Saturday, July 30, 2011

Celebrating National Dance Day July 2011!

Last year my favorite TV show, FOX's "So You Think You Can Dance," (SYTYCD) invented a special day dedicated to dance called "National Dance Day," which now takes place the last Saturday of every July. I didn't do much for the very first one, so this year I really wanted to celebrate with my friends.

l-r: Janis, Cara, Me, Lauren
My friends Lauren, Janis, Cara, and I worked really hard to choreograph and perform two routines in three hours. I am so proud of what we accomplished! None of us often do things like this, so we realized what choreographers and dancers have to go through to prepare and perform routines, thus causing us to respect and appreciate these artists even more! I felt so healthy as well, and the exercise derived from dance is something National Dance Day tries to promote. I really like how it is a fun way to get in shape.

I'm actually considering using our dances as part of my morning workout routine!

Thank you so much to my friends and our families for putting together such a fun time for us all! Thank you also to the creator of National Dance Day Nigel Lythgoe, the executive producer of "So You Think You Can Dance" and founder of the Dizzy Feet Foundation, and to all those who recognize National Dance Day as a national holiday. I really admire how a lot of people celebrate National Dance Day in so many different ways.

Dance and the arts is something we should all truly appreciate, so I'm really happy that National Dance Day exists to give it the credit it deserves. :)

Happy National Dance Day Everyone! :D

Click here to see our original routines and some "behind the scenes" material! I love our creativity! :D I chose "It Was All in Your Mind" by Wade Robson because I had first heard it on SYTYCD for a group routine in Season 3 and then Twitch from Season 4 did a solo to it so I have been wanting to choreograph a routine to it myself. I often listen to it and love how unique and intricate it sounds! The beginning of our "Party Rock Anthem" routine is roughly based on the July 2011 National Dance Day choreography of Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo. I figured that since "Party Rock Anthem" seemed to be the theme song for this year's National Dance Day, we should use it and some of their choreography as well so it wasn't like we totally didn't acknowledge it. We could've learned their routine along with the others created specifically for National Dance Day, but we decided to test our skills and do our own thing. :)

I also want to point out that I got the top I wore today at the So You Think You Can Dance Tour 2011 at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ! It says "dance" written all over it vertically in different colors, the word "DANCE" written in huge gray letters towards the left, and also has the So You Think You Can Dance Tour 2011 logo on the bottom left! And, it's a V-neck and I love V-necks! I wore it special for today!

Happy National Dance Day Everyone! Hope you all enjoyed it! I know we were very happy and excited celebrating today! It was a blast and one of the best days of my life! We were all looking forward to this day and are already looking forward to next year!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The New and Exciting Feminism and Theater Things Coming to You at MSU!!!

This just might be my very first feminism/theater combined blog post! I received a lot of cool information about both Femvolution: MSU and Peak Performances today and I couldn't wait to share them with you!

Today I was on MSU's campus for the first time since May for to the Femvolution "Mid-Summer Zine Meeting" and found out that since we are now affiliated with the Student Government Association Class III on campus we now have our own website! Check it out!

At our meeting we discussed the many different activities we have planned for the upcoming school year, the likes for which I am very excited! Watch out for them!

During break I decided to take a walk and naturally I visited Life Hall and took some pics. They are doing some renovations there and Memorial Auditorium.

However, I also saw something extremely awesome hanging up in this building...

It's the 2011-2012 Season Lineup!!!!!! Yay!!!!!!!! So Excited!!!!!!!!

I actually saw this list awhile ago on the website and when I first saw it I was ecstatic! The fact that the list is now hanging up in Life Hall, replacing last season's, and that this season's Peak Performances are now listed on their website as well, makes it that much more official! I'm really looking forward to this season!

An update: I will begin publishing "Peak Performances and their Awkward Sexual Moments" in August. I am almost done with them.

I also made some additions and changes to "Meet the Theaters of MSU". Go check 'em out! :D

Monday, July 25, 2011

Don't Worry! I Didn't Abandon You!

I know I have not been writing on this blog as much as I thought I would this summer. I have been hard at work freelancing for Patch, the online publication for which I write and photograph, so I couldn't really focus on "Taking it One 'Stef' at a Time" lately. In fact, a lot of my recent articles for Patch you can find if you click on the "Collection of My Published Works" tab towards the top of the page. My latest pieces are under Madison Patch.

However, I have been seeing a lot of blog worthy material around and have a lot of post ideas in my Drafts, so I will do my best to write about them as much as I can. I am also working on "Peak Performance and their Awkward Sexual Moments" as well, so watch out for those.

-Stef :)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Finally! My First Paying Writing Gig of the Summer and of the Year! :D

Last night, Saturday July 9, I was given the opportunity to attend the very entertaining premiere of William Shakespeare's Timon of Athens at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey in Madison, New Jersey to review it for Madison Patch. This is my debut article for that particular Patch site and I am very proud of it!

Here you can watch the promotional video of the play:

Another reason why I was so anxious to see it, which is how I heard about the show in the first place, is that my friend Lena Chilingerian is in it! This is her first Equity performance after graduating from Montclair State University this past May. You may remember when I wrote about her in my piece about Ma Joad. I finally was able to do a video interview with her, which you can view here! :)

Finally, without further to do, check out my article! :D

Friday, July 8, 2011

Genitalia: Should it be Discussed on TV?

Yesterday I had an argument with my parents about genitalia. Let me backtrack.

We were watching the new talk show on CBS called "The Talk", the mirror image of ABC's "The View", starring Julie Chen, Sharon Osbourne, Leah Remini, Sara Gilbert, and Holly Robinson Peete. Yesterday Jenna Elfman was a guest host in place of Osbourne. They began their show by discussing Elfman's recent Tweet that stated how her three-year-old son wanted to know what a vagina looked like and how Elfman drew a picture to show him. This resulted in a bunch of laughs from the hosts and their audience members and a bunch of annoyance from my mother and father, leading them to change the channel.

My parents didn't like Elfman's story because they feel that discussions about genitalia should be kept private and not publicized on television. However, my argument is that discussing genitalia should be no different than discussing any other body parts. Why is it that we feel the need to censor just the sexual, private parts? What made them private anyway? Who and what started this that sexual associations should not be mentioned or even seen for that matter? One thing that has always irritated me is how sex is often referred to as "the dirty" or "the nasty." Sex is not a bad thing that should be regarded as disgusting! It is actually a beautiful, natural thing apart of life and no different from eating, sleeping, drinking, or bathing. But it's society that has brought negative connotations to it so we are so used to being careful when treading in this area.

I'm thinking it's a step forward to talk about these things so they are no longer considered taboo or offensive but some people may disagree with me. I understand that if people were to walk out in the nude it may result in some awkwardness and perhaps police involvement, but isn't this something we should try to change? If I was told that all of a sudden people were allowed to walk around nude with no questions asked, I'd still feel odd about doing it because we live in a society where we must cover up and it would be difficult to reverse that now because it has been so ingrained in our culture.

But then again, I was always taught that the human body is beautiful, so shouldn't we be able to express that beauty without shame? This point actually leads to an extension of our argument. We changed the channel to "Charlie Rose" where an ad for a perfume, a photo of a naked woman (private parts covered, including breasts), was shown. Now, is this inappropriate to show on TV? The human body is beautiful and nothing to be ashamed of, and the specific parts are covered, so there should be no issue. However, what some people may consider "beauty," others may consider "sexy." Though the two can often be interchangeable at times, they also convey different, opposite meanings. In my mind, I guess to separate them we can say that "beauty" is the more "pure" form, whereas "sexy" is the more "raunchy" form. Both mean attractive, but in different ways. Nude images can be considered works of art to some, but to others, they can be considered sexually enticing, which can lead to different things. Nothing wrong with being called "sexy," of course. It's still a compliment we all like to hear. But, being called "beautiful" is considered a greater honor I think.

I'm kind of conflicted. Ironically enough I was a bit hesitant in posting this considering the subject matter, which is something I am somewhat trying to fight against! What do you think? Should we refrain from discussing "penises" and "vaginas" and exposing the human body in general on the airways or is it something we should welcome as the first step to evolving ourselves? Should we remain the way we are now, censored, to keep people comfortable? Is it something we are happy with, so why should we change it?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Reflections about...Jersey Boys on Broadway Performance Wednesday, June 29, 2011 at 2 PM

Last week, on Wednesday, June 29, I went with my friend Lauren and her family to see the Broadway show Jersey Boys: The Story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons in the August Wilson Theatre. I actually liked it way more than I had expected considering what I have heard about it and the music genre, the oldies. I mean, I never disliked their music, but let's just say they would never really be my first preference. But at least I heard of them and listened to their music from time to time. Lauren's twelve-year-old cousin did not know who they were and during intermission while I was waiting in line for the bathroom, a girl in front of me, who seemed to be around my age, asked her mom "Was his (Frankie Valli) voice really that nasally?" I was really shocked to hear this because it seems to me that a portion of my generation hasn't heard of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Have they never listened to the radio? I mean, I grew up with their music in addition to other music and was well in tuned with the distinct voice of Frankie Valli. It's not like the group is that old either for them to not be acknowledged by my generation.

The play opened up with a black guy and three French girls rapping "December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)," one the Four Seasons' singles. Um, not exactly the kind of opening one would expect in a musical about a sixties Italian-American pop group from New Jersey. Thankfully, walking Jersey Italian stereotype Tommy DeVito, played by Dominic Nolfi, entered the scene and explained what was happening to ease our confusion. Apparently the black guy and French girls were singing a Paris 2000 remake of the original from years ago. They exited and you never saw this foursome again in the play. It was a random opening, but it does get you pumped for the rest of the musical and it was an energetic opening number, so I liked it. Once DeVito entered, the play had the Jersey Italian aura I was expecting.

Let me go back to the Jersey Italian stereotype that DeVito and the rest of the characters seem to represent. Now here is a guy who had everything covered to satisfy the stereotype: the dialect, the hair, the attitude, and the uh, hehe, life of crime. See now, this is part of the reason why I was never really interested in seeing Jersey Boys. I remember around the time the musical first premiered people from New Jersey criticized this, and now after I saw it I feel that their accusations were proven correct! As an Italian from New Jersey, I find this kind of behavior somewhat offensive. I mean, if Tommy DeVito literally acted and sounded this way in real life and Nolfi is portraying him correctly, then that's fine. I have no problem with that. However, if the characters are acting this way because it is assumed by everyone that that is how Italians from Jersey act, then that's not right in my opinion.

At first I didn't think the show was going to be that good because of this and considering how it was choppy at beginning with its quick scenes portraying Frankie Valli's (who at the time was known as Francis Castelluccio before he changed his name) teenage years, the role played by Dominic Scaglione, Jr., and how Tommy DeVito took him under his wing to prepare him for the music business and acted as a big brother figure. However, the show worked its way up and was ultimately very relatable with the Jersey references and mannerisms. Tommy DeVito (who, according to my father, owned a pizzeria around the corner from my grandparent's house with his brother Joey) is actually from Belleville, New Jersey, which is where Lauren and her family are from, so this and many other Jersey references in the show really hit "home" for us. There was even a brief mention of Bloomfield, MY hometown! :)

Scaglione did a magnificent portrayal of Frankie Valli. It seems to me that Frankie Valli would be a difficult guy to cast considering his voice pitch and short height, but Scaglione had Valli down pat! In fact, after seeing footage and photos of the actual Four Seasons, everybody was accurately portayed height-wise and had a lot of other similar features!

What I liked too about the musical is that it displayed a pretty decent background story for the Four Seasons. Of course, they did hit snags in the road and had to work up to their life of fame like most artists, but their story as a whole was very heartwarming and humorous, making the show very comfortable to watch. Of course, to be safe, I'll also mention that there was a lot of adult related material as well.

What I found most interesting of all was discovering the origins of different Four Seasons songs and the group's general background. For example:

  • Did you know that a well known actor from Jersey actually introduced DeVito, Valli, and Nick Massi, the third original member (Matt Bogart), to their fourth original member and songwriter Bob Gaudio (Ryan Jesse)?
  • Did you know that Gaudio wrote a famous Four Seasons song on his way to a group practice because he thought about it on his way there and jotted it down because he didn't want to forget it?
  • Did you know that Gaudio wrote a song because he was inspired by a line in a movie?
  • Did you know that a song Gaudio wrote specifically for Valli and had so much confidence that it was going to be a hit almost never saw the light of day?

These and much more I learned from this musical! If you want to learn more Four Seasons trivia, and also gain a new appreciation for their music like I have, I recommend you go see Jersey Boys!!! :D