Ballet and Billy Elliot

I don’t know exactly what prompted me to think of Billy Elliot right before bed last night, but I did. I found myself walking around my condo while brushing my teeth and thinking of the dance teacher saying, “prepare….prepare…” And “Find a bloody spot on that bloody wall….” Or somesuch

Which then reminded me of Billy talking about how dance made him feel- like electricity. And then the scene when he gets his acceptance letter.

*niagara falls*

Anyway, this then made me replay adult Billy’s Swan Lake entrance, with his big, slo-mo grand jeté as all the company watched from the wings….

Very dramatic.

Which then reminded me of one of my favorite all time ballet moments that I saw in person.

In college (in Chicago) I got to go see the Joffrey Ballet perform, and man were they good! There were four distinct dances/styles presented- a very modern piece, a beautiful pas de deux set under water, and some more classical movement pieces. The finale was very classical, in traditional white tights and tutus with rousing orchestral music (very brassy, probably Russian).

Anyway, as the music built to the final moment, the corps de ballet was basically doing a moving “reverse curtain call” where the dancers were spinning and leaping and then exiting into the wings after their “moments” as the focus. It whittled down until only the prima ballerina was left on stage…

The final chord was crescendoing and she began running from one side of the stage (heading toward the opposite wings) and then leaped into the air and hit her grand jeté perfectly synchronized with the final monster hit of the orchestra, and the stage lights crashed to black….

And you never saw her land.

The last moment left in blazingly glory on your retinas is of her in perfect, unending heroic spit leap hovering in the air. The synergistic embodiment of physical movement and music.

Needless to say that it made such an impression on me that I remember it with utter clarity to this day.

Anyway- not sure why I was thinking about all that last night just before bed, but I was.

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A Successful Weekend

The gay men’s chorus holiday concerts were this weekend, and I’m pleased to report that everything went very well.

We had three nearly sold out shows (even the Sunday matinee was packed to all but the side balconies), and every performance went almost perfectly. I will say that overall I think The Saturday performance was best, and that was the one my mother attended.

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(This is at the end of “Oseh Shalom” a piece sung in Hebrew which ended up being one of the most powerful in our program and a crowd favorite).

Mom said that while she thought the concert was a bit long, it was really good and she enjoyed it all. She also said I did a good job in my trio and small ensemble. I don’t think she realizes what a big deal it was for me to put myself out there in this way, but that’s ok.

Mother also said, “I have never been surrounded by so many gay men in my life.”

I don’t think she liked some of the gay “camp” aspects (like the sugarplum fairy dancers)– or how much “gay” was present in the building.

The main thing for me was that I heard very nice comments about the trio and how our voices blended. It was nice being complimented on that.

And OutLoud! got some good, positive feedback as well. Lots of “sounded great” and “I think that’s the tightest OutLoud! Has ever sounded.” Even other chorus members said we sounded good- which given the judge Judy nature of many a gay man, is saying something.

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(That’s me on the far right.)

Even with all this positive reinforcement and ego stroking, I’m glad it’s over. All the preparation and stress and performance focus can be exhausting!

So now I get a small, well-deserved break until January when we start preparation for the Beatles concert. I’m excited to get some new music to sing and something fresh to work on.

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Drawbacks

While it’s been really nice being asked to sing in the small choral ensemble and to be in the special TV appearance, it has had a few drawbacks.

Like animosity.

After performing in the TV gig this past Saturday, I received a text message that was a bit of a downer:

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As you can see, a fellow chorus member was a bit upset at being left out of the process. It then went on:

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As you can see, I tried my best to diffuse the situation, but to no avail. But the whole exchange left me deflated and questioning.

“Am I viewed as receiving preferential, undeserved treatment? Is it creating friction? Do people look unfavorably upon me now?”

It also left me a bit pissed. As this TV gig was the first thing I was ever asked to do. And yeah, I auditioned for a solo– but it’s my first one. It’s not like I sing them all the time and at every concert.

Meh. It’s shit like this that makes my tummy all oogy because it really bothers me.

Anyway. On a lighter note, here’s a still shot from after the news cast with the morning anchors:

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You take the good, you take the bad…

You take em both and there you have the facts of life. The facts of life.

Oddly this makes no mention of “the ugly”, but it probably should.

So yesterday the T.C. gay men’s chorus traveled to Rochester to perform a “preview” of our upcoming holiday concert. Overall it went pretty well, but it did serve to shine a spotlight on areas that we still need to work on.

It also shined a spotlight on yours truly, and I sort of fucked up big time. More on that in a minute.

First, the good. Overall, the chorus sounded good and we were very well received. Some of the pieces even sounded fantastic in the church where we performed (Sure In This Shining Night was quite moving).

Now the “okay”. OutLoud (the small ensemble in which I sing) performed at this show. Of the 12 members, only 8 of us were there. And I was the ONLY BASS!! Needless to say, there was more than a little pressure on me and I had no vocal support. Overall we sounded decent and I managed to hold my own.

(Side note: this whole “small ensemble and solo” singing is really new and scary for me; to be so visible and exposed. So yesterday was kind of a big deal.)

The “not as good”: the space was cramped and it was almost impossible to hear the piano which was wedged far behind the chorus. Sight lines were difficult and time was… Stretchy.. Between the choir and piano sometimes. And the Rutter Gloria had more than a few issues.

And now for “the ugly”.

I sang an unintended “solo” yesterday. Very wrong. Very exposed. And very visible.

As you know, I am singing in the trio that sings in the second movement of the Gloria. Which necessitates having the trio squeeze out from the main chorus and come up front. Well, front but off to the right side.

Our positioning had us about 4 feet in front of the front pews. Which were full of people.

So, I’m already nervous, we’re standing right up front, and it’s hard to see our director. The movement starts and after two measures I open my mouth and start singing.

Only we weren’t doing the abbreviated into. Oh no, we were doing the long intro for this concert.

I was the ONLY one who sang. And I was right smack dab in the front for all to see. And hear.

Fuck.

My biggest fear realized.

The anxiety was excruciating. The wire hit embarrassment all-consuming. I could have just died- and happily so.

In my defense, not ONCE in any rehearsal have we ever done the full intro. And since we didn’t have the brass group, it felt like we would do the abbreviated version. I mean, heck, we DID do another cut in the movement so….

Anyway.

If you recall, I had a similar solo “moment” in Minnesota Brass where I came in early and was mortified. And everyone made fun of me. And I subsequently spent part of a bus ride home crying.

And, in a similar vein once the guys in the chorus figured out who came in early– well, it was sort of “open season”.

I feel awful.

But, you know something? At the end of the day, I survived. The earth didn’t open up and swallow me. I didn’t melt into a pool of shame. Sure it was a mistake, but that’s okay. I recovered and managed to sing the trio part really pretty darn well.

Let’s just hope this got it out of my system and the real performances this week will be flawless.

Or at the very least not so painfully flawed.

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It’s Showtime, folks!

So the TV performance is in the books and it went well. We sounded fairly decent for being jammed into a TV set with an electronic keyboard.

Most of the quick cuts (singing into commercial break) went well and quickly. I wasn’t seen much as the camera angle and front row basically blocked my face out.

But I was visible in the wider shots, etc.

Here’s a janky recording of the longest but we did, which was right at the end of the show:

Not bad, eh? Especially for having a conductor off in the wings trying to give us cues from behind cameras.

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Clothing Crisis!

Ok- I’m in the midst of a mild clothing crisis for tomorrow for this TV gig.

The direction is black shoes (have), black trousers (have) and colorful/festive sweater or vest or scarf combo something on top. Something fun and bright for TV.

Uh– don’t have.

My wardrobe skews to the dark and monochromatic. I think the most festive color I have is “burgundy”. Seriously. And I only own two sweaters that I feel are nice enough for tv.

Over the years (through much trial and error) I have determined that I do look best in navy blues, charcoals, and burgundy colors. Some mossy grey greens work too. But that’s about it. And to that end I’ve built my current selection of clothes.

I also don’t have a lot of nice things because I work in a dank, greasy factory.

Hence– clothing crisis!!!!! Aaaaaaaahhhhhh!!!

Right now my “festive wear” is a white, French cuff shirt, grey/black vest, and a purple bow tie.

I guess you’ll just have to wait to see it on tv.

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Come Out

So, as many of you know, I’m pretty gay, but I’m not “gay” gay. And by that I mean I’m not constantly in people’s faces about it. I look at it as my sexuality, but that’s only a small fragment of who I am– not the main component. There are about 10 things I would list before “cock sucker”.

To that end, I don’t go spouting off about being gay at the drop of a hat. I’m not closeted by any means, and I don’t think I hide it (hello, I’m 45 and a “confirmed bachelor” wink wink) but like at work I don’t go around twirling rainbow flags and riding unicorns. Mainly because where I work is very conservative.

Like Michelle Bachmann and Sean Hannity conservative.

As you can imagine, singing in the gay chorus is therefore a bit more “higher profile” than I normally am. It is, after all, the mission of the chorus to be out and proud and present positive gay role models in the community. This visibility does make me nervous, but I think the overall mission important enough to risk it.

So it’s kind of a big step for me. I’m trying to be more courageous and authentic (two of the chorus’s core values) and I truly like singing and performing and I don’t like to feel like I have to hide that side of me.

But it is something I worry about. Mainly because I do worry about being fired for being gay. Not that it would ever be directly the reason– oh no. I’m sure my performance ratings would go from stellar to shitty in one fell swoop and then the axe would fall. But it wouldn’t really be my performance.

*** deep breath***

I’m saying all this because this week I was asked to represent the chorus by singing in a 12 person ensemble this coming Saturday morning– on TV. As the showcase entertainment a local news program.

And I said yes.

We’ll be on the morning newscast from 8-9am where this very small, very select group from the chorus will sing several song snippets and one whole number from our upcoming holiday concert. It will be a great opportunity to advertise out concert and to represent the gay community. Just 12 of us. On camera. Broadcast throughout the Metro.

And li’l ol me, standing in the mix and putting my ugly mug out there for all to see. Well– for all those who watch early news on Saturday mornings to see.

But “courage and authenticity”… right?

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Me So Horny!

Okay. So I’m not one to get embarrassed by much– in fact it’s usually me who is the one causing other people to blush. I basically live a couple blocks past the line of taste and decency, and just do occasional drive-bys in order to wave at the masses.

That being said, I can be occasionally caught off-guard, in which case I will indeed blush like mad.

Last night was one of those cases.

Let me start by saying that I never get phone calls. I get texts, but a phone call for me any more is a rarity. Let me also say that I always have my phone set to silent so that I just get a vibrational alert. And by “always” I mean like 99.9% of the time.

In fact, I have my phone set to silent so much that I tend to forget what ringtone I have selected. (sigh)

So, last night at Chorus rehearsal we were in the middle of what’s called a “3-minute share”, where a member gets up and talks to the group about his choral experiences and what being in the chorus means to him, and it’s kind of quiet and poignant and that’s when I hear it.

It’s very muffled but completely recognizable:

Oh! Me so horny! Oh oh! Me so horny! Oh me so horny, me love you long time!

Yes indeed. The sampled chorus from 2 Live Crew’s hit single.

It takes me the full lyric cycle to realize that (a) this is my ringtone, and (b) it’s coming from my phone which is buried inside the bag that’s under my chair.

The guy doing the share stops and looks in my direction. I’m sort of frozen at this point as I think “Maybe they’ll hang up and it will stop on its own, because I can’t easily hit the silence button on the iPhone.”

But no.

The phone launches right into the second time through. Oh! Me so horny!…

I feel my face burning at this point as everyone is now looking at me. And given the poignancy of the share, this particular ring tone AND the all-gay audience…. Just FML. Seriously. So I dive for my bag and scramble for the phone.

And as soon as the bag opens, the muffling effect stops and at full volume the phone is blaring out me love you long time! before I’m able to silence it.

My face is now on fire and I’m trying to not make eye contact of any kind, but failing. I’m also trying hard not to giggle at the magnitude of the fail.

The best part? It was my mom calling “just to check in”.

At break I did go and apologize to the guy who was sharing. He is a friend of mine and was fairly understanding. But still–

So, you can see it takes a special “epicness” to truly embarrass me.

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Thanksgiving Mehs

So, I got strep throat for Thanksgiving. Yaaaay.

Yeah, I started not feeling so good on Wednesday at work and I was hoping it was just a cold. But it felt– different.

That became very apparent as Wednesday evening I started feeling worse and worse. And by Thursday morning I couldn’t swallow.

So I had to call and tell my family I wasn’t coming home. And then I spent the rest of Thursday napping and trying to feel better. And Friday morning first thing I went to the doctor.

And was given antibiotics post-haste.

By Sunday I was feeling fairly decent again. But then Monday hit and I went to work– but I just felt like crap. Tired. Unfocused. Blistering Headache. Queasy.

So I stayed home today too. Thank god I have some banked PTO days! But as of this afternoon, I actually feel decent again. Not 100%, but at least… Decent.

So this has been behind a certain lack of posting. Well, that and work continues to be crazy as my boss is still dumping more off onto me and the new VP that was just hired is starting to make more demands.

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Crazy Cat Lady

I hope I’m not turning into one of those cat ladies.

I mean, I still only have one cat. And I’m not a hoarder. So currently all signs are pointing to “no”. But….

I did just get a Christmas gift for my precious miss Phoebe. And it’s from Etsy.

***red flag***

In my Facebook feed there was a list of “cool items that every cat owner should buy for their cat” or some such. And in it was this:

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It’s a hand-made merino wool felt cat cave/bed! I think it’s cool as hell and has a modern esthetic that will go so much better in my place than a fake fur cat bed from PetSmart.

Plus, as it gets colder (and because I took her box away) I wanted to give her a nice, cozy space of her own. One that wouldn’t look like a janky USPS box stuffed with a pair of my fuzzy sleepy pants.

Instead it will look like this:

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I got the exact one above as it is a little larger and has a bigger opening. Phoebe isn’t one of those cats that likes to be tightly enclosed. I learned this the hard way when I bought one of those hooded litter boxes.

I’m hoping she likes it. It will look great in my bedroom and the colors go well with my condo’s blue color story.

I am a cat lady, aren’t i?

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