In Conversation With Sam Carner: Part I

The Broadway Warm-Up sits down with Sam Carner, one half of the dynamic songwriting duo Carner & Gregor. Sam Carner won the 2015 Kleban Prize for Most Promising Librettist. Sam and composer Derek Gregor won the 2014 John Wallowitch Award for songwriters under 40, a 2016 MAC Award for “Best Comedic Song” (and eight of their songs have been nominated for MAC Awards), were included in Playbill.com’s twelve “Contemporary Musical Theatre Songwriters You Should Know,” and were in residence at the Goodspeed Festival of New Musicals in January. Seven of their songs have been nominated for MAC Awards, and their work is performed in hundreds of venues around the world every year and has been sung on all seven continents.

Our conversation was thorough between bites of our exquisite Ethiopian cuisine (my first time trying Ethiopian couldn’t have been better – thanks Awash Ethiopian Restaurant), so I’ve split the interview into two parts.
PART I covers topics such as:
* Sam’s background, early influences and mentors
* Navigating the art of collaboration with Derek Gregor
* The impact of YouTube, social media on new musical theater
* The craft of lyric writing
Enjoy and come back for Part II!

Sam Carner.jpg

What was your first exposure to theatre? When did you know it was what you wanted to pursue as a career?
I first discovered theater as a small child. I grew up in Maine, and my parents took me to Maine State Music Theatre in Brunswick, back when it was called Brunswick Music Theatre. I saw a production of ANNIE GET YOUR GUN. I was six, and that was where I first really caught the bug. We went back to see a show every summer. We watched lots of movie musicals when I was a kid. Now I realize that I didn’t actually think of them as musicals. I didn’t think of MY FAIR LADY as inherently different from SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE.

Just another movie, another story.
Another story. Sometimes I questioned, “Why doesn’t this one have singing?”
So, that was my early youth. There were school plays when I was ten, eleven. When I was eleven or so I wrote a long children’s story — The Children’s Theatre of Maine had a Young Playwrights Contest, so my dad suggested I turn this story into a musical. It ended up winning, and I wrote a children’s musical that had a bunch of performances in the Greater Portland area.

Wasn’t Anna Kendrick in some of the first shows you wrote?
Yeah, a couple times when we were kids. She did a reading of a show I was working on at Portland Stage Company, and before that, before her Tony Nomination, she did a little twenty minute musical I wrote for The Maine Festival. She always had that incredible presence – she was a star so clearly. I first saw her in a community theater production of GYPSY, and she was Baby June. I remember being like, “Who is that girl?!”

Who are your influences? Mentors? What did you learn in particular from them that was instructive?
The director of the Children’s Theater, Lisa DiFranza, created an incredible environment. She took everyone seriously as creative artists. She also fostered an environment where all ages were welcome, so there were 6 year olds and 10 year olds and 17 year olds and grown-ups in these casts. There was a real kind of mentorship going on, but we were all creating together, and that was inspiring — to feel that you were not being treated as a kid, but you were being taken seriously.
My mom was an artist, my dad was an English professor — so we talked a lot about dramatic structure. My teachers let me pursue the things I was interested in. They weren’t trying to make me stick to a particular curriculum. One teacher let me work on this long story as a project instead of making me stick to the assignment. I wanted to finish it, so she let me do it.

When you’re allowed to pursue something that really excites you, you end up getting a lot more out of it than doing what you HAD to.
Exactly. Another teacher in 10th grade — We were studying the Greek Classics.
The Odyssey and Oedipus. Initially one of the assignments was to do something creative. I wrote a song based on Oedipus called It Was Good While It Lasted In Thebes. which went very well so she let me continue to do that with other projects. I then did a whole cycle of comic songs based on Greek mythology.

You went to Yale, yes? What did you study there?
I actually did a self designed major called “Music, Verse and Drama.” I had a coherent plan, so they let me do it. It was essentially looking at music in isolation, verse in isolation, and theater/drama in isolation, then looking for points of intersection. I took a lot of Music Theory which has definitely served me, and Music History. A lot of dry poetry which has its own kind of music. I also took courses on opera where they all come together. Opera History, Musicology. I also took music theory courses on Gershwin and Cole Porter.

That seems like a very well rounded way to prepare you for what you would later do.
Oh yeah, it was incredibly valuable. I find a lot of inspiration in Renaissance and Romantic poetry. There are a lot of moments in my songs that are kind of callbacks to Keats or John Donne. For instance, our song Stay Awhile is loosely inspired by a John Donne poem called The Sun Rising, which is a poem where a guy in bed with his lover chastises the sun for interrupting their slumber.

Very cool. I would never have known that.
When you take something and put in a totally new context, the original context may disappear, but that’s where it comes from.

That leads me to my next question – Where do you usually start from? The music or the lyrics?
I like to say it starts with a problem to be solved. No element will get too far ahead of the others, but the first question is, “Why are we writing this song?” Is the key thing to fit the situation and get the characters from point A to point B? Do we need a big belty song for the female lead because she doesn’t have enough material in the second act and we need an energy boost? Then we need to justify it. What do we do in order to solve our problem?

Once we have a sense of what we are trying to do, Derek will start fooling around with musical fragments, and I’ll start fooling around with phrases. One of those will usually come first, and then inspire the other. 

You met Derek at NYU’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program. Were you paired up together or how did that work?
We were paired together for a four week project. A 20 minute musical, one-act show. it was fortunate that we had that time because we found our collective voice in the second week.

And at the end of those four weeks you realized you worked well together?
It ended up being a really good collaboration. It was considered one of the more effective pieces of that assignment. So we chose each other for the second year.

Considering your work as a whole, how do you feel you have personally changed as writers, from, for instance, UNLOCK’D to TOAST? How has your relationship changed over the years?
I think that we’ve learned a lot by being exposed to the others’ references. When we venture into a style one is less familiar with the other can take the lead. And it’s a chance for the other to learn about the style.

I first discovered your songs years ago through YouTube. How important do you think YouTube is to new musical theater composers? What has your experience been with social media to promote your work?
It’s a game changer. The fact that you can have people doing your songs thousands of times a year even without a Broadway show — It has led to all sorts of opportunities and chances to develop our work at colleges, and with groups across the world. It’s a way of disseminating the material, and allowing the material to have a life even if it’s not being performed at that particular moment. And it leads to more sheet music sales which makes it easier for us to support ourselves as artists.

What’s the benefit/danger of making scores available online?
I think we’re concerned that the stuff we put out into the world is still in development. The moment there’s a definitive version is very late in the game, and for that reason we’ll send out updates when we make changes to songs. If there’s anything that I wish some of the current sheet music platforms allowed for, it’d be that. The ability to send out revisions.
Occasionally, one of the things that happens when you put the music out — you learn about what’s not communicating off the page. Someone will make a really smart, interesting choice, and that will get put into the score one way or another. That’s exciting. In certain cases if someone does something really clever you’ll see other people start copying. Sometimes our directors will use what those performers give them.

Very cool. How does it feel seeing your work performed on YouTube by people you’ve never met? How does it feel knowing that something created in your living room is being performed who knows how far away? What is that like for you?
It’s mostly exciting and gratifying. It’s meant to be performed live. Although the record is not live, the performances pretty much are. Sometimes it’s slightly crushing if a joke is being sold in a way that doesn’t make any sense, but you kinda have to let that go. Mostly it’s exquisite, it’s why you do it. You do it to reach out and talk about things that are on your mind, and that’s kinda the point, that’s why we’re doing this, so it’s very cool.

What is the trickiest part of lyric writing? Connecting music and lyrics? How packed or loose you make the lyric?
The biggest key to lyric writing is placing the song correctly. It’s figuring out what work the song needs to do in the structure of the story. Lyric writing is part of book writing. We’ve all seen songs where someone is convincing someone of something they already know or something they’re clearly not going to succeed in convincing them of, or espousing a point of view, but to no dramatic effect. That ends up causing an audience member to tune out. As a writer you have to ask the same questions you ask an actor. What is making this active? What is my action with this moment in the song? Ideally that should lead, inevitably, to another action. The better you do at placing the song and figuring out what work it needs to do, the less work you have to do in writing it.

Is that something you learned at school or by process of doing or based on how the audience responds?
I think I felt my way there gradually. Working one on one with actors, I’d write something that wasn’t particularly active, but felt like it needed to be. Maybe I put pressure on the performer to make it active. Then I’d realize I wasn’t doing my job as much as I could. Let me take the pressure off – write in some of the tension – and make it easier for the performer to make it dynamic.  

Letting the lyrics do the job for you. The actor doesn’t have to push for emotion, or create anything, the moments just happen?
Right. I didn’t want the actor to have to push or create something that isn’t supported by the text at all. I want the situation and path of the song to allow for a cocktail of emotions. The subtleties and intensities should already be there to be explored. There needs to be an undertow. It needs to be there. In a solo that’s what creates dramatic tension. I’m going to write in some of that complication.

How do you lay the trail for the listener to follow while at the same time staying slightly ahead of the audience?
That’s one of the big challenges in writing lyrics. It’s happening in real time and there’s a lot of distractions. People can only perceive so much. So, it’s working and trying things.

You have to trust that the audience is smart. You don’t want to write down to them, but you also need to give them time to digest.
I’m always a little surprised by what is obvious with minimal statement, and what takes ten statements to actually make the point. It’s never entirely predictable to me. That’s something you can only do through the rehearsal process, through trying it out with audience members. Sometimes the action or the situation does so much of the work for you.

What have you learned about yourself and others by writing your characters? Have you developed a broader understanding of people in general?
There’s a principle in psychology called the “fundamental attribution error,” which is the tendency to over-attribute your own actions to situation and circumstance and over-attribute other people’s actions to their inherent character. So, “I got a speeding ticket because my grandma was having a heart attack, and I needed to get her to the hospital! YOU got a speeding ticket because you’re a lousy speeder!” There are more positive ways of putting it, but I think that delving into characters that are very different but have very similar basic motivations, you learn to understand…You learn your own capacity to do many different things that you might judge differently if you looked at them from a different perspective, and you come to have a certain tolerance and understanding of the people you encounter in life.

It creates compassion.
I think so, I hope.

FOLLOW CARNER & GREGOR
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Q&A with AVENUE Q’s Kerri Brackin

KB hedshot.jpg
Kerri Brackin is currently in the NYC production of AVENUE Q at New World Stages playing Girl Bear/Mrs. T. The actress chats with The Broadway Warm-Up about her journey as a performer, daily rituals/habits and her warmup routine.


When did you know you wanted to be an actor?

I started singing and dancing at the youngest age possible. I was around 2. I LOVED it!!!! I was into competition dance and pageants and singing at anything and everything. I started acting at about age 10 when I auditioned for and was cast in a production of ANNIE. I totally fell in love with musical theatre and knew I wanted to pursue a career in this industry. Believe it or not, I actually stopped performing at age 14 and didn’t pick it up again until I packed my bags and moved to NYC after college. The rest is history.

What’s been your best audition experience? Your worst?

My best audition experience may have been the series of callbacks for the tour of AVENUE Q. Worst? Hmmmmmm…maybe one where I had an awesome crack, a crack that just kept cracking, on a super long-held belt note at the end of a song. Classic!

Why do you do what you do?

I love being part of an experience for the audience that hopefully sends them away with a smile and some laughs and an enjoyed time for a few hours. Life can be hard…theatre should be fun!! I also love booking a job. It’s the great feeling and a feeling of accomplishment. And performers are always so much fun to work with!!! The sweetest people.

What are some daily rituals and non-negotiable habits that you include in your routine?

The Broadway Warm-Up is becoming the ritual. A good night’s sleep is a non-negotiable. A substantial meal a few hours before a show is non-negotiable.

How do you prepare for your show?

Typically my preparation for a show is what happens at half-hour…getting dressed, makeup, hair/wigs. Thanks to The Broadway Warm-up, honestly, I am really beginning to see the importance of and the difference that the physical and vocal prep makes. The Broadway Warm-Up is new to me and is making a huge difference for me. My body feels more aligned for sure. Physically, I’m more relaxed and more stretched. It has made a HUGE difference in how my voice feels and how I think it sounds onstage. It’s such a complete warm-up and my whole voice feels great after. Another thing that is extremely helpful for me….because of the vocal warm-up, I can see day-to-day where my voice is, where my allergies might be sitting, etc. and so I’m able to deal with that better in a show and better know how to negotiate any potential quirks for any particular day and how to sing around/work around any issues. A big help!!!!

What do you know now that you wish you knew 20 years ago? What advice might you give?

I wish I had known the sacrifice of being so far away from my family to perform at this level. I’m an Oklahoma girl and all of my jobs have been either touring or here in NYC. I don’t see my family enough. I wish I had known that nerves would become the biggest inhibitor and would, at times, take away some of the fun and joy….I say that because I wish I had learned how to deal with them and conquer them years ago. Also though, the incredible people I’ve met and made lifelong friends with, the excitement of booking a job, the love and appreciation for a long-term gig, and what a true dream it is to live and work in a steady show here in the Big Apple…There are no words for how much I love it and how grateful I am for this time.

avenue q.jpgLike this post? Check out more of our The Broadway Warm-Up interviews! 
#BeWarm

Meditation & Creativity with Mark Price

mark price interviewBWALPHAwww.broadwaywarmup.com

YO YO YO! I am so pumped to bring to you my first The Broadway WarmUp interview with the inimitable Mark Price. Mark is a creative genius and I look up to him so much. Both Ithaca grads, I had the pleasure of meeting Mark back when he was a mentor for the Hangar Theatre Lab Company in 2014. Mark’s energy, zest and passion is contagious. He is an incredibly talented performer and teacher. So generous and detailed with his insights, he’s the perfect person to start our interview series.

In this conversation, we focus on Mark’s meditation practice. I have personally struggled significantly with anxiety and stress, so I learned a lot from Mark’s words on his meditation practice, and I’m itching to take his course when it comes to New York this fall.

“The whole goal is not to be an expert meditator, the whole goal is to be better at life. To be a better partner, better creator, better husband, better wife, better friend, better brother, you know, whatever. So, the whole name of the game is up-leveling performance on all accounts.” -MP

We had such a blast talking that we exceeded our intended duration, so I’ve decided to break this interview into two parts. Part I is below…come back for Part II soon.

In PART 1, we discuss:

  • Vedic meditation
  • Left brain/Right brain functions
  • Finding spontaneity in work and life
  • ‘Fight or Flight’ response
  • The fourth state of consciousness
  • Plus much more…

LISTEN HERE:

 https://broadwaywarmup.files.wordpress.com/2016/07/mark-price-final.m4a

In Part II, we’ll dive deeper into Mark’s views on creativity. We discuss:

  • the importance of resiliency in actors
  •  How to ask better questions
  •  Self-Promotion
  • The advice Mark would give his 20-year old self

FOLLOW MARK PRICE

TWITTER | INSTAGRAM

  • www.alchemycollective.org — Alchemy Collective is a meditation and performance lab, designed for creatives and high performance individuals who are looking to uplevel their performance, dissolve stress, and increase fulfillment and bliss states.(Website live end of July).
  • www.aboutmarkprice.com (Actor, Teaching website)
Mark will be teaching a meditation course in NY this fall. If anyone wants to be notified, email for more info at mprice8@gmail.com.

Be Warm,

Johnny

www.broadwaywarmup.com

Hi, I’m Johnny!

BWALPHA

a Completely synchroninzed Vocal and dance warm-up

www.broadwaywarmup.com

Headshot

I’m Johnny Shea and I am the newly appointed Blogger-In-Chief and Head of Brand Ambassador Development for The Broadway Warm-Up.

I’m going to be posting some awesome content on this blog over the coming weeks, so I thought I’d take a moment to say hi!

I have just moved to New York to pursue a career in acting. Just over a month ago, I graduated from Ithaca College with my BFA in Musical Theatre. The link to Ithaca is actually how I met Kim Stern, Owner/Creator of The Broadway Warm-Up. Back in March, all of IC’s graduating Theatre Arts majors traveled down to NYC to for a week-long series of panels and workshops with industry professionals. Kim was joined by fellow IC alums Mark Price and Caesar Samayoa in their panel called Empowered Artistry. I remember feeling so inspired after this panel. I left with a feeling of confirmation that my dreams were legitimate and possible in this city.

I’ll be honest – there are times when I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing. For all my life to this point, I’ve had the structure and schedule of school to return to and live by. Now that I’ve graduated, the blank canvas before me is both exciting and terrifying. I’m choosing to be excited and inspired by the unknown ahead. I’d love for you to join me as I venture into the unknown and pursue my dreams of acting professionally.

This city, this lifestyle and this business are new to me, so my plan is to be a sponge. I will soak up anything and everything that pertains to life as an artist in New York. I thought it’d be fun to share what I discover as I go. SO, I’ll be conducting interviews with industry professionals to break down their daily habits & routines, and to deconstruct what makes them the best at what they do. In these interviews, I’ll talk to people with all different backgrounds and ties to the entertainment industry. I’ll speak with anyone from Broadway actors, composers, directors to ENTs, therapists, personal trainers…you  name it. I am interested in speaking to anyone with relevant info on this awesome industry. My mission is to inspire you to do what you love by interviewing people who have done just that.

Why do we warm-up? I know I warm-up so that I may perform at my best and stay healthy. I want my voice, body and mind to be in optimal condition before I go out onstage. The Broadway Warm-Up is designed to help performers reach optimal states before audition or performance. These interviews and blog posts are designed to dissect top performers so that all of us may strive to reach and realize our potential. My hope is that these interviews will provide tangible, actionable information that will inspire you.

The interviews will vary in form: video, audio & written. Be sure to follow the blog and check back soon for our first!

Be Warm,

Johnny

www.broadwaywarmup.com

3 Things That Every Thank You Note To A Casting Director Or Agent Should Include (And 1 Thing You Should Definitely Leave Out!)

Unknown-2

We’ve all heard that after an important audition, callback or meeting it is a good idea to send a Thank You Note.  Certainly a wise business decision- a way to keep in touch with your new business contact and potentially grow your relationship with them.  However, I think something gets lost along the way when this act of giving thanks turns into a business transaction. Over the years I’ve had multiple students ask me about what their thank you notes to casting directors or agents should look like. While no two thank you notes will look the same, there are a few elements that are of utmost importance to include and one thing you want to be sure to leave out:

THE ACTOR’S CHECKLIST OF WHAT TO INCLUDE IN EVERY THANK YOU NOTE

1. SINCERITY

Unknown

 

 

 

 

 

Whatever you do be sure you are coming from an honest and sincere place when writing your thank you note.  We are all people and we all have instincts and can smell insincerity a mile away.  Be sure to give yourself the proper amount of time to write your note and find a space to sit and think back on your meeting or audition experience. Try to find one or two specific things that you are really grateful for regarding your audition/meeting experience.  If you can’t think of any,  you probably should not be writing that specific note.

2. CONNECTION

Unknown-1

 

 

 

 

 

Your thank you note  is your opportunity to reach out to that new person in your life and begin to build a connection with them. Try to include your voice or personality in the note in some way.  Give the person on the receiving end a taste of who you are. A few examples of how to include this are:

– Choosing a note card that reflects your own personal style.

– Allowing your humor or personality shine through in the text of your note.

– Mentioning something specific about the role or audition that spoke to you as an artist.

3. PURPOSE

images

 

 

 

 

 

 

This goes back to the idea of sincerity.  Know WHY  you are sending a thank you note in the first place. Whether it is because the person you are writing to has taken the time out of their day to consider you for a role that you’ve been chomping at the bit to play or because they helped you discover your song in a new way – have a specific purpose for sending the note.  If you were at an open call with 300 people and they were typing and you got typed out-this could be a situation where you either don’t necessarily need to send a note OR you might find that you really appreciated the efficiency of audition- that is your call to make and really depends on your personal experience of the situation.

Once you’ve included Sincerity, Connection and Purpose into your note, the rest will generally take care of itself.  You may want to mention something specific about your audition to jog the person’s memory and put a face to a name but as long as these key elements are in place you’ve got a great place to work from.

Now that we’ve taken a look at what we want to be sure to include. Let’s discuss the one thing you want to leave out of your thank you note:

THE ASK

quote23givingbeing-for-web

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s talk about Thanksgiving.

Thanks.

Giving.

Giving Thanks.

When we write a thank you note, it is an act of giving.  We are giving someone our genuine thanks for their generosity , their time or just for being who they are. So many times we get lured into the trap of thanking someone with an expectation or hope that we will get something back in return: another audition, an agent referral, some feedback etc. See what it feels like to send a thank you note with the the pure intention of thanking the person for the experience that you shared with them. I guarantee you will feel better for it and will most likely begin to build a more solid relationship.

 

KimStern_PC_1Kim Stern is a co-creator and owner of The Broadway Warm-Up along with Deidre Goodwin. She is also a private voice teacher and vocal coach in NYC. Kim is the editor of The Broadway Warm-Up Blog. For more information go to: www.broadwaywarmup.com

BWALPHA copy

A Completely Synchronized Vocal and Dance Warm-Up for Performers

Now Available for Digital Purchase or Rental and on DVD!

www.broadwaywarmup.com

“Am I my resume?” : Living life wholeheartedly as an actor

BWALPHA copyAnother wonderful and insightful blog from our monthly contributor Jessica Latshaw!

Check it out:

 

 

I care very much about health. I am lucky; my parents put me in ballet when I was eight years old, introducing me to a way of life that both challenged me physically and fulfilled me emotionally. Soon, one didn’t come easily without the other. It’s still that way, and I have them to thank for it.
And though I am not sure the world needs one more article or blog post about the recent tragic passing of the great Robin Williams, his death is indicative of the fact that our health is not comprised solely of how we look, the numbers that appear when we step on the scale, the amount of accolades we have garnered, or how fast we can run.
Our health is the sum value of every single part of us. It’s what wholehearted living is all about: your body, mind, and spirit working towards the same goals. There is chaos and unbalance in our lives whenever one part of us–whether it’s physical, emotional/mental, or spiritual–betrays the goals we have and the values we nurture.
Many years ago, a good friend of mine reached out to me sobbing in the middle of the night. Being the genius and sensitive discerner that I am, I asked what was wrong.
“Are you hurt?”
She shook her head and kept crying.
“Is your family okay?”
She nodded this time, sobbing even harder.
Finally, she started talking and I pieced together what had brought her to this place. She has core values. She loves these values. She believes they are the right way to live and she has always strived to uphold them. Until recently, when she started betraying these values and shame set in. She still believed the values, and yet she was acting in a way that said she didn’t.
And subsequently life became chaotic.
images-1This is not a matter of being good or bad, though, see? This is a matter of living wholeheartedly. Of living in balance. Being in sync with yourself. Meaning every part of you is in agreement and moving in the same direction. It’s a healthy picture of a person. It’s what’s available to each of us.

 

Another part of wholehearted living is community. Reaching out. My friend talked to me that night for as long as she needed. I loved her; I listened. By the end of that conversation, something changed. Not because she or I were able to actually erase the past or snap our fingers and give her an immediate solution, but because she is loved and knew it and sometime between finding her crumpled in the corner of a hotel room–more tears than dignity–and taking deep, trembling breaths before standing up and declaring that now she was at peace enough to sleep, at least–the fact that she is loved became the bottom line.

images-2All this to say, it is very important to surround ourselves with people who care more about who we are than what we do. The pressure is real. To make money, to get the job, to fill your resume, to get the girl, to look good, to be good, to have a thousand things to say when people ask you that inevitable question: “So, what do you do?”
When is the last time someone asked you who you are?
If you crossed off the list of external things people can readily see when they look at you (an accountant, a performer, an instructor, etc), could you answer?
I remember in grade school, getting the assignment to write an essay on who I am. I was young enough to write out the whole thing in pencil, the letters big and awkwardly printed across lined paper. At that point, I had no job, earned no money, and had an unfortunate haircut that was a byproduct of allowing my brother to play barber with me one day. After he cut my bangs in a perfect diagonal line, my mom simply cut them all off (who needs the hassle of going to a salon when you have a perfectly good pair of scissors at home, anyway?), creating a short–albeit still tragically uneven–fringe on the top of my already too big forehead.

Good times, guys; good times.

images-3But I had a lot to say about who I am. I wrote about loving my family, loving animals, and drawing, too. I didn’t know it, but I was writing about the connection to both people and creativity, which has turned out to be the two greatest needs in my life when it comes to feeling fulfilled and alive. I had a sense of self then, and it had nothing to do with what the world would call success.
You don’t need me to tell you that life can be hard. From time to time, people who have heard about some darker nights that I have walked through will reach out to me and ask how they get through their own dark night. I always tell them to surround themselves with kind, safe people who love them more than they need them. To be purposeful about hanging out with those who they never feel a need to impress. To let your personal life be vastly different from an interview or an audition. To realize that life is more than a facebook status in which a new job is announced; that it’s made up of pictures. All kinds of pictures–many that we would never post on Instagram.

This is not a DOWN WITH SOCIAL MEDIA! post (I am a fan of social media, actually–Instagram, especially, because FILTERS!). This is me telling you that you are way more than what you do and until you realize this, life will always be precarious, rising and falling with the awards, jobs, and notice you do or do not receive from others.

Live wholeheartedly. Be at one with yourself, your values, your goals. Create for yourself a community where you are loved for who you are, period. And from that place, you will end up doing so very much; you will end up impressing the world, whether you ever meant to or not, because a healthy, loved, balanced and wholehearted person is a breathtaking, beautiful sight, indeed.

img-26Jessica Latshaw is a monthly contributor to The Broadway Warm-Up Blog.  For more info on Jessica check out: www.jessicalatshawofficial.com

 

BWALPHA copy

A completely synchronized vocal and dance warm-up for performers. 

Now Available on DVD!

www.broadwaywarmup.com

Get Generous With Your Warm-Up!

BWALPHA copyOur friends at Motivated Movers recently asked Broadway Warm-Up co-creator Kim Stern to contribute a blog post that talked to their monthly theme of generosity. Check out this post and then get to know more about motivated mover over at www.motivatedmoversnyc.com!

GET GENEROUS WITH YOUR WARM-UP!

Generosity

It’s been said that generosity is the act of giving even when we are not necessarily in a position to give.

I recently joined a gym again and have started swimming. It feels great! The past two weeks I’ve committed to swimming every day and I have seen a marked change in my overall health, my energy level, my productivity and general well being.

imagesDespite all of these incredible benefits, this week it seemed to be more of a struggle to motivate to get to the gym and get myself swimming. I knew I would feel better for it, I had conscious intent to go and yet there was a part of me that felt a definite resistance. Oy! It’s no news that sometimes taking action to do the things that will benefit us the most can feel like moving a mountain. We just don’t feel like we have the time, energy or desire to give to ourselves.

Over my years of teaching, I’ve found this to be an overwhelming truth when it comes to performers taking the time to warm-up before a performance. While we all may have great intentions of warming up before each performance, a lot of the time when push comes to shove, our warm-up seems to be the first thing that gets thrown to the curbside if we are running short on time or energy. That was actually one of the things that inspired The Broadway Warm-Up, my business partner Deidre Goodwin and I recognized our students and colleagues either skipping their vocal warm-up and just doing a dance warm-up—skipping their dance warm-up and just doing a vocal warm-up or not doing a warm-up at all. We recognized that there was an urgent need for an efficient warm-up that could organically warm-up your whole instrument in a set routine and make it easier for performers to commit to the generosity of a warm-up.

lkIDuNPY44lbET9dwRvt7ba4-OsdQiJfAHlJRtFeAvg,FOW1SDVEwEr6Rr7Ta3MiCw7pi2gh-HvC6OMNMmZ11FU,LgeIJVEIJRVU0Z9AToMeISYh09KxWQSuBMVQnlpIQw0What if we looked at the warm-up as an opportunity to be generous with ourselves? An opportunity to give even when we are not necessarily in a position to give. How many moments in a day do really take out to take care of ourselves? A warm-up can be the daily gift we give ourselves and a true act of generosity towards ourselves and others. In warming up, we’ve prioritized our time and our energy towards the maintenance and betterment of our instrument. We’re being kind and generous to our muscles and are giving ourselves the best odds to avoid injury and achieve optimal performance.

Magic_Hat_-_sliderEvery time we warm-up we are increasing the probability that we will have a successful performance. By taking the time to prepare our voice, body and mind we are not only allowing the actual muscles to reach their potential but we are giving ourselves the incredible gift of preparation. Armed with the knowledge that we have properly prepared ourselves for our performance our level of confidence will automatically increase exponentially. That’s when we have an opportunity to discover some really magical moments as a performer. Because our instrument is awake and ready and we have gifted ourselves the confidence of preparation we are far less likely to become distracted by what is happening for us technically and have the freedom to be in the moment and artistically present! Huzzah!

In finding the time to warm-up you are not only being generous to yourself and images-1your instrument. You’ve also created an opportunity for yourself to be generous with your fellow performers and your audience. Take the challenge to give yourself the gift of a proper warm-up every day this week. Be generous with yourself. Let that generosity feed into your performances, your auditions and practice sessions. Comment on this blog and let me know how it feels to commit to that sort of generosity on a daily basis. As for me… I’ve got my bathing suit in my gym bag and am headed for a swim.

 

KimStern_PC_1

Kim Stern is a co-creator and owner of The Broadway Warm-Up along with Deidre Goodwin. She is also a private voice teacher and vocal coach in NYC. Kim is the editor of The Broadway Warm-Up Blog.  For more information go to: www.broadwaywarmup.com

 

BWALPHA copy

 

A completely synchronized vocal and dance warm-up for performers. 

NOW AVAILABLE ON DVD!

www.broadwaywarmup.com

 

How To Love Yourself In 8 Counts of 8 and One Try

BWALPHA copyHoly Cow! We are sooo excited to introduce our newest guest blogger: the incredible Jesse Palmer from Motivated Movers! If you haven’t heard of Motivated Movers yet, boy are you in for a treat. They are an inspiring company that is all about creating a safe space for movers and dancers to create , explore and grow. We love it!  In this installment, Jesse will talk about how to leave your movement or dance call feeling great AND she will share a FREE 1 minute Audio Motivation EXCLUSIVELY to Broadway Warm-Up Blog Readers! How awesome is that?!? Read the blog , click on the link to get your FREE awesome motivation and check out Motivated Movers today  Y’all!

How to Love Yourself in 8 Counts of 8 and One Try
By: Jesse Palmer
Creative Director & Co-founder of Motivated Movers NYC LLC

There you are in your dance call, movement callback or in your nightmares (depending on how comfortable you are with movement). You’ve had 20 minutes to learn 8 counts of 8 of choreography… Run it a few times in large groups… Small groups… With the choreographer and without.

Now: it’s your turn to show them your stuff. Book that job. Do what you do best and show them how you love it.

In a blink of an eye: it’s done. And they say THANK YOU… Next group.

What?! Huh?! You forgot count 4 and then were late on count 5… But YOU KNOW COUNT 4!! Your heart is screaming,”PLEASE GIVE ME ANOTHER CHANCE!!” Your brain is taunting “You know better”.

82nd Academy Awards, Dance AuditionsIn this reality of low employment, 6am sign ups, and contracts getting smaller and smaller, auditions are getting more and more crowded. This means that creative teams and casting directors don’t have time to give us that second chance we so desperately want.

Motivated Movers is all about empowering you to make confident and smart choices, SO
Here are 5 ways to help mentally prepare yourself before,during and after your audition to help you keep shuffling off to your next audition with confidence.

BEFORE:

Live-to-create-love-art1. Create art. Don’t book jobs.
What the what? This is a tough mindset to get yourself into, but dang, how good it feels when you are there! No matter why we are in this business, the base reason is: to create. See each audition as a chance to do what you love. Detach yourself from the expectation of booking work and revel in the process and creation of “something” in that 8 counts of 8 or 32 bars of a song.

butterfly-mantra-deborha-kerr

2. Mantra it out.We LOVE mantras at Motivated Movers. Having a little conversation in your head isn’t only for the slightly crazy people who you see on the train any longer! Here are a few we love:

 

* I am enough

*Breathe in joy and simply make a choice

* I am enough

* Breathe in joy and simply make a choice

* What is meant for me will not pass me.

If you can use these little triggers to get your mind in a better place– you are already walking into the room more willing, able, and open… All very castable qualities. CLICK HERE to get our special gift to the Broadway Warm-Up community. It’s a great tool to get you motivated for that next movers call!

d1x7RNHwlRJ7J9aRnmAEX06NsgbesvYDKWvIdfDV62c,fKwMAgdvhFAURCe1GKOST2PONj60y_G0J9MC8XetVms,x680lbzLhlEa_HEkbTS8m8S_uvt73CKvidm1w4W4fas3. Warm-up
(I know. I know. Here I am writing for BROADWAY WARM-UP and I am about to harp on the importance of warming up, BUT I only speak the truth! I promise they didn’t ask me to do this.. haha)
By choosing to start your day with the Broadway Warm-Up or getting that rehearsal room to run through material and/or your own form of mental/physical/emotional prep, you are setting yourself up for success! You have time to get your brain into the right mental frame, you are able to prepare your body and voice so that they are able to work to the best of their ability in that moment. Plus, you’ve already made sure that everything is in working order, so you can enter that room confident that you are at your best!

IN THE ROOM:

4. Create a sense of community– not competition.
Actors have a bad rap for being cut throat and crazy (pushing the lead down the stairs… sabotaging costumes… etc) but we all know that we aren’t THAT crazy….
I love to make eye contact with the choreographer and their assistants, answer them when they ask a question “Should we try it from the top?” Or “Anyone have questions?”. This makes me feel more at ease and comfortable, and they notice as well.
I also love to compliment people when their work or presence moves me. Now– I don’t mean you have to hand out compliments right and left. I mean when you see a great performance – tell someone.
Sizing others up and wishing others ill just makes for a toxic environment in the room and in your mind. Let’s try to quell that.

AFTERWARDS:

journal5. Write it out and LET.IT.GO.

I keep a journal with me at all auditions: On the train ride home,
I write:
•what I auditioned for
•who was in the room
•2 things I did well
•1 area of improvement

Then– I’m done with it. It’s off my back,and I am on to the next. Auditions are just job interviews. We don’t deserve to beat ourselves up all day about what we could have done better. We also have to be wary of pumping ourselves up too much when we think we do well. The journal helps me keep everything in perspective.

Now go out there and hit the ground running!

Follow these 5 easy steps and maybe you’ll even be able to embrace
Motivated Movers 3 favorite words in your next audition:
Love. Joy. Movement!

Motivated Movers is a contributor to The Broadway Warm-Up Blog

MotivatedMovers logoAbout Motivated Movers:
Motivated Movers is a unique mind/body dance program designed to create a safe space for beginner dancers to explore, express, create, and manifest empowerment as performing artists. It is our mission to motivate and educate movers within the musical theatre industry in a safe and positive space to set our students up for success for all auditions and artistic endeavors.​ We provide affordable, convenient dance classes, private coachings, goal coachings, and masterclasses, all ways for actors to hone their dance skills and evolve as artists. Our classes are theatre based, exploring fundamental jazz, ballet, and tap technique, take the time to break down steps and concepts at the pace our students needs, and pay close attention to the mind and emotions of a beginning dancer. For more go to www.motivatedmoversnyc.com.

JesseAbout Jesse:
Jesse is a Catholic University of America alum & Maryland native. As a performer and teacher, Jesse loves empowering others to find joy and abundance in their lives. Jesse resides in New York City as she is pursuing both a career in theater as well as choreography. For more about her, check out her website http://www.jessekpalmer.com. Do what you love. Love what you do.

BWALPHA copy

A completely synchronized vocal and dance warm-up for performers. 

Now Available on DVD!

www.broadwaywarmup.com

Practice Makes Progress

BWALPHA copy

Jessica Latshaw hits some really inspiring points about practice, progress and patience in this month’s installment! We’d love to hear some secrets/tips you’ve found for committing to regular practice or hear you talk about your struggle getting to practice!

Practice-makes-progressWe’ve all heard it: Practice makes perfect.

You know what is the best part of that saying?

Practice.

You know what is the misleading part of that saying?

Perfect.

I am reading a book by Dr. Brene Brown. The words she writes resonate in my soul. Reading them feels a little like coming home. Perhaps it is like finally looking at a real, honest-to-goodness photograph of that fabled land, Narnia. True, I have never been there and seen it with my own eyes, but I’ve read enough of C.S. Lewis’ books about it, that, were I to get to see it, I am sure it would be familiar. It’d be deja vu and then some.

Brown writes, ‘Bulletproof and perfect are seductive, but they are not a part of the human experience.’

What, then, are we reaching for?

Why the constant struggle? Forgive me for ending with a preposition, but–what’s it all for?

Progress. Journey. Maturation.

I think it’s easy to see that there is a plan in all of creation. An apple tree bears fruit. A bee makes honey. Sea otters play games and fall in love and hold hands while swimming so as not to lose track of each other. Are any of these things perfect? I guess it depends on what you mean by perfect, right?

UnknownPerhaps the apple tree has some nicks in the bark. Perhaps one season does not yield as many apples as previous seasons had. And yet the next season doubles the number. Is this perfect? I don’t know. Is the apple tree being an apple tree? Is it being exactly what the Creator intended for it? Yes.

I am currently training an eleven week old puppy (Oh, you didn’t know? Oh, so you don’t follow me on Instagram?). Every book that I have read on the subject–from the elite Monks of Skete to the no-name articles I look up on my phone at three in the morning–say the same thing: be patient; be consistent.

Guess what Luna, my pup, finally did tonight?

Her down stay.

I have a feeling that it will take a lot more of the same training tomorrow to get her to do it again, but it happened tonight, and when I saw it, I just about did the kind of Irish jig you saw being executed in the bowels of that great ship, The Titanic, in the movie with the same name.

Unknown-1After I gave her the treat, of course.

Is Luna perfect? No. Is she progressing and maturing and growing?

YES.

I MEAN, SHE DID HER DOWN STAY, GUYS!

And we’re practicing, together, all the time. Every day. Multiple times a day.

When she misses a cue or doesn’t reach a goal, I think to myself, Next time, Luna-Loo; it’ll happen next time.

Dr. Brown says something to the effect of using the same kind of self-talk that you would use with a loved one. Patience and kindness. Encouragement. A you’ll-get-there attitude.

Just today I was talking with my good friend, Grace, about her performance on stage. She’s constantly asking me what I think she could do to make it better. So I tell her, but not without first saying that she’s amazing. That I am splitting hairs. That I am finding the tiny bit of rust in a sea of brightly shining metal. And then I tell her to be patient when she is frustrated that her craft is not yet perfect. I tell her she’s on her way–and, more than anything else, to be herself and enjoy the process.

The professors I admired most in school critiqued from a wide, beautiful place of love. Ruthie, especially, a fiery and beautiful blue-eyed woman who was one of the great American choreographer, Paul Taylor’s, muses, would begin every criticism with a compliment.

“You have such a beautiful way of moving, Jessica,” she’d say, “Why not try it with a greater sense of groundedness? Can you imagine your pelvis closer to the floor as you initiate your movement with an undercurve and always, always, always a plie?”

She thinks I have a beautiful way of moving? I will do anything she asks. Anything.

Ruthie brought the best out of me. Her kindness and patience actually motivated me to work harder, believe it or not. It wasn’t that she didn’t have standards–no! Her class was hard and everybody knew that her warm-up alone would either get you in shape or have you die trying. But somehow her words had a way of encompassing every kind of dancer–all sorts of shapes and sizes and talents and abilities–and setting us up for success, rather than failure.

She led us to believe that success looked differently on a dancer who is 5’2 with tree trunk legs and a contraction for days compared to a dancer who is 5’8 and more comfortable in pointe shoes than anything else.

The word perfect wasn’t mentioned, yet the word math–in the sense that there would be problems and here are the tools to solve them, class!–was mentioned quite a lot.

Like I said before, it was a you’ll-get-there-attitude, and I always left class feeling like maybe, just maybe, if I worked hard enough, I really would get there.

661629c3758da54cf762d0121a6ba33bMy point is that we could try these same things on ourselves. I am convinced that the battles we fight in this life are won and lost first in the mind. Why not set ourselves up for success? Why not practice patience and kindness within, just as we practice those same things with those around us?

 

 

And perhaps we will fall so in love with the journey of practicing and where it takes us, that we will forget about the static old goal of perfection. We’re movers and climbers, anyway. You can pull out your flag and stake it on a small plot of earth that you dub PERFECT and then stay there forever, if you’d like. And, yes, I am going to admire it for all its loveliness, for sure, when I visit, but I won’t be staying. I will keep going. Because there is always something up ahead. Something right around the bend. Something more in this journey that we are on, whether we like it or not. Whether it feels good or not.

So practice makes progress.

And patience is made of more durable stuff than roadblocks, my friends.

001 copy-001

 

img-26Jessica Latshaw  is a monthly contributor to The Broadway Warm-Up Blog.  For more information on Jessica go to: www.jessicalatshawofficial.com

BWALPHA copy

A Completely Syncronized Vocal and Dance Warm-Up for performers

Now available on DVD! 

www.broadwaywarmup.com

Snapshots of NOW: My Photo Shoot With Lululemon

 

BWALPHA copy

 

Another inspiring blog installment from Broadway Warm-Up monthly blog contributor Jessica Latshaw:

 

Snapshots of NOW: My Photo Shoot With Lululemon

UnknownTomorrow I am doing a photo shoot for the ambassadorship for Lululemon. If you don’t know, Lululemon is a fantastic clothing line for all things movement. With the hashtag, #TheSweatLife, they encourage people to live their best lives; to constantly be challenging themselves and working towards health–physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, etc. If there is a way to be healthy, they are for it. I am so happy to partner with them. I love their philosophy and their positivity and it’s an honor to be part of their team. And like I stated already: tomorrow morning is my photo shoot with them.

The ironic part is that right now, I have probably never felt less like being photographed in a tight tank top. You think about these moments in life; you imagine them being a certain way. I remember first walking into the Lululemon in Union Square and seeing a large poster-sized photo of a beautiful dancer/ instructor on the wall and literally thinking, I’d love to be on that wall someday.

That was a little less than two years ago.

Now it’s happening.

Now I get to be on the wall.

And now I am almost four months pregnant.

images-1 “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans,” is what John Lennon wisely said. You have plans–you should have plans, too–but they are not the obedient little children you thought you were raising. They are wild things, plans. They sometimes go their own way. And as the plans run the opposite way, you face something even more wild than the plans: the moment. And if you’re smart, and maybe a bit wild, too, you embrace it. You learn to let it lead in this dance, swaying and dipping to a music that is both wonderful and new and unlike anything you’ve heard before until now. Until this moment. And life is a lot of things, yes, but it is not boring and it is not predictable and it is probably better than what you’d originally conceived in a mind that is brilliant, yes! but a mind that cannot take in or consider all the elements of this glorious universe that, together, land in the same place. A place we call now. A place where the wise and daring ones live.

Unknown-1So tomorrow morning I will not be rocking my favorite crop top, as I would have just a few short months ago. Not this moment; for this is a different one than then. I don’t regret this baby growing inside of me for one second. I just never imagined that I’d be a pregnant girl on the wall of Lululemon. It is a vulnerable thing to pose without feeling perfect. But it is also an honest thing. And it is also an always thing. For we are kidding ourselves when we toss around the word perfect. It does not exist, really, in the realm of art and movement and individuality. There is excellence and there is vulnerability and there is you–and I would argue that those things, together, capture a heart and make one content to stop looking for perfection, for what they’ve found instead is far more captivating, anyway. So here goes embracing this moment. This beautiful, imperfect, vulnerable, new, never-before-seen, awesome, and pregnant moment.

 

 

img-26Jessica Latshaw is a monthly contributor for The Broadway Warm-Up Blog.  For more info on Jessica go to: www.jessicalatshawofficial.com 

 

BWALPHA copy

The Broadway Warm-Up: A completely synchronized vocal and dance warm-up for performers that can be completed in under 30 minutes! 

Now Available on DVD! 

www.broadwaywarmup.com