Samba Fogo!

Oh my god! I did it! I’ve dreamed for years of somehow, someday, getting back in competitive dance shape – and miraculously knowing how to samba – so I could audition for Samba Fogo, our local pro Samba dance company.

A couple of months ago, a beginner’s workshop popped up in my Facebook feed, and I jumped on it. Next week is the last of the 5-wk. course, and I’m a natural! I’m up there with the Latin girls as best-in-beginner. The ladies I “compete” with are from the salsa tradition, so they struggle with falling back into that rhythm. I never had it, so I just samba! I don’t know how I know how to shake like that, but the only thing I need is time to get my speed up. (I still look plenty awkward, but it’s in me. It won’t be long!)

This weekend is the audition for “Ala,” the community performance extension of the dance company, which I knew nothing about. I’ll be out of town camping (in the snow!). Yesterday, after class, I overheard Lorin –  founder of Samba Fogo, our teacher, and winner of the 2018 Female Malandro competition at the International Samba Congress in LA – talking with another student about what to expect. I asked if she holds auditions every six months (It’s a six-month commitment), and mentioned being out of town for this one. She invited me to join without an audition!

I’m in Samba Fogo! I get everything I want!

I get half-off dance classes, and world class training. I mean, are you kidding me? What took me so long!? Why did I live halfway ’til I was halfway through? What is that?

No matter. I’ve begun. I’m so excited! My goal is to get this binge body off of me for the last time, and settle for it no more. I didn’t have it while I was biking, obviously, but I’m 30 lbs overweight since I got a car. Three years! Ridiculous!

I do count myself fortunate, inasmuch as I could be well over 200 lbs. with someone else’s metabolism. I joke that skinny was my superpower, and I lost it. But I didn’t, really. I regularly eat 4-5000 calories a day. My best friend didn’t believe me until she recorded my intake in FitDay and saw for herself. I have a freebie.

Unfortunately, I’ve used it to become skinny fat. I still struggle with diet. My cooking classes have been inconsistent, for different reasons, but I’m making slow progress. I’m getting there. I’m totally confident that I’ll get my kit down in the kitchen.

With dance back in my life, I’m reclaiming my body, my health, my joy, for good. I’m not going back. My main concern is my left big toe joint, but that’s another story (Fibro+), a bridge to cross another day. Dancing. 😉

For the next 5 years, I’m going to practice healthy, responsible maintenance, and cruise into 50 looking like that hot shit with no right to be so high and tight, and HAPPY!


Ladies Night, Family-Style

My family made up a group of 11 for my show Saturday night! I was surprised by tears that threatened to roll when the curtain rose. The Overture was well on its way, but that curtain lifted and I was ready to cry! It meant so much to have them there.

I’ve never had such a large crowd rooting for me all at once. Mom really came through for me. I asked her to bring “all the girls.” 2 aunts came with 1 uncle, my GRANDMA, all 4 nieces, my sis, sister-in-law, and mom. ❤

My aunt made fun of me for not acting at all. “I’m uniquely qualified to play a neurotic showgirl,” I agreed. (One reviewer wrote, “The real standout is Adelaide.” She doesn’t need to know it’s not an act.)

Tech week was officially the worst of them all. They kept us after midnight every night before opening! One night I got home after 2am! I was livid. The next day, 2 hot box dancers fainted onstage. I was one of them. When they advised me to take care of myself, I nearly walked off. Let me SLEEP! And when am I supposed to be feeding myself (or shopping for groceries) if you keep me for 7 hours after I work 8?

I’m still annoyed.

I’ve never rehearsed for 7 hours when I wasn’t getting paid. This is community theatre. You have no right to ask more than 3-4 hours after work, and whatever you like on Saturdays. Or you start sooner. I wondered from the beginning how they thought they were putting on such a big show in less than 2 months. I was furious to be proven right, and then completely dismissed and mildly chastised.

“You have to take care of yourself.”

You better take care, right now!

Then we opened, and it all went away. Really! (I was surprised. I was over it.) I felt united, excited, and full of togetherness and nerves.

I was terrified. I’ve never felt less ready to open, but we just needed our audience. There’s nothing like that symbiotic energy. It’s magic!

I love this part. “Guys & Dolls” is just great, classic American musical theatre, and Adelaide is my love song. You know what else? I’m good in this role. I don’t know why. I’m not the best dancer, singer, actor, anything, but I have heart.

I guess that’s it. I feel it. I’m not faking. You can feel me all the way to the rafters. I hold nothing back, and theatre seems to be the only place that’s appreciated.

Also, I’m hilarious. I got props in the review for comedic timing. In any case, I crack myself up. (A friend described me in 1995. “The thing I love about Christie,” he said,  “is she laughs harder at her own jokes than anyone.”) There’s one other guy whose ad libs are funnier than mine, and we’ve been vying all rehearsal long. (He’s cute and divorced. I checked his Facebook. He’s also Mormon. I checked his garment line.)

More than anyone, my Nathan has become a dear friend and confidante. I love him. I love that he’s on the planet. I love that he’s raising children. He’s been so kind to me. He’s a kind, good person who humbles and inspires me.

Theatre has been so generous since my return at 40. I hoped to be a dancing secretary in the ensemble of “How To Succeed,” and I got Hedy Larue! That was far beyond what I expected. I just wanted to play, to feel that particular expression of creativity again. Meeting Maurie, my director, is forever one of the greatest gifts.
hedy 2

I did “9 to 5” for Maurie 2 years later, upon request, just because I love her.
mr and mrs franklin hart jr

“Avenue Q,” at a community theatre in UTAH? Come on! Bad Idea Bear? Best part!
bad idea bears

And now Adelaide, who’s all I ever wanted. Everything else has been a surprise and a freebie along the way. I’m so fortunate. I’m proud. I enjoy my talent, finally, and I feel honored by the generosity of those who chose me and worked with me.

I don’t know when I’ll do another show. I’m satisfied.

In 2018, I’m looking forward to centering and simplifying. I want to sing for old folks again. I’m excited for yoga, belly dance, Afro-Brazilian/Samba (easier on the body than full-on African), drumming on Saturdays, online piano lessons, guitar (songwriting will fall out of me if I just commit to getting those callouses and chords), and mastering the didgeridoo after 10 years of knowing Marko. It’s all right there, and I just sat on it.

I’m not sitting anymore.

TEDx Salt Lake City

Look what I found!

Africa Heartwood Drum & Dance Ensemble performed at TEDx on Sept. 20th. Of course, I can hear myself and immediately begin finding fault, but I just have to remember that day. I love Africa Heartwood Project. I’m so honored to be a part of it. I love the music. I love the community. I love African drum and dance! It’s the best thing I’ve ever done for me.

This was so exciting and nerve-wracking. You might perceive, also, that as an ensemble we’d never heard the last song of our show before we took to the stage, haha! Andy’s… inspiring like that. 🙂

(Ooh, get up on that note! I remember thinking, “Oh my, they started a little high.” Oy!)

(Funny side-note: I’m told I clapped for myself after my first performance at 3 years of age, as well. It was my premiere audience and I suppose I thought, “Oh, this is what we’re doing now. How lovely, yes!” I’m still at it, it seems, only these days I have a percussive rattle. I clap at the end of my shows, too. I love the actors I work with, and I really love the audience. Live music, theatre, and dance are special. Even if it’s not the best, there’s something beautiful about the symbiotic relationship we create together. It can’t be duplicated. It’s fleeting and sacred, and exists only because of every person in the room.)

The Bill Hodson Band

bill hodson band
That was an awesome run! Last Thursday during our show, Kelly from Unusual Suspects, with whom we play, walked up between songs with a cake for Bill, announcing that this was the last day he’d be orchestrating Thursday nights at Millcreek. I’m sad about it. I loved singing there. But Bill wants paying gigs, and, well, I’m not gonna complain about that.

Marko and Ray came to every performance! So did my co-worker, Jo, which worked out for all my male friends who are clamoring for her attention. Keith from “How To Succeed” came twice and snapped the only shot of me singin’ with my band. My last show – how fortuitous! – I finally put the call out to my people to populate the audience, and they did! Mama Chris and Mama Pam, my bestie – a real treat, since it’s hard to get away from her 5 month old baby girl – Marko, Ray, Jo, Rusty, Theron, Pericles and his son.

I’m blessed. I’m supported. I’m loved! I’m surrounded by joy, laughter, and music. I love my urban family. Mama Chris calls us “Chosen Family.” I may adopt her term. It more accurately captures the warmth and gratitude I feel for the people who share my life. I can’t believe 40 is in the final stretch, and I can’t believe how truly wonderful a year it has been!

(This photo is from a benefit for Heart & Soul, a non-profit here in Salt Lake that brings music and the performing arts to those who can’t get out to see it. We played for a nursing facility, just over a week ago. It was nice to be back in that atmosphere. I miss volunteering for hospice.)

Open The Door

… and walk through!


Yesterday before work I got a call from Wild Bill, who told me we’re performing on Sunday at Sugarhouse Coffee. “It’ll be a chance for you to meet the band and work you into the act.” (Thursday was just Bill on keyboard and a bassist.)

“So this is what we’re doing now,” I thought. “Rehearsing songs I don’t know live!”

I said yes.

I was buzzing with synchronicity at work, excited to push my comfort level, blessed to have met such an ambitious man. I’m an idea person more than an action gal. I’d like to change that, but… I don’t.

Be careful what you wish for.

Bill walked into my work with his guitar and started throwing songs at me. “Do you know this? Do you know this?” They’re from the Great American Songbook; I know snippets of most. We sang a bit and I added them to my list to learn.

“Look,” Bill continued. “I want to put an act together and I’m talking days, not weeks.”

I agreed.

I needed someone to push me and I found him! Seems I’m the singer for a band.

Not Bad

Not bad at all!

Marko and I pulled into Millcreek Bar and Grill, and I freaked out. “Why is it packed on a Thursday night?!”

It’s strange how the nerves never lessen.

Thankfully, by the time I sang I’d had two beers and the main dinner crowd had gone home. The remainder was a room full of mainly gratis musicians and their friends, and they beamed at me. What a wonderful place to push through fear. This is the best audition practice I could have hoped for! (March 22nd, “Children of Eden”… Wish me luck!)

Speaking of musical theatre, a friend from “How to Succeed” came to see me! I had posted on Facebook, of course, mostly just to congratulate myself on being brave and awesome, and Keith, who played Biggley in the other cast, showed up! Biggley was my “romantic” (wealthy) lead. (Hedy was a gold-digger with a heart of gold. 🙂 ) Keith and I performed together twice, my opening night and his closing. I was touched beyond words. I didn’t expect (or really even want) anyone to show up (yet), and I certainly wouldn’t have expected someone I only met in a show months and months ago. How kind!

It was a great night. I was calm up there! I remember thinking at one point, “Wow, my arms aren’t giving me any fits at all.” Haha! I seemed self-assured and very comfortable. My voice quivered a time or two and I hit one sour note, but it was a quick one and disappeared nicely behind the ending crescendo, which we nailed before bursting out laughing to great applause.

I have walked into something rare, indeed.

See you next week!

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy or… ?

… is life really just better after 40!

I ship musical instruments that my friend invented. I call him My Man Marko. We met at Burning Man in 2007. He’s an original psychedelic-trippin’ 60s kid, owned a hip shop here in town and enjoyed his frequent, “altered” trips to San Fran for supplies. He brought the Grateful Dead to Salt Lake for the first time.

Marko makes drums, too, and yesterday he put me to work in that trade. It was one of those lovely first-day-of-almost-Spring afternoons of delicious outdoor freedom, dyeing hides and stringing them taut to accompaniment of squirrels and birds. Marko’s house and yard are a collection of a lifetime of subcultural eye candy, and the music ain’t bad either.

drum(I crocheted mallet drumstick covers, too.)

The best part? Before we began, we went out to lunch and ran into an old buddy of Marko’s, whom I immediately named Wild Bill. Marko introduced me as a singer and Bill conscripted me to perform with his band on Thursday night. “We’re terrible, just terrible,” he beamed.

How could I decline?

Bill asked to record our conversation and told me after we’d begun that we were streaming live.

“Do you think you might have mentioned that, Bill?” I scolded him. “I might have declined an interview, had I the facts!”

“So come hear Christie sing,” he ignored me, “Thursday night at the Millcreek Bar & Grill. She’s wonderful!”

“You might lie to me, Bill,” I snapped, “but don’t you deceive the good people! We’re terrible, just terrible!”

Apparently, at 40 I became a lounge singer.