Dancer Diaries: Interview with Theresa Slobodnik


theresa slobodnikI had the most wonderful opportunity of spending my third year of college studying Ballet for a brief time under Terry. Her teaching style, studio, and productions reminded me so much of the studio I grew up in and missed desperately when I left for college that I immediately felt right at home with her when I went into her studio for my first rehearsal to be “Dawn” in their 2010 production of Coppélia. She has an intense desire for all her dancers to be at their best, and she tirelessly motivates, works, and encourages all her dancers in a way that you cannot help but feel as if anything is possible. She is the perfect mix of kindness and drive, getting the best out of you simply because you want her to be proud of your work. I feel so blessed to have been able to dance for her. When I decided I wanted to do this series for the blog, I immediately hoped that I could get an interview from Terry. Even though she was entrenched in directing Ballet Theater San Luis Obispo’s latest performance of Robin Hood, she kindly agreed. She has some fantastic insights into the world behind the stage and how she has been able to follow her dream career, as well as be a wonderful wife and mother to five children along the way. So, here she is in her own words:

Whats your dance background? How/when did you decide to make it your career?

My mother had stopped her dance training as a child and always regretted it. My mother found a woman teaching “contemporary ballet” through the recreation department in Concord, California. This was in the mid 1950s. Margery Stevens had been a ballerina who became a protoge of Martha Graham. She was brilliant and taught her own blend of modern dance and classical ballet. Her annual programs were not so much recitals but big Ballet Russe-like productions. My first role at age 3 was the Pig Baby in her “Alice in Wonderland”. I was very shy and cried through the entire experience! Mrs. Stevens went on to produce incredible programs: “Chess”, “Ondine”, an Egyptian piece and Western piece I don’t have names for, excerpts from Swan Lake and so on. I remember real live ponies on stage! I remember big, exotic productions with sets and lighting where everyone knew their part was important. To pay for our lessons my mother traded costume design and construction. She hand-made patterns for all the parents with hand-written instructions. If someone could not sew she made their child’s costume! In addition my father made prop and set pieces.

Our family of 7 lived the east SF Bay area. I have very powerful memories of trips to the War Memerorial Opera House, ACT and San Francisco State to see performances of ballet, opera and theatre. As my family had little expendable income, most of these were final dress rehearsals.

Mrs. Stevens moved away when I was 11 years old. Her replacement was a devastating dissappointment. I quit dancing for four years. In high school I began studying Graham based modern dance with a wonderful teacher named Miss Toy. We developed technique, choreography skills with criteria and production management. She also implemented classical ballet barre and center work. This felt like a return to a lost love and I began my journey back into dance. The modern jazz boom had hit the Bay Area and I studied with Rec Russel. Back to ballet was with Lee Salsbury, a tiny but colorful and powerful woman from New York, and Patrice Nissen who taught the Royal Academy of Dancing (R.A.D.) syllabus. I had a good deal of catching up to do!

image via terry slobodnik

Terry with partner Carlo Sierras / image thanks to terry slobodnik

I have to say I did not decide to make dance my career. I was surfing, rock climbing, back packing, white water rafting and kayaking…….anything outside! I married my husband of 39 years at 18 years old. Our first of 5 children was born when I was 20! We were loving each other and life here on the central coast. But dance would not let go of me. In fact it became my primary passion outside of my faith and family. I was extremely fortunate to have a dance opportunity here on the central coast which gave me a mentor (Gilbert Reed) and a dream career.

Even though you love what you do, have you ever/do you currently have doubts about what you’re doing?

Because I never really planned all of this I know it is a gift. I check in regularly with God and put what I am doing before Him. I give it up.

If God wants me to continue I am willing to do the work, but I have to know it is His plan….not mine.

You have children, a husband, and now grandchildren and yet you’ve been able to continually build your dance studio into a thriving business and artistic outlet. How did you balance it all?

Again, knowing this is what God has me doing is they key. On the family side, my husband studied ballet for 3 years and we actually performed and partnered together! He was an Architectural Design major at Cal Poly. He comes from a very artistic family: his father a tenor, his mother a painter, his sister a violist. He has always loved what I do and supported it in every way. He now designs and builds all my ballet sets! We have raised our 5 children to value the arts. They all play multiple instruments, the girls each danced for 10 years, one is an incredible ceramicist and voice performance major, the other is a painter and high-end chef. One son has his own band and another is a cellist working on his degree in cello performance. They all are very proud of what I do and that their parents are in it together!

image via terry slobodnik

terry with mentor gilbert reed / image thanks to terry slobodnik

Even if someone isn’t planning on seriously pursuing a dance career, or even ever performing on a stage, why should they consider dancing? What about dancing, and in particular, ballet, relates to improving your everyday quality of life?

Studying dance is extremely rewarding on so many levels: physically, creatively, emotionally, spiritually, socially. People have always danced.

Studying ballet gives you the life models of respect, discipline, and striving for the mastery.

Ballet, at least classical ballet, in many studios I’ve danced in isn’t the most popular with young students and new dancers. They often choose jazz, hip-hop, or modern. What does ballet offer that other dance styles can’t give?

Ballet offers the classical discipline: the science of how the body moves, the life time quest of mastery, the power of artistry, which, when studied, gives tremendous fulfillment.

What’s your biggest challenge in directing your own studio? What keeps you motivated and in love with what you do without reaching the burn-out stage?

While I am the Ballet Director at Dance Obispo, I am not the owner. I would say the biggest challenge for owner Sheri Thompson and myself is keeping the enrollment up. Our studio’s highest priorities are its ballet training and performance opportunities. In addition to being a home for Ballet Theatre San Luis Obispo, we have Youth Ballet Obispo. Our youth program involves regular performance opportunities in the community. It is a constant challenge to successfully communicate the values of consistency in class attendance/training and artistic development.

image via terry slobodnik

terry in studio directing rehearsals / image thanks to terry slobodnik

If you could tell your 23-year-old self something, what would you say?

Life is short. Follow your passion.

 I want to say again to Terry, thank-you so much for giving me this interview. I hope all my readers enjoy reading it as much as I did! She is such an inspiring individual, able to seamlessly balance her passion for dance, her love for God, and her devotion to her husband and children into a beautiful life. I have to think her ballet training gives her a little edge: even when she’s stressed, she still has an aura of elegance, grace, and endurance. From her peaceful exterior, you’d never know that woman was quite the superhero.

– <3 A. 

Other Dancer Diaries: 

  photo by vince trupsin at elevation studios copy  alexguestpost  ballet two copy

       part two                part three                     part four

Guest-Pinner: If Anne of Green Gables Pinned

vmmv collage repins via pinterest

vmmv collage repins via pinterest

vmmv collage repins via pinterestAnne Shirley, heroine of L.M. Montgomery’s series Anne of Green Gables is impossible not to adore. Her ridiculous quotes, fantastic romantic ideas about life, and hyperbolized emotion are so endearing…I’m pretty sure her pinterest boards would be just as adorable. If you’ve read the novel, you know that the poor girl was constantly embroiled in a battle with her red hair. Tortured by her future love interest Gilbert Blythe, who dubbed young Anne “carrots,” Anne wanted nothing more than to transform her fiery mane into something more sophisticated. I think she would definitely take advantage of the blog-world’s explosion of hair tutorials to try and come to terms with her unusual, natural look.

Always the Plain Jane, Anne longed to be beautiful and wealthy, even quizzing whoever would listen to her whether, if they had the choice of course, they would be “divinely beautiful or dazzlingly clever or angelically good?” The biggest ambition of her young life was to go to a ball in a dress with puffed sleeves and have Gilbert Blythe admire her in all her puffed glory. Of course, Anne learns that Gilbert loves her for her red hair, that she is admired for striving to be a teacher when most women only married and had children, and no one expected her to be “angelically good,” only to be simply Anne with an “e”—completely unique. If Anne of Green Gables pinned, her boards would definitely be something to see.

People laugh at me because I use big words. But if you have big ideas, you have to use big words to express them, haven’t you?

Repins Via / Via / via

-<3 A. 

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            If Beatrix Potter Pinned

A Lesson in Etiquette

dear miss vanderbilt

dear miss vanderbilt

dear miss vanderbilt

1. Hand-Embroidered Etiquette Napkins | 2. Amy Vanderbilt | 3. Animal Cocktail Napkins | 4. Vintage Wedding Napkins | 5. Tea and Toast Butter Dish | 6. Beast’s Feast Tureen | 7. Very Fond of Food | 8. Marcella Plates | 9. Canister Labels | 10. Glass Pedestal Stand & Dome

Amy Vanderbilt, author of the famous etiquette books Dear Miss Vanderbilt and later a cookbook illustrated by the famous pop artist Andy Warhol, is considered the go-to girl on all questions about etiquette since she published her first edition in 1952. Some of the questions her readers wrote in are absolutely hilarious, hilarious to think that some of these social rules were actually mainstream. Yet, in all their hilarity, there is a tinge of sadness to see how quickly her etiquette rules have been ignored–or all but dismissed– in pretty much one generation.

These quotes are some of Amy’s responses to a few “Dear Miss Vanderbilt” letters written to her about table manners. I found them irresistible and had to share. My favorite? “Ladies no longer have to pretend a disinterest in food,” when asked by a young woman whether it was proper for a lady to admire the food, rave about a recipe, or cheer over a morsel of dinner that a hostess provided. Apparently, before the 1950’s, ladies just pretended not to eat…because, you know, eating is sooooo vulgar. For overturning THAT myth, Dear Miss Vanderbilt, I am eternally grateful.

– <3 A. 

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April Showers: overcoming dreary days

henry wadsworth longfellow

chairs via the everygirl

a beautiful mess statement wall

portrait via / quote via vmmv / wall via / chairs via / bio info via

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was an American poet and professor, and, despite having a rather tumultuous personal life where he endured many of his own dreary days (his first wife died after childbirth and his second from severe burns in an accident), he was able to overcome them through a lifelong study of what he loved most: writing. Probably most famous for his epic poem Evangeline, Longfellow was a prolific poet, penning many of our most famous poems and giving us many words of wisdom for when we’re faced with our own showers–whether they be in April or not:

The lowest ebb is the turn of the tide-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

– <3 A. 

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Dancer Diaries: Things I Learned from the Stage (part four)

VMMV dancer diaries imageI wanted to thank my wonderful guest-posters who have been sharing some of the things they’ve learned from their time as dancers onstage for this series (check out part two and three of this series for their contributions). They are both such inspirational women: balancing their personal lives, professional lives, and also finding time for some personal artistic expression in a seamless blend. Perhaps it’s a dancer thing that allows them to cover their busy lives in a smooth, serene outer shell, never letting on they are surely stressed at times, and exhausted at others. Or, perhaps they really are just super-women, but whatever is really on the inside, the stage presence they carry off the stage and into their lives allows them to exude a peacefulness, power, and serenity that is quite contagious:

dancerdiaries4 copy

For the first many years of my dance career, plastering on an onstage-smile was pretty low on my cue checklist. I was much more concerned with not forgetting my choreography, not tripping on a piece of scenery, following my music cues, executing costume changes, and please, please, please pulling off that pirouette. There was so much going on in my little head, smiling seemed completely unimportant and so, unbeknownst to me, the chaos and concentration inside me was clearly written on my face and unfortunately impressing itself on my audience. It didn’t really matter if I completed my dance error-free, if I actually pulled off a triple pirouette instead of a stupid single, if I perfectly entered and exited stage, stayed on cue, and was flawlessly dressed. The audience picked up not on my performance, but on what they were expecting from my performance based on the expression I was exhibiting: something of a rabbit about to be hit by a moving vehicle. Thus the beginning years of my career were spent: being chastised by my director who tirelessly tried to slap a smile on my face (not literally of course) to show the audience that the only thing running through my head onstage was complete and utter confidence. I usually was confident too, I had rehearsed plenty and knew exactly what I was doing, but my running to-do list in my head was completely muddling my dance-face and I was portraying an unnecessary chaos to an audience that should have been comfortably viewing a dancer in control.

Of course, there are times where the ballet you’re performing is a tragedy, or the meeting you’re holding is serious business, and, if you intend to make your dance a tear-jerker, or the meeting a day to remember, go ahead and pull out the frown. But if you’re having your own personal tragedy of a day, don’t paint it across your face and bring whatever potential or real catastrophe that’s in your head out onto the audience you’re in front of.

vmmv dancer diaries imageMoods are contagious, and your face is the the biggest walking billboard that everyone you interact with will read, digest, and spit back at you.

quote via virginia woolf. vmmv collage

A lesson I learned from the stage? Make sure the title your mood is screaming at your audience is one you want them to read.

– <3 A. 

Other Dancer Diaries:

alexguestpost  photo by vince trupsin at elevation studios copy    dancer diaries

     Part Three             Part Two                         Part One 

Much Ado About Golightly

breakfast at tiffanys

This year, Truman Capote’s 1958 novella Breakfast at Tiffany’s turns 55 years old. And, to celebrate the heroine’s (Holly Golightly) undying attraction among women since her debut first on the pages of Capote’s book, and then on the silver-screen with Audrey Hepburn’s portrayal of the quirky, slightly troubled, yet unfailingly original, girl, Broadway opened it’s own version of the tale last week on March 20th. Prior to the opening, the New York Times ran an article attempting to pin down the elusive character of Holly Golightly, seeking to grasp both the identity of the girl herself (was she a call girl, an escort, a common prostitute, or simply a liberated, artistic woman seeking a wild, new life?) as well as why women from the 1950’s, 60’s, 80’s, and now, still adore and identify with her.

It’s a legitimate question, for, because the on-screen version of Capote’s novella toned down the rather risque (for the time) portions of the original story, we never  are explicitly told what Holly Golightly “does” and yet, it’s alluded to, and can be implied by the more insightful viewer, that Holly is something of an escort, a sort of “kept woman” not by one wealthy man but by many. How “far” she goes with these men we are never told, but it is clear that they repay her in clothing, housing, favors etc. And thus the New York Times article then questions, why do generations after generations of women love this portrait of femininity? Why is something of a call girl (a young and seemingly innocent one to be sure but still, the intonations are there) the emblem of what forward-thinking women are, admire, or want to be?

In the 1950’s and 60’s young women loved Holly-Audrey’s aura of liberation (from men, mothers, marriage and middle-class morality)…Today young women embrace the character for the same reasons.

breakfast at tiffanys image via fanpopThe article then goes on to quote a 20-something girl who declares that Holly is “a strong, free woman, and the difference between her and a call girl or prostitute lies in the control she has over her relationships.” Reading these reviews of Holly’s character, if I hadn’t read the book or seen the film, I would immediately conjure up a very happy, confident, brilliant, modern woman, wouldn’t you? I mean, let’s review: the quotes say that Holly is enveloped in an “aura of liberation,” is free of constraints of typical moral compasses, and has “control over her relationships.” Sounds pretty grand, yes? But if you’ve read the novella, or seen the film, you know that beneath Holly’s beauty and “freedom” is a character wracked with sadness, loneliness, and confusion. Scene after scene passes with Holly searching for something to give her life meaning. And, scene after scene passes with Holly almost bi-polarly jumping from champagne-induced joy to a downward, depressing spiral into the moral vacuum she created for herself–an emotion she dubs as the “mean reds,” when “suddenly you’re afraid and you don’t know what you’re afraid of.” Throughout the story, Holly constantly refers to her fear of “belonging,” being trapped, and being stuck with just one person. And so, she goes from one man to the next, avoiding love, crushing it when it happens to infiltrate her life, and emerging as an “independent” woman perhaps, but a miserable, hardened one at that.

So, repeating the Times’s query, what about this character do women so admire?breakfast at tiffanys
Of course you could just admire the character for her classic, chic style, and her whimsical apartment decorating ideas. Indeed, many fans of Holly stop at just that aspect of her personality. The Times article mentions the iconic image of Hepburn peering into the Tiffany’s window as a poster so famous you’re sure to find it populating the walls of some dorm room at almost every college campus around the country. It’s true too, a black, white, and pink version of the image accompanied me into the trenches of first-year college life. I happily welcomed Holly into that 10X10 space, never really thinking past the girl’s surface-style. Another devoted Golightly-fan quips in the Times article that though perhaps she is “blinded by (her) love for” Holly, she sees “her (Holly’s) behavior as simply taking control and living life to the fullest.” In other words, she admires Holly’s strength to not give in to one man. To come and go from relationships, taking what she needs but never giving in, refusing to be “put in a cage” by sticking with one person and instead doing as she chooses, seeing through every whimsical fancy, and fulfilling every independent desire. Though the woman quoted in the Times saw and admired Holly for “living life to the fullest” and “taking control,” if you look at the character, I see nothing of a fulfilled woman, nor a powerful and confident one. Instead, just stopping at a fairly superficial character sketch of Golightly reveals she is at times incoherent, always self-conscious and timid when she finds herself in real, meaningful relationships, shies away from responsibility, and lives day-to-day, casually entering and exiting relationships and remaining ever on an elusive, mysterious pedestal to the men she interacts with yet hiding on the inside a heart crushed by an incessant search for belonging. Of course, this may be what is so attractive about her to so many modern women, women who are told that personal fulfillment can’t happen inside a singular, monogamous relationship. Instead, we are urged to “find ourselves” before “belonging” to anyone, take what we can from the many relationships we should pursue and “try on” along the way, call it baggage experience, and head on our own way. But I tend to agree with Holly’s frustrated love interest, Paul: that sometimes being in love with one person is the most powerful and fulfilling thing you could ever do, because it means that you are so confident in yourself that even giving up “half” still makes a whole “you”:

 You know what’s wrong with you, Miss Whoever-you-are? You’re chicken, you’ve got no guts. You’re afraid to stick out your  chin and say, “Okay, life’s a fact, people do fall in love, people do belong to each other, because that’s the only chance anybody’s got for real happiness.” You call yourself a free spirit, a “wild thing,” and you’re terrified somebody’s gonna stick you in a cage. Well baby, you’re already in that cage. You built it yourself. And it’s not bounded in the west by Tulip, Texas, or in the east by Somali-land. It’s wherever you go. Because no matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself.

So, when I read the Cort Theatre’s tagline for attracting Broadway fans to the new Breakfast at Tiffany’s show, proudly saying that the show’s heroine, Holly Golightly,  “is the woman every man wants to be with and every woman wants to be,” I could say quite definitely that yes, I will always love Audrey as Holly, yes, I love her claw-foot-tub-couch, and yes, I love her alligator kitten heels and easy, chic style, but no, actually, I don’t want to be her, and I wouldn’t want to be with a man who would.

images via fanpop |quotes via Breakfast at Tiffanys, New york times, Cort theatre

– <3 A. 

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Vintage Muse Modern Views: Easter Parade

vintage easter outfit ideas

1. Leona Tunic dress by Darling | 2. Brookmont Structured Purse | 3. Contessa Snakeskin bow pumps | 4. Every Day Memory Book | 5. Mini Diana and Flash set in Blue

I don’t know what holidays would be without Irving Berlin. From White Christmas to Easter Parade, the man single-handedly composed (pun intended) the aura of  nostalgia surrounding the the 1940-1960 American holiday that we moderns still pine away for. It really is quite astonishing. Of course every generation has its trend-setters, but to be a 70 year and counting tradition-setter, now there’s something. His 1948 film Easter Parade and associated lyrics are quite the perfect vintage muse for a modern Easter, a lace dress with all the frills upon it, a clover colored handbag, shoes worthy of fifth avenue, something to let you be this year’s photographer, and of course a place to write a sonnet just in case the spring air has got you feeling rather eloquent. Happy Spring and Happy Easter!

– <3 A. 

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The Dalloway Complex

image via folio society

In last month’s edition of Elle magazine, Daphne Merkin tackled a review of the British psychoanalyst Adam Phillips’ new book Missing Out:  Praise of the Unlived Life. From Phillips’ book, Merkin quotes that the “idea of the unlived life-or, as he calls it, ‘the myth of our potential’- is more prevalent now than it once was, because affluence has allowed more people than ever before to think of their lives in terms of choices and options.” The quote struck something in me, for post-college life has made me uncomfortably aware of the enormity of the consequences of decisions I now make. For the first twenty odd years of my life, my “plan” seemed murky at times but the fog always eventually cleared into a straight forward line. From elementary you trudged through middle school, from those troublesome years to high school, and from high school you went to college, and then from college you went….where? Now, every decision eliminates certain paths, dreams, and desires, for I fully believe you can only walk down one, if you want to walk it well, despite the modern addiction of “having it all.” As I began to read Merkin’s article, “Who’s Sorry Now,” the ever-present female struggle between self, ambition, and the woman’s inherent nurturing nature reared it’s head yet again. Not more than two paragraphs into her article, Merkin says that Phillips’ book forced her to conjure her own life regrets wherein she discovered that her biggest was her failure to fully fulfill and see through a traditional role as wife and mother:

One of my sharpest feelings of regret involves a vision of myself as Marmee in Little Women. These range from an ongoing feeling of nostalgia for my daughter’s early years and a pained sense that I hadn’t fully appreciated them, hadn’t been sufficiently alert to every gurgle and adorable bit of phrasing.

She goes on to detail her regret over being a single mother of an only daughter who “loves me one minute and despises me the next,” and woefully describes another imaginary life where she dreams of she and her ex-husband working things out and being the happy friends in marriage as they now are outside of it. Seemingly frustrated by the relationships in her life, Merkin finds comfort in Phillips’ theory that “all love stories are frustration stories,” and the unlived or “wished for” lives that paralyze our potential decisions or fill our current decisions with regret aren’t really bad but “are as important to us as our real existence-if not more so- because they provide us with a metaphysical safety net, allowing us to consider transgressive urges and ungratifiable impulses without necessarily acting on them.” Here though, as a fellow woman, I have to disagree with Merkin and ask her if this constant consideration of transgressive urges and “wished for” lives are not the reason for her current regret, if those things actually distracted her from fully appreciating and being “sufficiently alert to every gurgle” of her daughter’s youth, creating instead a young woman who grew up ever-conscious that her mother’s life with her was not complete enough to stave off other, “wished for” lives.

mrs. dalloway image via foliosocietyProbably the most archetypal source for this now mainstream story of female struggle and regret is Virginia Woolf’s protagonist in Mrs. Dalloway. Clarissa Dalloway is a frustrated, bourgeois housewife, struggling, as many were post World War I, with personal identity and a crisis of life purpose. Troubled and feeling stagnant in her role as an aging wife and now unneeded mother, her present life is constantly interrupted by remembrances of her childhood friend Sally Seton who represents in Clarissa’s memory what Clarissa had always wanted to be: an independent woman, staving off the repressive institution of marriage, and carefree of tradition, societal norms, and reputation. Her vision of Sally as she last knew her stands in stark opposition to the reality of her own life:

But often now this body she wore, this body, with all its capacities seemed nothing-nothing at all. She had the oddest sense of being herself invisible; unseen; unknown; there being no more marrying, no more having children now, but only this astonishing and rather solemn progress…this being Mrs. Dalloway, not even Clarissa anymore; this being Mrs. Richard Dalloway.

folio societyTo Clarissa’s shock however, when she again chances across Sally Seton, the wild-child Sally has transformed into the elegant Lady Rosseter, wife to the self-made Lord Rosseter, mother to five boys, and yet, still exuding her individual, independent self. Unlike Clarissa, Sally was happy in her choice, she had committed to her marriage and family and in her full commitment to one choice had not lost any of herself in these mental wanderings of “wished for” lives as Clarissa had done and as Daphne Merkin now does. She had chosen a path and had used all that she was to make that choice everything it could be. She had not lost herself nor regretted what could have been because she was fully involved in what was. She would never have to regret not being “sufficiently alert” to her children’s youthful gurgles, nor was she haunted by feelings of a lost self, being “invisible; unseen; unknown,” because the present was all that she lived in.

We all digress into regret now and again. Especially as modern women there are myriads of lives we have the opportunity to choose, to dream about, and to live. Yet, I have to disagree with Adam Phillips, Daphne Merkin, and Clarissa: I don’t want to lose myself into even the imaginings of “wished for” lives even if I never act upon them. I’d rather not lose myself to the Dalloway complex of always wishing, longing, regretting, and imagining a life better or more fulfilled. As Clarissa found out, what she imagined someone else’s life to be was not always what it was, so why imagine another life from your own? Just live what you’ve chosen the best way you presently can.

image source: the Folio society

– <3 A. 

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Thoroughly Modern Millie’s Thoroughly Modern Lessons

tmmpostThe 1967 Musical, Thoroughly Modern Millie, directed by George Roy Hill and of course starring the lovely Julie Andrews, is a sort of (sadly) forgotten screenplay. The musical met mixed reviews, some loved it for it’s “Jazz-age hyperbole” plot and others hated it for it’s over-the-top silliness and bizarre numbers. The plot is set in the 1920’s where good-girl turned flapper, Millie Dillmount (Julie Andrews), has concocted the “thoroughly modern goal” of working as a stenographer and eventually marrying her wealthy boss…whoever he might be. As the musical sings along, Millie figures out her goal isn’t so modern or grand at all and the most successful way of finding love isn’t really modern at all–it’s actually quite old-fashioned.  If you haven’t seen it, give it a go, at the very least it’s got some pretty great lessons for today’s girl seeking her own thoroughly modern goals:

thoroughly modern millieWhen Millie doesn’t seem to be getting anywhere with her goal of making her boss (Trevor) fall in love and marry her, she resolves to begin acting like a man so he will supposedly begin to notice and respect her. In that she is successful, so much so that her boss begins to treat her like a man, nicknaming her “John” and jostling, joking, and speaking to her much like any of his other co-workers. 

thoroughly modern millie

Millie thinks acting like a man will make Trevor fall for her, but she soon gets thrust into the “friend-zone” while he instead falls for and eventually marries her undeniably sweet and feminine roommate “Ethel.” Poor Millie, that’s where acting like a man will get you…thoroughly modern millie

Intent on “marrying well,” getting ahead in her career and “landing” a wealthy man, Millie fails to see that “Jimmy,” an adorable, sweet, and kind fellow is head over heels for her and would make quite the amusing and dedicated husband. It takes her awhile to figure out how to get over her boss Trevor, but when she finally discovers he is rather a playboy fop compared to her dear Jimmy, she quite successfully “Forgets about the boy!”
thoroughly modern millieHilarious, ridiculous, wise, and sweet, Thoroughly Modern Millie is quite the adorable mix of tips still thoroughly applicable to the ladies of 2013…besides, who can pass up a musical with white slavery, a dance called the “tapioca,” Julie Andrews AND Mary Tyler Moore, the debut of the word “gomorrah-ble,” and an elevator tap dance? I know, you can’t resist watching it now…

 – <3 A. 

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Dancer Diaries: Things I Learned from the Stage (part three)

Linda Wolfe of Wolfe PhotoArt

I hope you’re enjoying the Dancer Diaries series as much as I am, I love getting fresh voices to guest-post on VMMV and I’m so excited to bring to you part three of the series today with yet another dear friend, fellow dancer, and supporter of the blog.

Alex and I met while I was a modern dance newbie during college. My own dance training growing up only included classical ballet, so, when I auditioned for my University’s dance company that included all forms of dance, I was quickly in over my head in the modern genre. Alex, one of the company’s veterans, was the first person to go out of her way on audition day to take a few extra minutes to teach me the modern audition piece, and I instantly found in her a kindred spirit. She has such a calm presence backstage, during rehearsals, and during performances. I never heard her get frustrated during long nights at the theater regardless of how well or how badly things were going, and she has an infinite amount of great energy, optimism, and encouragement that you can just feel ooze out through her dance and her everyday life. Both on and off stage she’s a perfect example of poise and beautiful living, so, here is one of her dance rules to live by, in her own words:

alexguestpostquote copy

I am a dancer, and by definition to dance is to exercise. There is no way of dancing that doesn’t burn a calorie or two. . . but I’m going to let you in on a secret. . . I love dancing, but I absolutely despise exercising! How can that be, you might wonder? Being a dancer and exercising go hand and hand, it’s true, but I really detest the idea of exercising: I hate running, can’t even think about working out at the gym without a nose wrinkle, and pretty much avoid anything involving weights or other technical workout equipment. Of course I understand that exercise is vitally important for the sake of staying in shape and living a healthy life (and that’s all well and good) but for me, I have to trick myself into exercising by doing something fun. . . this is where dance comes in. I don’t think of dance as exercise, instead, I just enjoy that a “good workout” is a nice benefit of dancing. As soon as exercise is labeled as something you HAVE to do, it automatically takes the fun out of it…it becomes a chore. And who likes doing chores? (Yeah, exactly, nobody). If you’re sitting there at your computer dreading the thought of how you’re going to get in your minimum of twenty minutes of exercise today, this blog post is for you!

Hating exercise is actually the best way to stay fit because it motivates you to be creative about how to get your “work-out” in, perhaps discovering something that isn’t just for burning calories, but for finding a life-long love affair with an activity you love and can’t see your life without. I can easily see my life without going to the gym, so the chances of me going to the gym are…yes….none. I can’t see my life without dance though, so no matter how busy my life gets, I will continue to dance and, as a plus, I will continue to stay fit. Dance is so fantastic because there’s truly so many different forms that can fit every personality and skill-level. Here’s just a few fun dance classes you can take that will get your blood pumping (without “exercising”) and, more importantly, your mouth smiling:

dance types

If you’re not looking to become a prima ballerina, but want the benefits of a dance workout, here are some options for classes you can take at your local gym and/or dance videos you can do in the comfort of your own home:

types of dance-explained

If taking a class isn’t your thing, then just having a dance party in your room by yourself at home will work too! Turn on your favorite tunes, jump and jive, shimmy and shake. . . you get the idea. . . just move your whole body in ways that make you feel good about who you are and you’ll be getting a great workout that you barely notice is even happening because you were having so much fun! Now doesn’t that sound like an exercise regimen you can enjoy and stick with? Vicki Baum, the Austrian writer, sums up my feelings on dancing perfectly:

images via linda wolfe of wolfe photo art

Happy dancing everyone!

– <3 A.

photos via

Other Dancer Diaries: 

photo by vince trupsin at elevation studios copy dancer diaries

     Part Two                             Part One