Monday, June 21, 2010

Rummage Sale for Macy's

We will be having a fundraiser to help Vista Grande Dance fundraise for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. The Rummage Sale will take place at Vista Grande High School at 1556 N. Arizola Rd. on June 26th from 8am to 2pm. We will be accepting donations at 6am. We are also seeking donations of water, soda, and baked goods to sell at the rummage sale.

If you would like to make a donation please leave a comment on the blog and I'll get back to you.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Trying to get to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Its no secret the Vista Grande dance has been invited to send students to participate in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. The Casa Grande Dispatch did a wonderful feature on us a couple of weeks ago and we have been fundraising like crazy. Our most recent fundraiser was a carwas last weekend!

We are also planning a fundraiser through Partylite, a rummage sale, and batting around a few other ideas. We've done frybread fundraisers, a zumbathon, a fundraiser through Casa Grande Candle Company and soliciting sponsorships.

Special thanks to the following community sponsors for their support!
Cottonwood Medical Center
Walton Orthodontics
Ace Vending
Core Construction

Sponsors will receive a T-shirt, and tickets to a fall or spring dance show! If you're interested in sponsoring or if you have a great fundraising idea feel free to comment!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Fine Arts Updates

Taking the Show on the Road!

Vista Grande's first play, "Alice in Wonderland" was a smashing success, so successful in fact, it's been on tour! The day of opening night, members of the cast took a few select scenes to CAC's Academic Honor's Symposium. The symposium opened with the Alice performance followed by members of Vista Grande Dance. It was the first time Fine Arts has been included in the Academic Honor's Symposium.

On Saturday, April 17th the cast of Alice in Wonderland returned to CAC on the invitation of CAC's theater department to perform the third act of the show. Students participated in several workshops that included visual and sound effects for stage, stage makeup and improvisation techniques taught by members of the local Improv troupe, "Exit 185". The visual and sound effects workshop taught students techniques on how to create effects such as snow, rain, thunder, and lightning. At the end of the workshop students enjoyed a treat of edible sugar glass and stage blood made of corn syrup. The showcase gave staff and students the opportunity to network and meet other theater students and staff in the local area as well as learn a bit about education at the college level.

The last stop on the tour is April 26th when the group will perform the complete show at Mesquite Elementary by invitation. Performing at the elementary schools isn't the only outreach that Vista Grande Theater students are doing. Members of the Vista Grande Thespian Society have been volunteering their time to mentor young actors in at Casa Grande Middle School. Volunteers have been serving as junior acting coaches, assisting in costumes and working as technicians and assisting the director in anyway possible.

The Thespian Honor Society is also in the process of planning their first annual induction banquet scheduled for May 12 at 7pm in the auditorium. This first banquet will honor Thespians that were inducted at the beginning of the school year and inducting new members into the honor society. Members are inducted based on points earned from areas such as backstage work, performances and volunteer work in the community.

I Love New York!

Vista Grande Dance has been honored to select dancers to attend the 84th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. Students need to raise nearly $3000 per participant. While in New York they will have the opportunity to take master classes from professional choreographers, see a Broadway show, see the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall as well as participate in the Nationally televised parade as part of a national group of dancers. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity! Currently Dance is sponsoring a fundraiser through the local Casa Grande Candle Company followed by a Zumbathon on Friday, May 7th at 6:30 pm.

Zumba is a fun, high energy workout based on latin dance. The Zumbathon will be instructed by two certified instructors from Phoenix. Admission is $10 for the two hour class. All proceeds will go toward sending VG Dancers to New York. The Zumbathon will also host vendors such as candle distributors, clothing sales, a bake sale, and a variety of other vendors. We are currently looking for other vendors interested in setting up a booth during the Zumbathon. If interested, contact Cori Lee at 876-9400 ext. 4235 or email In addition to the candle and zumbathon fundraisers, staff and students will be offering sponsorship packages that will be sent out to friends family and local businesses. Any and all sponsorships at welcome and can be used as educational tax credit!

Vista Grande Spring Dance Concert will be on Saturday, May 1st at 7 pm. Admission will be $5 at the door and proceeds will benefit the dance department. Concessions and flowers will also be available to purchase at the concert, proceeds from those sales will benefit the dancers attending Macy's. The spring concert will feature student choreography and host as our special guests, Desert Stage Dance Company from Arizona City. This is a great opportunity for dance to work with the community by hosting Desert Stage Dance. High School dancers will mentor young dancers while giving them the opportunity to perform on a stage with full theatrical effects. This is an opportunity the small dance group would not have otherwise. It is anticipated that this will be a positive experience and will open the door for more participation from the community to work with Vista Grande Students.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland opened tonight. Yesterday they performed for 500 elementary and middle school students for their final dress rehearsal. Our district was also in the process of selecting a new superintendent so they were also touring the school while this was going on. Everything has gone very smoothly for yesterday and tonight's shows. I'm really proud of the kids!

There are still two shows Saturday March 27th at 2 pm and 7 pm. Tickets are $5.

Today the kids from dance and drama participated in the Central Arizona College Academic Symposium. We were the only group from Vista Grande to participate and the only group that brought dance and drama performances. The dances were the two best from Community Choreographer's Showcase and we brought the tea party scene from Alice in Wonderland. They represented the school very well!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Giving New Meaning to the Phrase "Break a Leg!"

My job as the theater teacher requires me to produce shows. The current show is "Alice in Wonderland" We had a fabulous review in today's paper (Wed. March 24) at

What you don't see are the stories about what goes on behind the scenes in the production. Every production has its stories, but this one is a doozey!

The show opens this Friday at Vista Grande High School. We've been in dress rehearsal all week. One of my student's who is the "knave" in the play,( I totally type cast this role!) decided to jump down the two story flight of stairs from the control booth to the auditorium. He did it three times successfully and the fourth, well wasn't so successful. One of my technicians came runing to find me backstage as I was helping with costumes and answering questions. Apparently, the kid couldn't move. I went to assess the situation and sent the tech to find the athletic trainer. When the trainer arrived he brought crutches, just in case. Both the kid's ankles were already very swollen, and we couldn't get him up. We called the paramedics and got a hold of his family. The paramedics arrived just as the local newspaper did to cover the play. That couldn't have looked good!

The paramedics wanted to splint both legs but needed to get his costume off. They asked me if they could cut it off him and said that I "could replace it, right?" At this point I'm absolutely mad that this kid was such an idiot four days before opening night and now they want to cut the costume that is two days old and I have no chance of replacing in such a short time. My answer was "Oh HECK NO! Haven't you guys been watching the news about budget cuts to education, there is no way I can replace it! Especially not four days before a show!" The paramedics sheepishly said "okay" and then very gingerly took the costume off the kid and handed it to me. I would have been okay if they had hurt him more because he brought it on himself.

So the report was after they got out of the hospital, two severely sprained ankles, one heel was completely shattered and the other mildly fractured. Broken is broken if you ask me, mild or not! Its considered bad luck to say "good luck" but we can't say break a leg anymore either, because one of the cast already has.

As for the cast member...well, you might want to come see for yourself! Show times are Friday March 26th at 7pm and Saturday March 27th at 2pm and 7pm at Vista Grande High School, 1556 N. Arizola Rd, Casa Grande AZ, 85222. Tickets are $5. Its very family friendly!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Real Behind the Scenes Look at Choreographer's Showcase

I want to say thank you to all the audience members and performers that attended the showcase. Despite its technical difficulties, it was a beautiful show! Thank you to the performers and crew for all their hard work and dedication. I hope to see this little show grow into something really spectacular in the future.

I did mention technical difficulties, which there were more than many would ever know. This isn't to ruin the magic of performance, but rather to enhance your understanding of what a person or people go through to make a show happen. From my end, this is one of the worst shows I've ever done and you'll see why if you continue reading.

Last week during auditions we noticed our sound board and light board in the auditorium not working the way it had been for the previous show. Sound wasn't working at all and the light board was malfunctioning where we didn't have complete control of the stage lights or the house lights. We spent the week trouble shooting in drama class, or at least I did, and then during all my plan time during this week to have everything running correctly before the show. Thursday, after a near death experience, I did finally get the sound working correctly. The problem, somebody had disconnected the CD player and reconnected it into a channel that wasn't compatible. The near death experience included me climbing on the ledge of the booth that is two stories above the auditorium to find the correct connections. When my foot slipped and I may have slightly dangled from that position for a few seconds, long enough to panic and realize that if I actually fell, there would be nobody to hear me scream and who knows how long it would be before I was found.

Now with the sound fixed, it was time to trouble shoot the light board. I took the manual home and read it cover to cover again, but couldn't find any answers. So I decided to start with some basic re-programming. It accomplished what I wanted it to with the exception that now I had no stage lights no matter what I did. This was 10:30 Friday morning, my show was at 7pm that evening. I think to myself "I've got time, no need to panic". So I called Tech support on my lighting board, on my cell phone where the signal is poor and my battery burns up in process. I get far enough to learn that because my board is a computer, there have been three critical updates in the last six months that I didn't know I needed, but the board could still operate just fine without them. After dragging two of my classes into the auditorium and giving them "busy" work, I met a friend for lunch who happened to know a thing or two about light boards. We found out that those things didn't apply to my light board. I was back to square one. It was now 1:30 and I had made no progress. I decide to go the route for the update from the website. That should be easy enough right? Wrong!!!!

The website is blocked by the school's filters, I can use my quota time in 5 minute or less increments, but this is a 10-15 minute download that can't be interrupted. So I email and call IT, but it is now after 2pm on Friday afternoon. No answer! Now I'm starting to panic a little.

My Academic Resource kids are sitting in the drama room because we have been yet again moved from the classroom we were assigned. This time, it was because my kids vandalized the keyboards in the computer lab we were in. Between my being upset about that and entering the early phases of panic mode, the few students who ventured to talk to me had their heads ripped off.

2:30 pm I still can't get a hold of IT to unblock the website and neither can I get a hold of the light board tech support from the land line in my office. I am making desperate calls to other colleagues in the district and contacts that I have to see if they have any ideas. I am completely desperate at this point and in full panic mode. I begin to look at my options, I am just over 4 hours away from the show and I have no stage lights. I make a call to the front office and get the principal's secretary and explain my plight. She is instantly as upset as I am and begins making calls to IT as well.

Come to find out that most of IT had exceeded their hours and were already off the clock. I was out of luck it appeared. I begin to really look at cancelling the show or carrying on with alternative lighting options, two followspots and the flourescents overhead, yuck! The office makes a frantic call to district office that has to approve a technician working over time. It is now 3:15, school is out.

The tech arrives at 3:42. The clock is ticking and it appears that to make the decision to cancel the show is out of the question. First order of business, install a makeshift landline in the booth so we can contact tech support. That should only take 5-10 minutes. Now we all know what should happen, and what actually happens are going to be two separate things nowhere near being related. This took nearly an hour to get a phone that worked and configured correctly because we were using an internet line. Once that is accomplished, tech support is contacted and the filter is finally disabled so we can download and install the updates the board is lacking. With all the formualted theories that I had picked up about this light board, I was praying that the update would clear the problem. It is nearly 5 pm and my tech kids are arriving, we install the updates and reboot the board. Miraculously, everything comes up in perfect working order. This left me an hour to refocus and gel lights for the show, no time for programming any sophisticated cues for this show. But that was fine as long as the lights were on.

6:45-We don't have quite the turn out we expected, including two acts that were MIA for dress rehearsal. One I attempted to contact had all their numbers and email disconnected. But we have lights, sound and 9 other acts ready to go. Because my sound technician didn't show, and the other students I have aren't trained on the sound board, so that left me to run sound, MC the show and call the few cues there were. I had planned on this happening so during all my hurry up and wait with the light board, I had rewound the cassettes that were being used, (yes cassettes), checked my cues, put CD's in order, ran a couple of sound checks, so when the show occurred, I was prepared. My plan had worked about halfway through when I needed to set a track in the middle of the music. My time signatures on the player matched what I had written down, but when the music started it wasn't in the right place. I tried again, laughter from the audience, I made three more attempts before I realized the time counter was in a different format than what it was in rehearsal the night before. After nearly five minutes of the audience sitting in the dark and 6 attempts, I finally had the cue correct. (This is why I asked for them to have their music cut and ready ahead of time to prevent something like this). The next disaster hits with the second to last piece when I hit play on the cassette recorder and it doesn't work.

We don't have a cassette player in the booth, and the one I brought from home didn't work. We were using a cassette walkman on batteries. You're thinking the batteries are dead right? That actually wasn't the case, in my effort to be prepared, I rewound the wrong side of the tape earlier that afternoon. We sat for 8 1/2 minutes while I waited for the cassette to rewind the correct side and then I prayed the batteries didn't give out. Thank heaven for small favors because, they did make it through even after all the extra rewinding. The performers themselves did a fabulous job. It was an enjoyable show overall. I did some profuse apologizing to the acts and the audience about the show. But at the same time, this is the nature of live theater, you never know what is going to happen.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Choreographer's Showcase

Community Choreographer's Showcase is Friday Feb. 5 at 7pm. Tickets are $5 and will benefit the Vista Grande Dance Dept. The venue is Vista Grande High School Auditorium at 1556 N. Arizola Rd. Casa Grande.

The show will be about an hour long and will be featuring student choreography as well as choreography from members of the local community. We have belly dancers, Salsa Dancers, Lyrical/Ballet, Jazz and Hip Hop. Its a very family friendly show.

Hope to see you there!!