29 October 2009

Freedom in Discipline

Back in the early 80's I moved from New York, where I was doing "Search For Tomorrow," to Los Angeles to join the cast of "Fame." I enrolled in Milton Katselas' acting class at the Beverly Hills Playhouse and stayed in there for years. Given his recent passing, I would like to honor him by sharing one of the most valuable lessons that I have ever learned professionally, Milton's concept of Freedom in Discipline.

Now Milton was a man with many lessons to share, and I don't even pretend to think that I can express his thoughts as well as he, but over the years this concept has become more and more true for me and I try to pass it along to my vocal students. I will try to explain it here, and if it is not as eloquent as Milton, then my most sincere apologies to him and his other students.*

When one is striving to master an art form, and this applies to all of the performance arts as well as the fine arts, it is necessary to practice technique tirelessly. We work at it and then work some more, trying to achieve ease at our scales and arpeggios, our fingering, our accents, our pirouettes, etc. Although this process often feels thankless, exhausting, and boring--there is a great reward that awaits on the other side of all that work, and it can be achieved no other way. Eventually we acquire a set of skills that enables us to get up and perform with a grace and agility that makes it all look effortless. Think of the dancer doing thirty-two fouettes while smiling, the gymnast defying gravity, the violinist moving his left hand and right arm faster than the eye can see, the actor sobbing his guts all comes from hard work and study, repetition and practice.

As an artist-in-training, I am still working at my technique in all areas of my professional life in hopes to win this kind of freedom. The difference between now and when I was taught this concept twenty-five years ago is that now I accept the process and know the prize to be worth it. I do not mind the exercises and rehearsals. It is all worth it if I can just attain a moment of the kind of soaring that I see in masters of their crafts.

I hope that I did Milton proud with my interpretation of Freedom in Discipline. I write it with the utmost respect and gratitude for all that he taught me.

29 October 2009

*Some of the incredible students that I was in class with during those years included Jeffrey Tambor, Kelly Preston, Mary Hart, Donnie Swayze, Bill Forsythe, and so many others that have gone on to fabulous careers. I salute them and their success!!

24 September 2009

Dear Friends and Visitors,

This year marks my 30th year working in the entertainment industry. The recent realization of this as well as the growth of my three beautiful children have humbled and awed me of late. With the passing of Patrick Swayze, with whom I was honored to work many years ago, along with my eldest starting college this fall, I have begun to retrace the steps of my life and quietly observe how I got to where I am today.

I am aware of how abundant the blessing have been in my life, not the least of which has been to chase my dreams and make them realities. My children and my career both fall into this category. The incredible people, places and experiences that my work and family have afforded me are too many to list here, but suffice it to say that they have all colored who I am today, for which I am so grateful.

I have begun to build this website as a place where I can bring all of my life experiences together and paint a portrait that represents where I have been, in hope to understand better where I am going. The journey continues to amaze and thrill me, frighten and unnerve me. I share this with you and look forward to hear about your own journeys once my site is fully up and running. Until then, may your lives be full of love, light and good health.