America’s Got Talent? – By Anne Holmes
America’s Got Talent? – By Anne Holmes
If I could ever have amnesia, the thing I’d most like to forget would be that incident on “America’s Got Talent”. We got a double X. But we did get to finish our piece. I think they at least figured we were entertaining. We had our “fifteen minutes of fame”; we made it past the editing room floor.
The place: “Belltown Ballet and Conditioning Studio”. The class: “Conditioning”, first developed by ballerina Irene Larsson and then modernized by her protégé Elaine Bonow. The idea and inspiration: choreograph the crab walk a la Busby Berkeley to be performed by the whole class.
It was a naturally hilarious exercise, the crab walk. It started out as an arm and core exercise; butt side to the ground, put your feet and hands on the ground, lift butt off, bend and straighten your arms and go up and down. Then a few people began to travel around the room turning it into the crab walk. It even got Snowy the Westminster Terrier worked up. He sprang up from his usual resting position next to Tina and was at high attention as Dianne scooted past him in said position. It’s hard to say whether he wanted to attack, play or was scared, but he was definitely all eyes. Whatever he was thinking, it was hysterical and we all completely cracked up and couldn’t even do the exercise after that.
Busby Berkeley was born into show biz. His mom was a stage actress. During World War I, Busby served as a field artillery lieutenant. Watching soldiers drill may have inspired his later complex choreography. As a choreographer, Busby was less concerned with the dancing ability of his chorus girls as he was with their ability to form themselves into attractive geometric patterns. His musical numbers were among the largest and best-regimented on Broadway.
I thought it seemed like a winning combination.
I brought up the idea during the annual Winter Solstice party. That was shortly after the “Snowy” incident, still fresh in everyone’s mind. The whole gang bought into it: Elaine, Karen, Pandora, Ruth, Klaudia, Seiko, Dianne, Tina, Carole, Laurie, Stacey, Zoe, Katie, Ara, Genna and Frank. They thought it was as good of an idea as I did while they were all guzzling wine.
We started to mess around, you know, improvising. What a riot! And who knew that everyone in the class was so creative! The wine fueled ideas spewed forth like champagne from an uncorked bottle. Oh yeah, and we drank some of that too, champagne, I forgot to mention that. I’m sure all those bubbles enhanced our creativity; pretty sure bubbles do that.
Anyway, it became apparent after no time at all that the crab walk by itself would do us in; too much overuse of the same muscles. So we decided to excerpt various exercises from the class repertoire to mix in with the crab walk so that we didn’t stress out one particular body part.
We selected our music from the conditioning class repertoire, “Mony Mony” by Tommy James and the Shondells, a class favorite. We roughed out the choreography during the party. We pretty much stuck with that and only later made minor changes. It only took three more meetings to finalize things and do a couple of run throughs.
We decided to feature Frank and Snowy, our respective token man and dog. At the very end, Frank would take his stance downstage center –hands on waist, legs spread wide while Tina catapulted Snowy through.
The first to buzz us was Howard Stern. He buzzed us after about 15 seconds actually. I don’t think he was impressed at all. Second to buzz us was Howey Mandel. He seemed to get a kick out of us. Actually, I should say that both Howards thoroughly enjoyed the younger female representatives of our class. Thanks to Sharon Osborne we actually got to finish the whole piece. She was quite taken with Frank.
We posted our creation on YouTube. Maybe it will go viral.