I am classically trained
Not only am I a classically trained dancer from age 3. I was exposed to many forms of dance during my formative years. You see, my parents owned a dance studio for 16 years—most of my childhood. I was a studio brat and loved it. Most of the time. I took all the classes from ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, lyrical, character and a wee bit of acting. I was in the studio company, which meant I was on the competition track. It wasn’t until I was thirteen that I found a deeper love for ballet.
From that point, my focus was on ballet and becoming a professional ballerina. I was introduced to my teacher then, Carol Roderick, and fell in love with the Russian technique. I was able to enjoy four summers in Minnesota studying with the greatest Russian Ballerinas and masters. I was also awarded scholarships to study with the Bolshoi Ballet in Vail and Moscow, Russia.
I had a pretty intense ballet background and went on to dance for 3 seasons with Nevada Ballet Theater in the corps de ballet and as a demi-soloist.
I was a Showgirl
While I loved ballet and the idea of ballet while growing up, the ballet world was a tough place for a tall, leggy, voluptuous, young woman. It was always a struggle with weekly weight notices (to lose weight) and that I never had a tall enough partner to work with. I always felt discouraged and out of place.
So I became a Las Vegas Showgirl in one of the largest productions that the world has ever seen, Jubilee! You can read more about that here.
Going from getting weekly weight notices to lose weight to occasional weight notices to gain weight, and being surrounded by other leggy voluptuous former ballerinas was an amazing experience for my self esteem. I had finally found my people and my where I belonged. I started off as a Bluebell, a covered dancer, and rose to the top as a Principal in 4 short years.
Fortunately for me, I had other dance training that made the broadway-like choreography easy to pick up and perform. I also had first hand exposure to behind the scenes of a full scale production that was just as choreographed off-stage as it was on. If you were in the wrong place at the wrong time, you would get squished my a moving set piece.
I also enjoyed friendships with the wardrobe people that made, maintained and cleaned all of the costumes. I was able to learn techniques and methods to make costumes and maintain them which fed my crafty nerd within.
I am a detail fiend
My mom taught me to sew and tried to teach me to knit. (I ended up teaching myself.) I have been a life-long crafter since I made a pair of slippers from paper towels so long ago. I have learned how to bead, knit, crochet, paper craft, make hats, make jewelry, and sew clothing and accessories.
With the variety of mediums and techniques I have worked with, I have been able to pull all of that knowledge through to my costume design and construction. It is known throughout my performing community the amount of attention I spend on even the tiniest details. And I blame my former managers from Jubilee. Their eagle eyes taught me to pay attention to the tiniest details because they do make a difference in the grand —especially as a chorus dancer or corps de ballet performer. My attention to detail has been culled from meticulous hand-crafting and countless times kicking in a kick line. The Rockettes didn’t get famous for being individuals, that’s for sure.
I danced away from teaching for 20 years
I did teach classes at 16, but I elected to redirect my focus to my own artistry and experience as a performer. One might be inclined to believe that leaves a gap in my experience as a teacher and coach, but it is not. While I was responsible for leading the warmup class at Jubilee near the end of my time there, I didn’t teach, I led. I was never one to make corrections to better the performers onstage. I was the one to lead by example. Living the dream onstage and leading others to do the same. That is what I have always done. I chose to perform and be the performer rather than teach dance to people that wanted to follow that path. And I have learned a massive amount of knowledge that carries from the stage, to the dressing room to my everyday life, and I am now eager to share it with those who are willing to listen.
I have coached my whole life
For me, teaching is again an exciting part of my journey, I have indeed always been a coach, a guide, a mentor. When approached for feedback, I have always offered assistance. When I have witnessed an internal struggle, I have offered love and support and guidance to find a way out of the struggle. It is in my nature to nurture and, in my own way, be a mentor. I have two girls of my own and find that their creativity is more powerful when they are allowed to be free to make choices and discover who they are with just a bit of guidance and leading by example. That is my gift to the world, to remind others of their amazingness and help them find their inner happiness.
Interested in working with me and learning some of the ways you can up-level your performance onstage and carry that through to your everyday life? Click here to learn more about my Heart of a Performer Series and how to connect with me.
I hope to hear from you soon!
Athena, aka Gazella
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