Tuesday, January 27, 2015


I took a short walk through Central Park this evening. I went when it was dark but the place was full of dog walkers, kids sledging, joggers, all manner of frolickers.
In the dark CP is a wonderful magical place, even more so with a full coating of snow. There are lamps lining the pathways that are the old-fashioned black iron kind - very much like the kind that Lucy found when she stumbled through the back of the wardrobe.  Hence the title of this post.
It's also worth mentioning that it's approximately (I'd have to check for exact dates) FIVE YEARS since my first time ever seeing Central Park. Five years! Which means I've been in a five-year relationship with NYC.  Nowadays it feels like there has never been a time that I didn't know and love this place but while I was in the park realising the five year thing, it also struck me that
Just a little over five years ago, New York City, Central Park, Empire State Building, Fifth Avenue, 42nd St, yellow taxi, subway, Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge...just over five years ago all these things were only words, things that existed only in songs, films, TV shows, things I'd dreamt about and imagined myself seeing but never really considering them as, y'know, actual things.
Then they suddenly all became completely real and visible and tangible.
Five years ago actual dreams became realities, is essentially what happened.
No big deal.
This place definitely has some stuff in common with Narnia.

There's an app for that

There's a blogger app! I just wanted to try it out. Ok post over! PS the blizzard was barely a thing, big surprise.

Monday, January 26, 2015

'Sno matter

This is what things looked like earlier today:

 I made a rush to Trader Joe's, there was a big old line.

View from the 125th Street above ground subway stop.

Upper West Side.

So yeah...pretty dramatic stuff earlier today.  It was snowing lightly from about 8.30 and was pretty heavy by 10ish, it got heavier and then laid off again sometime earlier this evening.  I was just outside coming back from the gym and it's snowing a tiny bit and most of earlier's fall has melted into slush by now.  And yet the reports of doom from the news channels and Metropolitan Transit Authority alerts are pretty clear: it's going to hit and it's going to hit hard.  oooh! update
My phone just buzzed with an alert (I have a weather app thingy)

Well gosh darn it all! I am glad I went shopping because I'm cosy inside with my baked sweet potatoes and my emergency snowstorm supply of ice cream.  Mmmmhmm.  With pumpkin caramel sauce that I just made nomnom.

Ok now here's what happened today.  I went to an audition (yay me) and err learned some stuff.

It was for RWS, a company that casts for theme parks, a couple of cruise lines, stuff like that.  It was a singer audition and they're looking for pop/rock voices so there I was ready to demonstrate my pop/rock voice.  I got there around 9 and had a long morning's wait because t was a very busy day at Pearl Studios where the audition was held.  So I wait and wait, hung out with my friend Didi, caught up my friend Vishal from Supersoldier, bumped into lovely Abbey and lovely Emily who I haven't seen for ages.  It was a pretty sociable wait.  Finally my group was called so we line up with our music books ready and our 8-bar cuts marked.  That's right, 8 bar cut.  That's not much singing, it's really hard to choose an 8 bar.  So we're outside the room, the girl before me finishes up and in I go.  I felt perfectly confident about the song, it's something I can knock out in any situation, suits my voice and style, etc etc.  Sadly I managed to mess up everything else that you can mess up, short of falling over or hitting the accompanist with my binder.  
1) I had my hair in a messy bun before I went in.  It's a trick I use sometimes to get my very straight hair to have a little life and movement - keep it in a messy bun then right before you want it to look fab you take the bun down and swoosh it around a bit, voila.  The thing is you have to remember to take it down and guess who didn't.  I realised after I'd walked confidently into the room, greeted the panel and given my music to the pianist that it was still in a messy bun and I must look like a mad person or a person who just woke up or a troll doll.  I briefly debated taking it down before I began singing but chose to just brazen it out.  So there's that.

2) They asked everyone to 'slate' into a camera - this is I think purely for their purposes, it's like the clappers on a film shoot where they say 'marker, seen 4 take 3', so when they look through all their takes they know what they're looking at.  Same deal, if we say our names first, when they watch the videos back they know who's who without having to sift through and match headshots.
Oh my goodness...they said, very rapidly 'first and last name into the camera please' so I said 'Tessa FaireWAIT did you say first and last name or just first...oh nooo....shall I do it again?' They were very kind, instead of telling me to g and lie down in a darkened room they said yes let's do it again and I managed the great feat of speaking my first and last names out loud without incident.  Oy va voy.

3) Sang the song, sounded good, blah blah blah thanks very much have a good day and out I go. 
 Instead of smoothly turning to give them one last shot of me as I opened the door and held it for the next girl in (as I have been taught and know perfectly well how to do) I just sort of skedaddled...and closed the door behind me so the poor girl going next, who had been expecting it to be open, had to scrabble with the handle for a moment.  Sorry, girl who was after me.

Soooooo....not my best, all things considered! The good I'm taking from it is that I got up early, I did the thing, I showed up, I went through the process even though I dislike it immensely.  And also that I sang and pulled it off, despite still having this irritating cough and a bunged up noise and consequently a quite raspy voice.
The lesson is that it has been too long since I did this.  Auditions are so much about 'technique', not just singing or dancing technique but actual audition technique.  How you enter the room, how you exit the room, how you communicate with the people in the room, how you make your time worth every second...so many details.  It's not about putting on a big show of false confidence and cheeriness.  The key is being so very at ease and comfortable and free of tension that all those details just go smoothly by themselves.  And how do you become at ease and comfortable and tension free at auditions which are often such a weird and unnatural process? Practice, repetition and experience.  Like I said, it's been too long.  
Strangely, as much as I don't like going to open calls, I found I had kind of missed auditionland.  There's a satisfaction in knowing you are doing something productive towards what you want, even if it feels like a lot of waiting around.

With this lesson lodged in place, I'm prepped for auditions on Wednesday, Saturday, next Monday ad infinitum...or until about mid-March anyway.

Back to snow: many thanks for concerns expressed.  It's nice to be thought of.  Please don't worry.  I live in a building made of concrete, our radiators and hot water are working fine and I have lots of food.  Nothing bad is actually going to happen except that the city's workaholics are going to have to chill tomorrow, because it seems like everything is closing.
Snow plough just went past.  Going to snuggle in now and enjoy a forced evening of nothing much.

Peace and snowflakesxxxxxx

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Happy Loftstelversary

Today, January 25th, is an important day for me.

It was exactly 4 years ago on January 25th 2011 that I arrived, cold and wet, at 580 Greene Avenue to embark on a completely life-changing three-month stint in the USA, some of which I spent in Brooklyn and some in Indiana.

I will never forget that time.  It was maybe the best I've had so far.  It did so many wonderful things for me, I did a lot of learning and had my eyes opened to a lot of things.

I will always be glad I made the somewhat irrational decision to skip off to New York City with no clear purpose in mind, no contacts, no friends, no job, no nothing except what was in my case and a bed in a place called Loftstel.
I'll also never forget my arrival at this place.  I landed at JFK, got on the subway and felt immediately at home...until I messed up one train and ended up far from my destination with absolutely no way of finding it - I didn't have a smartphone, not even a map.  And the area I was in was not full of friendly looking coffee shops.  I remember a petrol (gas) station and I remember dark, snowy streets.  Oh yeah also it was like 10pm and there had been heavy snowfall.  So there I am tramping through the snow and slush dragging my case, sticking out like a sore thumb in these deserted and completely unfamiliar streets.  I pretty much decided to let instinct take over and turned out I was right on the money.  I found my way to Greene Avenue, somehow, walked down it until I hit 580 and buzzed to be let in...and that's where it all began folks.
I can remember all this in vivid detail - how the big shoe racks on either side greeted you as you walked in the door, the stairs straight ahead, a living room space to the left, the RA desk round the corner.  I was cold and wet but I'd made it to this warm and bright place.  It was pretty fucking magical in fact. Susan Kimani was the RA on duty at the time so she signed me in and I remember looking at the photos and descriptions of the four RAs that were on the wall and thinking they must all be models...eventually I learned nope, they were just four preternaturally attractive people who in ordinary photos looked like models.  I remember lugging some of my stuff up the stairs and leaving some at the bottom.  All the way up to the fourth floor 6-bed girls room which would be home for the next two months.  I had a top bunk.  Sleeping below me was Kait Snoddy of Manhattan, Kansas.  Across from her was Wave Bonardi of Switzerland who I still count as a soul sister today and was one of the most important people during my time in Loftstel.  Next to her was Camila, an exciteable Italian 19 year old studying dance.  And for a while that was it - we had some others come and go but essentially (Camila left a couple of weeks after I arrived) the room was Kait's, mine and Wave's the whole time I was there.
I met Kait first and we made our introductions and then she took me to the kitchen on that floor where I met a bunch of other people...from my first night I remember Wave, Joe, Erik, Tuan, Camila and Ugur.  Probably there were others but those are the ones I remember meeting right off.

I could continue describing almost every part of my time at Loftstel.  I never want to lose those memories which are very precious to me.  I won't because it would take me forever but I will address some highlights of Loftstel living

  • 25-30 potential new friends/people to hang out with, an ever-changing rota of faces and some constants who became a real core family
  • The fire escape from which you could climb to the roof
  • Being able to see the Empire State Building from my actual bed.  Like, open my eyes, there it is.
  • The weird way we all managed to deal with laundry, cooking, sleeping...I was in a house with all these other people with wildly different schedules, priorities, purposes, habits...but not once did I ever find it a hindrance.  We somehow all just danced very intricate steps that meant noone ever crashed into anyone else.  Hanging my laundry off my bed was a technique I employed to save money on the tumble dryer.
  • Parties, at any given time.  Enough people in one part of the house? Now it's a party.
  • Late, late night philosophical discussions with the fantastic and smart people of the Fourth Floor Kitchen (the best, most sought-after place in the house, for some inexplicable reason)
  • Eating pizza and drinking Malta on the roof in a tshirt in February
  • My first and eventually frequent experiences with deli sandwiches
  • Learning to love the cheapest of all cheap beers
  • Everybody gathering around the back door wanting to play in the snow but also not be cold
  • The inevitable romantic dramas and gossip of a group of mostly 20-30 year olds of varying genders and sexual preferences all living in a house together, drinking a lot and having impromptu parties all the time.  (Although of the four main 'couples' that were happening while I was there, one of them kept it going for a pretty long time...I thiiink they broke up by now but if so it was fairly recent).
  • Erik.  Just...Erik.  He's like noone I've ever met before or since.
  • A guy who I won't name but who was the single weirdest, freakiest individual I have ever come across and will fascinate me til the end of my days
  • My most important Loftstelmates, Joe and Wave
  • My other core people - Kait, Agus, Eduardo, Gbolahan, Erik, Velvet, Adam and then also Gabriel, Fernando, Franco, Diego, Ludmila, Dani Bach, Dani Cornara, Kenso, Susan, Claudia Bach, Montse, Derek, Charles, Kiki, Priscilla and many more
  • Bed Stuy.  A neighbourhood filled with pride.
  • Tiny Cup Cafe where they had the best waffles ever and also delicious biscuits and gravy AND where a little girl drew a picture of me and her dad gave it to me.  Also the place next door to Tiny Cup that had this crazy delicious quiche.
  • The G train...oh G train oh G train...where the fuck are you, most of the time when I'm trying to get places???
  • Little adventures with my people - to parks, to restaurants, to bars (that one time and me and Kait got kicked out cos we were only 20 at the time) to concerts, to movies, to yoga class, even to Carnegie Hall
  • The stoop (front steps) leading up to the main front door which was not in use.  Which made the stoop a great place to just sit.
  • A true, true judgement free zone.  I enjoyed feeling just completely 100% Tessa with blue and pink hair and any hobo-esque, scruffy, scrappy clothes I wanted and so much time spent in sweatshirts and trackies.
  • The cultural exchanges that happen when so many people from different countries live together at once.  Agus and her dulce de leche and mate tea, Velvet and her low budget high fashion, Bholi's insights into the differences between families in Nigeria and families in America, Susan's Binti fashion line, Adam's jazz, Wave and her special coffee maker, me and my tea, the millions of Brazilians commitment to partying.  Not to mention all the languages flying around.
  • Finding a place where you belong simply because you don't know where you belong yet.  

  • Sharing with total strangers a search for whatever it is you will do in life.  Some people have by now found it, some are still searching.  Agus is married.  Charles is doing really well in his dance career in Canada.  Joe lives in Chicago and we talk sometimes.  Wave met me in Liverpool, then again in NY, then she went west to San Diego where she was born to find relatives of her long lost father.  She found them.  Adam graduated NYU and plays music all over the place, I've seen him a couple of times in the city.  I was able to meet both the Danielas on their respective visits to NY while I was at AMDA.  Ludmila got married and had a baby and lives upstate in a grand place with an orchard.  Eduardo is a dear friend who I've also hung out with when he visited.  Bholi and Erik were the people who took me in for my first couple of nights when I arrived back here and Bholi (that's Gbholahan) actually drove me and my luggage to The Strat on AMDA move in day.  
There's some who would read this post and say you're looking back at it with the rose-tinted spectacles of nostalgia but they would be wrong.  You can see from my original blog written at the time that I really did love living there that much.  It was crowded, not everyone was a great person, everything is shared, everyone knows everything about everyone.  But none of that ever bothered me and I never would have wanted anything else.  

Full details are here 


Interestingly the post that is exactly four years ago today is entitled 'Touchdown'.  The next one is called 'The first day of the rest of my life?' 
Four years later here I am saying yep, 20 year old Tessa - you were right.  
I knew there was a reason I wrote that blog!

Here's a photographic summary

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Movin on up

Ok I'm still using the post below to use as a headshot choice board for my wise pals and advisors but I'm tired of looking at it as the first page you see on my blog so.  Here I am to move it down a slot.

This blog is brought to you partly by Jacob Paul Matheny

He just made a crazy big speech, it was inspiring

'We crawled out of this fuckin earth actually no no no...word vomit...*mutes Dance Moms that we were watching*' the beginning was not so inspiring

But eventually we got to here

'We crawled out of the earth an we got to the moon
We threw a stick at a wall and that started a fire
That fire is still burning because we as a people continue to evolve'

Also this which I enjoyed

'We created the aeroplane
We created the dollar bill
We created the hot dog'

Also this is happening, February 7th and 8th, going to be slicing up the floor with Katie, Miller and Ben (Miller and Ben are tap shoes)
It should be a great time, I'm excited. 

The terrible trash TV I'm watching is killing any inspiration I may have had in me to write a decent post...I'm judging myself harshly for it.

Well here's a kid quote from an 8 year old:
'I would like to go to Antarctica one day...if it's still there'

He's a deep kid.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

I love this place! *NB this is from Tuesday

Tapped in a workshop performance tonight called Choreography Lab.  Saw so many people I knew - the tap world is a densely interwoven one, including a previous dance partner (one of the best) Blake and like 3 different people who have directed or choreographed me plus a few others.  Best of all, as I was waiting in the lobby to go into the studio, who should casually stroll in but.....SAVION GLOVER! Errrr so I'm waiting to go perform a tap dance for a room full of tap dancers, and THE GREATEST LIVING TAP DANCER is right down the hall rehearsing a show! Whaaaaat

I wasn't sure it was him at first but the guy on reception saw me staring very hard at the spot where he'd just been and confirmed my suspicions.  Amazing.  In this city you can just be sitting there minding your own business in any given rehearsal space and a hero can wander by like it's nothing.

AND after the workshop was finished and we were all milling around chatting he poked his head round the door.  I missed it but Blake made eye contact, lucky bastard.

I mean, we're old friends of course


Monday, January 19, 2015

Perfunctory post purely pertaining to picking pictures

Am open to having more than one headshot and using different ones for different things.  Really struggling to pick.  GO!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Struck down

...AGAIN, by more germs.  I'm right back to where I began 2015 that is surrounded by tissues, vitamin C, cough drops, Lemsip Max...and feeling sorry for myself.  Ugh! Just when I'd shaken off the last bout of sickness a new one reared it's ugly head and took me out.  I never even stood a chance.  Very cross about this, I feel quite useless but must carry on regardless.  Am trying really hard to not spread it around.

In spite of my failing health I have worked a lot this week (the kids are the ones who gave it to me) and also tapped a lot in preparation for two upcoming performances, one low-key and one full on, the same piece for both.
On Monday (which feels like it was way longer than a week ago) I was in a reading of Gary the Invincible Boy as middle school aspiring journalist Dottie.  Kid's musicals are fun.
Aaand I also met up with Sam to chat about a couple of things...I'm saying nothing now but one piece of news he gave me I'm super excited about (because it is his news but it involves me...ha!) essentially it is a really cool chance to do something I wouldn't otherwise be able to do.

Ms Downie finally, FINALLY returned to me from Scotland where she's been for a month! Far too long a separation.  We had a nice cosy catch up with tea and Galaxy Caramel.

And then last night (after a very long work day, phew) myself and Jacob hosted a birthday party for Charles in our place.  I haven't seen Charles since Lauren's birthday last August because he's been on tour in a show.  So a reminder: Charles is from Hong Kong, he used to live downstairs, he has been my dance partner on multiple occasions AND was my husband for almost a whole term in acting class. And he's an all-round stellar person.  We had an intimate gathering of friends minus a few faces, though we did see Sena (my ex-roommate) for the first time since she moved out.  We ate pizza, cake, pie and crisps, had a 'champagne' (ok, sparkling wine) toast and played Cards Against Humanity, the most politically incorrect game ever invented.

I just returned from tap rehearsal and am hiding out in my room with all my 'sick' gear.  It is very very rainy outside, a fact which I'm welcoming with open arms, it's very refreshing and I really could do with the moisture in the air to help kick the chronic cough I've also developed! Feeling very cosy and snug indoors with my favourite 100% wool tie dye socks that Grandma gave me.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Further flashbacks and lessons learned

I've hit the gym this week and I may have uncovered the reason behind the huge aversion to exercise I've had for the past 3 odd years.
There's an important distinction: I love being active - dancing obviously, playing football with the kids I babysit, generally power walking around.  I dream of a day when my friends will want to go rollerblading or ice skating with me (nobody will) or when I can find someone to play 1 on 1 basketball with, etc etc.  I took a kickboxing class a couple of weeks ago, it was great.  But I've always (certainly since being in New York and surrounded by gym maniacs...people in this city LOVE to work out) maintained a stubborn anti-gym stance.  I like the fitness to be a by-product of the fun, not the ultimate goal.
In spite of all this I finally caved, swallowed my pride and joined the gym across the street from my house.  It's $10 a month, it's a 60 second walk, it's a no brainer.  And I've been four times already - Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  Now that I've started it seems so easy and my previous feelings have melted away.  I have one chief theory, thus

Last time I was going to a gym it was in Winchester at River Park Leisure Centre, and also while I was at Alton College.  At college I would dash to the gym in my free periods and just pound the treadmill or the bike, staring fixedly at the calorie counter on the control pad willing myself to go faster and burn more calories before I had to leave and go to my next lesson.  Like a robot, jump on gym equipment and manically try to burn 5000 calories in 40 minutes.  Not possible, not healthy and I know now not a good way to exercise for actual results.  This of course was during a spell in my life when I was treating myself and my poor body not very well at all and giving myself a very hard time.  No wonder I was always falling asleep in class/on the bus/in the library/anywhere I could find a space.

In general my gym experiences were not very happy - they were forced and counter intuitive.  So when the Planet Fitness opened up across the road and suddenly everyone I knew became gym bunnies I was like bleurgh no, gyms are not good, gyms make you feel pressure and they make you feel inadequate among many other negative things.  In my (admittedly tiny) brain, Gym = Sadness, Frustration, Disappointment, Self-criticism, Fear of Failure etc etc etc.  'I don't want to deal with all that in relation to exercise EVER AGAIN' screamed my (equally tiny) subconscious every time someone mentioned going, or told me I should join.  

So far, and I am only four sessions in but so far, I'm feeling really good.  I think the key has been saying 'I'm going to the gym for an hour' because an hour is really nothing.  If you're busy enough an hour will fly by.  If I tried to set myself goals like 'I'm going for 2 hours every other day and 3 at weekends' there's no way it would happen, I'd start slacking off and feel incredibly down on myself for doing so.  
Part of that is definitely fitting it in - sometimes you just don't have the time.  On Monday I didn't have an hour for the gym, not a solid hour including the post-gym activity of preparing to move on with your day.  It's no big deal.  And being so close to home makes me an incredibly lucky gym user.  I don't need to factor in walking time, or plan to carry my gym stuff around with me all day, or remember to bring a towel.  It feels very good to go home at the end of my day and know that I can go do the workout thing and still have a ton of time.  An hour of gym is an hour more than I've been doing for the last 3 years so, here's to me and the continuation of my motivation.  

And also getting the hang of adjusting some of the machines because today I embarrassingly spent 5 minutes clanking the adjuster lever around trying to get it to stay where I wanted and failing miserably so eventually I just gave up, pretended to see someone I knew and surreptitiously walked away.  So there's room for improvement.

Also I have EVEN MORE pictures.