Throwback Thursday: CMP edition #tbt

CMP Productions at "Fashion Cares" in Toronto.

Ah…remember that time we flew first class to Toronto, got picked up by a limo and taken to our show. Basically, we were treated like rock stars, so obviously, we acted like rock stars.

Circuit Mom Productions (CMP) provided the after party entertainment for Fashion Cares, a fundraiser for the M.A.C. AIDS Fund. Last year, the charity closed after 25 years with a huge bash featuring Elton John. The first year we did it, Lionel Richie was the headliner. Not a bad gig if you can get it.

We performed the “Showgirls” number I previously wrote about here. This was the show where I lost my headdress. What I didn’t mention was that we were scheduled to go on at around 2 am, which has a number of challenges like staying warm and staying awake. Nothing was running on time, so we ended up performing at around 4:15 am! And…kick! By then, I’m not sure anyone was sober enough to care that I was dancing sans chapeau. Except me.

Throwback Thursday: Circuit Mom edition #tbt

Circuit Mom and RB at Finkel Steel Mill.

Another throwback from my days at Circuit Mom Productions (CMP). We were performing at the Finkl Steel Mill for the 2004 Fireball event. Todd Michael Kiech came up with a sassy number to Real Love (Deborah Cooper mixed by the amazing Tony Moran) with a construction/mill worker theme. Our intro was a clip from The Simpsons where Homer takes Bart on a tour of a steel mill with a twist.*

This time, Mom was carried in via crane on a two-ton (not really sure, but it was huge and heavy!) cement block. Girl knows how to make an entrance. The dancers were already placed on stage facing the back. As always with ooncy intro mixes, it was hard to hear our cue and if you missed the first count, you were basically screwed. Dancers started to scatter and move out of position, which made the dance captain in me FREAK OUT! Little did I know that the crane was late depositing Mom on the stage and was way too close. I turn, on cue, to start dancing and meet the HUGE cement block (with my hand), duck under it and keep right on dancing. Note: Don’t make me miss my cue.

The rest is a fun-filled blur where the girls got to literally stripped the boys of their clothes. The only thing the boys had on by the end were their construction hats and smiles. Good times.


Throwback Thursday: SBC edition #tbt

Photo by Richard Hendee.

This is an old shot for the marketing campaign for Springfield Ballet Company‘s (SBC) Rockballet, a Billboard-esque show of pointe, jazz and contemporary works set to rock music. And that’s my dear friend and partner-in-crime Paulie!

We were on the posters, t-shirts and billboards to promote the show that year, but I can’t seem to find anything with that shot on it, so this is what you get.

Rockballet was always my favorite show of the season. It was first. It was more artistically satisfying than The Nutcracker. Plus, I was way better at contemporary works than being the pretty, pretty princess. Winning! We used music from U2, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Elton John, Hole and whatever was hot at the time.

Merde to my friends at SBC for this weekend’s performances!


Throwback Thursday: CMP edition #tbt

CMP showgirls in DC.

For years I used to perform and work for the talent and lovely Matthew Harvat, head chief fancy pants at Circuit Mom Productions (CMP). We did countless creative, awesome shows over the years and the “Showgirls” number was one of my favorites. Set to a cool remix of Madonna’s Don’t Tell Me with choreography by Todd Kiech and some hot cowboys thrown in, this was one of our most popular numbers.

When they first did the piece, I was in another number and NOT happy that I didn’t get to be a showgirl. Luckily, CMP toured with it and – yay! – I got put in for Cherry Ball 6 in DC. We showgirls were to “hide” and then enter from behind the crowd and walk down the massive marble staircase. Quite the entrance! No one told us that the headpieces were basically helmets and we couldn’t hear the intro music until it was almost too late. Almost. Needless to say, there were four pretty showgirls hauling butt and yelling “Move it!” just before we hit our first pose. Out of breath, but on time.

Another thing no one mentioned was that fans are hard to hold onto when wearing silk gloves. It seems obvious, right? It was quite a shock when I couldn’t keep my fans in the right position and ended up doing the entire 8-minute number with severe cramps in my hands. Smile through the pain – don’t. drop. the. fans. In subsequent performances I tried rosin, wig tape, double-face tape, duct tape…nothing worked quite like my ever-present hand cramps.

When performing the number in Toronto for Fashion Cares, the fans were the least of my problems. Curtain opens with me in front smiling and fanning…first step down the steps and my entire headdress falls off. Off! After kicking it off stage, I danced the entire piece with my bobby pins, pin curls, wacked out hair and a big, fat smile. Do you think anyone noticed?


Throwback Thursday: Puppet edition #tbt

RB as Pinocchio. (Yes, that is a donkey tail.)

Every ballet dancer dreams of being cast as the lead role in a ballet. I was no different, silently and not-so-patiently waiting for my big part. Sure I’d done lead roles in The Nutcracker and other various rep works, but I wanted to be the title character.

As I mentioned in a previous #tbt post, my dream role was “Cinderella”, which I did not get. So when I did finally get the lead, what was it? “Princess Aurora” in The Sleeping Beauty? No. “Swanilda” in Coppélia? Nope. “Snow White” in (duh) Snow White? Nuh uh.

For my big part, I got to be a boy. Scratch that…a wooden boy. I was cast to be the lead in my director’s new version of Pinocchio complete with fake rubber (phallic) nose. No pretty, pretty princess or grand pas for me, instead I got to have puppet arms, do flips, turn into a donkey and pretend to get drunk with the “Lost Boys” on stage. Maybe not a dream come true, but for as much as I bitched about that darn nose – I still can’t stand the smell of spirit gum – I had a role created on/for me. And once I realized I didn’t have to be ballerina perfect, that I could trip, fall, mess up…whatever and still be in character AND crack up the audience, well, I have to admit, I had a freakin’ blast!

Throwback Thursday: Monkey edition #tbt

RB with wildlife on the Rock of Gibraltar.

Yes, that is a monkey on my head. Fun times. Technically it’s an ape, since it doesn’t have a long tail, but…regardless, it was on my person.

I was in Spain on vacation with friends. We decided to rent a car and take a day trip to see the Rock of Gibraltar. We rented a tour guide to take us to the top in his van. These apes/monkeys were all over the place and he had a fake rubber snake in the van to scare them off when they jumped on the car. (Btw – I have a completely irrational fear of snakes. Even fake ones.) He told us how there were two “gangs” of apes living at the top of the rock and to make sure not to eat anything, especially anything sweet outside once we got to the top because the monkey/apes would swoop down and steal it. Note taken.

We toured the caves and went to the gift shop. I was jumpy since the monkey/apes were everywhere and still afraid of the rubber snake from the car. We walked outside to take some photos from the top of the rock. My friend thought it would be funny to get a staged picture taken with a monkey on her back placed by the guide. She chickened out, but in the meantime, one monkey scaled my back and sat on my shoulders, another jumped on my back and yet another jumped on my arm. Two of my friends thought it was hilarious and started taking pictures. Another high-tailed it out of the area on his way back to the van.

What was going through my head? 1. They were going to scratch my eyes out and take my sunglasses. 2. They were going to rip my hair out. 3. They were going to pee on me. None of these things, in my mind, were good. Staying calm, I eventually, asked the guide to please take them off of me. Laughing, he complied. Being the fierce rogue that I am, I promptly burst into tears. It turns out my favorite vanilla perfume (that I still wear) was the culprit. Needless to say, it was a jittery ride back down and I not-so-nicely told the guide he’d better not even think of busting that fake snake out again.




Throwback Thursday: Peep edition #tbt

RB and Todd Michael Kiech at ACDF circa 1987.

Oh, the 80s. Picture it. Central Illinois – 1986 – a girl from Decatur meets a guy from the Chicago suburbs at a dance rehearsal. There is laughing, lots of laughing. A friendship is born amid leotards and leg warmers.

Todd Kiech is many things: a dancer, choreographer, teacher, actor, psychic, burlesque star, bartender, but most of all he’s my dear friend. He has the most infectious, boisterous laugh around. He makes me giggle every time I see him. He’s my original peep.

We’ve done hundreds of shows together over the years. I will never forget the sage advice he once gave me in rehearsal. “Vicki, do…something!” Back in the day, I had big hair and he had hair. I love my Todd Kiech. Happy 27 years, my friend.

Throwback Thursday: Cindy edition #tbt

RB as Winter Fairy in "Cinderella".

This #tbt is inspired by Breaking Pointe*, the CW docu-drama series following Ballet West**. This season on the show the company is performing Sir Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella. (The filming took place during their 2012-2013 season.) This past Monday the cast list went up and had me meandering down memory lane.

Cinderella is one of my favorite ballets. Prokofiev’s sparkling music, the magical transformation with the carriage, the hilarious ugly step sisters (Yes, I was one. Too fun.), the whimsical choreography (I’m fairly certain all versions take liberally from Ashton) and the story. Even though I take issue with the lesson that everything is “happily ever after” once you meet your prince…I’m still a sucker for this romantic tale.

I really, really wanted to be Cinderella. It was my dream part. Alas, my best friend and roommate got the coveted role. As awkward as that sounds, we immediately discussed any hurt feeling and I ended up sitting in on her rehearsals for moral support. (She was fabulous, by the way, and admittedly a better dancer than me.) I was cast as the Winter Fairy, which has a beautiful, but slightly boring variation. I also had to wear a powder blue tutu. Yuck! I coped by wearing copious amounts of blue eye shadow. Blue rogueness.

While the solo variation wasn’t particularly challenging , the group fairy variations with the Fairy Godmother were fast and fun. The tick-tock clock countdown in Act II was hard and a blast, but the Act III interlude before the wedding pas, where we bourree in place forEVER killed my poor hips.

* I live-tweet the episodes on Monday evenings. Follow along @rogueballerina

**Ballet West will be performing in Chicago at the Auditorium Theatre this October. Get tickets here!

Throwback Thursday: Evil rogueness

RB as the Evil Queen in "Snow White".

About a million years ago, when I was still dancing, in pointe shoes no less, I had another sign of rogueness. I was feeling in a rut and expressed to my Director (and dear friend) that I was thinking of cutting my hair off. After telling me I couldn’t do that (which is the fastest way to get me to do something), she relented, but said I would have to wear a fake bun for the Spring show. Fine.

Instead, I was cast as the Evil Queen and was put in a hood/scull cap. So, I got to cut my hair short, got a kick-ass part (basically looking pissed off and kicking people in between battements, and I’m pretty sure I hissed at the audience at one point – aka, typecasting) and had a blast. Winning.

#Throwback Thursday: Tales of Early Rogueness

Hey - these shoes are made for running!

There were early signs of rogueness. The “old school” walker was just an accessory. According to my Mom, I would pick it up and run with it, then stop, sit and rest. Sounds about right.

One day, wanting to follow my big brother, I rode it down the 12 steps to the basement. Wee!

Another sign happened at the public swimming pool. While my Mom was talking I jumped into the deep end diaper and all. She found me at the bottom, looking up at her with bubbles coming out of my mouth. Hi!

Sorry Mom 🙂