club if you are interested in being a part of it. Auditions are usually in December. Rehearsals are usually on Saturday mornings and Wednesday evenings in January and February. Set construction is done at all different times.

The Ghoulbusters with their loyal Office Manager, Donna. Pictured are (left to right): Katie Vadnais, Paul Williams, Kate Hunt, Chuck Hunt, and Scott Engman.

Maybe you aren’t interested in being a part of the cast or crew… come be an audience member instead! The more people in the audience, the more fun it is for those of us on stage! We can pretty much guarantee that you will laugh at least once (though, we hope to keep you laughing the whole time). We appreciate every person that comes to see us perform. It is a fundraiser, after all…  without an audience, there would be no show. Thank you for supporting the White Bear Lake Lions Club Show!

 

 

Kevin Smith – Surprisingly Inspirational

Jason and I went to see Kevin Smith (Twitter: @ThatKevinSmith) tonight at the Acme Comedy Company. This is the second time we’ve been to see “An Evening With Kevin Smith”. It’s a Q & A style show where a few people in the audience get to ask any random question they want. Kevin responds by telling one story which leads to another, which leads to another, and somehow circles back to answer the original question that was asked. It’s impressive how he pulls it all together!

This is the second time we have gone to this show. Tonight’s topics went from his wife, to his dogs, to various people that inspired him in different ways. He spent quite a bit of time talking about George Carlin after someone asked him who his favorite story teller is. I might have to pick up Carlin’s semi-autobiography, Last Words – he sounds like an interesting guy. He picked on Ben Affleck a bit, as he always does… he tends to talk about his friends quite a bit. He also talked about being drawn to people that are grounded in who they are, and how they inspire him.

One very enthusiastic audience member asked Kevin Smith about a movie he had been part of a long time back. That got him talking about the director and how he just went with his vision no matter what people thought about it. Then he brought it back to himself to talk about how he made Clerks because he had been “waiting his whole life for this movie, and no one ever made it.” He wanted it, so he made it. Mostly for himself and his friends. He advised the audience that people shouldn’t be afraid to fail. He said [not quite a direct quote, but close enough], “Get out there and go for what you want… tell your story, whatever. The story you are telling yourself about how it will fail is just a story… you never know what will happen. If you fail, so what? At least you went for it…  You can only fail up… failure is just success training (I know, it sounds like a cat poster)…” If you know Kevin Smith at all, you know there were a few F-bombs in there, such as, “You can do whatever the f*c< you want, the important thing is that you try.” He encouraged people to write down all our ideas… do that podcast, write that book, make that movie…

I went to this show expecting to be entertained. I expected to laugh. I did not expect to be inspired; yet I was. He reminded me how much I enjoy telling stories. I want to write the blog posts that have been floating around in my head. I’m going to try to make a point to carve out more time for that.

The more I see Kevin Smith’s show, the more I like him! I look forward to seeing him again next time he’s in town.

 

Conversation starter: Comment on what it is you have been wanting to do that you are putting off. Maybe you are putting it off because you haven’t made the time for it, maybe you have been afraid to fail.

Tough Mudder 2017

Yesterday, my husband and I, along with 6 other friends, completed the Tough Mudder. If you aren’t familiar with this event, it’s a 10+ mile muddy, wet, and very challenging obstacle course. If you don’t like mud, getting dirty, getting wet, or having wet feet, this is NOT the event for you!

The event was held at the Wild Wings Gun Club in Hugo, MN. We were glad it was so close to our house. Parking at the event was $20, so everyone met here, and we took 2 vehicles to bring everyone there. Afterwards, our team came over for pulled pork, baked beans with bacon, and some good old-fashioned reliving the event we had just completed together.

In preparation for the event, I was working out at the gym, focusing on upper body, and core strength. On the playground at preschool, I had been practicing crossing the monkeybars. The first day of school, I couldn’t do any. Last week, I was able to cross five. I was feeling very encouraged by this! My legs have gotten quite strong over the past year, so I didn’t worry too much about those. I just added some weight to my squats (sometimes using kettlebells, sometimes using hand weights). A few weeks’ back, I messed up my back, so I had to take the most critical time of training to deal with that. 😦  It was a good thing I took that time though, because it held up great through the entire event! I was really nervous it wouldn’t. Thank you to chiropractor, Dr. John Tomlinson for helping get it back on track!

Laura and I after Tough Mudder. We were the only two women on our team.

It was a super hot day. Temps were over 90, with very little cloud cover. There was no amount of training that I could have done or not done to prepare me for the heat. We were all sweating and stinky before we even started. At the first obstacle, they told us weather conditions were red, so they were recommending people not run, and drink plenty at the water stops.

After parking, we walked about a mile to the check-in location. Then, we dropped our bag in the bag drop area, and headed for the queue at the starting gate. Our assigned start time was 11:00. It was about 11:15 when they let the group for the Tough Mudder Half go. We probably got to head for the actual starting gate around 11:30. There, we waited more, and probably around 12, got to actually get started.

We jogged the first 1/2 – 3/4 mile, before some of us started to walk. We had well over 10 miles ahead of us, why expend all that energy early on? We always made sure at least one person stayed with the person at the back. Sometimes that was me, sometimes Dan, Tim, or Jason. No matter who it was, no one was left behind. My goal was not to get it done fast, just to finish it.

We had to carry this wood as a group. It was heavy! Due to a miscommunication at the end, it was even more difficult for the couple of teammates who carried it all the way to the end.

The first obstacle we came to was called Kiss of Mud 2.0 . You can’t see me in the video, but you can watch as my husband crawls through the mud, under barbed wire. Teammate Charlie caught this video. I was to the right of him, so you catch me periodically. It wasn’t too bad. On another obstacle that started out in a similar way, I did get poked in the butt by barbed wire near the end. I thought I was all the way at the end, but I wasn’t quite done yet. Oops.

Post-Mudder selfie.

As the event went on, there were walls to climb over, mud to crawl through, pipes to climb up, wood to carry, etc. Most of the terrain was hilly, and uneven. I was definitely not prepared for that. It made for some very sore muscles, even with us walking most of the course.

The easiest obstacles for me tended to be the climbing ones. I guess my years of rock climbing paid off (even if I’m not very strong any more).  The hardest obstacle for me personally, was called Everest 2.0. This was a steep halfpipe, with a rounded top. Apparently, the trick is to use speed to run up as fast as you can. People at the top help each other, but they say not to aim for the hands. This obstacle was at the half way point for us. For whatever reason, I felt like I was completely out of gas. I struggled to muster up the energy to get enough speed to make it to the top. After 3 tries (plus one where I started to run, and started laughing at something someone said, so bailed), I was ready to admit defeat. I was frustrated and exhausted. I hadn’t eaten in several hours, and had long since burned through my breakfast. I decided to try one more time. This time, by a miracle, Chris, one of my teammates, caught my hand. Matt, another team mate jumped next to him to grab my other one. Charlie, our team captain, was trying to grab my leg. I didn’t have the strength to even swing it over… after hanging for what seemed like an eternity, I mustered the strength to swing it over, where he grabbed it, and they all pulled me over.

Luckily, I found a second wind after that. I managed to make it through all the rest of the obstacles. There were 3 obstacles I did not complete…. two had to do with going through electric wires. I got zapped pretty bad in high school, and didn’t want to relive that experience, so I skipped those two. The third obstacle I did not complete, was called Kong. It was a Legionaires-only obstacle. That means that only people who had completed the Tough Mudder  at least once could do that obstacle. Since it was my first time, I couldn’t try it. That was ok by me, because I knew I would fail. The obstacle before that one had monkey bars, etc. I was very disappointed in myself that I only made it across two monkey bars before I fell in the water. I was hoping to make it at least halfway across. Oh well, maybe next year.

Didn’t realize how banged up my knees were, until after my shower.

Four hours or so later, we finished the Tough Mudder. We were hot, sweaty, sore, and utterly exhausted! At the same time, it was thrilling to know that we had done it. We all had some battle wounds – cuts, bruises, scrapes, and lots of sunburn (despite putting plenty of sunblock on before hand). Some of us struggled with muscle cramps during the event, but it was all worth it!!

I now know how to train differently. I need to make sure I have a bigger breakfast that day, to make sure I pre-hydrate, and do some practice run/walks on hilly terrain. I will continue to work on being able to do things like pull ups, rings, monkey bars, and climbing walls. I will likely also go to a “Ninja Gym” to practice doing things like climbing ropes, and running up walls. I will be better prepared to not only complete obstacles, but also to be a better teammate, more capable of helping others over the obstacles.

I loved that this was such a team-focused event. We all worked together, and we made it! I am looking forward to doing the Tough Mudder again in the future!

 

 

 

School Trip

My scrapbook page from our band trip to Chicago, Junior Year of high school. This was just after dinner at Ed Dbeviks.

Tomorrow, my daughter heads out to Chicago with her choir. I’m not sure who’s more excited, her, or me?

While in Chicago, they are going to have some really cool experiences! They are going to see a production of Chicago, going to see The Blue Man Group, and going to the Aquarium. They are also going to Millenium Park – because you can’t go to Chicago as a tourist, and not take pictures in front of the Bean! They are also going to Navy Pier, and a few other locations. Of course, they also are doing some singing while they are there. Instead of a dance master class, like Grace is used to, they are doing a choir master class with a college professor.

She is so excited for her 4 days in the Windy City with her friends, that I’m surprised she’s sleeping at all!

I am excited for her, because I remember my band trips from high school very fondly! Some of my very favorite high school memories were made on our trips to Chicago (Junior Year),  and Toronto (Senior Year). As an adult, I have had the pleasure of visiting Chicago a few times. I saw The Blue Man Group, the parks, etc. and enjoyed them all.

I can’t wait to hear all about her adventures when she gets back!

 

Yellowstone 5K 2017

One of my goals in my fitness journey, is to run a 5K.

I have technically done two Polar Plunge 5Ks before, but I walked both of those. Yes, I technically finished them both (and was at the back of the pack in both). Yes, I got a shirt from each one. This said, neither met my goal of running a 5K.

A couple months ago, Jason pitched me the idea of doing a virtual 5K together. I didn’t really know what a virtual 5K was… basically, you pay the entry fee, and you run a 5K wherever you want. You send in your time by a certain date, and they send you a medal and shirt. I decided it might be a good way to ease into this whole running thing. I have been doing some running at the gym, but not as much as I’d like. One day, Jason sent me a message and said, “Let’s do our 5K tonight.” Neither of us had done much training, but what the heck… why not? Jason had a goal of finishing in 45 minutes. I did not want to commit to that time, but was committed to finishing.

During the show I was recently in, I talked to one of the cast members who has been doing a lot of running and biking over the past couple years. I told him about the little training I had done, and about my struggles to maintain a running pace. My stamina was terrible! Even though I didn’t think I was very fast compared to other people I had seen at the gym, he told me I was running too fast. His advice was to take the speed down a bit, and shoot for small goals – running for x number of minutes, or one mile, whatever. My goal while Jason and I did our 5K was to run for one mile straight. I set it at 4.8, really more of a jog, but one I thought I could maintain. I was able to maintain a speed between 4.8 and 5 MPH for an entire mile, then walked (at a fast pace) for a short while. I jogged for a half mile, and walked a little more. I was able to keep the intervals of jogging and fast walking going for the entire 3.2 miles. The last half a mile was tough, but I kept going.

In the end, I finished in 42 minutes, 34 seconds. This was under the 45 minutes that I didn’t think I’d make in the first place! That means I averaged 4.53 MPH for 3.2 miles!! I can’t walk that fast, which means that I officially did it! I ran a 5K! The best part? I beat Jason by 20 seconds!!

Today, Jason and I got our medals and shirts from the Yellowstone Virtual 5K. This race raised money for Yellowstone National Park, which we loved when we went a couple years ago. It was a good cause for a first race. The medal was based on the Grand Prismatic Spring, and was much more beautiful than it looked online. The shirts were great quality too! I look forward to wearing it.

Jason and I, showing off our swag!

This summer, Today, Jason and I plan on doing a couple more. Not sure if they will all be virtual races (which feel like less pressure), or if I will run a race with other people at the same time, but I will definitely do more.

 

White Bear Lake Lion’s Club Show 2017

Sleeping With the Television On – our opening number. Thank you to Jen Goplen for this great photo!

This past weekend, I had the privilege of being a part of the 71st annual White Bear Lake Lion’s Club Show. This is the local Lion’s Club‘s largest fundraiser each year. All the proceeds go back to the community in the form of scholarships, books for schools, food for the food shelf, etc.

My character, Heidi Bomboozala.

This was my third year being in this show. The title was “Lost in TV Land 2.” It was about a man, Herman, who has been disrespectful to his wife by spending too much time golfing and watching TV. The Spirit of Neglected Housewives took Herman through some of his favorite old shows to teach him about respecting his wife.  My role this year was to play a female villain from the show Get Smart. I was also a backup dancer in two other scenes – M.A.S.H. and The Munsters. This was a fun show to be a part of, despite quite a bit of down time in Act 1.

3 out of 4 of the members of the makeup and hair crew. Grace, Jen, and Kari.

 

 

 

My daughter joined in the fun this year by being part of the hair and makeup crew. This was perfect for her, because she loves doing makeup and hair, and didn’t have the same time commitment as those of us “acting” in the show. There were a few makeup changes mid-show, and it took the whole team to help get them done on time. Almost every scene of the show had at least one person wearing a wig. When they weren’t doing makeup changes, the group was helping prepare wigs, helping people put them on, etc. Shayna (not pictured) led the team. I think they all had as much fun being behind the scenes, as we all did on stage! Every time I was in the hall where they were set up, I heard a lot of laughing!

Scott E. aka Herman Munster. This was one of the main makeup jobs that needed to be applied mid-show, and then again before the end.

One of my favorite things about being a part of the Lion’s Club Show, is all the friendships made. The people involved in this show are mainly Lions (or friends/family members of Lions). They enjoy serving the community. During the rehearsals, we heard over and over how “we want to put on a good show, and make people laugh.” The focus is always on raising as much as we can, so the Lions Club would have more money to give back. Not only do most of the people in this show have a “heart of servitude”, they are genuinely pretty great people! I enjoy spending all the hours of rehearsals and dance practices with them. We all laugh a lot!!

Kathy, Suzie, and I. We all tap dance together, and participate in the show together. Both women are huge inspirations to me to keep on moving, no matter how old I may get. The best part? They are ALWAYS smiling!

In the show this year were: people I have only met and spent time with during show season (some I had watched in shows when I was younger); women I tap dance with; one woman I danced with in Jr. High (and her niece that used to dance with Grace); one guy I graduated from high school with; and lots of family members of people I went to high school with. I will miss the hours we all spent working on the show, dancing, and laughing together. I’m already looking forward to being a part of next year’s show!

After the Friday night show, the cast traditionally goes out for a karaoke party. This year, it was at The Stadium. There was lots of singing, dancing, some poker playing by the teenage boys (not for money), and a few other shenanigans. I don’t think anyone there didn’t have fun!

On Saturday night, a few of us brought all the teens out for Pies and Fries at Baker’s Square. I think this was the third year we did this. There was a lot of laughing coming from their table. I think they had fun!

 

Next March, if you want to laugh, and see a fun show, please consider coming to see us! It is usually the first weekend in March, at Central Middle School in White Bear Lake. Laughing for a great cause… what better way to spend a couple of hours?

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