Tag Archives: Musical Theatre

The Music And The Mirror

I should be doing school work. Just thought I should get that out of the way. This balance of school plus work plus event prep plus yoga plus sanity . . . well, it’s teetering. I’ve got a lot of health stuff to figure out, too. Holding onto the light at the end of the tunnel . . .

Anyhow, even with all of this going on, it feels like something is missing. I’m sure a lot of things are missing, but there’s one thing I’ve been able to pin down.

I’ve never been good at expressing my emotions, and I’m still not very good at it. I’m currently battling with my brain over many things, but this week’s focus is dissociation. I’ve recently realized that I spend most of my life “not really there”. It’s easier that way, it keeps me detached, and feeling safe. It also keeps me disconnected from the rest of the world, which leads to a lot of loneliness. Trying to break that pattern is really hard. It’s exhausting trying to “stay in”, and my brain goes places I don’t want it to. It’s also picked up a new trick or two to keep me away. Sneaky bastard.

But in terms of expression, the only way I’ve ever been able to come close is through music. Dancing is a great expressive outlet, but I’m too focused on technique to fully let go. Singing, I can pretend to be someone else, and using someone else’s words, tell the world my darkest secrets. I miss it. I haven’t really sung for about 18 months now, since “retiring” from musical theatre.

Lately, though, I’ve found myself singing when I close the store (it’s the only place I have where nobody can hear me). While my deteriorating vocal technique stresses me out, the ability to belt at the top of my lungs feels amazing. I’m not a sobber, I’m not a yeller. I’m not good at attaching sound to emotion, but in singing, I do what I can’t do anywhere else.

Sometimes I wish I lived in a musical. Therapy would be so much easier if I could answer  “. . . and how do you feel about that” with a song. It’ll tell you more than my words ever will.

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Get Out And Stay Out

Get Out And Stay Out, from the musical 9 to 5

This was my “Get out of my head, ED” song during my recovery. This is not my bootleg, nor do I condone bootlegging, but I thought you should see the whole video. SJB is pretty stellar, and you should see her whole performance. 

Have you ever seen the movie, “Sleeping With The Enemy?” Julia Roberts plays a woman trapped in an abusive relationship. She fakes her own death to escape her husband, but he figures it out and tracks her down. *SPOILER ALERT* She kills him.

But what do you do when the abusive relationship is in your own head? It’s not just the eating disorder voice. That one I can recognize and separate myself from, but there is another voice. It’s been with me from my earliest memories, at 2 or 3, standing, staring in the mirror, telling me I’m fat and ugly, that I hate myself, and tearing chunks out of my thighs. That voice uses my own voice. I don’t know where it begins and I end, or if it is, in fact, me.

I was horrified this week in school learning about the extent of the irreversible damage starvation can do to your body. It made me realize: I wasn’t waging a war with my body, I was waging a war with myself. I don’t want to destroy my body, I’ve been trying to destroy myself, to kill off the part of me that is so unworthy and unlovable. I don’t know what part that is anymore.

But how am I supposed to leave my abusive relationship? If I run, it comes with me. If I hide, it’s right there beside me. I feel like it’s come down to the final showdown. I can’t live my life with this battle in my head anymore, but I feel like if I try to run, it’ll kill me anyhow. It’s “kill or be killed”, but it’s me either way.

It’s like being trapped in a burning building. Do you try to jump out the window and take your chances or give up and let yourself burn? I’ve got to find the courage to jump. I’m scared of what will be waiting for me. I’m afraid of what will happen if I catch up with myself. This is it: the big battle. This is where it started, and where it has to end.

Wish me luck.

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School Again! School Again! School Again!

(For those of you who went to theatre school with me: insert presentational arm choreography as needed)

I know I’ve been a little MIA of late. The reasons are twofold. The first:

I’M BACK IN SCHOOL!

Monday marked my 21st first day of school. I’m studying Holistic Nutrition now (not musical theatre anymore) and absolutely love it. Less than 18 months ago, I would have a panic attack after 10 minutes of discussing food with WGT, and now I’m in 4 hour lectures discussing fats, carbs, sugar, and all that scary stuff in detail. And it’s amazing. There’s so much I don’t know about food, and every inch of it fascinates me. It’s going to be a fine line, as they keep referencing “the benefits of fasting” in passing, but I’ve just gotta take everything with a grain of sea salt.

The second:

Sometimes, keeping things quiet is restricting your voice. Sometimes, it’s because you just can’t talk about things until you’ve figured them out for yourself. And some things are just private (although more people now know the details of my menstrual cycle now than I ever thought possible). I’ve got a lot going on in my private life right now, and until I figure it all out, that’s where it will stay.

In summation, the blogs will be sparse for the next little while. Balancing school with full-time work (and an early morning yoga practice – more details to follow) means I’ll be doing a whole lot of reading, and not much writing (apart from homework). I won’t disappear forever, tho. You’ll still get TMI as much as I can. I’ve got a lot to say, and the world’s gonna hear it from now on!

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Filed under Blatherings

In Between

Anniversaries.

Six years ago today I got home from treatment in Utah. (It also happens to be my parents’ anniversary. 37 years!)

Two weeks after that I started back to school. (Musical Theatre . . . not so much fun jumping back into a very appearance and exercise focused world straight out of lock-down)

It was pretty much just a slippery slope to relapse from there.

I used to count and celebrate that anniversary every year. I felt really guilty about it after a while, because I wasn’t doing well in recovery, but I had to keep celebrating or people would ask questions.

I felt like a complete failure. I was symptomatic, therefore I’d relapsed. It was over.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. As much as I hate to admit it, life isn’t black and white, and neither is recovery. There is a lot of space in between. If you tell yourself that you either have to be in recovery or in relapse, you’ll never win. Humans make mistakes, life gets hard, old habits are hard to break.

If you trip and fall walking down the street, you wouldn’t just give up and roll all the way home. Hopefully, you’d stand up and walk. The same goes for recovery. A lapse is not a relapse. Get back on the “recovery” horse.

So many metaphors getting tangled in this one. Still with me? Good. Here’s a little something to help you remember.

 

The “learning from it” part is one of the most important things I’ve learned from WGT. You can’t figure out how to fight the monster unless you figure out why it beat you in the first place. What causes the lapse is more important than the lapse itself.

The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing – Henry Ford

Live. Fall. Get up. Look to see what tripped you. Try not to trip over the same thing again. This is what life is all about. This is what recovery is all about. I’d rather have a wise recovery than a perfect one.

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Filed under Blatherings, Tips and Tricks (The Healthy Kind)

There’s Gotta Be Something Better Than This

(Back to the song titles)

This is going to sound kind of stupid for a while, but bear with me. I hope it will make sense in the end. You know. One of those recovery metaphor things I’m so fond of. Kind of. Blah. Here goes.

As per usual, a little bit of back story is required.

I’ve always REALLY sucked at picking up choreography. Like, really really. No matter how hard I tried, no matter how much I focused, no matter how much I practised on the side, unless I had a night to sleep on it, I wasn’t going to remember the choreo. Didn’t matter if it was someone else’s moves or my own steps. This was just a fact of my life. It didn’t matter if I was in a somewhat normal state of eating, a somewhat restrictive state of eating, or a full-blown anorexic state of eating: no amount of food would allow me to know the choreography well enough to dance full-out at an audition.

Now, I have a pretty damned decent memory for other things. I can recall conversations from my childhood verbatim. I can remember what I wore on specific dates days, weeks, years ago. I can tell you what grade I got on my geography test when I was 12. In my nerdiest times, I can look at a playbill and tell you:

  1. Who in the cast I’ve seen in other shows
  2. What roles they played in that show, and sometimes
  3. What name they went by before they joined Equity. They call me the Musical Theatre Encyclopaedia. Nerdiest superpower ever.

This freakish memory, however, has never extended to choreography. Frustrating as hell, but that’s my life.

Or . . .

that WAS my life.

This weekend, I decided on the spur of the moment to teach a musical theatre class instead of a tap class. I haven’t danced a step of musical theatre choreography in about 18 months. I had 15 minutes to pick music, choreograph a dance, and be ready to teach. I started scrolling through my iPod (which is, conveniently, filled with showtunes) and began to panic: I don’t think I can do this. I can’t come up with something worth teaching in this little time, and there’s no way I’ll remember it once I do! Maybe I can just teach choreography I already know from a show I’ve done before . . .

I decided to make an effort. I put on a song I know and enjoy, and just started dancing. Some of it worked, some of it didn’t. I tweaked it, and kept adding on. By the end of the 15 minutes, I had a workable dance. It wouldn’t win a Tony award or anything, but it wasn’t basic “recital” choreography either. I started teaching, waiting for the moment when I’d forget.

I didn’t.

I taught the whole dance, and we danced it together, full out. It ended up being good enough that the studio owner filmed it for promotional use. If it had been an audition, I think I would have booked it.

I’ve been semi-noticing my memory improving in ballet these past few months, but I didn’t realize the extent of it until Saturday. I can remember choreography now.

Cool. Good for you, Kelly. But where’s the metaphor? What’s the point?

A few weeks ago, I was reading a post from the blog A Life Unmeasured. She looked at the definition of “recovery”: the regaining of something taken away, or a return to a former condition. Her take on this:

“I want to create my life, not get back what I’ve lost.  I want to be more forgiving of myself, less perfectionistic, more adventurous, less cautious.  In other words, I want to let go of this idea I have that I will be “recovered” when I am like I used to be.  I can’t be that way anymore, unless I choose a life of relapse, which is what I’ve gotten in the past.”

I don’t want to go back to the life that I had before, either. That was the life that I starved to get away from. I’ve spent my entire life trying to destroy what was and put something better in its place. I’ve gone about it the wrong ways, but even now, trying to do it “for real” this time, I never really believed that my life would be anything different than it was before.

This may be a silly, small thing, the memory for dance, but it gives me hope that maybe things will be “better than ever” in other areas of my life, too.

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Filed under Blatherings, History Lessons, Inspiration

Hiding in Plain Sight

Last year, as soon as my last acting contract was over, I essentially went into hiding. I couldn’t bear to be seen. My last show had been torture. Not because of the show itself, but the horrible public-ness of it. I was creating a new role in a new show, so during the rehearsal period I wasn’t just being watched for choreography, acting, and vocal stuff, but for whether the show itself worked. For a girl who was trying desperately, both literally and figuratively, to disappear, this was incredibly painful. I didn’t want to be seen. 8-10 shows a week, depending on the schedule, however, I was seen.

As soon as the show ended, I disappeared. I hid in my apartment, I hid in my eating disorder, I hid in my body. I returned to my “Joe Job” after 4 months away, and my boss didn’t recognize me when I walked in the door. After 5+ years with the same ginger hair color (it’s easier to write “Red” on a resume than Light-Blondeish-Reddish-Brown), I dyed my hair dark. Almost black. I had one last show to do – a concert. I did my best to stay invisible. There’s a few pictures from it on broadwayworld.com (You didn’t actually think I’d link to them, did you?). You can see my shoulder in one, and my bangs in another. Hiding in plain sight.

Nowadays, I still don’t really want to be seen. I know I’ll never have any semblance of a life if I keep hiding in the shadows, but stepping out of the darkness takes a lot of courage. I’m getting better at it, but I still feel guilty for taking up space a lot of the time. It’s a work in progress.

I found a quote on my computer today that I’d saved back in the day called “The Actor’s Vow” by Elia Kazan. It makes being visible sound a whole lot more appealing and noble. It talks specifically to actors, but I think it can apply to real life, too. I think it might be what being alive, being real, being seen is all about. It might be something to consider.

I will take my rightful place on the stage
And I will be myself.
I am not a cosmic orphan
I have no reason to be timid.
I will respond as I feel; awkwardly, vulgarly,
But respond.
I will have my throat open.
I will have my heart open.
I will be vulnerable.
I may have anything or everything the world
Has to offer, but the thing
I need most, and want most, is to be myself.
I will admit rejection, admit pain, admit
Frustration, admit even pettiness, admit
Shame, admit outrage, admit anything and
Everything that happens to me.
The best and most human parts of me are
Those I have inhabited and hidden from
The world.
I will work on it.
I will raise my voice.
I will be heard.

THE ACTOR’S VOW
Elia Kazan

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Filed under Blatherings, Fighting Fear

I Just Wanna Dance

This weekend, in addition to being Canada Day (and Jazz Fest, and some big soccer game, and, I’m told, a Rib Fest), is Toronto Pride. In solidarity, I dedicate this video to all my LGBT friends, and anyone who is struggling for acceptance in a far-too-often far-too-cruel world.

This video was created for some Pride celebration somewhere, in some year, and has made its way around the world, gay bar to gay bar, musical theatre student to musical theatre student, many times over. The song “I Just Wanna Dance” comes from Jerry Springer: The Opera. If you are offended by coarse language, well, I can’t imagine you’d still be reading my blog, but there is some coarse language in the song. If there are young’uns in your house, put on some headphones. There are some good lyrics in there, too.

And just fucking dance.

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Filed under Inspiration, Random Funny-ness