The McDreamy Dilemma

April 27, 2015 § Leave a comment

SPOILER ALERT – If by some miracle you have not seen Grey’s Anatomy this week, or have not already heard what happened, STOP READING.


2728815059_15d062062eThe internet was buzzin’ after Thursday night’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy. People were outraged that Shonda Rhimes not only decided to kill off yet another character from the show, but the beloved McDreamy himself!

Yes, I am a fan of the show and have watched it from the beginning, so certainly I am attached to these characters.

But let’s take a look at this just from a writing perspective. Was it smart to kill off one of the most popular characters of the show and one of the few remaining original characters at that?

While the episode was well written (although, not the best episode they ever had), and while it certainly created a buzz, in my humble opinion, I think it was a dumb move.

The show has been losing viewers over the last couple of years. We all know that it is drawing to an end – It has already been stated that they are planning on ending it after 2 more seasons. Wouldn’t you want to keep as many viewers as possible over your last 2 seasons?

Derek Shepherd earned the nickname “McDreamy” for a reason. He is written to appeal to women as the perfect guy. And women across the world love him for it. Many people have continued to watch the show mainly because of him. Now he’s gone.

Perhaps his storyline was done. Perhaps he just wanted out. It doesn’t matter the reason. Killing such a beloved character at this point in the series is not a smart move. There are plenty of other ways you could write him out that would leave it open for him to be back for the finale, or to still be part of the storyline without actually being on the show. Keeping it a little more open ended – whether if he ever appeared on the show again or not – would keep viewers watching. It would keep viewers happy.

Now, if Shonda didn’t already have the habit of killing off almost every character she wanted off the show, would my opinion on this be different?

I think it would. It would make Derek’s death much more shocking and traumatic. It would hit the viewer’s core even more. We wouldn’t be ready for it, and it would send us reeling. We would want to keep watching to see how Meredith would survive.

But since there have already been a ridiculous amount of deaths on this show, quite frankly, this wasn’t much of a surprise. Of course she would kill him off – she killed everyone else off (except Christina). Of course Meredith is going to survive and move on – she did with everyone else.

Was I upset Derek died? Sure, I love that character like everyone else. But did I have the ugly tears while watching it like I would have expected in other circumstances? Nope. I was fully expecting it, and I was quite annoyed. This show has proven that it has some fantastic writers. Some of the opening/ending narrations have been darn near genius in the past. So I KNOW they have good writers. So I KNOW they could have created a better storyline. So I was annoyed that they took the easy way and killed him just everyone else. Derek deserved better. The show deserved better.

Was the episode itself well written? Yes. Was it the best written episode I’ve seen from them? No.

It was a fitting way for McDreamy to die – a hero. I would expect nothing less. It was an interesting choice to have the great neurosurgeon’s brain being what ended up killing him. Nice move. It is within Meredith’s character to be strong and stoic like her mother. However, that said, I felt it was weird, especially considering the final song that was playing, that Meredith didn’t lay down next to him one last time. To hold him, as he always held her and supported her, while he passed away. That last part of the ending left me unsatisfied, and it seemed like there should have been a bit more than just hearing the great McDreamy’s last breath.

But that is just this one writer’s humble opinion. What did you think? Was it a fitting ending? Was it a smart or stupid move in the overall arch of the show’s story? Do you think viewers will still watch till the end of the show?

It certainly will be interesting to see how it ends up panning out….


Photo Credit: Patrick Dempsey via photopin (license)


Quote of the Day

March 9, 2014 § Leave a comment

“The greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint,
the greats were great ’cause they paint a lot.”


Dance Spotlight: The Scandalous Waltz

March 8, 2014 § Leave a comment

medium_3966577401As with most dances, the exact origin of the waltz is a little murky. There are references to peasant folk dances that seem to be early forms of the waltz as far back as 13th century Germany, but these references are more prevalent in the 1500s.

The waltz was originally viewed as a very scandalous dance since this was the first time dancers were seen holding in a close embrace. A man reaching his hand around a woman’s waist in public was unheard of, but by the late 18th century, the 3/4 time waltz had become more mainstream and was finding its way into the more formal halls, ballrooms, and even the royal ballrooms. Since it was still viewed as an immoral dance, it of course, quickly grew in popularity and made its way over to the United States in the mid 1800s. The dance slowly became more accepted, and by 1900, over three quarters of dance programs were just waltzes. The style of the waltz has changed through the years and has become a more relaxed version in later years. However, once the Foxtrot hit the scene around the time of World War I, the Waltz almost died out completely. It still managed to stay around, though, and popularity began to eventually rise again to carry the dance through today.

Even though it is far from being viewed as a scandalous dance anymore, the waltz is still seen as an elegant and romantic dance. Characterized by a graceful rise and fall, the waltz sweeps around the room with smooth, elegant steps and rotating movements. It is still the highlight of many ballroom competitions in the smooth division. While some moves require you to stay in one spot, the waltz is classified as a traveling dance and generally flows around the floor. Waltz is typically the dance people think of when they hear the term “ballroom dance” and is still very popular at weddings and more formal events. There are variations in style between American and International waltz, as well as variations between regions.

Photo Credit: Double–M via photopin cc

Just a Thought: A Different Perspective

March 2, 2014 § Leave a comment

Our society tends to be very linear these days. There seems to be a regulation or procedure for everything. Social media is overflowing with people constantly arguing about which side is “right” or “wrong.” Why does there always only have to be just one answer? The beauty in this world comes from the differences. Some of the best things in life came about because first, someone had a little originality.

That’s one of the many things I love about the Arts – they often make you look at things from a different perspective.

The motto at Skidmore College is “Creative Thought Matters.” How true in so many ways! Most of the time there isn’t just one way to do things. There isn’t just one clear answer. And, how you come to your own answer really all depends on how you approach it.

There is not a clear-cut category for every little thing (Thank goodness!). Perhaps that is why a group like the Trans-Siberian Orchestra became so huge over the last several years. From the name, it sounds like they’re just your standard orchestra, but have you ever been to one of their shows?  There is nothing “standard” about them! Go to one of their concerts and you’ll see that their audience includes children right up to senior citizens. Not too many groups can pull that one off!

The below video has been making the rounds on social media lately and does the same type of thing. You are set up with an expectation – 2 cellos, old-fashioned attire. But then you are shocked with a rock & roll sound – looking at things from a different perspective. And what a wonderful, magical, awesome outcome!

That’s how we should approach life – look at things from a different perspective. Use creative thought. Keep everyone around you on their toes and your brain fresh. Always look for another way. Don’t fall into “the standard” trap of doing or thinking about everything in the “usual” way. Have an open mind. Step out. Step up. Make your mark in your own personal world. You’d be surprised how much magic can creep into your life!

Just a thought.

National Dance Day

July 24, 2013 § Leave a comment


It’s that time of year again! Every year on the last Saturday in July, the country celebrates National Dance Day. This Saturday, July 27th marks the day of fun this year, with dance events going on around the country. EVERYONE is encouraged to do some sort of movement to celebrate the day – dancer or not. Many communities are hosting several events if you want to get out and dance, but if you’re a little too shy to be dancing in public, the Dizzy Feet Foundation (the originators of the event) have provided a couple of instructional videos for you to practice in your own home. Go to the Dizzy Feet Event Page for more information on these routines as well as the history of National Dance Day.

If you’re going to be in the LA area, or are looking for a reason to be there, you can also buy tickets to the Celebration of Dance Gala hosted by the Dizzy Feet Foundation. This is a great event that will feature some fantastic dance performances from So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing with the Stars, the American Ballet Theater and many others, as well as a black tie supper.  Tickets start at just $34 so the Gala is accessible for everyone that wants to come out and celebrate for National Dance Day!

Here are  two of the official National Dance Day routines that you can learn right at home!



Be sure to check out what your community is doing for this fun day that seems to get bigger and better every year!

Are you hosting an event in your community, or know of some of the events going on?  Post your community’s events in the comments section here and let’s get a list started!

Happy Dance Day!

Suddenly I’m Flying

June 12, 2013 § Leave a comment

flying dancer2

I know I’ve said it before – Dance is magic. Theater is magic.
Blah Blah Blah

But true.

If you’ve never felt that feeling – that electric feeling – then I truly feel sorry for you. It is a feeling like no other that I have ever experienced. Nothing can compare to that natural high, that freedom you feel. Even a chemically induced high is just not the same.

I was lucky enough to see Billy Elliot the Musical this past weekend. There were many wonderful things about that show – I could do a whole post just on that. But I’m not going to go into the impressive transitions, the kids, the story, the symbolism of the choreography, or the general choreography of the whole show (the workings of the show was like a ballet itself!). But I do have to talk about the Swan Lake scene where Billy is dancing with his older self.

What a beautiful moment for live theater! The hair on both my arms stood on end the entire scene. I’m not even sure if I breathed until it was over. There was electricity in the whole room. I could hear and feel the reactions of the audience. I could feel the presence of the actors. But at the same time, everything was blocked out as I was transported into this dream world of Billy as he was able, for just those few minutes, to be free. Everything in his life – literally and figuratively – faded into black and he was just dancing. As he lost himself more and more into the song, his dance literally took off – sending him soaring into the sky – free as the highest bird.

I sat and I watched this thinking – wow, that’s exactly what dance, any dance, feels like – like you’re flying. Like you’re free. Nothing else matters. It’s your release. Your escape. Pure freedom. What a wonderful physical representation of a feeling that is so hard to describe. I remember the first time I was able to let go while dancing and first experienced that feeling of flying.  It was one of the most exhilarating things I’ve experienced and a memory I will never forget. I’ve always believed that dancing is the purest form of communication because you don’t have to talk. And that scene in Billy Elliot was a beautiful example of that.

Thinking that scene was my big moment for the show, I sat back feeling like the entire price of my ticket was worth that one scene alone. Then, later in the show, the “Electricity” song came on. The interviewer asks Billy what it feels like to dance. And through the combined power of music and dance, he explains it once again:

“I can’t really explain it,
I haven’t got the words
It’s a feeling that you can’t control
I suppose it’s like forgetting, losing who you are
And at the same time something makes you whole
It’s like that there’s a music playing in your ear
And I’m listening, and I’m listening, and then I disappear.

And then I feel a change
Like a fire deep inside
Something bursting me wide open, impossible to hide
And suddenly I’m flying, flying like a bird
Like electricity, electricity
Sparks inside of me
And I’m free, I’m free….”

Have you ever had that feeling?
That feeling like you’re suddenly flying? I think that’s a very simple and precise way of describing the Arts. What a wonderful feeling. What a way to round out not only the human experience but of humanity itself!

I can’t imagine this world without the Arts. What a sad, boring, and miserable experience it would be. I am sickened every time I hear of yet another Arts venue or program closing. I hate to think that I may someday live in a world where I might not be able to expose my own daughter to these wonderful things.

If you’ve never experienced the power of the Arts – that electricity – try it. You’ll never forget it.

If you have a chance to support an Arts program or institution, please do. Bring your children. Enroll them in a class or group. It’s important that these programs stay around. It’s critical that we have a world that allows our children to experience the full range of the human existence (and not just the bubble sheet tests they’re subjected to at school – Don’t even get me started there).

Everyone should have a chance to spread their wings and Fly….


Photo Credit: torbakhopper via photopin cc

Diamond Dance Turns Diamond – Again

June 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

Diamond Dance May 2013 29 Private Frank

Photo by Saratoga Savoy

I always say there is magic in dance, in so many different ways. I’ve seen many wonderful things happen through dance. (That is something for another discussion, for sure!) But the other night, I was privileged to witness the sweet and romantic side of dance that provided a perfect memory for one special couple.

Setting: The Diamond Dance at the historic Saratoga Music Hall, hosted by the Saratoga SAVOY Center of Dance. The stars are out. The band is swinging. The floor is crowded with dancers of all ages enjoying a night out on the town. It could have been a scene from 1942, but it was indeed 2013. And one lucky lady got a very special surprise during the band’s break.

The DJ announced a snowball dance (one couple starts and then grabs more dancers at various points in the music), and in honor of Memorial Day asked a serviceman in the crowd to lead it off with his special gal. “Marry Me” starts playing over the speakers as the couple begins to dance. The rest of the crowd circle around them on the dance floor and no one else joins in. About halfway through the song, he drops to one knee and holds out the ring. The crowd cheers, she of course accepts, and they finish the dance.

The first thing every woman has said to me when I’ve told them this story is, “Ohhh, how romantic!” And indeed it was. It was the perfect combination of old-fashioned charm with a modern twist. A sweet moment that turned into a lifetime memory for Private Richard Frank and Sarah Guldner.

This wasn’t the first proposal the Diamond Dance has seen. In fact, it was the third. SAVOY owner, Dave Wolf, said that in addition to the 3 proposals, he also heard on a couple of occasions that the Diamond Dance is where people had a first date with their future spouse. What is it about the Diamond Dance that seems to bring all these couples together? We’ll probably never know, but certainly the combination of fantastic music; historic location; fun, laid-back atmosphere; and of course the magic of dance must have something to do with it. And apparently, the Diamond Dance was very appropriately named!

Congratulations Private Richard Frank and Sarah Guldner!

The Diamond Dance is open to the public and held every third Friday at the Saratoga Music Hall in Saratoga Springs, NY. Click here for more information, or to see other pictures from the engagement and the dance.

The Importance of Looking Up

May 7, 2013 § Leave a comment


Last week the movement arts group New York Live Arts hosted a five-day festival dedicated to the work of one of my favorite writers, Oliver Sacks, a neurologist turned author whose fame stems from his ability to make medical writing digestible for a lay audience.

Sacks writes primarily about neurological cases he comes across in his practice. In his essays, he explains the scientific underpinnings of complicated and rare neurological disorders, but his pieces also read like engaging personal narratives. His patients and their experiences come alive on the page.

As a writer I’ve always wondered how Sacks managed to craft such emotionally and scientifically intricate pieces, and I think I recently came across the answer in a National Public Radio blog post dedicated to Sacks.

NPR Reporter Alva Noe writes: “A comment I heard more than once at a recent [New York Live Arts] event in New York to celebrate the life of Oliver Sacks, who turns 80 this year, is that it isn’t Sacks’ patients who are particularly interesting; it is the interest Sacks brings to them that makes them special. He has good eyes.”

He has good eyes. That comment really struck a chord with me. Not just because it shed light upon a question I’d had about Sacks, but because it speaks to something I think every writer has asked themselves at least once: am I paying enough attention?

Whether the focus is your emotions, the world around you or the world of others, writing requires attention to detail. In order to reconstruct our experiences into essays and stories that ring true to others, we have to be able to set scenes, emotional or physical, that are saturated with observations which help our readers feel as if they’re experiencing our worlds themselves.

For me, it sometimes feels like my world is no longer saturated with the kind of details my favorite authors capture in their works. But the problem is not that those details don’t exist—city streets are still as lively as Virginia Woolf described, and people are still as beautifully complicated and fickle as Hemingway depicted them—the problem is that I’ve stopped noticing, and I don’t think I’m alone.

How often have you participated in a conversation where it seems like you’re just one-upping a friend on the exhaustions scale?

“I haven’t slept in three days I’m so busy.”

 “I’m so busy I can’t even remember the last time I ate!”

It seems like as a society we’ve come to a decision: busy is better. And busy means not having the time to stop and take in the little details that make life beautiful and exciting.

I don’t know when we decided that busy was the new desirable status quo but it seems like everyone has signed on, and if you’re not busy you’re somehow missing out.

After all, technology makes it so easy to stay busy. Ten minutes between doctors’ appointments? Respond to that e-mail you neglected this morning. An hour-long bus ride to visit family for the holidays? You can make a whole PowerPoint presentation from your iPad. There’s no longer any reason to not be busy.

But there’s also no longer any reason to look up from our smartphones and tablets, to look around at the world and realize there are things beyond our isolated, technology-centric worlds worth devoting our time and attention to.

Sacks was lucky in that he was able to use his work as inspiration for his art, but if he’d spent his diagnostic time looking down at e-mails from his patients instead of looking up and seeing them face-to-face, as unique parts of a bigger world with a greater purpose, I don’t think we’d have the same amazing accounts of his experiences.

To replicate experiences in a tangible way, we have to be present for those experiences. Fully present and mentally alert.

If we stop paying attention, if we stop looking up, if we no longer have “good eyes,” will we deprive ourselves of a whole new generation of literary wonders like Sacks?

We might. But we might lose even more. Philosopher John Campbell once wrote, “People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive.”

If we stop looking up we can lose those essential, random, unplanned experiences of being alive—the very experiences that allow great writers like Sacks to captivate us, that allow us to gain something more from our day-to-day than just checking things off a to-do list, that make us essentially human.

Let’s start looking up again. Let’s have good eyes.

-Jean-Ann Kubler

Photo Credit: code poet via photopin cc

Just a Thought: Journaling in the Digital Age

April 23, 2013 § 2 Comments

ImageRecently I’ve been thinking a lot about journaling. A few weeks ago I was at my parents’ apartment trying to help with the yearly spring cleaning, but instead of finally throwing away the clothes I never wear, I became distracted by a box full of books from my childhood. Tucked between a worn copy of The Outsiders and a Judy Blume novel I can’t remember reading, I found the first journal I ever kept.

I’ve made a lot of attempts at keeping journals, some more successful than others. But none of my more recent attempts compare to the tenacity with which I kept my first journal. Thumbing through the spiral bound pages of the colorful notebook, I was shocked to realize that I wrote nearly every day. I was just eight years old when I started this journal; how could I have filled so many pages?

It turns out, I wrote about everything. My days at school. My feelings toward friends. My frustration with my older brothers. My fear that the coolest kids in the class didn’t know my name. The thing that struck me the most was how unconcerned the younger version of myself seemed with what I was writing. I was just venting, fearlessly, confidently, without an ounce of hesitation.

I was so blown away by how much I had to write, and how willing I was to write it, that I had to stop and reassess for a moment: What changed between that journal and my more recent attempts?

I haven’t touched my most recent journal since January 2012, and I’m convinced that my negligence is partially due to being “on” all the time. I can’t remember the last time I had enough down time to do something just for myself without feeling guilty about it, without feeling like I’m neglecting work or forgetting to respond to e-mail. It sometimes seems like everyone is moving so fast and doing so much that if you do have time to just focus on yourself, you’re probably doing something wrong.

When I sit down to journal now, I often find myself thinking: Do I really have the time to just write about my feelings for a while? Is this more important than my to-do list?

I suspect I’m not alone in my hesitancy.

But if you consider mental and physical well-being important, journaling shouldn’t feel like an extravagant indulgence. Research has proven that taking the time to process your thoughts — to reflect on interpersonal conflicts, or even just to write down a quick account of your day—has tangible psychological benefits, as explained in a superb article from PsychCentral:

“The act of writing accesses your left brain, which is analytical and rational. While your left brain is occupied, your right brain is free to create, intuit and feel. In sum, writing removes mental blocks and allows you to use all of your brainpower to better understand yourself, others and the world around you.”

Additionally, researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have found that journaling can protect your physical health as well—regular journaling strengthens your immune cells and decreases the impact of stress on your physical health by helping you come to terms with and manage the stressors in your life.

So maybe we shouldn’t feel guilty about journaling. But for many, I’m sure the concept of writing in a journal is daunting for other reasons.

One of my oft-cited reasons for not writing in my journal is that I simply don’t know what to write. What’s important enough to put on paper? To save and go back to later? But the fact of the matter is that you can write about anything, as long as you’re writing without barriers.

Researchers say that writing for 20 minutes daily is the ideal if you’re writing with health benefits in mind, but offer few other directives other than to just let your guard down. Don’t worry about what’s important or how you might feel about your entry two years from now. Just write. If it helps you get started, pick a topic to write about (relationships, your work, the books you’re reading) each day, week or month. Whatever you can maintain.

Just. Write.

I’ve decided to challenge myself to write in a journal at least five days per week for the next six weeks to see if I can get back into the habit. I’m going to force myself to make time to just be with my thoughts, to “turn off” for a while in order to turn inward and gain a better sense of myself.

And to keep myself on track, I’ve decided to try doing this in a new medium. A friend recently brought to my attention the existence of journaling apps—programs that you can install on your laptop and smart phone that will not only allow you to securely journal from anywhere, but that also allow you to set up reminders. The apps will actually e-mail or text you reminding you to write.

And while I recognize the irony in “turning off” through a journaling application on my smartphone, the primary source of my constant need to be on in the first place, I think it will be an interesting experiment: Is it possible to translate something as timeless as the paper journal into the digital world? I’m going to try to find out.

But no matter what your chosen medium is, I think we should all try to journal. Not just for ourselves, but for each other. Because I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather live in a world where we all take a few moments a day to step back and reassess.

Just a thought.

-Jean-Ann Kubler

Photo Credit: Sueanna

How Do the Performing Arts Serve the Larger Community?

March 26, 2013 § Leave a comment

A while back I posted on here about an interview I participated in for a student’s senior project. I happened upon this again recently and thought I would continue to post a couple of the questions since they are still very relevant today.

2. How do you think dance/teaching/performance/the Performing Arts in general serves the larger community?

I thought this was a great question.  It may seem like an insignificant reason, but I think first and foremost, it gives people a reason to smile. Things are tough all around these days, and in a harried, hurried world, having those couple of hours to allow yourself to forget about life for a while, and lose yourself in something else entirely is priceless these days. The performing arts allow people to have a different life experience and/or to learn something new. It helps keep kids off the street and provides a constructive activity for them to learn and grow. It allows a safe outlet for expression, repression, emotion. The arts force us to look at our lives and experience the world in a different way. They allow our children to grow. They give us a voice when very often we may otherwise feel powerless. The arts allow us to share an experience with other human beings.

Performing Arts can tap into our inner souls and remind us that we are alive and we do have a say in our own lives. Sitting in that audience, we remember that it is ok to cry, laugh, boo, cheer, and live.

The Performing Arts give us a reason to smile.

Interview Question 1 – Advice for Entering the Arts

Deep Breath – The convergence of the 3 worlds of the theater

Live and In Living Color – Removing the touch screen and experiencing live theater

Other Performing Arts related posts on SP

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