Friday, December 05, 2008

The Final, Long Update, and Life-Changing News!

Ok, my mind is so scattered right now that these last few months I need to update might be completely non-sensical, but you'll understand why when you read the "BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!"

(Oh, and pictures of most of all the events told in my blog can be found in my pictures on my MySpace!)

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June.... Well, with some May in there... - (The Month (s) of Transitions...)

I can't finish May off without another BIG announcement, although most everyone knows about this one by now...

A few days before my birthday, I got a phone call from Disney giving me one of their Million Dreams that we gave away this year... although I don't know that they saw it that way. I'm pretty sure they just saw it as another job offer. I was offered my dream job, a job I have wanted so badly, an amazing, beautiful role that just amazing- I was offered a Bird role at Festival of the Lion King.

It was literally my dream come true.

Sadly, I had to leave my family, my Castle family, who had been with me through so much. It made me sooo sad to leave, but I knew I had to take this opportunity. (words that would all too soon come up again... in a completely different context...) I cried and cried, both happy and sad, for the transition would take me away from everything and everyone I knew and loved, but it was something that would challenge me artistically and technically, and also be so fulfilling and an amazing experience. Which, over the next 6 months, it has proven to be, and so much more. I am so happy at the stage, and while I miss my Castle show and family so much even today, I am so grateful for the time I've had at FoLK. The casts are all amazing, my partners are a joy to work with, and it's been such a privilege to be cast here for the last 6 months. I'm happier than I ever imagined I could be!

Before I left, Sonya asked me out to have dinner at PF Changs, and when I arrived I thought it was a little strange to see my friend Cara Carper at a table before I saw Sonya.... so I went over to say "Hi! What are YOU doing here?" when I realized with here were more of my favorite people- Bryan Manley, Erek Galloway, Eric Yow, and Shannon Bates. Oh, and Sonya, of course! It was a surprise Birthday/Going Away party for me! I was absolutely floored!!! It was SO much fun!!

So, June 15th was my last day at the Castle, and it was absolutely perfect. I was thankful when it rained my last three shows- because the last show before lunch I was starting to get emotional, so the last show I would have been a wreck! The cast even soaked me in water, a tradition for anyone leaving that we used to to religiously to people who moved on from our cast! It was SO awesome!!

June was mostly consumed with Bird rehearsals with three amazing new boy Birdies, JD, Kai and Dante. JD was to be the new full-time birdie and Kai and Dante were going to be subs, but JD got a call soon after rehearsals ended to go join the cast of Dirty Dancing in Toronto, so when he left, Dante became our newest full time Bird! Rehearsals with Patrick and Christina, our dance captains, was so much fun, as usual! And finally opening full time was truly my dream come true! I even got to partner with Patrick the most during the week, which was truly a privilege!

At the end of the month, I shot another wedding with my sister, a beautiful affair in Chicago, and then, suddenly, it was JULY!!!

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July- (The Month of Jumping out of Perfectly Good Airplanes!)

Well, with a title like that.... I bet you can guess what my brother Danny and I did on the 4th? Yep! SKYDIVING!!!!!! Weeee! It was SO much fun! We went to Space Coast Skydive and jumped. I had an instructor named CHIP STEELE! (No joke- I can't make something that good up!) And it was his 17 Year Anniversary of skydiving that day! He informed me that he was going to go out and drink AFTER our dive! (I was really glad he said AFTER and not BEFORE!!! haha!) It was amazing a beautiful! I could see clear to the coast, even to the Kennedy Space Center was visible! I'd recommend it to anyone! (Well, anyone that doesn't have a fear of heights!

I also got to do a super-fun special event at Disney for Tara, our awesome show director at Lion King. We were flappers for a party for this millionaire family- no joke. These people have so much money they literally RENT OUT the parks! Well, this family wanted to have a Fourth of July Party, so Tara, in her typical Tara way, planned this AMAZING three day party with Red, White and Blue theme. The night I performed was the White night, and we were flapper dancers in "Club Cool," a completely white tent outfitted as a kind of casino and speak-easy! (Disney-style, of course! hehe) After we performed, though, they shot off $100,000 worth of fireworks, officially the MOST EVER SPENT on fireworks at one time on Disney property! I was, literally, the most AMAZING display I've EVER seen. I really don't ever need to see fireworks again, I felt like I had seen it ALL in that show!!!

July was also the month when we started rehearsals for the dance company I joined, Yow Dance! My friend, Eric Yow, started this amazing little dance company and I got to be part of the first performance, which took place in October. It was a great time, and his choreography was always SO much fun to perform!

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August (The Month of Weddings!)

The first thing that happened in August was a big enough to deserve it's own detailed blog on it's own, so someday I'll get around to that someday, but for now.... The first thing that happened was that Levi's little sister, Mallory, got married!!! And I got to shoot the wedding!! It was such a fun week with Levi's family in Maine and Boston, and SO much fun and funny things happened that I really am going to have to write a whole different blog for it! But I had a great time, his family is SO great and I met so many people I've heard so many stories about from Levi- it was like meeting celebrities in a way! It was beautiful and wonderful, though, and a great way to start the month.

The week I got back from this wedding, though, I worked for one day and then had to fly to Chicago to shoot another wedding with my sister! Like I said, it was the month of weddings! This wedding was a gorgeous wedding on a yacht, overlooking the beautiful city of Chicago as fireworks burst overhead- it was really magical for everyone, especially for the bride and groom, as I can imagine. (Some of those pictures can be found on my website!)

At the end of the month is my mom's birthday, and my sister, being so sweet and creative, thought of the funniest thing we could do for her- give her a "roast!" It's kind of like the Friar's Club roast, where Dean Martin used to kind of jab fun at his friends. Well, we put together a musical roast for my mom! Dancing and singing included! It was hilarious to see my non-dancing brothers and dad singing, doing choreography, and kicking in a kick line!!!

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September (The month of Beginnings and Endings...)

At the beginning of the month we got news from Levi's agent that his band had received a sort of record deal and that they needed to move to New York City by the end of the year! It was quite a shock, but great news, so we prepared all month for Levi to move up in the middle of October and for me to move back in with my parents. (Woo! No more rent!)

I also began to teach at my friend's Amanda and Api's studio, In Motion Dance Project. I had the 5 and 6 year olds, who were so sweet and cute.... but terrifying! I had subbed quite a bit over the years, but never had my own class to myself! They were typical 5 and 6 year olds- full of energy, overflowing with noise, and running around like puppies! It took the first few weeks for me to get my bearings and to get a hold of the class, but once I did, they were so sweet and wonderful! I choreographed the cutest little Holiday Show dance for them to Sleigh Ride (in ballet) and Frosty the Snow Man (in jazz) that they loved. Whenever class started they would ask "Miss Selena, can we do the dance?"

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October (The "Scary" Month!)

Before Levi moved away, we decided to take one last little mini-vacation to Tampa. It was soooo nice, and exactly what we needed before he made the big move to NYC. The first night we stayed in St. Pete Beach, playing paddleball on the beach (I won! And the winning hit bounced off his tummy and fell on the ground- it left a welt! It was hilarious!!!), swimming in the ocean, and watching the sunset over dinner. It was beautiful! We went to Lowery's Zoo Boo that night, which was really cute, but really for kids. (Although I was a little scared in the haunted houses!)
The next day we went into Tampa and visited the Dali museum (amazing!) and the MOSI Science Museum (I'm a nerd, I know...). That night we stayed in the stunning Belleview Biltmore Hotel. If you ever have a chance to stay there, you absolutely MUST! It's over 100 years old, all antique and beautiful, and it's the world's largest enclosed wooden structure! (It's massive!) There was a luxurious dining room where we ate our awesome buffets, and two pools (one indoors in the spa, with a stained glass ceiling!) and a little ice cream parlor inside the hotel! We even got to stay in a haunted room! (1301!) The one that Robert the Doll, a famous haunted doll from Key West, stayed in- the only time he's ever left the Keys! The room didn't feel too haunted, although our air conditioner was acting decidedly strange (when I asked Levi to turn it off, he replied that he already HAD turned it off... yet it was still blowing. Yikes!) I was so freaked out it that it took me close to an HOUR to get up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night! haha! It was such an amazing and perfect weekend- we couldn't have asked for more!

Levi flew to New York on the 12th, and I cried so much that day that during shows with Ivan later, my contacts were foggy from salt! Pathetic... hehe. But I didn't have much time to grieve, the next week was our Yow Dance Premier, which went SO well! It was so nice to do some beautiful contemporary work, something so different from what we do every day at Disney. His choreography was so great and felt great to do! We also had a fundraiser Gala at my parents house earlier that month that was really fun too. And my photography of the company was in the Orlando Sentinel twice! Once for the Gala and once for the actual show! We had SO many friends come out to support us, which I am so thankful for. It meant SO much to me to see all the people I loved come out and support us!

Halloween was super fun, as usual. I worked Halloween Horror Nights again, which is always a blast! It's weird how addictive and fun jumping out and scaring people can be! I went trick or treating with my niece and nephew the night of Halloween (She was a rapper-gangster, complete with gold chains and backwards hat, and he was Darth Maul from Star Wars, complete with red face paint and light saber!) I was supposed to go to 6, count them SIX Halloween parties for people at work throughout the week, but I only made it to 3. (Two of them I was Juno from the movie, although some people thought I was just really pregnant... and the big Monkey party I was the fire-flower from the classic Mario games!)

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November (The month I didn't think I'd have a lot to report on...)

November would have been a quiet month, had my BIG ANNOUNCEMENT that is coming up not began in November! My dad and I made a trip to Savannah, Georgia for a conference for him where his students won an award for the computer animation he showed! Savannah was beautiful and fun, and it's always nice to spend time with my Daddy! We had a blast.

To be honest, not much else happened this month... I went putt putt with my niece and nephew, which was always fun, I did another super-fun special event with Tara, my show director, and some really awesome people from my Castle family, I auditioned for Lion King on Broadway and made it to the end of the audition, where my voice cracked as I sang, so I didn't expect a call, and I saw Garrison Keiller speak with my Dad at the Bob Carr theater. (He was hilarious, of course) That was really special. We grew up listening to a Prairie Home Companion for so long, and to see him speak, with the person who introduced me to him was really great.

I accidently got a new job in November too. (I seem to

Levi came home for Thanksgiving, which was really great. My family had flown to Houston to be with my aunt and her family, and I stayed behind to work at Capone's, because you're required to work on holiday a year, and I figured that since they would be gone anyway, it would be a good time to work! But seeing Levi, even if it was only for a day and a half, was the highlight of my holiday!

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December (The Month of Surprises!)

And now, this brings us to this week... and the BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!!!!!!

Well.... How do I even do this? I'm having a hard enough time figuring out how to tell people on the phone, telling people over the internet is so much harder!

Ok, so this week started out totally normal.. Went to work, tried out a new place to volunteer and picked seeds for the Nature Conservancy, turned in my application to take some post-baccalaureate classes at UCF in January... and then got a phone call Wednesday afternoon.

Well... remember that little audition I went to in November? Well... I had been getting phone calls from Levi from New York ever since he got up there, and the first couple of times it made my heart jump, thinking it might be this casting agent. Well, this time, it was another New York number, so I thought it was Levi.

It wasn't.

"Hi, can I please speak to Selena?"

"This is she?"

"Hi, this is Mark Brandon from Bender Casting... we met in November at the audition?"

*My body goes completely numb*

"Oh... y-yes! Hi! How are you?" I bumble...

"Good, thank you. Look, I'm just calling see if... s ( ^sd& %$...

*this is where my ears stopped working. I already knew what was happening..*

...sdD* touring company div%$f*^ Lion King National Tour. Are you interested?"

*By now I've regained some control of my body and have stumbled downstairs and run to my Mom, hugging and shaking as she says "Well, I hope this is something good...."*

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So, my BIG ANNOUNCEMENT is... that after lots and LOTS of tears and thought, I will be joining the national tour of the Lion King on January 6th, with my debut on February 3rd as a Gazelle in Tempe, Arizona!
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The last two days has been such a blur. I had to drive to work literally 15 minutes after Mark called and do shows!!! I was a wreck the first show trying to keep it in, so finally I told my partner, Dante. It felt better to let such a secret out, you know? I also told Deidre, a singer at our stage who has done the show before and is going to join the cast again in Las Vegas! A few other people in my dressing room had to be told, otherwise they would just think I was crazy- tearing up and crying for no reason! Eventually, everyone has found out, whether I've called them or by rumors. But I wanted to write this an let everyone know officially. And please forgive me for not calling all of you personally- I'm trying to call everyone I can, but this is so much faster!

I called Darla, Disney's casting agent, earlier today to officially 'quit,' in a way, one of the harder things I've had to do. I cried, naturally. Telling Patrick, my dance captain and partner was the hardest call to make for sure. He's quickly become one of my closest friends, and the thought of not partnering him for much longer makes me cry a little every time.

It honestly has been a heart-breaking decision for me. Getting Bird at Festival of the Lion King was literally my dream come true- I LOVE the role, I LOVE the people I work with, I love everything about it. I was only here for 6 months, and it has truly been 6 of the most amazing months of my life. Leaving Disney, all the people I adore, and my family, for an indefinite amount of time will be the hardest thing I think I've ever had to do in my life. But hearing people's reactions, how happy this is making people I love, knowing that this is the time to do these things, with no husband and kids to worry about (beyond my kitty and bunny! So sad to leave them too!), knowing that I got out of a lease JUST before all this happened, knowing all this just leads me to believe that God kind of made this all possible, and is making it possible, if not easy, to leave.

I have learned so much and grown so much from my time here at Disney, and it will always have the biggest place in my heart. Everyone here will. And I hope that I will see all of you, somewhere out there on the road.

Right now I'm scared, I'm overwhelmed, I'm sad and happy. The last few nights I've been so preoccupied I couldn't work on the hundreds of little projects I usually work on at night (Not having a TV does this to people... hehe) I also had to start doing my Magic Show that I was rehearsing for in November for the first time last night. I'm SO surprised I got though the show- I'm so distracted! I even got offered another job that night- as a rider at Arabian Nights, another job I've wanted for years. I had to turn it down, of course, something I never thought I would have to do! (Everyone who knows me knows I have a billion jobs... when in actuality if I had taken that job it ONLY would have been Job 8....)

There's so much to do- so much going on. I feel like it's so loud in my head all the time, ever since I got the call. I feel like I'm vibrating and I can't stop even to collect my thoughts or catch my breath. Hearing my friends and family freak out has been so cute. Today two of my very best friends texted me and asked when my opening day was... hopefully they'll make it. Hopefully you all will make it to see me! I will be posting my tour schedule on this blog!

SO, I know this was RIDICULOUSLY long, but I'm glad you stuck though it. And I'm glad I wrote it. I feel like a little of the crazyness has been lifted from me, and I feel a lot better having let everyone know the "official" truth.

I hope I get to see you all soon- either before I leave or somewhere out there on the road!


At 11:19 AM, Blogger KEB said...

OMG CONGRATULATIONS!!! That is so exciting! My friend John did that tour last year and had SO much fun. I know you'll do great!

At 2:34 PM, Blogger ML said...

Congratulations Selena! Levi told his dad about it on the phone, but it's really fun to read all the details--I hope you have a wonderful time!

At 6:04 AM, Blogger Maine Mom said...



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