Sunday, November 21, 2010

Chapter twenty-one

November 19, 2010

**Note: this post has some strong personal beliefs in it and a lot of ranting. Be warned.**

I’ve been driving for just over eight years and in my eight years I have never noticed – until now – how many jerks there are on the road. Today I was driving to work and not once but twice I was tailed. Now, one must understand: when I was 15 during our annual summer family reunion, my relatives gave me the nickname LFL. What does that stand for? “Lead Foot Lauren.” I drive fast. At least ten over on an average day. Sure, sometimes I take my time and drive the recommended speed limit, but in general I drive a bit speedier.

These two a-holes were tailing me, putting their brights on, and flicking me off while I was going between 75-80 mph…on a highway whose speed limit is 65 mph. Totally unjustified tailing if you ask me. Sure, I could’ve gone faster but I wanted to keep a safe distance between my car and the car ahead of me, you know in case someone ahead of me does something stupid and I have to slam on the breaks. Clearly, the people tailing me don’t have that kind of foresight. My only hope is that they have a real scare where they think in hindsight, “okay, I probably should’ve be on people’s a@$es when I drive because I could’ve died.” I don’t want them to get into an accident…I just want them to pee their pants from trying to avoid one. Is that wrong?

I needed to get that out of my system because, as I said, I was on my way to teach and I am not allowed nor would I want to take my frustrations out on the kids. At least not until they prove that they are wreckless-a-hole drivers.

Another bit of information that has caught my attention, and creeps me to F out, is there are several nuts out in the world who want to hasten the “end of days.” As my parents and I were talking about how our liberties are quickly being taken away by government and TSA nuts (body scans vs intense groping “pat-downs”) the subject of the environment came up.

Now we in the Baker household are liberal progressives and we believe people should try their darndest to preserve and save our Mother Earth from pollution, etc etc blah blah blah. So it shook me to my moral core to hear my mom say there are people out there essentially trying to kill the earth to bring about the second coming of Christ. I’ve been doing some research on this and it sickens me. Truly sickens me! Here is an article from a few years ago if you’d like to read it.

There are other articles out there too, ones that are a bit more recent, but I thought this article explained the issue rather well. Can you believe there are people like this out there?! People who think, “What kind of damage can I do today?” I don’t care what your opinion on the Book of Revelations is – personally I think the book is to be interpreted symbolically rather than literally – but no one, I repeat NO ONE, should consciously do harm to our one and only home in order to bring out the end of days. One could extrapolate those actions as…you guessed it…terroristic threats. And this country of ours does not take those sorts of things lightly, which is why this holiday season, as you fly to visit loved ones, you can choose to either be scanned in a nudey scan or be sexually assaulted as a means of “security.” Tis the season to be jolly, eh?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Chapter twenty

October 20, 2010

Hello to all! I’m back from my nice little hiatus from writing.

Since last we met I have been enjoying the changing fall leaves, the cooling temperatures, and generally loving life. I also celebrated my wonderful boyfriend’s birthday and am looking forward to celebrating our half-year anniversary next week. All good things.

Work has been good, although I have to saying teaching children – especially the 2-3 year olds – is the best form of birth control ever created. Seriously. Put tap shoes on a 3 year old’s feet and tell me you want to have kids anytime soon. I DARE YOU! But in all seriousness, I’m really enjoying teaching dance. Sure I get headaches from constantly pleading for their attention and yes my throat gets dry from talking for hours on end…but seeing all of the students improve and learn…that’s what makes everything worth it.

Here comes a plug:

I’ve also been taking more photos lately. I had a great photoshoot with my friend Crystal (to see some of the shots go to and am looking for more people to photograph. I’m almost to the point where I feel skilled enough to start charging for my photography services. I won’t charge much; just enough to justify the time I put into editing all of the photographs. I take around 300 photos in a shoot and end up editing all of the usable ones, which generally works out to about 60 shots.

Please, if you know or hear of anyone who needs headshots or senior photos taken but doesn’t want to spend an arm and a leg on them, direct them my way. I will be indebted to you if you to.

So there was my little plug. Oooh here comes another: If you ever need a dance sub, let me know.

Ok, I think that sums it up. Until next time!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Chapter nineteen

September 28, 2010

Settling into life.

I thought I’d have more to say about that but apparently eloquence in the written form is not my friend today. So I’ll leave it at that. I’m settling into the daily grind: preparing for my various teaching gigs while not spending money despite the fact that I’ve been teaching for three solid weeks (I only get paid once a month and this month has not yet ended), finding the balance between spending time with my boyfriend, friends, and myself (girl needs her alone-time), and basically trying to figure out life.

Yeah…figuring it all out and finding peace with everything; I think I’m nearly there. If only the sun would shine…and feel like early Fall…instead of mid-Fall…psh details.

My boyfriend and are have been looking – or rather, smelling – different perfumes and colognes this past week. We’re both out of the scents we regularly wear and are looking for new scents. If you know me you’ll know I’m not into tres-girlie things and it’s been hard for me to find a scent that I like. I don’t like very pungent smells like vanilla or rose but I do want something that will linger. One of the mists I currently use is Victoria’s Secret “Heavenly.” I like it but it might be a little too…sweet smelling. If you have any suggestions on eaus to try or comments on what you wear and why you like it, leave a comment and let me know. Oh, and his scent? We both like Banana Republic’s “Slate” and Diesel’s “Fuel for Life.” Gesta’s birthday is coming up in October and I have to make a decision.

In the beginning of October I will finally have regularly scheduled rehearsals to go to. A few others – though I know not whom – and I will perform in Threads Dance Project’s debut show April 1-2. It’s a new contemporary dance company and I’m quite looking forward to getting my dance on again. Teaching is one thing but it doesn’t compare to dancing with a company and preparing for a show. Ah…it’s my fuel.

Guess that’s it for now. Remember to check out my website at And if you or your friends need headshots or your senior portraits taken, send me an e-mail or leave a comment here. We will work out an affordable rate for you ;)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Chapter eighteen

September 3, 2010

Today marks the day of my very first Disney audition. The audition was for Face Characters/Look-Alikes – think Alice, Wendy, Snow White, Prince Eric, etc – for the Disney Tokyo Resort.

I know what you’re thinking; it’s Disney. Working for them is essentially selling out artistically. But here’s the deal: the contract would is 13 months long. Disney would fly you out to Tokyo, put up in a private furnished studio apartment, pay you a handsome weekly salary, and pay you per diem. What starving artist wouldn’t want that?

Upon walking into the tiny studio, which had to have been filled with at least 100 hopefuls, my first impression was “oh crap…I’m not dressed appropriately.” Underneath my navy blue jumper I wore a blue leotard, tan jazz tights, and black Lululemon shorts. Change the color of the leotard and that’s exactly what I wore to the Royal Caribbean Cruise audition. All of the women in the room – save for your random t-shirt and jean wearing auditionee – wore a form-fitting, hourglass-showing dress with their perfectly hair curled.

I recently learned (through trial and error) the dress code for commercial dance/musical theater/cruise ship auditions. No one told me there was a different dress code for commercial Character portrayal auditions. Live and learn I guess.

Deciding it was better to leave my jumper on than be in a leotard, I made my way to the front. We learned a “dance” which consisted of waving as your character, walking around yourself, clutching your hands to your heart, and curtsying. Easy. Apparently I was too cheesy and/or too toothy for Alice or Wendy – character roles based on height – because I was cut…when they kept people who forgot the choreography. C’est la vie n’est pas?

The audition was fun and something I’d do again if I were in NYC, LA, or FL already but I probably wouldn’t fly out just to audition.

**Side note: I’ve noticed that men in NYC are less creepy than men in Chicago when they hit on you. Just a random observation for you.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Chapter seventeen

August 25, 2010

It’s that time of year again! The time when the summer heat gives way to autumn’s cool, fresh air; the time when Back to School sales dominate every imaginable store; the time when students begin gearing up for their schedule of daunting classes.

For me, this August marks another transitional year. I’m a year out of college and have already experienced my first non-participatory Back to School season. I was, however, in Chicago at the time and was experiencing a “back to school”-vibe all it’s own…you could say I was beginning a year-long dance camp. It felt akin to a 5th year of college; you know, that last year spent working as an intern for a company in your chosen career field. This year, I am back in the city where every August was met with school preparations.

This year is similar but different. Instead of preparing for a student’s return, I am preparing to be the teacher - the dance teacher to be precise. I will not be teaching at a school but instead I will be at a studio and at various Park and Recreation programs. That is unless I am offered a contract at one of the various auditions I will be attending within the next few weeks.

The contract most within reach is with a company called Dancing People Company. Based in Ashland, Oregon the company was founded by Robin Stiehm, a former Minneapolis dancer and choreographer. The company is small at about 4-6 members and apprentices, so my chances are slim. However, they are looking for one new member and one apprentice and are considering four dancers, one of whom is yours truly. I’m not sure if they have filled one of the positions or not. If they have then I have 25% chance of being hired. If not, well, the glass will be half full then, huh?

At present Ms. Stiehm, co-director Peggy Paver, one other Minneapolis dancer and I are trying to coordinate a time when we can fly out there and dance with the company. It would be a trial run to see how I fit with the company. I hope we find a working timeframe that won’t require me to miss any of my dance classes. Lord knows I need the money! I need it even more so now that I will be dropping upwards of $450 to fly out to Oregon.

My other auditions this month are for the Jose Limon Dance Company and various Universal Studios and Disney Tokyo shows. These auditions have me flying out to New York City, NY yet again. My trip will have less riding on it this time around (unlike when I flew out for Bill Young’s audition) which means I will in theory be more relaxed. The weather will be nicer too so as long as I wear appropriate shoes I will have a more enjoyable time walking around the Big Apple.

Transitions can be stressful and frightening. With the right mindset they can also be incredibly exciting! With the well wishes and “good lucks” from my loved-ones, I am choosing to take my transition with a dash of anxiety and a heaping handful of excitement.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Chapter sixteen

July 15, 2010

I’ve found my motivation for performing in Josh’s dance this weekend. His piece is about the emotional struggle we find ourselves in when dealing with two opposing forces – whether it’s here vs there, heart vs mind, left vs right, whatever; hence the title, “_____ verses _____.”

During these past three months I’ve just been going through the motions with respect to this particular New Dances piece. But now, as my move back to Minneapolis draws ever nearer, I’m finding that I’m struggling with my decision to move back home.

Yes, I know I will be happy once I get there – I will be teaching and sharing my passion for dance with young movers, I will be able to spend time with my dear college friends, and – this is what I’m most excited for – I will finally be able to experience being in a non-long distance relationship with Gesta, an incredible guy with whom I have completely fallen in love.

It is my fear however, that I will end up not dancing or performing, which was the main reason for my move. My reason stems from 1) wanting to work with people who want to do something with their art as well as 2) my desire to feel like I belong/am appreciated in the dance community. My fear is that I will not end up taking dance classes and therefore not be seen by choreographers and therefore not get a chance to perform. I have not given up my dream of dancing for a company but I’m very worried that I might be taking a step back from achieving that goal.

There are many incredible talents whom I wish to work with when I get back home and I’ve done what I can to make contact with them. But what if nothing comes of my efforts? Will I have made this move just to take a step backward? With all of the auditions popping up in Chicago for companies I could realistically get into, that fear is weighing heavily on my mind and heart.

But I guess that’s the choice we make. As my friend Kate said, “You can’t make decisions on ‘what ifs.’” You have to follow your heart. And mine still is being pulled more heavily towards Minneapolis…still…I’m a little bit worried. I also fear that I will not be taken seriously as a performer back home. I do not want to be seen as a student anymore; I want to be seen as a professional. I have done great things this year and I deserve to be seen as the talented, respected professional dancer that I am…but back home…well, I guess only time and experience will tell.

Readers please don’t get me wrong. I am very excited to come back to Minneapolis and its AMAZING arts community. I simply have my (justified) reservations.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Chapter fifteen

June 6, 2010

Life is a series of choices woven together to make a haphazard, in some places worn out quilt. The trick to not feeling regret and/or to not worry that the choices you’ve made are “wrong” is to believe that every choice me make will ultimately leads us to new exciting possibilities, whether pre-determined or not. Not to say that “everything happens for a reason” but I tend to operate under that dogma. Listening to that little voice in your heart, gut or whatever else you adhere by makes making those hard decisions a little bit easier. Not to mention it’s easier to act on those feelings if they’re coming from the inside or from above (if you’re the spiritual type).

I’ve been doing a lot of reflection and have been trying to figure out what really makes me happy – or what WILL make me happy. The decision I’ve finalized on is to move back to Minneapolis. It will at least give me more time to figure out my future – without going into significant debt – while getting the dance training that makes me feel like me again, (hopefully) teaching dance to the wee ones, being with those that make my heart flutter, and diving into the amazing Twin Cities dance community that I took for granted for too many years. (Whoa long sentence!)

This past week I went to New York to audition for arguably my favorite dance company – Bill Young/Colleen Thomas and dancers. To go along with all of the other company auditions I have been to this year: I got cut. What I believe did me in was that “show us yourself” part of the audition. I haven’t been myself when it comes to dance since I started with Thodos. Not to say that they changed me because that’s not what I mean at all. I merely mean I haven’t been able to take dance class and perform in pieces that truly speak to me. Sure, I like to dance pretty…but I need something more to fully get invested in a work. I’m excited to get back to that; to dance with my whole self – body and mind…not just with the body.

I think once I get that back I can then figure out where I want to go next. New York seems to be the logical answer for modern dance desires but I will need to save up for that. You know, get a little cushion in case nothing comes my way for a bit. But that move probably won’t happen for a few years. It still scares me a little too much to pick up and move there without having a job waiting for me. Courage will find me at some point. For now, I need to get my butt into class, network, and do some serious research into dance companies whose work inspires me.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Audition Update

Was cut from the Radio City Music Hall/Madison Square Garden Christmas Show audition: no big deal, not a big surprise.

Did not get the dance instructor job in Skokie: a bummer but not the end of the world.

Was not offered anything from Thodos for the next season: big slap in the face.

Still to come: Rock of Ages audition...after that, who knows.

My time in Chicago may be coming to an end much sooner than I intended and/or anticipated.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Chapter fourteen

May 4, 2010

A year later and I have found myself in the same spot I was in right before graduation: waiting to hear back from Thodos about a company position.

Well…I’m not in the EXACT same spot as I was last May I suppose. I’m a year wiser and have had many new life experiences. Above all else, this past year has made me eternally thankful for all I have been given, be it in the dance realm or in life.

I’ve always been a believer in, “if you work hard things will come to you,” but sometimes working hard is not the only deciding factor. Sometimes it’s being at the right place and the right time; sometimes it’s by the flip of a coin (seriously, it’s happened); sometimes it’s based on if you made a better first impression than someone else; and sometimes it’s just fate. The point is, you never know when good things will happen to come your way and you have to remain humble and thankful. I’ve learned this.

Many things have happened since my last update.

The Thodos 2009-2010 season ended with my best show of the year. I re-auditioned for the company (won’t hear back til May 15 so don’t ask until then, please). I’ve been applying for teaching jobs around the city and its suburbs and have for sure landed one. I have not gotten further than creating my home page on my website…mostly because the photos haven’t been showing up and I’m frustrated about that...and also because I no longer have down time (hence why I have not done an update in months).

I am still working on my photography but I haven’t uploaded any photos in a while. Most of my work has involved shooting the photos for Molly Etsy page. I have been taking some nice summer shots of the city, as well.

On a completely unrelated topic I met a guy. He’s phenomenal. I’m happy. He lives in St. Paul…I live in Chicago…bummer. This, however, is not the forum for such topics.

My upcoming travel plans: I leave for NYC this weekend to audition for the Madison Square Garden Christmas Show and to visit my brother. I will also be making my way home for Memorial Day weekend AND for Rock the Garden. Happy times!

I guess that about does it. I’ll make sure to let y’all know the out come of all of my past and future auditions. Until then!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Chapter thirteen

February 21, 2010

I like to think of myself as an artistic individual…that I lead an artistic life. By this point you all know that I dance for a living or rather am attempting to do so (artist point #1) and that I take pride in being a music snob (artist point #2). What you may not know is that I also like to dabble in the fine art of photography.

I don’t remember when I started taking photos but I do remember when I started thinking of it as an art form. It was my sophomore year of high school when I took my first photography class. It was such a cool class! Learning how to load the film into the camera; reading the light meter; developing and washing the film hoping to God you didn’t accidentally expose it to light; spending countless hours in the darkroom playing with exposure times. Ahh! SO COOL! Point and shoot cameras became a thing of the past, my new love became the single lens reflex. Even now, in the digital age, there will never be anything more intimate than working with a fully manual film camera.

But I digress.

My infatuation with photography was born. I asked for my own SLR for my birthday/Christmas present that year. Santa brought it to me. It was a happy day. However, after my photography class ended and I no longer had to turn prints in I ended up using the camera less and less…it’s the unfortunate side of being a busy teen.

A few years later I enrolled in a digital photography class. It was my senior year of high school and wanted to take one more “for fun” class. DSLRs (digital single lens reflexes) were still pretty new and very expensive and were therefore unavailable to us at school so most of us in the class used our own point and shoot digital cameras. Not only did we further explore the art of photography but we also learned how to use Photoshop. To this very day, I believe that this was one of those most useful things I learned in all of my schooling.

During the class I mainly focused on outdoor photography and grew to have a preference for it – as opposed to portrait or commercial photography. I still prefer landscape photography but now, with the purchase of my very own Canon Rebel XT, I’ve begun to explore other styles.

I’ve now arrived at one of my two points.

During the past two months I’ve begun to try my hand at concert photography, and I really like it. My first few outings were a little rusty due to having a slow lens (you want to have a fast lens in order to keep your subject in focus while also allowing enough light to expose the image). After learning this, I shopped around for a faster lens and am now producing clearer, more interesting photographs.

I still don’t shoot too often – limited funds play a huge part in that – but this weekend I decided to go to a show, have fun and take some pics. And I’m proud to say I took some great ones! The venue lighting had a lot to do with the awesomeness of the photos but I’d also like to think that I’m becoming more skilled at seeing the photograph before I take it. I don’t know.

I also took some photos for my friend Molly’s Etsy page ( which got me thinking about maybe trying my hand at headshots. Not because I purposefully took headshots for her but some of them could work for that.

Now, to my second point.

I think I want to create a new website for myself. It would be an all-encompassing site featuring me as a dancer, teacher, choreographer, arts administrator, writer, and photographer. It would be a site dedicated to Lauren Baker, the artist.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Chapter Twelve

February 14, 2010

“You are the key to your own success.”

I got this fortune cookie fortune en route to the Quad Cities – where the first leg of the 2010 TDC tour took place. Versions of this saying have no doubt been told to each and every one of us over the years. And if you’re anything like me, you shrug your shoulders and give a disdainful roll of the eyes to whoever had the galls to give you such advice.

However, I must acknowledge the accomplished feeling I’ve been experiencing lately. I put my foot down and put myself first. No more waiting around for others to figure their lives out; no more silently wishing I could work with certain people; no more being afraid to fall on my face as I run after what I want – be it an aspect of my career, a romantic interest, etc. I know I’m pretty darn special so why would I wait and wait and wait or others to recognize that, too? It’s not worth my time. Just keep pushing forward to the next great thing without compromising who you are and what you believe.

I recently went home for a very short visit. The impetus for said trip changed drastically a few weeks ago but it was without a doubt for the best – and in all honesty was probably more fun this way. Won’t dish details of it here for this is not the forum for such secrets…but I will say I had a blast being deviant with an unexpected but nevertheless very good friend.

Each time I go home for a visit I fall further in love with Minneapolis. I like Chicago and am glad I live here but nothing compares to the city you’ve called home for 22 years. It’s filled with people who know my history and want the best for me. It’s filled with a kind of security that I can’t help but feel thankful for: family, friends and hopefully I won’t sound too conceited for this but there’s a bit of career security there for me, too. (For the record, one doesn’t grow staying in a place of comfort so while I feel secure in Minneapolis it’s a good thing that I’m not living there for the time being).

Because MPLS means so much to me, I believe I am ready to get a MPLS/MN tattoo…I just need an artist. I don’t know if I want the outline of the state (it seems a little overdone) or something else but I do know I want it to be something simple. Subtlety is key. If any of you have come across a cool MN/MPLS image or have a good artist, let me know. I’m thinking of getting it on my side near my ribs (I’m aware it’s going to hurt like a b#@ch but I want it to be in a place where I can easily hide it…and where the skin isn’t likely to stretch out). And it shouldn’t be any larger than the palm of my tiny hand. Thoughts? Comments? Concerns?

That’s it for now. Much love to you all on this cheesy Hallmark holiday.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Chapter Eleven

January 7, 2010

It’s odd – yet completely normal – how life goes on without you. I hadn’t really thought about it before until I came home for the holidays this year.

I’ve been living on my own for four going on five months now and hadn’t gone home in three. The last time I graced the streets of the “Minne Apple” school was beginning. Nothing felt too different because I was home and visited campus (I don’t advise doing that for recent grads…it feels REAL awkward). However, this time around I felt…strange. My sense of self was noticeably different as were my attitudes towards, well, everything. The drama of school, dance and people’s lives, while still important to me, didn’t feel as significant as they used to. Is that maturity? It is disillusionment? I don’t have an answer at the moment.

Disillusion is probably the best way to describe where I’m at in life right now. I feel like I’m at a cusp. A crossroad perhaps. I have to go one way or another. I can’t go backward so therefore I can only go forward. Perhaps I’ve lost taste for home in some respects because home isn’t “home” but neither is Chicago. True, I’m becoming increasingly more comfortable here but I feel that it’s going to take much longer to slip and call it “home.” I believe slips of the tongue hold a certain amount of truth. Freud may have had that right…but I won’t be the one to judge.

I watch as life changes for my closest and dearest friends. Grad school. Moving to larger cities. Getting “real” jobs. Marriage. God help us if someone starts having kids! I think my brain might implode if that happens anytime soon. I don’t know why but I feel as though I’m being left behind on those journeys. I shouldn’t…hell I was the first one to move away and do the “dance thing.” It’s just that I don’t feel like I’ve found my place yet…it still feels like I’m grasping at straws. Maybe the gloom of winter is getting to me. I need a sun lamp.

2010, how will you play out?