Respect for the #Arts: #Dancing #Ballet and Love of an Art Form.


From a very young age I have had a respect for movement. In the theater world, a lot of the time as an actor, you will see breakdowns that call for actors who “move well.” I’ve always had a deep admiration for those who move well–specifically dancers–more specifically, ballet dancers. They are the epitome of grace and lightness. They exude confidence and do it all while making the hardest tasks look effortless.

Dance is not effortless. The blood, sweat, and tears that go into training, rehearsals and performances is something that needs to be respected. Most recently, I’ve realized that as someone in the arts, it is important to have an appreciation and respect for what I cannot do as an artist. I know it sounds odd, but I think that it helps me as an actor. I have had a love of dance since I was little; all while knowing that I would never be able to do something like go up en pointe or grand jete across the floor. Because of my disability, and challenges physically, I was forced to stop ballet at about 11 due to the fact that I’d be eons behind the other girls in class. Music has always been my first love. I’ve always loved classical music, and sweeping orchestral themes. I also always wanted to move around to the music. Don’t get me wrong, I still move around to music. Sometimes I look like a flailing chicken, but I move around. I only wish that for a second I could know the sensation of actually dancing around gracefully.

As a kid, I would watch ballets on tape. I would watch documentaries about dance. Mikhail Baryshnikov was the dancer of the moment when I was a kid, and I would watch the Nutcracker over and over before my parents took me to see it at the Boston Ballet almost on a yearly basis. I’ve just always thought that dance was one of the most beautiful forms of art. The body goes through so much pain and effort to produce something so exquisitely gorgeous.  I have so much love and respect for dancers, painters, musicians, and any form of art that I don’t actually do. I think if we respect others art forms, we’ll have a greater understanding of our own.

Getting Through the Day: Leading a Creative Life

Over the past few days, I have been sick in bed with a really bad cold, and I can barely talk. But I can write, so here I go. There are things that I think follow us throughout our lives, without us being very aware of the fact that we acquired a passion or talent for something at an early age. When we read, or see a biography of someone, oftentimes, a point is made that they began to do whatever they are good at from childhood. Certain things I wish I had been doing from an early age, but I’m quickly coming to realize that my talents are what they are. No, I didn’t start dancing at 3 to become a ballerina professionally, or sing before I could talk, or even sit by my mother and watch her sew and follow suit.

What I did do was use my imagination. I would play dress up, write short stories, create characters, do funny voices, and put on plays for my cat (I was an only child, can you blame me?) My imagination and my interest in human behavior have always been constant forms of stimulation for me as an artist. I love  acting, writing, and creating.  For the last few months however, I have been in a creation-less slump. When my grandfather died in September, I didn’t get to go to the funeral because I was committed to filming Boardwalk Empire on HBO. Filming and the funeral fell on the same day. That day will stick with me as one of the most difficult days of my career and my life. Why I am compelled to write about it now, I am still unsure. I felt a sense of vacancy, joy, and sadness all in one day. I felt lost because I missed my Papa so much, but I knew that I had to get through the day. I did get through it. I could feel a sense of calm throughout, that made me realize that he was with me in spirit. I knew he was proud of me. We would have long conversations about what I wanted to be when I grew up; when I finally moved to New York, our conversations expanded to what my goals were, and “How’s New York?” was always his first question.

How’s New York? It’s fabulous because I am learning and growing everyday. I am surrounded by interesting people, so there is really no excuse for me NOT to be in a constant state of creation. Whether I am taking the words from the page and interpreting them so that they come off as a cohesive monologue or scene, or I am filling a page with words from  my brain, I should always be creating. There is always an opportunity for creativity and for sending it out into the world so that others may benefit from it. My grandfather was a chemist so he was a creative person as well, just in a different way. I am so happy to have had the opportunity to listen to his stories and gain new appreciation for how one views their world.

A little over month after my grandfather passed away, my aunt lost her fifteen month battle with leukemia. She created things as well. She was crafty, loved to knit and make jewelry. She was a creator, an inventor of her own happiness. This year, I am slowly learning to be my number one inventor. I am creating a life as a writer and actor; slowly but surely, it is paying off (literally.) The last time I saw my aunt, she was in the hospital, I had just filmed Boardwalk Empire, and she was so proud of me. She told me that she loved me, and to not give up. But that’s what had happened shortly after she died. I gave up. I became over analytical of an industry I love, and more importantly, myself. I tried to deny my career goals and fell into a rut. I played the blame game. And it wasn’t fun. Then I realized something. The fire is burning in my belly more now than ever. My passion for the arts and for telling a story through acting and writing is still alive  A project is out there. Someone is out there needing a curly-haired, curvy, slightly goofy, character actress. I am going to persevere. I have to create, invent, interpret, be just who I am–and be happy with fact that my talents are what they are: mine.

Artistic temperament sometimes seems a battleground, a dark angel of destruction and a bright angel of creativity wrestling.

Madeleine L’Engle