A while back I mentioned the movie The Greatest Showman and how it got me singing and dancing when I had been in a slump. I’ve had a nagging desire to write more about this extraordinary film since then - because I don’t understand why everyone isn’t talking about it - so I’m finally doing it. Ladies and Gentlemen - my first ever movie review:
The Greatest Showman is the Oscar nominated (and robbed, in my humble opinion) musical story of P.T. Barnum’s life. Don’t stop reading just because I said musical! I know most people hear the word and make (if I’m being honest) quite the unattractive face. But as one of the creators of this musical said, and I’m paraphrasing: with a good musical you leave the theater singing the songs. Boy, have we ever!
I saw it first with a friend on a random Tuesday night and after, we both went to our own homes and stayed up till way after midnight listening to the music. I started choreographing a dance routine to my favorite song from the soundtrack ("Never Enough")… at midnight... on a weekday. Even when I realized I should force myself to go to bed - I lied awake, heart pounding, looking forward to when I could hear that music again. My friend had the soundtrack downloaded before he got home from the theater and listened to it multiple times that night. And though I’ve never asked him, I don’t think he’d say he’s a “fan” of musicals.
The next morning, my kids were whining about, well- morning, and I put the soundtrack on. Immediate silence. Followed by questions. Followed by more intriguing questions. Ending with, “Can we hear that again?” Let me tell you, when I meet Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the songwriters - I’ll kiss them just for that. I’ve confessed before - I’m not a morning person. Anything that makes mornings easier has my undying gratitude.
Fast forward a week - my family knows almost all the words to every song in the soundtrack. Finally… we go see it together. My husband, one of the face makers when the word musical is thrown out, and our two kids: son, 7, daughter, 6. This time, I watch with the eagle eye of a trained dancer. Not just a pawn in their sightline game, I’m checking choreography, backup dancers, movement quality - and I fall even more in love!
Let me preface this with saying, when I was younger and saw the movie Chicago for the first time - I was blown away. When I saw it the second time, I felt like I had been cheated! The dances were mostly camera angles, quick cuts, lighting tricks - I was heartbroken. I half expected the same thing on this second viewing. Needless to say, I don't think I've ever been happier to be wrong. Though they use wonderful lighting, camera angles, etc - they give us real dancing! And it’s ever so uplifting. As is the message: create your world - don't let anyone else define you.
Now, if this is a true critique, I should mention the one thing I wish they had done differently. The secondary love story of Zendaya and Zac Efron left me wanting more. I wish the movie had taken the time to flesh out Zendaya's character. I love a forbidden love story as much as the next gal, but I need more than the fact it's forbidden. I need to know the characters I'm cheering for to cheer for them. Just give me a little more in the sequel;)
I said this was a quickie, so I’ll wrap my review up with this - some students went to see it upon my persistent recommendation and said “[we’ll] never doubt you again.” My daughter, product of the Frozen and Moana era, (both wonderful) walked out of the theater and said, “That was the most favorite movie I’ve ever seen.”:) My son said it was his second favorite: to Star Wars. Now we all, husband included, sing and dance around the house to this soundtrack… daily, if I’m being honest;) Treat yourself. Go see it on the big screen this weekend - it’s worth the price of admission. No, I don't get kickbacks for ticket purchases;) I just want you dancing and singing along with us!
My last blog, when questioning how we reconcile being grateful for what we have, yet striving for more, brought up a time management question. Since then, I’ve been writing down everything I do in a day and I realize I put in, on average, ten hour work days when you count dancing, writing, parenting, and household chores. Not bad for a working mother of two. I know many who put in a lot more hours. But it also explains why when 9pm comes, I’m all too ready to pour that glass of wine;)
That’s a good chunk of my day devoted to work/improvement in some way. Something to be proud of. I’m also proud I took the time to socialize this last week. I made it a point to spend time with friends, family, and my favorite person: my husband. I had a lot of quality time with people who make me smile - for which I will always be grateful:) I know a week is too short a time to study, which is why I will continue my research, but I believe this week was a pretty normal look at my life - so we’ll start with what we’ve got.
Additionally, this past week, I started listening to more podcasts while I cook or clean. Let me tell ya’ - I know why people love those now! Though while cooking, they may be dangerous:) How? Well, a friend recommended “Magic Lessons” by Elizabeth Gilbert which deals with the creative process. The first episode was an interview with a mom who felt guilty about wanting to be something more than a mother and I almost chopped my finger off - cause woman, can I relate?!
I do feel guilty for wanting more than a job I adore, two healthy children, and a husband that loves me. On paper, it seems I have it all! And I am grateful for each of those things every single day. However, I want more. Insert guilt here. My sister says guilt is “a call to change some behavior”. That infuriates me, honestly! (I just spoke with a friend who said, “Yes. The behavior you should change is to stop being racked with guilt:) It’s the same sister who, when asked to describe me in one word, (a silly practice anyway) said “mother”. As all-encompassing and wonderful as that word is - it attaches my value to something outside my body/control - which I think very dangerous indeed.
If all I am is a mother, who was I before I had children? A daughter? A wife? A sister? These are all parts of me, yes, but if they were all taken from me - who would I be then?? A dancer? That has been taken from me before. It wasn’t my best year, that’s for sure. But when that was taken from me, I got my first paycheck as a writer - which was pretty exciting. So, maybe I’m an artist? I’ve always hesitated to call myself that. For three reasons:
But for now, let me fight the cringe and say, “I’m an artist”. Huh… The freedom that comes from saying that out loud is surprising. No one can take that away from me... but me. Only if I let guilt stop me from saying what I need to say, will I not be an artist. By creating and expressing myself, won’t I be happier and more satisfied? And therefore a better mother, wife, daughter, etc? That consistently proves itself true. After choreographing a routine and hearing the joy the performance brought to people - I’m always on cloud 99! And by being true to who I want to be, I show my children they can do the same. I’d say that’s a pretty stellar example for any kid, wouldn’t you?
I recently heard Oprah say, “our job is to find the voice inside us and follow it.” I foolishly thought I already did that. Now I realize, as I became more things to more people, my voice became quieter and quieter. Or maybe not quieter… maybe it just got drown out. Which is perhaps why I find myself in wanting. When you consider the desire for more is merely a desire to follow that inner voice - you see there’s nothing to feel guilty about. It’s my job to make sure that voice doesn’t fade. Nay... that it thrives!
How does this relate to dancing? Obviously leads can find their own voice with the moves they do and the rhythm they decide to accentuate. But follows? Are we doomed to dance to someone else's beat? No! We have freedom within the frame. After all, creativity needs limits. We choose how we fill his frame. We choose what tone we bring to the conversation. We can let our voice be heard. Obviously we don't need to yell (the whole time;) but speak up ladies! See you on the hardwood:)
There are so many ways I could go with this, it’s almost overwhelming. I want to start with Fear not! I’m actually quite happy. Since posting my last blog I have been on the receiving end of many an outstretched hand - which makes a girl feel loved, but also intrigues me. Can we not be happy and still ponder this thing called life? In truth, I was over my “crisis” (you may have noticed I have a flare for the dramatic;) before I posted it. But I posted it to help others and hear what you had to say. Philosophy used to be a way of life for many, not just something you thought about for one semester in college. I think it’s fun to ask big questions. Which brings us back to: how do we keep our eye on the target? Target being: Make the world a better place.
Of course, this answer may be different for everyone. Sure we can agree on the obvious ones:
Donate your time or money to worthy causes.
Do work that’s important to you and others.
Be an example of love.
That last one is the hardest I think. And if I’m honest, to be a consistent example of love I think I need to slow down. As a society, we’ve gotten into the habit of being busy. We equate that to being important. I’m definitely guilty of it. But they aren't the same thing. And I think keeping yourself running ragged all the time is a disservice to just about everyone. I tell my students all the time: rushing never looks good. It’s as true on the dance floor as it is in life.
How do I know? I’m a lot less tolerant of “bad” driving when I’m running behind - though clearly the person in the car ahead of me isn’t the one making me late. I sh/could have left five minutes earlier. But I make excuses for myself and I lash out at them. And let me tell ya’, when your seven year old gets impatient with the line of cars in front of you when the light just turned green, you re-evaluate your behavior.
And speaking of kids, I’m much more patient with mine when I’m not multitasking. And they notice! Heck, at least half of bad behavior is because a child is crying out for attention. And what is so important about that text or email that I can’t respond later? ... while the kids are asleep... dreaming of the fun we had together that very evening. There’s that flare for the dramatic again;)
So does that mean stop multitasking? Is that even possible?? I do tell my students to give all of their attention to their partners - only then can we do our best listening and our best giving. I don’t know if you’ve experienced being fully present recently - but it’s blissful. Sometimes exhausting, it’s true, but also regenerating. Hmm… a paradox… maybe that’s what life is.
I remember when I was young I used to hate the word content. I used to say, “I never want to be content” (disdain dripping off that nasty word). “It means you’ve stopped trying to be better.” And there’s truth there. The definition of content reads, “satisfied with what one is or has; not wanting more or anything else”. Now, as an adult, I can tell you the moments I've been content are my favorite moments in this world.
Yet we’re constantly told to work harder, never settle, be the Best!, and all that jazz. Aren't we lazy if we're not improving? How do we reconcile the two? Time management, perhaps? Spend eight hours a day working our tokuses off and the other eight waking hours being present with our family, friends, and selves? I struggle to make that schedule a reality and I rarely sleep eight hours?! Now that I think about it like that - a simple hour allocation - what do I do with my time? Hmm… I may be on to something.
If you’ve succeeded in satisfactory time management, please tell me how! Otherwise, I may have to experiment and write a blog about it. Till then, if you’re still down with the winter blues, do what I did - go see “The Greatest Showman”. I know you’re laughing - and I’m laughing with you - but it’s true: it’s hard to be down about life when you’re singing and dancing!
See you on the hardwood!
Allison loves to write almost as much as she loves to dance, so no one had to twist her arm to get her to write about dancing!