Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Macy's Passport 2010

Even though summer school took up about 80% of my time in LA, I still managed to audition for a few dance jobs. The audition for "Macy's Passport presents Glamorama" occurred toward the end of July, and amidst the rigorous 6-week A session program at UCLA I attended the cattle call. While the audition was for 9-16 year olds, and I am years above that upper age limit, my appearance allowed me to (and continues to allow me to) go on the "kids" audition.

The choreographer was Tony Testa, the same talented chap who I worked with on "Dance on Sunset." I really admire Tony because he is a pure artist. He takes his art more seriously than the average LA dancer and is very driven. His work is always challenging and fun, and I was so happy to hear that he was the choreographer for our particular segment.

The audition process was pretty strenuous. There was a panel of judges seated at the very front of the Powerhouse gym room, all of whom were important Macy's representatives. The Artistic Director, Brian Friedman, was also present. Having worked with and assisted Brian on projects and conventions, I was hoping that I had a better chance than the other dancers. Connected or not, I danced extra hard and tried my hardest to stand out among the 150+ dancers. After three rounds of cuts, I along with eight other dancers were the last ones standing. Booked.

The event is a charity fashion show put on by Macy's that benefits an organization. The organization varied in each of the 4 cities: Chicago, Minneapolis, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. At first, I was mortified that I was going to have to rehearse and travel with kids that were 18 years old and under. Not to say that the kids themselves were hard to deal with, because they were in actuality lovely kids, but their mentality and mindset are juvenile. Being a third year college student I have very little in common with them. Luckily, the "adult" female dancers also danced in the Madonna Material Girl segment, and all the dancers in the show regardless of age traveled together. My good friend, Chantel Aguirre, was among the "adult" dancers. Other "adult" dancers that I got along really well with were, Dominic Chaiduoung, Nick Lanzisera, and Jason Glover.

Traveling and dancing with the Macy's group was an absolute blast. Each city had its own charm, and we usually had time between rehearsals and shows to explore the downtown area. I especially remember Minneapolis because I was flown out early to rehearse with the harness (I had a special part in the show as a Butterfly). I had an extra day and a half to relax and play in downtown Minneapolis by myself. I ventured to the library, went to coffee shops to read my book, and even walked to a local farmer's market. Here are some pictures of me and the other dancers:


Another great part of the job was the Macy's Passport After Party that occurred after each show. The after party was supposed to be for people who "donated" the most, or more simply, those who paid the most for their tickets. The parties were lavish and always a fun time. There were delicious hors d'ouerves, fancy goody bags, bubbly drinks, etc. Macy's knows how to throw a good party.

My overall experience with Macy's passport was amazing, and I am so glad that I got to share it with the people that I did. I'm not sure if I would want to audition for it again next year, but I suppose that I'll cross that bridge when I have to.

Monday, December 13, 2010

First half of 2010

The year of the Ox started off with a nice Asian bang. Vietnamese to be exact.

Paris by Night
Paris by Night is a popular Vietnamese musical variety show including musical performances by modern pop stars, traditional folk song stars, and one-act skits. Most of the musical performances have background dancers and the routines are pretty extravagantly costumed and propped. I was a dancer, along with nine other asian or asian-looking dancers. Some of these included Taeko from Fysh and Chicks and Alexie Agdeppa who's sister I dance with on Entity.The choreographer, Shanda Sawyer, has an incredible ability to create visually stunning routines catered for the Vietnamese audiences, despite being non-Asian herself.

Disney 365: Kingdom Keepers III in Orlandao, FloridaPerhaps one of the funnest non-dance jobs I have done thus far is hosting for Disney 365. The episode introducing the book Kingdom Keepers III was shot at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The Disney Channel Star that I was interviewing was Good Luck Charlie's Jason Dolley. Being my first Disney 365, I was really nervous, but really excited. I got to play in the Magic Kingdom and stay at a nice hotel all on M3 Creative's dime. It was pretty awesome. Here's the link to the episode!

Glee: Another One Bites the DustThe next dance job I got called to do was for Brooke Lipton and Zach Woodlee for "Glee." I didn't even audition, but I think it was because Brooke and Zach both are familiar with me since I had taken class from them when I was younger (I was the Hollywood Connection national champion in 2005 and 2006). I was really thankful that Shayna and Pete submitted me because personal connections can only take you so far, and at the end of the day, the agent is the one who can make a job happen for her client. I quite enjoyed dancing for Brooke and Zach. They are articulate teachers and are really fun to dance with. Other dancers included: Kenny Wormald, Devin Jamieson, Devin Walker, Wesley Quinn, Hayley Roderick, Mike Riccio, etc. It was a really star studded cast, as far as dancers go. The episode was the "Funk" episode, and the dance we did was "Another One Bites the Dust".

Urban Paradise
At the end of March, I had the pleasure and honor of dancing in Damian Gomez's project for Urban Paradise, an annual dance showcase thrown by The Company/WSPA in San Francisco. Me, Aimee Lee Lucas, Catherine Damman, and Dmo danced in a number choreographed by Dmo. I stayed with him and his family for a night and got to hang out with him and all the Bay Area dancers. The show was held at the Palace of Fine Arts, and other performers included: GRV, SGBM, and CADC. I have a lot of respect for all the artists that participated in the show, and it was amazing to be a part of it.

Fusion 2010
The most memorable moment in my college career to date definitely was when NSU Modern received 2nd place at Fusion Hip Hop Competition held at UCSD. No team from UCLA has ever placed in the top 3 spots at a major dance competition, and we were the first to do it!! As a coordinator, I feel a lot of pressure to create good work for the team and to step up as a leader. I was really proud of NSU for its amazing work. Our Monster Set was incredible, and I am so happy that the team was finally recognized for its talents. I choreographed the opener and closer for the set, and I loved how everything turned out!

The first half of my summer was packed with summer school and crazy college kids. Dance was sprinkled in here and there, and I randomly got to dance on an episode of America's Got Talent with a kid rapper and a BMX tricker. Oddly enough, I hadn't made the audition for the gig because I had a midterm that day. One of the dancers didn't have a valid visa so she couldn't go through with the job. Luckily, I knew the choreographer/artistic director, Brian Friedman, and he called me in to replace her.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Dance Jobs from 2009

I recently realized how awful I've been about keeping track of the wonderful work opportunities I have experienced these past three years in LA. I have a journal, but it is filled with doodles and interesting quotes from books instead of recounts of the adventures that I have been on. Yeah, I have a pretty good memory and can recollect what I did two years ago. But what happens when I can't remember any more? Memories from as recent as high school have been pushed back in to the far corners of my mind, and I can barely remember what senior prom 2008 was like.

I'm going to start blogging detailed accounts of the jobs that I do for my own sake, and maybe you'll come along with me for the ride. As for the gigs that I did between 2008 and late 2010, I'll just have to give sparknote versions of what I can remember. I'll start with Freshmen year in college, because that is really when the world of dance and school started to collide.
"Crazy" Music Video and South Korea in May 2009":

Brian Friedman choreoeographed the "Crazy" music video for Korean pop star Lee Jung Hyun: ,
and then the six main dancers went to Korea for a week to perform with her on some television appearances. The makeup and hair they put on us every day was absolutely wonky:

And I ate quite a bit of Korean food:

I remember staying out really late but having to wake up super early the next morning because our call times were always something like 8AM or 9AM. Each performance day started off with a "make over", complete with shampoo and styling for the dancers' hair and then customized makeup. I was the youngest of six dancers and I had just turned 19 in March. Everyone else was slightly older, sans Victor Rojas, who is a veteran in the dance business. I felt honored to dance with them all, especially those that are reputable in the dance world.

Kristinia Debarge June 2009
The next job I did was dancing for musical artist Kristinia Debarge at some radio show in Rochester, New York. The choreographers were Tina Landon and Jason Myhre, and the other dancer was Aubree Storm. I love doing jobs with Aubree because I actually really enjoy her as a person. She has a spunky personality, and has a cultured head on her shoulders. Believe it or not, it is difficult to find people within the LA dance community who are talented at dancing and who are engaging intellects. Aubree represents a rare and dwindling population of dancers untainted by the glitz and glam of Los Angeles.

Tina has an incredible amount of experience in the dance industry. From Britney to Rihanna, her presence in the industry spans longer than I have even been dancing. It was also a great coincidence because I have worked with Jason before when he taught classes at Teen Dance Company. It was a strange coincidence that our paths would cross again, especially in these contexts. The trip to Rochester was short, and me and Aubree ended up finding some time to enjoy the lonely streets of the downtown neighborhood. Here are some pictures from the trip:

France 2009
In July 2009, my mom and I decided to take a trip to France. The purpose of the trip was not dance related, but it falls in between everything else and I think it's appropriate to mention it now so that it doesn't break the chronology of my entries. My mom is definitely one of my heroes, and really look up to her for guidance and inspiration. On some level, this trip was about our relationships: as a mother and daughter pair, and as friends.

Arkansas 2009
Keith Banks, the owner of Studio 10 in Cupertino, CA and an old dance teacher of mine, offered me a teaching job in Little Rock Arkansas in July. At first, I was very taken aback by the idea of traveling to the Bible Belt and teaching a group of kids very unlike myself. I ended up going anyways, and had a surprisingly wonderful time. Plus, the people in Arkansas really understood the concept of hospitality.

August through December of 2009 flew by, and I my life was busy with directing NSU Modern, rushing for Kappa Alpha Theta at UCLA, dancing for Boogiezone's Entity Contemporary Dance Company, and keeping up with school work. I did a small acting job for the show, "Gigantic" on Nickelodeon, but other than that, Fall Quarter of 2009 was very school and dance community oriented:

2009 was quite eventful, but that was only a taste of what my career as a student slash dancer was going to feel like in 2010.