Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Fall Of Madonna (From The Stage, At Least)


Madonna has been in the spotlight of late (nothing new there), thanks in part to her fab Grammy Awards performance, and "not so much thanks" for her unfortunate tumble from the stage yesterday at The Brit Awards.

Her Madge-esty said in a recent interview with Rolling Stone that even when she delivers a great performance she gets flack about whether or not she's "acting her age."

"It's still the one area where you can totally discriminate against somebody," she says, "and talk shit. Because of their age. Only females, though. Not males. So in that respect we still live in a very sexist society."

"No one would dare to say a degrading remark about being black or dare to say a degrading remark on Instagram about someone being gay," Madonna continues. "But my age – anybody and everybody would say something degrading to me. And I always think to myself, why is that accepted? What's the difference between that and racism, or any discrimination? They're judging me by my age. I don't understand. I'm trying to get my head around it. Because women, generally, when they reach a certain age, have accepted that they're not allowed to behave a certain way. But I don't follow the rules. I never did, and I'm not going to start."

The fact of the matter is: Madonna still ranks at the top of her game as an entertainer, an artist and a provocateur. Her "Living For Love" Grammy Awards performance proved it.

But just as telling was her recent fall from the stage of The Brit Awards, clearly due to a wardrobe malfunction. She soon after shared on Instagram that "Armani hooked me up! My beautiful cape was tied too tight! But nothing can stop me and love really lifted me up! Thanks for your good wishes! I'm fine!"

And she WAS fine. She regrouped instantly, got up and finished the number. Like a true artist.

(p.s. from the audio we also have proof that she was singing LIVE, not lip-syncing, btw...)

Things happen. People trip or fall. You get back up and keeping moving forward. Just like Madonna did.

I did want to throw one thing out there about that incident, though. I saw lots of fans respond to the fall with "Fire that dancer!," referring to the dancer who pulled the cape.

First of all, Madonna prides herself on the fact she hires the best dancers in the business. Whoever that dancer was, he wasn't some "newbie" who wouldn't know what he's doing.

Second, I know from dancing myself for decades professionally that the performance was rehearsed within an inch of it's life. I'm sure that dancer did exactly as he was rehearsed.

Third, as Madonna later alluded - the cape was tied too tight. If you watch the video clip of the fall, right before "the Moment" you can see her trying to untie the cape. The dancer pulled on the count he was rehearsed to pull on. She had her back to him, so there was no way he could see if the tie was undone. He did his job.

Fourth, some have asked "why didn't the dancers help her up?" Here's the thing - when something like this happens, pretty much all the dancers know is what has been rehearsed into their bodies for hours and hours. Before the moment could even register, Madge was up and back in gear.

Plus, I can attest to what it's like to be onstage with a legend when they fall.

While I was still performing in CHICAGO the Musical in Las Vegas, Broadway icon Chita Rivera came into the company for a period of time to play the role of "Roxie Hart." As a swing, I wasn't onstage every night. But the first time I went on with Chita in the show was in a track where I danced next to her in the Act Two opener "Me And My Baby."

In the middle of the number, Chita's shoe slipped out from under her - and down she went. At my feet. She was back up and laughing as she finished the number but in my head I jokingly heard "Fire the new boy!"

In truth, I paused not knowing what the best reaction would have been: help her up (does that make her look old?) or let her get up (does that make me look insensitive?). In truth, the moment was SO quick that in the second I thought about it she was back on her feet.

I'm certain the same thing happened to Madonna's dancers. When something so unexpected happens during a moment that is rehearsed and rehearsed within an inch of it's life - you do pause.

If the legend who falls happens to be Madonna? Well, as she sings in "Living For Love:"

Took me to heaven and let me fall down
Now that it's over
I'm gonna carry on
Lifted me up, and watched me stumble
After the heartache, I'm gonna carry on

And she did.

Madonna is fine, kids. Don't worry. Trust and believe, she's not worrying.

You can trust this "queen."

Or, if not me, trust THE Queen. Because she still is.


Rep. Aaron Schock Gets The Daily Show Treatment


So, a few weeks ago an innocuous "style" piece for the Washington Post brought to light the latest decor choices made by (totally not gay) Congressman Aaron Schock of Illinois.

Not exactly the kind of attention he was looking for probably, and it ended with his communications guy resigning (albeit for reasons in addition to handling the story badly).

But the story launched a look into his spending habits - spending money other than his own. And so, now there is a congressional inquiry/possible audit into some expenses that have been covered with inappropriate funds. Word comes now that he's lawyered up to handle the allegations.

With all that happening, it was inevitable that Jon Stewart would have to bring the handsome young congressman into focus on The Daily Show.

Mexico's Steady March Toward's Marriage Equality

Click pic to enlarge

Of Mexico's 31 states, over two-thirds (22) have seen court rulings in favor of same-sex marriage in recent years. But the reaction to such rulings has been less hysterical than we've seen in the US.

From Buzzfeed:

The wave of rulings throughout Mexico hasn’t caused the uproar that has followed rulings in the United States over the past year striking down state laws barring same-sex couples from marrying. Couples have not rushed to marry nor have conservatives organized major protests.

This is in part because the technicalities of Mexican law have meant these decisions have been much more narrow in their immediate impact. Each decision applies only to the individuals who have brought the cases, and other same-sex couples will still have to sue in order to marry. It takes multiple cases meeting certain technical requirements for the courts to nullify a state law in Mexico — a hurdle that has not yet been met.

After watching the fight for same-sex marriage here in the states, it's a very interesting read to see how different the approach has been in Mexico. Read the entire report here.

Texas Sportscaster Dale Hansen Brings Common Sense To Racial Controversy


Last year, veteran sportscaster Dale Hansen of Dallas/Fort Worth's WFAA gained national attention when he addressed the issue of Michael Sam coming out before the NFL draft.

Hansen again brought his common-sense wisdom to the "Hansen Unplugged" segment of his telecast Tuesday in discussing a controversy in the Dallas suburb of Flower Mound.

At a recent basketball game against a rival, more racially diverse school, students were photographed last week holding up signs that read "White" and "Power." Hansen addressed the issue and it's origin.

Hansen chided the Flower Mound students' parents who dismissed the dustup as nothing more than an accidental pairing of signs alongside each other. He shared that his granddaughter recalled attending games at Flower Mound where students would chant "Welfare babies, do you know who your daddy is? Because we know ours."

He also reached back to his own upbringing in Iowa, where he said his mind was "twisted" by the contrast between his father's constant and casual use of the "N-word" with praise for the only black family in the county where Hansen grew up.

"Kids have to be taught to hate and it's our parents and grandparents, and our teachers and coaches, too, who teach us to hate," Hansen said. "Kids become the product of that environment. I was. And they are."

"The kids who hold the signs and chant their racist slurs — and it's not all of them. It never is," he said. "But their ignorance perpetuates the stereotype of all of us in Texas as a racist, ignorant people."

Watch Hansen's take-down below. And bravo once again, Mr. Hansen!


The Inevitable Crowd-Sourcing Fund For Anti-Gay Florist Is Here


Right on cue, a crowd-sourcing fund has been set up to "help" Barronelle Stutzman, the anti-gay marriage florist from Washington state who was found guilty of violation public accommodation laws for discriminating against a gay couple.

The goal seems to be $100,000 - to pay a $2,000 fine...

Gee, I wonder what the other $98,000 is for?

(h/t JMG)

Greetings From Minnesota


More about the fab Gov. Mark Dayton here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Madonna Takes A Tumble At The Brit Awards


A wardrobe malfunction at the Brit Awards was responsible for Madonna taking a tumble down a set of stairs.

During a live performance of Madge's "Living For Love" with her hunky minotaurs, a cape that was apparently tied too tight didn't release when pulled, and down went the Queen of Pop.

She later posted on Instagram "Armani hooked me up! My beautiful cape was tied too tight! But nothing can stop me and love really lifted me up! Thanks for your good wishes! I'm fine! ❤️#livingforlove"

Nothing can keep a true diva down. You can see the fall below:

Madonna On Her Age: "I Don't Follow The Rules"


Madonna tells Rolling Stone she's over being judged on the issue of her age.

"No one would dare to say a degrading remark about being black or dare to say a degrading remark on Instagram about someone being gay," Madonna continues. "But my age – anybody and everybody would say something degrading to me. And I always think to myself, why is that accepted? What's the difference between that and racism, or any discrimination? They're judging me by my age. I don't understand. I'm trying to get my head around it. Because women, generally, when they reach a certain age, have accepted that they're not allowed to behave a certain way. But I don't follow the rules. I never did, and I'm not going to start."

(h/t JMG)

Music Video: 2CELLOS "Hysteria"

2CELLOS

The latest music video by 2CELLOS (Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser) - "Hysteria" - from their new album Celloverse.  The album debuted at number one on the Billboard Classical chart.

This track is a cover of the alternative rock hit by Muse in 2003.

I love what these guys bring to their music. The new album showcases their unique ability to reinvent current and classic rock/pop songs with a metal-meets-classical style.

And, then, there's the fact they're easy on the eyes, too... :)

Definitely run go get their self-produced album over at iTunes or Amazon. It's brilliant.






More Moments From West Side Story At San Diego Musical Theatre


San Diego Musical Theatre, where I recently choreographed a new production of West Side Story, has put together this new video showcasing highlights from the show.

I'm really proud of this one. Take a look below.

Plus, Broadway World had some very nice things to say about the production, including the choreography:

SDMT has a huge and talented cast to fill their new stage, which is good because this show does shine when they are in their cast numbers. The "Dance at the Gym" is where you see not only the size and scope of the cast, but their dancing and the simmering tensions between the Jets and the Sharks are palpable. The staging is clever and the ebb and flow of the cast during this number feels natural and never pulls focus from what's happening at the center of the stage.

The dancing is always key in this show, and this show does not disappoint thanks to choreographer Randy Slovacek. Taking a cue from the original production, this dancing is lovely but with some edge. After all, you don't see gangs dancing through the streets much, but this choreography strikes the right balance between being beautiful and having a hint of menace to it.

And if you happen to be in San Diego, check out the show this weekend. The show closes this Sunday.


North Carolina State Senate Votes To Allow Officials To "Opt-Out" Of Performing Same-Sex Marriages

https://twitter.com/equalitync/status/570633800897556481

The North Carolina state Senate just passed SB 2 by a vote of 31-16, which would allow state officials the right to refuse to officiate any marriage based on "sincerely held religious beliefs."

This means a magistrate could refuse to officiate an interracial or same-sex marriage (or any other kind)  if they state that their "sincerely held religious beliefs" conflicted with that marriage.

The legislation now heads to the House.

Mark Cuban To Business Owners: "Just Say 'No'" To Same-Sex Couples Getting Married


In the same breath that he extols his bona fides as an ally of the LGBT community, entrepreneur and "Shark Tank" co-host Mark Cuban says businesses (like florists) should be able to deny services to same-sex couples.

"Just say 'no'" is his advice.


Lady Gaga Joins The Cast of Upcoming "American Horror Story: Hotel"

Fresh off her knock-out tribute performance of The Sound Of Music on the Academy Awards, Lady Gaga veers again into a completely different direction as she tweets the news she will be joining the 5th season of the television anthology series "American Horror Story: Hotel."

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Former Marine Convicted In "American Sniper" Trial


Via Huffington Post:

A former Marine has been convicted in the deaths of "American Sniper" author Chris Kyle and Kyle's friend at a shooting range.

Jurors returned the verdict Tuesday against Eddie Ray Routh, whose attorneys had mounted an insanity defense and said he suffered from psychosis. Since prosecutors didn't seek the death penalty in the capital murder case, the 27-year-old receives an automatic life sentence without parole in the deaths of the famed Navy SEAL and Chad Littlefield.

The men had taken Routh out shooting in February 2013 after Routh's mother asked Kyle to help him. Family members say Routh suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Iraq and in Haiti.

The case drew intense interest, largely because of the blockbuster film based on Kyle's memoir about his four Iraq tours.

Conversion Therapy Takes Steps Forward And Back In Four states


As Oklahoma sees legislation move forward today which would prohibit regulating "ex-gay therapy" in the state, three other states could soon join California, New Jersey and the District of Columbia in outlawing so-called "conversion"therapy that seeks to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of LGBT youth.

Lawmakers in Colorado, Iowa and Oregon are all considering legislation that would ban would conversion therapy on patients under the age of 18.

Studies show that conversion therapy is not successful, and in many cases has been shown to be detrimental to the point of suicide for some.
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