Tag Archives: Professional Dance Scene

Fabulous Palm Springs Follies Grand Finale

Fabulous Palm Springs FolliesI love a good show. Entertain me, please! For 23 years the Fabulous Palm Springs Follies have been thrilling audiences and saluting the troops of proud America while employing some of the longest and most mature performers at their theatre situated in downtown Palm Springs anyone has ever seen.  Due to a struggling economy the show will be bringing down its curtain one final time for their 23rd and final season. Here’s the story…

THE STORY CONTINUES HERE…

Introducing Dancing Firecracker JoJo Siwa

JoJo Siwa

I’ve really found my forte has become celebrity interviews. They are something I really enjoy doing and just having the honor to conduct them is a special privilege I have. When I was in L.A. at the Glendale Studios seeing a live taping of Lifetime TV smash hit Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition this past spring, I took notice of a little blonde spitfire named JoJo, 10, who truly danced her dance. I was there interviewing Lady Gaga creative director Richy Jackson, one of the judges for AUDC, as JoJo really stood out to the choreographer in me. She will be hell in heels when she grows up.

Since the second season of AUDC hits Lifetime TV on 9/3 I reached out to JoJo and her wonderful mother Jessalynn about allowing me to introduce her talented wonderwall of extension and strut of sass to our big gay world. I was thrilled they replied so quickly.  So glad she supplied the amazing photos, as well. Sadly, few do. I sent the girls an email  saying, “Here’s a round of Q/A for you both. They are geared towards JoJo but I will note where Mamma can answer, too.” Here’s what they shared about dancing for Abby Lee Miller, fun out-of-studio time for JoJo and what it felt like shooting reality television. Just love what they both said…

jojo siwa_3

Steven Michael – JoJo, Did you ever get scared or intimidated by the lights or camera?

JoJo Siwa – “No, I loved them!”

I love them to. That will never change. How about Abby Lee Miller? Did you ever feel that she was ever too mean to you? She’s stern and strong with her ways.

“No, Abby was always good to me.”

Mamma, did you ever feel as if Abby was too hard or critical on JoJo?

Jessalynn Siwa - “No, I knew going into the show Abbys teaching techniques.”

Yes, I suppose you know what you’re getting into by working with Abby. Mamma, what attracted you to having JoJo on the show? Was there an audition to go through?

“JoJo dances all day long and watches Dance Moms over and over. I think it’s nearly every dancer’s dream to dance with or for Abby. Yes, there was an audition.”

JoJo Siwa

Growing up and dancing in my day, there were very few studios that train like her girls do on the show. They, of course, were the studios that everyone achieved to be like. It really is what you put into it. How was it working with the other competition moms? Any ones we should watch out for?

“Well, whenever you have dance you have dance moms. (smiling) Crazy moments and super fun moments. Yes! Watch for the ‘TRIANGLE.'”

jojo siwa_2

Oh, that sounds juicy. I can’t wait. JoJo, how much time do you spend dancing a week in class or otherwise? Is being a dancer what you want to so when you grow up?

“I dance around 20 hours a week. I would love to be FAMOUS!!!!”

Darling, you will be famous. Have fun with it and keep grounded. Stay close to Mamma and point those toes. JoJo, who are your idols in the dance world?

“Abby Lee, Rachelle Rak and Richy Jackson.”

Oh, I never would have guessed. (lauhging) Three great choices, nonetheless. Mamma, can you give me a brief bit about where JoJo is from and do you have dance background?

“JoJo and I are from Nebraska. I have been dancing my whole life. I have had a dance studio for 20 years.”

JoJo Siwa

Oh, wow! That’s fierce. I really miss being in a studio. JoJo, that scorpion extension is mind-blowing. When I saw you do it live during the taping I was blown away. How did you learn it and can you teach me?

(smiling) “I would love to teach you but you have to be flexible and have tons of control. That was one of those tricks my mom made me do over and over and now I can do it on a dime.”

Well, it’s phenomenal. What do you enjoy doing when you’re outside the studio? And do you have a lot of friends outside the dance world?

“I love to play the piano and play with my two dogs LuLu and CoCo. I am super social and have tons of friends. We like to swim, have slumber parties, go to the movies and just hang out!”

JoJo Siwa head shot

Sounds very fun! Mamma, how do you feel about Dance Moms and the outrageousness of it?

“Outrageous… nahhhh.” (smiling)

jojo siwa_1

JoJo, I was able to visit with judge Richy Jackson the day I saw the taping live. Did you appreciate what he told you during critiques?

“I absolutely love Richy and took everything he (and the other judges ) said seriously. I loved getting compliments from them!!!”

I was there the Gaga-inspired day and yes they did give you great critique. You’ll have so many people tell you so many different things. Even people will tell you what they think you want to hear. Keep an open mind but also realize it is all so subjective. Especially in performing while being judged. I wish you the best of luck with your career. Mamma, did you ever shy away from the cameras? What was that like being under the lens?

“No, I was never shy. You will see! (smiling) It was fun. An experience of a lifetime!”

jojo siwa

And finally, JoJo, can you tell me who wins the competition, please?! I have to know. (laughing)

“Nooooooooooooooo!!!! Ha Ha, I am laughing too!” (both laughing) “Thank you sooooooo much!” Jessalynn and JoJo.

And to my gays… WATCH OUT for this one. JOJO IS DYNAMITE! The new season of Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition starts next week on Lifetime TV. Watch for me in episode 2 giving you on-camera audience realness for your nerves. X

Experiencing Mr. E.O.Y. ’13 – Competing Nationally

Steven Michael

I’m just getting back to the grind of a casual life in Palm Springs, blogging again and wanting to share my amazing adventures of competing at the Entertainer of the Year pageant in Louisville last week. The road getting there to E.O.Y. was quite swift considering I was just competing in March nationally elsewhere after a huge hiatus from the competitive stage. However, the road to me becoming an entertainer started when I was seven-year-young and moved on down many roads from there. I’ve found the spotlight not only on the stages many would think immediately but I also consider my job and here with my blog the places I find myself entertaining these days.

Steven Michael

I miss the stage. No surprise. If you’re a performer then you know where I’m coming from. Am I too old? I hate that word. I can be older or oldest. Old dictates done. I guess some think I’m too old but not everyone, especially the ones who love and support me the most. Age will never stop me from doing something I feel  passionate about. And on the subject, you will never find out exactly who supports you and really cares either monetarily or just simply attention-wise until you run for something at this scale or possibly need their help. Trust that. No Tea… If someone you know is getting ready for something as important as, hmm, running a national pageant, body building contest, job promotion, whatever, just a simple message of support or text means almost as much as a few dollars do. Almost. We’re excited about what we’re doing. Ask us and we are usually too happy to share. Plus, it helps hearing it all said aloud.

Steven Michael

Sponsorship naturally is very important and without it I wouldn’t have been able to run. Many of us wouldn’t. I will not go broke doing these contests and encourage others to realize it is what it is, too. It doesn’t work out for everyone. The winning. I’ve lost more than I’ve won if you’re counting trophies. Have fun with what you do and enjoy the life moment. You take the risk and step on stage when many others wish they could or would. Among many faithful generous confidants, my dearest friend Dimitri James at SKINN has been such an amazing support system for #teamstevenmichael that he is the reason I am able to do what I do. If you’re a contestant who runs for a contest, thank your sponsors as much as you can. They make you.

Steven Michael

And phone calls are so rare these days that it’s the ones who make that effort to pick up the phone and verbally check-in who really make a caring impact. People get wrapped up in their own agenda and I get that. Those calls mean so much especially from people who know the real you and can be honest telling you like it is. We often have people around us who tell us what we want to hear, especially when you have power and pride of the pen like me. If you reached out to me during my run for E.O.Y. with support, I worship you and you know that. I will always listen to what you have to say. Know that, too.

Steven Michael

As soon as I made the decision to enter Mr. E.O.Y. I was off and running. I am very, very blessed that I was able to bring exactly what I wanted to the stage without compromising or cutting corners because of financial desperation. I was even in a position to sponsor my amazing dancers myself with the tips and donations by members of the gym I had collected from the breath of decision until departure. It worked out perfectly as did they, my dancers Madolyn, Kelley, Kelsey and Arielle. Thanks to YouTube (and lots of texting, trusting and Facebook messages) I was able to video choreography and they got together at Legacy Dance to space it and work it out. I knew that they would be everything. We all come from the same dance background and studio (just 20 years later) and their technique was on point.

Steven Michael

I flew into Nashville after a flight delay and upgrade to first class (Thanks, Delta Air!) and arrived late missing one night of rehearsals and time with mom who generously sponsored my travel. I ran around town after I checked-in to wind down, grabbed some food and then back to bed at my home away from home at Radisson Airport. Love that place, always! Fed Ex had delivered my packages there before I arrived so it was all safe and snug behind the front desk. I was set!

Trinity Taylor - Steven Michael

Wednesday I had a great breakfast in Nashville with mom and my best friend Kristin at Cracker Barrel before heading to Legacy Dance for rehearsal. I walked in and after a major Kiki session with my dancers we got started. They twirled and twerked for Daddy Bear, for reals. Even Thomas and Charles at Hedge on Perez Road donated to #teamstevenmichael by sending ahead 4 beautiful candles for my girls to enjoy as appreciation. It couldn’t have gone any better considering we had very little rehearsal together. Hire professionals and thank yourself later, I say. We blocked the performances and after a few solid run-throughs, I was on the road to Louisville. No rest for the wicked and weary competitor. Me.

Steven Michael

Traffic was ehhh leaving Nashville so it took me a hot minute to get past downtown but once I got into Louisville, I was there! I stayed with a former roommate Tyler who lived close to The Connection and it was great to reconnect with him. Exactly what I needed. It had been way too long. I had reserved hotel rooms at Candlewood Suites for the dancers to arrive the next day but staying at a close friend’s place was perfect for me. Plus, Tyler had agreed to be my drag slave for the contest. He was very in-tune with what I needed as a competitor. I had been down the same road with him years ago. Tyler rocked my stay and kept me grounded.

Angel T. Stratton - Steven Michael

Unfortunately, soon after I pulled into town a group of boys walking down the street decided to throw a handful of those orange crackers with the peanut butter inside through my open window and pelt my dashboard with them causing orange cracker to go everywhere. Whoosh! Amazing aim. Crackers for the crackers, I guess. It was shocking to say the least. Luckily it wasn’t a rock. Many reasons went through my head as to why but the bottom line is that we continued driving and got where we needed to go safely. It could have gone awry quickly if I had said and done what was on my mind. It made me wake-up, that’s for sure and see my surroundings. I get very comfortable in Palm Springs. And I wasn’t in Kansas anymore, Toto. That was the only heavy instance along these lines while I was there in Louisville, thankfully. The rest of the stay was everything!

Steven Michael

The next morning I arrived at registration early as instructed. Not everyone got there to The Connection when they were suppose to but I wasn’t keeping score. I was worried only about myself and getting my dancers safely to town. Xavier Cole, Mr. E.O.Y. 2012, spoke a few minutes while we picked contestant numbers, turned in music, entry fees, applications, et al. He reached out and checked in with me while I was getting ready here in California which meant a lot to me as a contestant. Once the girls arrived, I let them know I had picked #12 out of 13 so it would be a minute or two before we started. I was happy with that draw but I was even more happy I that everything I needed the girls for was the first night. I knew they’d have a complete blast and get job offers which they did on both accounts.

Steven Michael

Rehearsals went well considering we needed to quickly figure out spacing on that grand stage at The Connection. It gave us a chance to meet (and scope out) the competition and see what game everyone else was bringing. It was on! I could see it was going to be a great show. If I compete and win I want to compete and win against the best. If I’m to have my face cracked I also want it to be by the best. We got the girls checked-in and paid their monies so that was done. I promised that once they arrived I’d pay them in full and I did. Business first, Hunty. Treat people like professionals and they in turn return professionalism.

Tiffany McCray

After a great meal at Tyler’s, shower and packing, I got back to the club and the evening began. The Kings of E.O.Y. were competing along side of us and then the Miss contestants joined in the next evening and finished off Sunday night at the Horseshoe Casino. The energy backstage was fierce and exciting. CeZanne was emceeing the contests which I lived for. She ran that audience and show how things needed to be done. It was so good to see her and reconnect over the course of the next 3 nights. Terry Vanessa Coleman also ran backstage like military camp – a really fun rigid, do-it-like-this-and-don’t-pull-shade military camp. It worked very well. The gorgeous Vanessa DeMornay also emceed and she is one hell of a performer! I loved the feeling and space I was in.

Steven Michael

Presentation category was first. It went very well. I felt the stage, dug the balls of my feet into that floor and shwerqed it all over. I threw my D a bit and the girls did amazing  giving me exactly what I needed. Me dressed in a fierce yellow shirt with blinged-out cuffs and my ladies with snatched-back buns, white dress shirts and black heels serving Vegas Realness. I felt incredibly comfortable every time I was onstage. I was handed the microphone and spoke well saying everything I planned on mentioning all sponsors, city, contestant number and name. Short and sweet. The moment was incredibly real and really wonderful.

Steven Michael

Next, the contestants were split down the middle and rotated between Talent and Onstage Q/A. I was able to speak about my dear sister Ashley Kruiz during my Q/A and how writing about her passing was one of my all-time favorite blogs because it came from the heart. Plus she had made such an impact on that very stage it felt like the only thing I wanted to discuss. When I said the words Ashley Kruiz, the house went up. It was fabulous. I spoke well, took my settling breath and again said everything I wanted to. I love the microphone and have no problem speaking into something so big and black. Stop… You’re being silly.

Steven Michael

Talent time. Our production began and it was about 2 a.m. Whew. This race is not for the weak and weary. It’s abusive to your body but performance is often that way. Plan ahead getting food in your system and rehydrate constantly, I encourage. We nailed this dance production. There were a couple of heres and theres that could have used some polishing off but I’m very happy with the way we performed. I was on my words and we had a really fun time with it all. The crowd seemed to enjoy it, too. Delorian Chase turned my mix out and she too gave me exactly what I wanted for my crowd and judges. After a sleepy pass through White Castle on the way home I fell into bed around 3.

Steven Michael

The next day and actually most of my time I spent perched on Tyler’s back porch enjoying the unseasonably cooler weather. Friday evening I had Creative Evening Wear and a dear friend Jana who I danced with when we were 18 brought up her daughter Rue who escorted me for the category. I had a beautiful faux mink coat atop my bling encrusted tuxedo that needed tending to by a stunning size 0 bombshell. Check, please. It meant so much that Jana made the effort to come and support in such a way. Rue and I look so incredible. Flawless. I believe the mink was a risk but I stand by it. I knew I’d stand out.

Steven Michael

Saturday my dear Carmella Marcella Garcia (George T. to his friends) made the trip up to visit with old friends (Tyler and I) and enjoy a cookout including Laird from The Connection who took me down memory lane and beyond, Tyler’s fabulous daughter Salina with super boyfriend Jason and her son. It was a wonderful relaxing moment and I loved it. It was perfect. I enjoyed my pre-Swimwear category meal of a Tic-Tac and single ice cube. Nah… close. Ask anyone that knows me and they shall tell you that I eat no matter when.

Steven Michael

Being it was the final night of competition for me with only the Creative Swimwear category and crowning, I felt a sense of bittersweet come across me as I did when I was finishing up the preparation. I thoroughly enjoy the hard work, the prep, the decision making, blinking I find very therapeutic and of course the stage time and spotlight warmth I worship. I really don’t have any opportunity to perform these days to this scale so if I have to go and find it, so be it. If I’m able and have the desire to, I will. I made a great piece of jewelry to wear with the Aussiebum suit my love Jeremy Barnes donated to my cause. The goddess Trinity Taylor, who was dressing my sister Tiffany McCray competing for Miss, escorted me out and we served the children in our virgin white. She looked hot! I gave them some gratuitous cake shots and swaggered on off.

Steven Michael

I forgot to mention that for the opening number of this same night, we male contestants were given headless costumes to put on so we would all be standing there headless holding our own heads. Cute gimmick. Cheap costumes. David Freklz Hunter was helping me with mine just as it broke. I called out, “STUNTS!” and we laughed it off trying to piece it back together. Sure enough, we are all out there in our individual headless moments and and I start to scoot across the stage all eerie, my frame comes loose again and starts to fall off. I quickly dash behind stage right shuffling to get it back on somehow. Here I finally come back out holding it in place with my left hand and my head in my right. It was a mess. I committed to what I was doing and kept going.

Xavier Cole - Steven Michael

It was crowning time and I popped on my tuxedo from Creative Formal Wear changing the shirt and tie. When it was all said and done, and this is how I saw it, David Freklz Hunter brought his strongest game and swept 4 of 5 categories taking the title of Mr. E.O.Y. 2013. He was by far the winner, I admit that honestly. When it comes to me, I didn’t place but my scores were incredibly consistent and strong except for the judge who scored me half of what they did everyone else. If they had thrown out highs and lows it could have been different but when I saw that only one judge gave me such low scores across the board I actually just laughed. Maybe a Daddy Bear done him wrong once or maybe she does’t like California. Who knows?! I’ll never know because they also don’t give out comment sheets afterwards.

Steven Michael

It’s ALL so subjective you must enjoy the adventure or you’ll find yourself empty-handed too often. Next time, I’ll simply have to give them something they can’t refuse. And will there be a next time for me? I always say if that, meaning my last performance, was the last time I ever get on a stage and do what I love, I want it to be under my terms and completely my way. With every decision a consequence. We know that but it never rings more true during the height of competition. I would love to do it again but for now everything is packed away and closed up for the season. Although, I could use a hit of e6000 and glue a rhinestone on something. Stay tuned…

INTERVIEWING RICHY SQUIRREL JACKSON

I was able to grab a quick interview with the man himself, Richy Squirrel Jackson, whose new reality television show Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition hitting Lifetime TV October 9 promises to be full of high-kicks and even higher drama. Richy is the man behind the brilliant choreography of Lady Gaga and has worked dancing alongside many a star including the amazing Laurianne Gibson. Richy perches on the judge’s pew with Pussycat Dolls creator Robin Antin and Dance Moms maven Abby Lee Miller for television’s latest dance competition show. We can’t wait to watch the magic unfold.

Anything that has the words reality or Abby Lee Miller in the description can be assumed to be chock full of tears, cheers and jeers. Not everyone agrees with the way that dance floor ringmaster Abby Lee Miller from Dance Moms (on the same network) handles her students and performers. It’s very tough love. Take it or leave it. With the stage comes crazy “stage moms” and in AUDC. I feel certain they will be in brute force wanting their little Mischa or Giselle to leap to the top as quickly as possible. Cross Abby’s tell-it-like-it-is-her-way-or-the-highway temperament and fame hungry young performers driven by their mom and sparks will create fireworks of pure guilty pleasure television. Setting the DVR now!

Here’s what cute and cuddly Richy Squirrel had to say about a taste of recent fame, his new show on Lifetime TV and what we viewers can expect from the surefire reality hit he’s poured his heart and soul into making happen! Because of strict confidentiality clauses and contracts, he’s quite limited in what he can say regarding certain aspects of his professional career. I respect that. I admit that I don’t like it, but I can respect it. We want to know it all! Here’s the talented one telling it like it is in his words…

Steven Michael – Care to share an early career moment that made you the performer you are today?

Richy Squirrel Jackson – “When I first touched down in L.A., I can remember immediately taking dance classes because that was the thing to do. Soon after, I noticed that my personal dance style and approach to choreography began to change and I began to perform like everyone else. So I stopped taking classes and continued to work on myself as a dancer/performer and this led me to feel more confident in what “I” bring to the world of dance as a performer.”

When the spotlight is off, where is Richie and what is he doing? What’s your off-time like and who is around you?

“When the spotlight is off… Richy is definitely checking out a movie, relaxing at home, spending time with friends or doing absolutely nothing. This business is 24/7, so off time is precious and in that sense doing less is so much more for me. Weekends aren’t really weekends and holidays become just another name for a day.”

Do people recognize you on the street and what’s that like for you?

“Yes people recognize me on the streets and for me it’s great! I take pictures, get asked questions about jobs, people dance in front of me or they just shout out “5-6-7-8,” Ha- Ha! It’s always a good time for a minute or two out of my day!”

We were heavily involved with the dance workshop circuit when I was a teen. Did you do the dance competitions when you were younger like Tremaine and Showstopper? Is Abby’s new show like that? What can we expect this first season?

“When I was younger I was in a dance group and I choreographed the local cheerleading team. Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition is more like her own version of competitions that actually take place in the world of competitive dance. It takes a brand new direction from where Dance Moms began with the kids competing individually for the chance at $100,000 as well as a prized scholarship to the Joffrey School of Ballet in NYC. This really creates a competition unlike any other. You’ll see the struggles and triumphs throughout the season as well as what it takes to be the last one standing on the stage… more than you realized!”

After working with Abby on AUDC… How do you feel about her teaching methods that are portrayed on Dance Moms? Do you feel the cameras portray her genuinely and do you agree with her way of handling her girls on TV?

“After working on AUDC I realize that Abby’s teaching methods are good-old-fashion tough love. Dance Moms portrays her just as she is, only it’s hard to understand when you see these young children. Abby’s methods are much like that of a coach of a sports team and though it isn’t the way I may handle situations, the outcome is still great! I respect and have much love for Abby!”

I agree with you on the aspect that Abby wants the most out of her girls. Though it’s not anything that I’m familiar with in my dance training. Are you able to take or teach dance classes with you busy schedule? I live in Palm Springs and unfortunatley there’s limited resources unless you drive to L.A. or take Zumba. I miss it but am choreographing a new artist for Gay Pride and competing for a male entertainer title in March so I do what I can do. What’s you favorite style of dance?

“My schedule has become very busy. I have little time even for myself. I’ve always felt that booking a job, to work for me as a dancer on any of my projects is the best class you can get. You get to learn, you get to dance, and… you get paid!”

Do you find downfalls of doing reality television? Any invasion of privacy issues you deal with? Just curious.

I don’t find any downfalls in doing reality television. I actually really enjoy doing reality TV simply because all you have to be is “you.” There are no scripts or characters to play. It just empowers you to be your true self and to be confident in you who are and what you have to say. Make wise choices.”

What makes you happiest ever?

“I am truly happiest when I’ve completed choreography for a live performance, video, etc. and see that my vision for the piece was well received by not just the artist but those who are attached to the project as well and more importantly, the artists’ fans.”

What can you tell me what I didn’t ask you?

“I love choreographing and being a visionary. I’m so happy and grateful that I have been able to turn my passion into a career. Never ever give up on your dreams!”

I want to send a big hug out to Richy for being part of my domain and taking a few minutes to share his life with us! Loved his answers and amazing wicked talents. Catch Ricky Squirrel Jackson on Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition on Lifetime TV October 9 or catch him on his Twitter or Facebook pages!

And KEEP DANCING!

BACKSTAGE AT SYTYCD SEASON 9 PREMIERE

If you’re a fan of the Fox TV smash So You Think You Can Dance then I bet you’ve always been curious on what happens backstage and in-between commercial breaks. The good stuff that we viewers are rarely privy to, until now…

Here’s the real Tea about the show broken down in chronological order. While I worship some details I’m malnourished on others because perhaps the live performance left me feeling as such. Being a choreographer and dance teacher I don’t always agree with what the judges say but they’ve yet to ask me to sit along with them, so that’s that. The crowd has their favorites, America too! Of course when it’s all said and done the final decision really is down to us, the voting public. Yeah, right. Political correctness, you know!

After receiving my show vouchers from the lottery off the On Camera Audiences Facebook page, I made plans to drive in and catch the show, see BFF Brian and walk on Malibu Beach a bit before heading back to the swelter of Palm Springs. I made an impromptu decision to drive in Tuesday evening after work and wake up with the sound of Pacific Ocean waves crashing through my open windows at Brian’s place in Malibu. Sounded delicious.

Wednesday involved some running around 3rd Street Promenade for a spot of light shopping and lunch on the beach. I rinsed off the saltwater and got dressed for SYTYCD which started at 3:30 p.m. according to the email I had printed out. I had been previously to see the show taped live during the season Benji Schwimmer won when he was dancing with the fabulous Donyella. If you haven’t seen his interview on YouTube about the being gay, the actual reality of the show and being Mormon then you simply must. I knew even though the letter said 3:30 it mean closer to 2:45. The people seriously line up! Plus with this being the premiere episode of the Top 20 it was the must-see show at CBS Studios yesterday.

2:05 p.m. – Leaving Malibu and the R&R I needed more than I realized. Traffic was fierce for my jaunt up Sunset Blvd. as I headed back into L.A. Gave I-10 the ig due to its unpredictability.

2:55 p.m. – I find myself turning left on Beverly in front of the Genesse gate where my fellow fans wait in the sunshine that was beating down like the spotlight on their favorites inside. The line looked about 250+ deep.

3:05 p.m. – After whipping my car into a parking spot inside The Grove I boot-scoot-boogied my way up Fairfax and then down Beverly to the growing line of audience. The first thoughts of the improbability of me actually getting inside reared their head. I strutted past the long line and found my place at the end trying to figure the best method for a branch of tree shade. I already knew my shaved skull was being braised by the rays of sun. And I was schvitzing considerably from the brisk stroll from the car and scorching summer heat.

3:12 p.m. – Sydney, a rep from FOX, has 2 tickets to go inside VIP for anyone with the knowledge and a voice to answer the question, ‘Who was last week’s guest judge?”

3:13 p.m. – I shout out the first female name that comes to mind Debbie Allen since she was on during the auditions she was my immediate thought. Plus, the heat was making me desperate for an actual ticket. Sydney told me know and asked again focusing on the group of quiet girls in front of me.

3:13 1/2 p.m. – “Zooey DeChannel” I shouted out after thinking it quickly through in my head. Since I was alone she gave the other ticket to one of the girls and I headed inside the grocery store to cool off and grab water. I now had a few minutes before meeting Sydney at Gate C.

3:15 p.m. – Found myself untucking my shirt, wiping out sweat from areas and perching in the freezer section to chill out around the corner at the market. Wasted time roaming the store realizing my husband would have loved that.

4:00 p.m. – Headed through the security gates backstage. Left phone in the car since they collect them upon entrance. We were ushered in soon after past a huge group of people sitting and watching us.

4:15 p.m. – Settled in seat and meeting the couple next to me. Tom and some lady. I sort of felt he was hitting on me but I tend to be narcissistic like that. Please excuse. The next moments consisted of various production people running about, groups of girls squished into small spaces on the sides of the stage and I was thankful again that I had a seat ticket. Plus the woman that got my other ticket told me once she sat and we started dishing that they cut the line right before the place we were standing. I was lucky to be inside.

4:50 p.m. – Judges to the table . Screams and shouts ensue. A comic relief keeps the crowd going with Boyfriend and One Direction’s What Makes You Beautiful music causing squeals and eye-rolls from yours truly. An obvious group of production assistants were positioned around us. The one beside us was reading Entertainment Weekly and writing every single thing down that happened on stage from what was said to routines and music. I assumed he was a blogger for the show. They were all on their iPhones and Blackberry devices.

4:55 p.m. – I made the final decision that the dress code listed in the email must have been a typo since everything I saw that was banned was sitting next to me. High-heels, blue jeans and shorts. I looked good that’s all I knew.

5:00 p.m. – A wonderful pre-taped group performance opens the show. Cat Deely gets positioned in death-defying stilettos and a creme minidress. She is stunning and quirky and approachable. That’s why she works as host. During the show between commercial breaks she will nibble on Red Vines and continually worry about her teeth.

5:05 p.m. – The first pan of the audience I see me standing arms in the air clapping. I continue to look for myself.

5:06 p.m. – Dancers enter solo and the crowd is so loud you couldn’t hear Cat say their names. Legs are to there and performers spin like tops.

5:08 p.m. – Nigel begs for America to vote for favorites and shocks with the announcement of four eliminations next week. 2 boys and 2 girls.

5:09 p.m. – Love “firecracker” Whitney who starts off the night of erratic 9 second bios. Chehon needs some hip-shaking help while Louis Van Amstel encourages masculinity. Whitney’s fringe piece is fabulous as she luckily dances her style. She is on the Hot Tamale Train right out of the gate. Love the number overall. My husband comments why the west coast can’t vote.

5:15 p.m. – Chelon’s number comes up and it says GO-HIM which I found slightly religious. Well, it is Fox TV.

5:21 p.m. – Sonya Tayeh choreographs.  Amazing twist up to his side. Mary is breathless and worships about the dancers’ surrendering. George has an amazing ass and danced phenomenally with Tiffany. Great routine. Kenny Ortega continues the worship of Sonya and relives memories.

5:33 p.m. – NappyTabs choreograph. Tabitha was glowing. She looked amazing dressed in red. Routine theme: alcoholism. Didn’t like this one. Sorry to say. I’m weird about these story hip-hop performances. He is sexy but she was too soft. Yawn. Moving on.

5:37 p.m. – The girl next to me asks if Nigel and Mary dated because he is always making comments about his liking of her. I replied, “I really don’ t think so.”

5:38 p.m. – Group standing on the right side is instructed to move out of the way while scaffolding is moved onstage by a forklift while the commercials are happening.

5:44 p.m. – Alexa and cutie Aussie Daniel begin a boring jazz routine dressed in red. The scaffolding fills up time. I like her blown out. I feel she’ll be going home first. Sadly, they have no chemistry.

5:54 p.m. – Amber is fierce in blonde hair and turns out a Viennese Waltz with Nick who picks his genre ballroom. Love the version of Nights In White Satin by Tina Arena they do. I loved this number! Pan to Dance Moms leader Abby Lee Miller.

6:05 p.m. – Frontrunner Amelia  dances with goofy Will in a NappyTabs “Character-Pop.” LOVED THIS! The Lovecats by The Cure provided the perfect soundtrack. They were really entertaining.

6:15 p.m. – We are seeing Janelle being stretched beyond belief by Dareian who is a little hottie during an African Jazz piece. This was really HOT! Their energy was incredible!

6:26 p.m. – Announcement about Dizzy Feet National Dance Day. Looks fun!

6:28 p.m. – Eliana dances with Cyrus who I just knew would be getting something like this Tyce Diorio Broadway number from Hairspray something as nontraditionally easy to keep him around a few weeks because let’s face it, he will be eaten up in harder choreography. He did a commendable job and she was good, too. I’m weird about Broadway numbers. The crowd loves Cyrus.

6:32 p.m. – I see me behind Tyce acting really crazy. (I’m to his upper left.) I rise up out of my seat and make sure I’m seen. I loved it. Shameless.

6:39 p.m. – Travis Wall shines with Ryan Gossling-looking Matthew and Audrey in this Titanic inspired production. This was wonderful! Travis Wall never disappoints. Am looking forward to his new reality show on Oxygen at the finale of the month called All The Right Moves. Standing ovation by judges. Rightfully so. The pairing was fierce. The leap was awesome of the chaise lounge although she almost lost her footing going up.

6:49 p.m. – Lindsay turns the paso doble with Cole. His body is rocking! Best routine of the night, perhaps?! IT WAS FIERCE! Powerful and strong. Could enjoy watching it over and over. Standing ovation! Deservedly.

And what actually happened backstage? I’m guessing dance belts were cutting off the circulation of the males and the females were primping in the mirror and over- stretching past points of comprehension. Nerves got to some while others looked at it as a breeze. Each person backstage would have a different version of the reality. And like them, this has been mine.

CHOREOGRAPHY REEL 2012

I had an Über-productive weekend. My book got needed attention, my body had a great workout and I was able to blog, swim, watch 2 movies (John Carter – horrid! and Chronicle – decent!) and relax, too! However, the exciting production of creating my new choreography reel on iMovie for Apple MacBook Pro was a true highlight. I’ve wanted to get back into dance but haven’t decided to what capacity. I knew a reel of my best choreography would be a must! After dabbling on my MacBook on Friday with a clip I took of the Las Vegas Strip I felt confident that I could make the program work for me. I spent all weekend figuring it out and am thrilled with the outcome! I plan on producing more video clips and montages but for now, I’m happy with what I have. After a bit of research on other choreography reels I’ve noticed what I’ve done is quite comparable. A bit long and camera work a bit shoddy, however, the moves and motions are there. Enjoy!

MUSIC CITY USA – NASHVILLE NOW

Sometimes I think I should become some sort of travel administrator and know-it-all go-to. I can find a great flight deal by scanning the sites and making quick comparisons between which days to leave versus price and seat difference. Call me Kayak. Give me an aisle seat so I can entertain my bladder at its whim of activity, a good stretch opportunity and a decent fair ($309 this round) and I’m cranked ready to travel the (hopefully) friendly skies.

Traveling makes me feel quite “Randy” so I can truly appreciate all the single men traveling alone glancing my way and giving it a butch nod. Makes for sweet dreams when I’m snuggled beside them in my aisle seat. American Airlines delivered me to BNA Music City via a relaxing layover in Dallas/Fort Worth DFW, both ways of the round trip. This gave me enough time to cruise through the terminals and SkyLink transit system where I had food at T.G.I.Fridays and a good cocktail, too!

After grabbing my bag off the conveyor belt at baggage claim I pressed it down to Enterprise to obtain my reserved rental car. I usually carry my bag on with me when traveling these days because of the exorbitant fees but decided this time to splurge and check it in Palm Springs. When I made it through BNA into the garage with my rolling suitcase in tow where the cars sat I was offered an upgrade for a sports car. I inquired about an increase in my bill and the sales rep admitted that yes there would be a charge.

After telling him that I was fine and last time they upgraded me to a Jeep Patriot with no charge, he then offered me an upgrade to either minivan or truck. Unable to refuse any type of freeness or upgrade, I figured the minivan could come into use if mom wanted to donate stuff from her apartment so I chose that. I looked like quite the soccer dad driving this white minivan around like it was my Stella Stang back in Palm Springs. I paid it nada and ran those streets of Nashville as if it were a sports car.

Once I checked into the Radisson near the airport I rinsed the travel off me and unpacked my crammed-in clothing begging to be released from its luggage dungeon. I had been doing some research on where to stay before departure and came across a dear friend who I’ve known for over two decades. Bobby has been in the hotel industry for years and our dear friendship truly came into play when I made my reservation at his hotel. The location was slightly closer to mom than where I usually stay with less traffic from the Brentwood route. The Radisson has free Internet, free parking, spacious comfortable rooms, an indoor pool plus fitness facility and a restaurant on property. It’s my new home when in Nashville.

I always have a great time when I return to Nashville. I reconnect with good friends, take my mom out and about for a few days and it gives me time to miss and appreciate the comfortable bubble that I live and work in here in Palm Springs. My mom still works full-time and is a single gal at 68 but doesn’t get out much unless I come into town or someone takes her. I love driving her around Nashville and letting her see what’s happening in the city. We shop, eat good southern food and have a ton of laughs and a few cries along the way.

I love that we are close and have a strong bond. People ask if I dread going back home to Nashville and I can honestly say I love and enjoy my time there. It took me a few years after leaving at 22 to having any desire about returning but the older, err, better I’ve gotten the more I want to go back. My mom has a lot of life in her still. I’m glad I’m able see that in person and am able to visit home as much as I do.

I dropped her back home after a heaping pile of BBQ at Bar-B-Cutie on Saturday and ran back to the hotel before heading out for the evening. After a quick change of drag the minivan purred down the interstate toward West End. I decided to take a detour through 2nd Avenue which is where the honky-tonks and straight country music listeners are pouring out of bars and clubs. Mistake. Construction had everything in a scrambled chaotic mess and cars were going every which way. I was so glad I had good music in the stereo and a delicious valium that was just easing into my system to get me through the killing.

Arriving at PLAY, I walked in during the middle of the show so I did get to see all of the girls perform at least once. After paying the exorbitant $10 cover to get into PLAY I made sure I got my money’s worth. Yes, $10. Shazy… (Shady + Crazy.) Shady of them for charging it and crazy for me to pay it. Hopefully they pay the girls well like they truly deserve. After a few stiff drinks I didn’t really care about the cover charge anymore. I soaked up the exciting night out and let it all go.

The show was fun because I had the best seat in the house even getting there late. I strutted through the packed crowd and tipped every girl a couple of ones and stayed perched in front of everyone I had just pushed through. I didn’t give a fuck if they liked it or not. No one was going to say a word to me at that point. I was feeling my moment taking pictures of the girls while they performed and living for the up close and personal aspect of it all. Like I said, I had a couple of cute drinks and did I mention the delicious Valium?

Of course, I could let it all go because I was basically invisible. No one really talked to me or looked my way other than the entertainers I knew so I was able to relax and pay it nooch. Translation: Not very much, without a care in the world. I spent much of my time after the show chatting with Jack Ryan on the phone sitting next to some chick who had smartly brought her iPhone charger and was plugged-in chatting the chat down with someone on her other line.

Times have truly changed from the days of going out and cruising around, picking up someone and leaving together to today’s social networking and constant glare of LCD light coming from Smartphones being used across nightclubs. I’m not knocking it because it truly saved me next door at Tribe the next night as I perched quietly as the one of only five people in the bar including two bartenders. I sat in my patheticness and laughed at the whole thing while taping away on time-killers Grindr and Scruff. Boring. Flakes continually looking for something else. Especially Grindr. Delete from phone.

Sunday, mom and I had our breakfast at Cracker Barrel and afterwards I pressed it down to Murfreesboro for a regional competition for Showstopper Dance. I met my three loves Christie, Stacey and Shanda who I danced with in Nashville where we all grew up together. They are super special to me and we are blessed to still have a tight bond to this day. The dancers onstage were all over the board in fierceness or flatness but overall there were some amazing routines and performers. I’m so glad I made the trek down. It inspired me to continue with my plans on making a choreography reel.

Back in Nashville, mom had a gift card for Olive Garden so I got to find out what all the fuss was about the breadsticks that you hear about in the commercials. They were tasty but I wasn’t blown away. However, I did have four of them. I believe you can buy them at Trader Joe’s. No Tea – No Shade. The food wasn’t horrible but it definitely wasn’t cuisine found in real Italy. The chairs rolled. Just saying. I had never been to an Olive Garden before…

On Monday I met my best friend from high school Kristy and her wonderful “Babies’ Daddy” and husband Tim for the most soulful of soul food at a place on 12 Avenue South called At The Table. I wanted to find some really good southern soul food and Kristy immediately sent directions to this gem. My mouth is watering just typing these words. As it’s been said before, “These women put both feet up in this food.” Not exactly, but it was so good you will want to slap someone. Classic “meat and three” (but two) handed to you in a styrofoam to-go moment and the experience is priceless. Southern simplicity at its finest. As my dear sister Kristy texted me before arriving, “Fried Chicken Realness.”

Tuesday presented another trip to the Cracker Barrel for a hearty breakfast and some closet cleaning for mom with donations made afterwards by me. I met Bobby for drinks at Canvas later back on West End with his boyfriend Caleb (or Kaleb – not sure) and afterwards we had sushi at Ru San’s. It was really good but the menu was way too complicated. It was so great seeing Bobby and getting to know his boyfriend. I love me some Bobby Smith. I happily flew back to Palm Springs the next day into the arms of the man I love and the furry kisses of the kids I missed.

I CHOREOGRAPH (TO) KIM KARDASHIAN

I’ve been procrastinating about doing this for a while as I sat on the choreography running my mouth instead of my feet. I’m not 16 anymore. I’m more like 16 + a decade + eight years + another decade. I will always choreograph, either for someone or inside my head. My passions are dance choreography and creative writing. With four blogs going and my second book in the works, I’ve got the writing covered. Unfortunately there’s few opportunities for dance in the valley so I’ve decided to start really focusing on getting my moves and steps out there so hopefully someone will see me and need what I have to offer. I’m available!

I’ve taught various styles of technical jazz dance over the years and enjoy moving dancers into new levels of performance. However, I find that I’m a better choreographer than I am teacher. I want to create the moves, teach them to capable performers and clean the rhythms. It’s hard for me to step back into square one and teach basics. But, and that’s a nice firm tight butt, I will and can teach anyone if they in return give me positive attitudes and passion to be there. (Don’t want to shoot myself in the foot!) Give me intermediate to advanced students with energy and pizazz, and we’re gonna rock. Just being honest…

REALITY STAR KIM KARDASHIAN SINGS!

JAM (TURN IT UP)

The song “Shake” (on the YouTube video above) is one I’ve had for a few years. Kim Kardashian claims she had nothing to do with this but my friend DJ Bifford Michael informs me otherwise. Though, Kimmy has taken to the microphone and released “Jam (Turn It Up)” as a first single available here but offers that she’s not starting a singing career. Regardless, I like “Shake” a lot even though it’s been panned considerably. I enjoy what the the beats and grooves offer me as a choreographer (and forever showgirl.)

I felt like this take of the video worked best of the three I filmed. Not bad for an old man. I thought I handled my stamina during the filming very well considering I’m not in class regularly. However, it was after we stopped that it felt as if a small hammer was pounding from the inside of my chest trying to bust through by lungs. Wow… It was intense. But bitch can still move! Trust. Now, that’s the Tea.

WHY “DANCE MOMS: MIAMI” DOESN’T WORK (FOR ME!)

It really is a shame that the one episode I sat through of Dance Moms: Miami turned me off so much we immediately snapped it off the DVR recording schedule and didn’t look back. The premiere that aired on Lifetime TV “Television for Women and the Men who don’t date them” didn’t impress me much. Sure, the dancers are amazing but I found them slightly arrogant. I can’t believe I’ll say this but the second in the series of the franchise doesn’t have the charm of the girls in Abby Lee Miller’s Dance Moms. The Miami moms seem incredibly ruthless and I hope their actions don’t push their children away from them with resentment. I really disliked the moms on Dance Moms: Miami. Truly.

I’d rather wait and see if Abby Lee Miller returns after her emotional breakdown over Maddie’s forgetful breakdown on stage in her spring finale departure in Dance Moms. Wasn’t that something?! She was a hot mess, Miss Abby was. Good for the mothers for standing up (finally!) to her. We get it. Maddie is an amazing performer, I agree, but alright Miss Chloe for the Joffrey Ballet offer! That stirred the drama pot, a bit. Chloe is delightful! Her solo “Black Sun” (I believe it was called) was really sick (in a good way.) I’m so tired of that Cathy from Candy Apples pulling her shade. I’m with Christie, “Go away.”

At the cost of the dance, souls are offered for fame. Times have definitely changed since my modest days of competitive dance and our teachers weren’t as tough as the one’s we see portrayed on screen. They produce winners, yes. Abby, Victor and Angel are all three super choreographers. But I know as a pubescent dancing Steven Michael, I wouldn’t have handled dancing with them very well. I would have been truly put in my place quickly or found my way outside somewhere else. I know studios trained like the ones we see on television it’s just that we wen’t one of them. Sure we went into long hours of rehearsal but we also stuck with the same routines and perfected them. Not change every single competition. That is insane. My hats off to them for the stamina and discipline. And not having a choice.

I wasn’t sure of Victor and Angel’s background so I ball-changed and pirouetted over to their website and checked their Stars Dance Studio. From what I can see on the show Dance Moms: Miami, Angel is the badass tough guy and Victor plays the good cop until pushed. Their dancer’s extensions and technique is ridiculously unreal. Watching their reel off YouTube and their website blew me away. Literally. I kept looking for the wires that held their legs in places that seem impossible. This phenomenal piece of dance in video is crazy sick! Please watch, and believe in true talent. This is it.

IS DANCE MOMS TOO EXTREME?

Do I think that Dance Moms is too extreme? In a word, Very. (fade out)

ABBY LEE MILLER CREATES STARS WHLE CRUSHING SPIRITS

No, seriously. How could anyone see the show and not think the way Abby Lee Miller treats her students is extreme and bizarre? Tears are shed. Muscles are shred. Yes, she coaches working dancers. Yes, her talented girls on the show Dance Moms are really good. But… the show is so staged and created to choreograph story lines that just seem far fetched and ridiculous at the cost of their children, the pawns in the game of reality chess among the moms, Abby and the producers/editors/writers. A writer in reality television? But it’s unscripted! Yeah, right. Surely you’ve heard slips from the directors from behind the cameras while feeding the girls lines and topics. And I can’t fathom having to deal with someone like Cathy from Candy Apples and her disrespectful unprofessionalism. Obviously she is there for the dramatic effect because she is a snake with a horrid hairdo. She is so wrong it’s still not right.

I danced, choreographed and taught classes. We competed in workshops and competitions just like the girls we watch on the show. It’s just that the dance world I lived in had not evolved into what we watch on Lifetime TV. This chaotic, disrespectful, hurtful, mind-blowing, brainwashing hour of television. The mothers love the warmth of the spotlight often at the cost of their daughters sanity and their  self-respect. Abby is not the only teacher in the area so why go to her if she treats and degrades their girls like Miller does? Because each one of them are ready for their close-up, Mr. DeMille – mothers and daughters alike.

The Outrageous Abby Lee Miller

Lifetime TVs “Dance Moms”

One of the girls I used to dance with told me on Facebook that her daughter took from Abby briefly and she is exactly what you see. Brass and brazen. Then she said and I quote, “Miller is a blemish in the dance scene.” Ouch!

DANCE MOMS ON LIFETIME – REALITY TV GUILTY PLEASURE

Every once in awhile I’ll become privy to inside scoop about Hollywood this or Showbiz that. Now being purely hearsay, I recently met someone who’s BFF is one of Brooke’s teachers and told me how much they get paid which is not much considering how well the show is doing. No totals here but I’m told the moms and the daughters get the same each. All of the girls seem to come from different school districts to take at Abby’s and be on the show, and that allegedly the cheerleading tryout for Brooke was completely fabricated. If you can’t trust reality television, who can you trust? (cue laugh track)