Just Call Me Grandma! It’s All In How You Look at It……………………………

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Today the casting announcement came out for the Oklahoma City Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker!  After the two plus hour audition on Saturday, I didn’t know what to think.  Well, turns out I was cast in the role of the Grandma in the party scene in Act I.  At first, I wasn’t sure about playing Grandma.  Last year, I was a Peppermint Page.  Not a big part, but since I was new to the studio and I had taken all of three classes before the audition, I figured that at least I got a part (though I think they do try to give a part to everybody who tries out).  This year, I thought I’d be cast in what they seemed to cast all the girls in my current level in last year – a party girl.  I would take that.  Then the audition came and I was called back after the audition for my age group to go into the older girls’ audition group, so I was expecting to get a pretty good part.  At least I hoped.  My mom says to “manage your expectations; then you won’t be disappointed.”  If something good comes your way, you’ll be “pleasantly surprised.”  I was hoping to be pleasantly surprised.  When I found out I would be Grandma (sharing the role with a 16-year-old in my group), I thought “What does the Grandma do?  Nobody is going to remember me as the Grandma.  I don’t even remember the Grandma.”  Then I looked at some of the other casting.  I also looked at last year’s program book and lo and behold, two adults shared the role of Grandma.  Then, I started to feel better about the part.  Maybe it was a good part, after all.  When I got to dance class today, the other girls asked me if I was excited to be playing the Grandma.  I told them, I guess so.  Then they said that the Grandma had a solo.  I didn’t remember the Grandma having a solo last year, but I am all about having a solo, even a teensy, tiny solo.

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So, from now on, you can just call me Grandma!

The History of Jazz Dance

I started Jazz dancing at the age of six and it soon became my favorite style of dance!  Jazz has roots dating back to the 1800s.  The first official American “jazz dancer” was Joe Frisco who danced around the year 1910.  Jazz moves were created by slaves who often danced and sang as a source of entertainment.  Slave traders allowed them to dance during their journey over to America, as an attempt to keep them physically fit.  Not only did it work, but it formed an impressive series of dance techniques and steps that made history.  The original steps came out of Africa while Jazz dance itself came about as a crossbreed of American culture.  Jazz music obviously inspired some of the first documented jazz dance choreography.  Europe lent elegance to the technique; Africa gave it its movement and rhythm; and America allowed it to have the exposure and growing popularity that has sustained it as a cherished dance style today.  After being passed down through plantation ancestors and early restaurants and night clubs, jazz dance began to be taught in studios.

By the early 1900s, people began doing such dances as the cakewalk, Charleston, jitterbug, swing and the Lindy Hop, all of which were forms of jazz dancing.  Jazz also began to appear more in Broadway shows and musical comedies.  Modern jazz was developed by choreography greats such as Bob Fosse, whose work is emulated in the ultimate of jazz dance shows, Chicago and Cabaret.  To properly execute jazz dance steps, many teachers still believe in teaching a firm classical ballet foundation so that bodies can develop with strength and agility.  Jazz dance is able to be traditionally peppy and bright, but can also take on a flowy and soulful feel.  There are no limits to its creativity, and this has continued to rank it as one of the most popular forms of dance available in studios today.  Over the last year, I decided to focus on classical ballet, but my dance school also teaches jazz.  I take one jazz class per week and I still love it more than ever!

References:
History of Jazz Dance
About Jazz Dance History

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This is me last year in costume for a jazz dance to the song, Knock on Wood.  It was a fast paced disco song, but the dance style was jazz.

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And this is me last year in costume (postal worker) for our jazz dance to Return to Sender by Elvis Presley.  This dance was slower, but still a jazz dance.

The History of Ballet

Hello everyone!  Long time, no blog.  I’ve been having a very busy, yet relaxing summer.  It’s almost time to go back to school and for dance classes to start-up again.  Because I am a dancer and talk so much about my love for dance, I decided to write a series of blog posts about the history of different kinds of dance.  For my first post in the series, I am going to start with the form of dance I love the most – ballet!  I started ballet at the age of five and I didn’t much appreciate it in the beginning.  Now, I go to a dance studio where the main focus is ballet technique.  Now I am so much better at it because it’s all that I do.  The history of ballet is as interesting as the art form itself.  The word ballet comes from French and was borrowed into English around the 17th century.  The French word in turn has its origins in Italian balletto, but uses the shortened version of ballo (dance).

Ballet ultimately traces back to Italian ballare, meaning to dance.  According to Wikipedia, ballet originated in the Italian Renaissance courts of the 15th and 16th centuries and spread from Italy to France.  Catherine de’ Medici and Balthasar de Beaujoyeulx were responsible for presenting the first court ballet ever which applied poetry, dance, music and set design to a storyline.  In the late 17th century Louis XIV founded the Académie Royale de Musique (the Paris Opera), within which emerged the first professional theatrical ballet company, the Paris Opera Ballet.  The dominant use of French in the vocabulary of ballet reflects this history.  Theatrical ballet soon became an independent form of art and spread from Europe to other nations.  The Royal Danish Ballet and the Imperial Ballet of the Russian Empire were founded in the 1740s.  In 1907 the Russian ballet moved back to France.

Soon ballet spread around the world with the formation of new companies, including the San Francisco Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, the New York City Ballet, and many others.  In the 20th century, different styles of ballet continued to develop.  The United States choreographer, George Balanchine, developed what is now known as neoclassical ballet.  Subsequent developments have included contemporary ballet and post-structural ballet.  I want to be a ballerina when I grow up.  My favorite ballerina, Misty Copeland, was just named American Ballet Theatre’s first female African-American principal dancer.  I find her to be very inspirational.  Because of her late start in learning how to dance ballet (she was 13) and her race and body type, she is what’s known as an unlikely ballerina.  Keep reading my blog to learn about other forms of dance.
 

This is me in my ballet costume for a group dance I was in during my 5th grade year back in 2013 – 2014.  We danced to Discombobulate.  It is the theme song from the movie, Sherlock Holmes.

Congratulations to the Principal!!!

Today has been a great day in the world of dance. Misty Copeland has been named principal dancer for the American Ballet Theater.

I was able to meet Misty at my dance studio last year. She is so cool! I remember her telling us about all of the hard work and challenges of being a soloist. When she came to our studio, she was the third African-American soloist in the history of the American Ballet Theater. She also talked about her goal of being a principal dancer.  And now, she is the first African-American principal dancer in the 75 year history of the American Ballet Theater!  You can read about our meeting here. I also wrote about my dream to be like Misty one day here. Is it obvious I like her? Well I do. She’s one of my biggest inspirations. Ballet is the constant pursuit of perfection and Misty inspires me to strive to get better everyday….

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Here is one of the famous commercials she has done….

And yes, I still have her autographed books…Life in Motion Signautres

This Ain’t My Grandma’s Popcorn or Granola for that Matter

Today I’m going to continue blogging about the healthy snacks I recently bought…….

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Popcorn
According to the Encyclopedia Popcornica, people have been eating popcorn for more than 4,000 years. That’s a long time. Since then, people have eaten popcorn and used it for decorations. The Aztecs used popcorn as decoration for ceremonial headdresses, necklaces and ornaments on statues of their gods. In the United States families use popcorn to decorate Christmas trees.  Each year Americans consume 16 billion quarts of popped popcorn. So is it healthy? That depends on what kind you eat. There are so many varieties to choose from: air popped, kettle, stove top, bagged, boxed and of course microwave. I’m sure I might be missing a variety or two.

Skinny Pop Bagged Popcorn
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Skinny Pop is low fat, gluten free, non GMO, nothing artificial, and has less than 50 calories per cup.  There are four flavors: original, black pepper, naturally sweet, and white cheddar. I really like the white cheddar.

Skinny Girl Microwave Popcorn
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Skinny Girl Popcorn was created by Bethany Frankel (she’s on one of those real housewives shows) in a partnership with Orville Redenbacher’s popcorn company. There are two microwave flavors: Butter & Sea Salt and Lime & Sea Salt. It’s amazing that the microwave popcorn has less total fat (6 grams in 6 cups) than the bagged popcorn (18 grams of total fat in 7 cups). But the amount of sodium in the microwave popcorn is 400 mg compared to 180 mg in the bagged popcorn. I’ve only tasted the Butter & Sea Salt flavor.  I don’t like the Skinny Girl as much as the Skinny Pop.  

Veggie Snacks
I also bought Sensible Portions Garden Veggie Straws and Chips. Both varieties of Garden Veggies contain 30% less fat than most potato chips. I love, love, love the veggie straws. I’m not really a big potato chip person like my brother is. I gave him some veggie chips to try and he thought they were ok. I left the room, and when I got back I discovered he had eaten half the bag! Like I said, he’ll eat any kind of chip and like them.

Granola
Granola is generally composed of whole grains such as rolled oats and puffed rice, nuts, and honey. It was invented in the early 20th century. According to Statista, granola bar brand sales in the United States top more than 1 billion dollars. That’s alot of bars!

KIND Granola Bars
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KIND snacks website message is “There’s healthy. There’s tasty. Then there’s healthy and tasty. At KIND®, we believe you deserve both—we call it our brAND philosophy.” So I gave the vanilla blueberry bars a try. They were really, really good. On top of that, they are gluten free, non GMO, and only contain ingredients you can pronounce. I explored their site and found more than 20 varieties of bars. Kellogg’s and Quaker both have bars. Either are great for a grab and go snack. But I’ll be honest, I prefer the KIND bars. I’m going to try more flavors.

Cracker Jack’D Snack Mix
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The other day, my grandma asked what was I eating. I told her it was a new Cracker Jack’D snack mix. She asked “where’s the box, where’s the prize?” I was confused. Then she told me that back in her day, the only Cracker Jack’s they had were caramel covered popcorn with peanuts and it came in a box with a prize.  I told her they still sell that, but now they also have healthy snacks. I prefer the double chocolate flavored Cracker Jack’D. It has 7 grams of protein per serving, which helps with energy before a long dance class. Well, these are all my snacks so far. Since I’m always ready to try new ones, send me a comment about your favorite healthy snack. I’d like to try it.