Step 26: Humbling Experience

Hello all,

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So I have been working my butt off at my evening job, that one famous theater, on Hollywood blvd. To be honest, the work is not the hard part, it’s standing on $7, worn out, black-leathered dress shoes from Goodwill, kills your feet. It’s also unflattering to be seen with a favored kids large white button up along with my $5 two sizes larger dress pants, also from Goodwill. I’m a thrift bandit, but these items were very last minute and not necessarily by choice. The only aspect of my uniform that is somewhat okay is the bow tie, unfortunately, it’s a clip on.

The work involved so far:

standing for several hours on concrete floor, wishing people would show up and need my professional concessions knowledge, trying to convince people that the same panda bear cookies priced at $3.75 (also found at Target for $1) is not a rip off, and doing my best to resist the urge of wanting to walk out, uttering ‘C-ya‘.

It isn’t as bad as it sounds, at a fashionable $8/hr, we are lucky we get free movie privileges, oh and don’t forget the free popcorn and soda! I like it so far, the people are interesting and very kind, most of them. I keep telling myself that any amount of extra money is well worth it, to reach my Chicago dream goal. I worked at an AMC before, my first year in college, when I quit I swore I’d never have a minimum wage job, which is why this is a humbling experience. It’s tough, a recent physics grad working for so little. I look around this theater and cant help but think ‘these people deserve MUCH more than minimum wage...most of them‘.

There are kids (ages 18-20) at this job that inspire me. Most have moved from far places: Florida, Colorado, etc. to Hollywood, and got jobs at this theater just to pursue acting, filming, and such. I know that I’m at that point in my life where I am able to do what I want and follow any crazy dream.

I’ve decided to move on September 21st. They have flights from LAX to ORD starting at $98! I know I said I’d never fly Spirit, but I might have to… I still need your help with fundraising money for my mission, any amount will help:

http://www.gofundme.com/2wwe1w

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I’ve been doing all my regular exercises, but not much dancing, other than the occasional improv at Griffith Park. Dancing, it’s expensive!



I was about to attempt to buy my flight today, but something stopped me. Other than being so low on funds, the thought that I can just sacrifice all that I have for dance is astounding! I have TWO jobs, live in Hollywood, working things out with my partner, live in the same state as my mother and friends… If I move, I need to find a job, place to live, possibly lose my relationship AGAIN, and try to find ways to visit home. It’s tough. I’m still going to do it, but it’s difficult. I always have that little voice wondering if I’m doing the right thing.. All I know is that I’m doing it, regardless.

Tomorrow I start my second job. And another reason to make moving difficult. Humans create these bonds with one another so easily. I can’t say that I’ll miss LA much, not nearly as much as I will miss my friends and family..

It’s always better to try than not.
I won’t go through life asking myself ‘what-if?’
All I know is that there are several people who believe in me, and I’ll use that much to fuel my drive to succeed. Nothing will stop me.

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Ruben

Step 23: Dark Matters: Jobs=Body Toning

Hey all,

It has been a while since I’ve posted since I haven’t had much to write about. Everyday has been the same: I was attending rehearsals (had to stop since I couldn’t afford to keep going, and I needed to find a job first), looking for work, daily yoga practice, ab series, and daily theraband workouts.

I am happy to say that I have now found a job!!!!! I am now an entry-level employee at the TaxCredit Co., which is one block away from my house! That means that I don’t need to pay to get to work = saving money already! It’s a nice paying job, full-time, and even has medical/dental after the first 30 days. Luckily, I have also been interviewed for the Chinese Theater and Subway, to work TWO jobs, so I can make enough money to get back to Chicago ASAP! My plan is to work my first 8 hours early in the day (M-F), with the Tax Co and the other 4-8 hours in the evening(M-S)!

Sadly, I haven’t been able to take ballet since I haven’t had the money. Maybe when I start working I will be able to continue to take ballet again, before I move back. The fact that I begin work on Sept 9th just means that it will take me FOREVER to return to Chicago! That is why I still am hopeful that you all out there will donate to my cause, so I can quickly return to Chicago and begin my scholarship program. I want to become the best dancer that I can be and I know that this program will excel me to dance heights I could never have imagined!

To get to my fundraising link, go here: http://www.gofundme.com/2wwe1w

So, onto a few other subjects. Crystal Pite + “Dark Matters” = AMAZING!!! (&cheap)
I watched Dark Matters from this website: http://www.ontheboards.tv/performance/dance/dark-matters
It is priced for only $5, for a 48hr viewing rental. Before I give my review of it, check out its ‘trailer’:

Okay, so my review of Dark Matters:

    I thought that this was an extremely compelling piece. It was provocative and astonishing, in the sense that Crystal Pite was able to embody the idea of “Dark Matter” into a dance; it was done very well too, by the use of the lighting, as well as stage, and the embodiment of this dark matter as a controlling force within the Universe. I have always looked up to Crystal Pite, as her work and she, herself, is world renowned, which is why the choreography was not at all lesser than expected. The dancers of KiddPivot are flawless and amazing, with ranging dance technique and uniqueness in each and ever performer, yet a sense of unison when needed, but not in a robotic sense, just a unity of personas. Pite’s movement is innovative, exploring each and all the crooks and crannies of the body.

    I would say that as remarkable as this dance was, it was not as astounding as the first segment of the work: the puppet scene. In an almost Pinocchio-Frankenstein story-fusion, the characters are so well developed and the stage is very present. The lead male and puppet take you on such an amazing – yet emotional – journey that explores the human condition and heart. I would say that the trailer is VERY misleading, but in a VERY VERY good way, it won’t disappoint.

    Sadly, my only critique: Because the puppetry segment was so detailed and involved, it caused the dance scene afterwards to have less of an impact on me. I am all for dancing, especially her work, but the theatricality and connection I had with this amazing story that combined fairy-tale with science fiction and physics was lost once the dancing started. Not sure if anyone else will have the same point of view, but I completely encourage everyone to try this one out and do know that the $5 you spend on this is well worth it! It is a streamed video, so make sure you watch it near fast internet. It is also only able to play with flashplayer, so no ipads or iphones, sorry!

Doing yoga everyday, I have noticed that I still haven’t taken care of the back side of my body. I really struggle with my body, wanting the ‘perfect’ shape, like everyone else. Sadly, I have always been very insecure with my lower and upper back; I’m not heavy or have fat there, but I do have a lot of extra skin.. So, my goal is to produce more muscle there, to fill up the skin on my back so it doesn’t appear to have ‘extra stuff’. I found this great website called Fitness Blender (http://www.fitnessblender.com), it gives great workout routines and such, but I want to ask all of you out there that have maybe struggled with this, or have more knowledge on muscle building, if you know of any exercises or anything extra I can do, I would greatly appreciate it!

Lastly, I have found several great dance training websites that I have been using this week to keep myself in line (since I do my theraband exercises and simple tendu, plie and fondu exercises at home). Dance Advantage (http://www.danceadvantage.net/) is one of these. It has a great article on how to properly do a tendu, giving great anatomic diagrams, and many other articles on subjects such as stretching, strengthening, alignment, teaching, etc.

Okay, well once again, I would really appreciate it if those of you out there that believe in me could donate any amount for my scholarship program (the link is towards the top of this blog). I am trying my best to get back, its just difficult. Also, if you’ve seen Dark Matters, or after you watch it, let me know what you thought about it (comment)!! Finally, if you have any advice on my back, let me know (comment), I don’t want to sound as though I think I’m awful or overweight, I’m not, I just want more muscle to feel like a fuller guy and be happy-ER with myself. πŸ™‚

Thanks

Ruben

Day 26: End of Phase 4: Conclusion

Yesterday (Friday) was my final day at the Hubbard Street Dance Chicago Summer Intensive. Bittersweet. Honestly, this month has gone by much too quickly.

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I did my usual morning ritual, and headed for the studio much earlier than necessary. I did this only because I had bought gifts for my closest friends at this intensive, Erik and Diana, the two who I would but the most to help me and they always did without complaining.. As well as the instructors who taught us for the four weeks: Helen (yoga), Linda (Horton), and Meredith (ballet and rep). These three wonderful instructors helped me shape myself into the dancer I became yesterday and I couldn’t be happier with it all. I got to the studio 3 hours in advance to write them ‘thank you’ cards to go with their gifts.

I also got there early so I could absorb every detail, every feeling and every idea that I have had at this wonderful studio. The bubble bump in the floor on your way to studio A and B near the water fountain.. The way the stairs crack and pop on your way down, making you think that it’s your feet… The center barre that always has a leg fall off..the huge whoosh of a noise that occurs when you turn on the restroom lights. Etc.

Eventually, I warmed up and went over some choreography with the others. Which led us to our final ballet class at the intensive :-/

At 11:45am, we started ballet with Terry. Of course, I stood next to Diana since this would be our last ballet class together (hopefully, just for now). Barre was O-k, I wasn’t focusing as much, but when center came I got my groove back. I believe that everyone danced their hearts out, I know I did. I just did it and I went for it. I felt very alive! Class was one hour and forty five minutes. It was a pure joy to see everyone in class for the last time.

Lunch was next. I met Diana’s mom, who is VERY sweet and amazing. I also got to hang out with Fuka and Erik during lunch. I secretly think that Fuka makes fun of me all the time.. πŸ˜‰

When I got to the theater I started to warm up. Around 3pm or so, I got a text from a random person online. I had went online and asked a complete stranger and his girlfriend to watch the show, and they did! It was nice. I continued to warm up.

4pm was the start of our show.. Sadly it just flew by way too quick. I could discuss all my mess ups, which there were plenty of, but that’s not fun. Actually, I feel like this is my best performance yet. I was very present to everything that I was seeing, hearing, feeling, thinking, etc (thanks Summer!). I soaked up every minute of my time on stage and now all those memories are nicely stored in my brain. The best part is that during the performance, I felt it: yoga, Horton, ballet, Pilates, improv, limΓ³n, partnering, and contemporary rep. I felt the accumulation of all that I’d been taught come together into this beautiful performance and my body. It was very intense.. Kind of like 360*dance.

The reception afterwards was nice. I spent my time with Diana and Erik the most, but also got to talk to everyone before they left. Goodbyes are hard. I said my thank you’s to the directors and faculty and had a great evening. I think the hardest goodbyes were with Erik, who is just a bundle of positivity and always willing to help… And Diana. She’s been my guardian angel. I really care about her very much and I can’t believe that she’s going back to Mexico today. I know I probably annoyed them both but they put up with it and became two great friends. I cried when I said goodbye to her.. It’s strange how close we get to people.

This has been the BEST summer experience of my life. It’s been rewarding and just an amazing growing experience as a person. God…. I just wish I could start over, I wouldn’t change a single thing!

I was able to spend the night at a friends house, and now today I have a bit of time to say goodbye to my favorite city before I head home. Update later today.

Viva la Blue Group!

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Ruben

Day 25: Last Thursday: Dress Rehearsal

First of all, I forgot to mention that yesterday before I began the day I ran into a ballet instructor I had when I took class at the Lou Conte Dance Studio 2 years ago, which inspired me to further my technique! I thanked her and that was that!

Today we had ballet with Glenn at 9am, even Meredith took the class. In dance, you have good days and bad days. Today was an off day. Not sure why, but I wasn’t on my leg and everything seemed even more challenging. I’ll do better tomorrow.. I know today is not a reflection of me as a dancer but more of a state of mind of the day. They combined half the red group with us. I got to take ballet with Diana which was great! πŸ™‚ One hour and forty five minutes.

Creation rehearsal for one hour, followed by lunch with Diana.

Lastly, we had dress rehearsal for the show.. Kind of stressful since all material should be complete and perfected and presentable. There is no turning back now. Tomorrow is my last day at this intensive and I am going to give it 1000%!

I am glad that my friend from my last host is meeting me today to have dinner. I didn’t know he’d still be in town, hopefully he’ll be here tomorrow to watch the show! πŸ™‚

Here is a profound quote I saw in the boys restroom at the theater:
He who binds himself to a joy,
Does the winged life destroy.
But he who kisses the joy as it flies,
Lives in eternitys sunrise.

Night.

Ruben

Day 20: Cirrus.Socrates.Particle.Decibel.Hurricane.Dolphin.Tulip.Ruben.

Today was phenomenal, I still have a high from it! I couldn’t have been happier than today. I started my morning with intermediate ballet at the Joffrey with the amazing Diana! I did some things better and others not so well. I need to focus on myself and get out of the mirror. After class was done a nice lady came up to me to compliment how fast I pick up corrections. Diana was adored by all, since she’s too amazing. πŸ˜‰

Afterwards, I went to the cultural center to meet up with my friend that had spent the night at my hosts place. We spent the rest of the day together, which was surprisingly fun! Here’s a picture of him at the cultural center:

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Here are pictures of the actual center:

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We went together to The Happy Show. It was fun going with someone and seeing their reactions and facial expressions! He enjoyed it. Here’s a picture of the exit, which I thought was very appropriate:

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When we got into the great hall space, I dropped my bags and gave him my iPad to record me doing a little improv:
Cultural Center Improv
Since he is a musician/composer, and loves to do camera work, I will just say that this is a trailer for something much more.. More on that below.

We went to chipotle to eat, his first time. I got to know him better, and vice versa. We spoke about our relationships, or lack thereof, personalities and so on. He told me many of his dark secrets, which were pretty dark, but I admired his courage to tell me. It was different.

Later we went to his new hosts hotel to pick up the camera since we decided to collaborate… So we went all over downtown shooting improv videos and such.. We might continue it tomorrow, hopefully. I hope it comes out well.. I’ll post it when it’s finished. The process was so fun, unusual and unexpected.

After the camera ran out of juice, we went to a restaurant to get dessert. I’m not sure what we had but we had A LOT of it, and it was sooooooo good! First dessert in almost a month.. We rushed to the theater and were able to watch A.I. Artificial Intelligence together. Here’s a trailer:

He enjoyed it, which was great. The best part was that he said that because of this day, especially the movie, he began questioning his darker thoughts/side. That was a very sweet compliment. He didn’t want to be alone after the film, so we went to get hot chocolate and walked the city. I ended the night by walking him to his next hosting destination. I’m exhausted, waaaaaaaay exhausted, but this was an unexpected nice day. I can’t wait for tomorrow. It’s nice when you make great friends randomly, especially when they’re so nice and not bothered to do things with you. Now I have two great friends like that, him and Diana.

Namaste.

Ruben

Step 9: Celebrating Dance

This past Saturday I had the pleasure of working with such amazing and talented artists, the Nickerson-Rossi Dance Co., in performing in such a beautiful venue: the Alex theater for Celebrate Dance 2013. I was in such awe of how talented each individual dancer was, as well as the companies and choreographers. This is my experience/review of the night.

The First Half:

The first company, Lux Aterna, presented a duet which was beautiful. The twist to it, it was a break dance duet!! It was nice to see something so articulate, sharp and beautiful done to instrumental music!

The next company, JazzAntiqua, had a stunning piece. It was one of the evenings favorite by the public, and so it should have been. The dancers were stunning and the dance was so fun to watch.

The next dance was done by Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Company. This was one of my favorites. The dancers faces were covered, being yelled commands at. I thought it was striking and ever so powerful. It brought serious tears out. Much applause to this work, dancers and company.

The first half of the show was closed by SoleVita. They had a westward piece that was mesmerizing. I really enjoyed the story of the journey to the west and love story. This was the most uplifting piece of the concert.

The Second Half:

We, at NRD, opened the second half. What can I say? I really loved being on stage with these dancers. They are very inspirational.

After us was Invertigo, and they presented a dance with more elements than the others, such as a stage prop, humor, and conversation. It was about post-hurricane piece. Interesting!

Second to last was Lydia Zimmer + Dancers. Another very inspirational piece, with amazing artists! I was WOWed backstage while I watched this trio do amazing things with their bodies that I could only dream of. The choreography was very dark and interesting. Very captivating!

The final performance was Colabo Youth, and they are fierce! I don’t like the use of that word, but that is what they were. For such young ladies, 15-17 years old, they danced better most people I’ve seen! The dance was done very nicely.

The show was a captivating experience, in such a beautiful theater! I hope to perform in a place that nice again soon! πŸ™‚

celebrate dance

Goal: $5000 (this accumulates to the cost of attending one intensive)
Due: June 2013

If 100 people would donate $50 my goal would be successful (but any amount of donation is appreciated)

I can be reached at RMEDINA49@TOROMAIL.CSUDH.EDU
Also at my Facebook

Thank You for your time!

Sincerely,

Ruben