Monday, October 27, 2014

Judi Mark: Dancing Through Life

You've gotta dance like there's nobody watching,
Love like you'll never be hurt,
Sing like there's nobody listening,
And live like it's heaven on earth

― William W. Purkey



Judi Mark and Larry ​Kerchner. Photo by: Rose Billings/Blacktiemagazine.com
Judi Mark’s dynamic range of training in theater,
dance, and voice set the stage for her successful performance career spanning from television, film, Off-Broadway and Lincoln Center, to regional theater, night clubs, and the high seas. She studied with the Martha Graham Dance Company and HB Studios.

Dancing Through Life is Judi’s current one woman show, recently seen in New York and Florida, that features songs made famous by the women who danced on Broadway and the Silver Screen.

This unique performance piece combines Judi’s crowd-pleasing singing and dancing gifts with selected film clips as she celebrates the songbooks of Ginger Rogers, Gwen Verdon, Chita Rivera, Carmen Miranda, Donna McKechnie and more with a joy and passion that truly captivates her audiences.Tomorrow night (October 28th, 2014), those of you who are in New York and have a passion for dance and/or LIFE, should head over to The Laurie Beechman Theatre on 42nd Street to see Judi Mark's Dancing Through Life, directed by Jeff Harnar.
Photo credit: Jan LaSalle


The finale was spectacular - a great big ending to a truly exciting and entertaining show.
No need for an encore!
-Cabaret Hotline


Judi looks at her career and this show as "unfinished business." She desired to pursue this career as a child. She was talked out of it by her parents. Throughout her life, Judi has gone through her fair share of ups and downs. She had to take certain detours. She did do a cabaret show in the eighties. The last show she did was at the now defunct Judy's cabaret. She needed to make a living, basically. Thank God, she had an education, so she was able to get a licensee to teach dance in the New York City public schools system. All those years she was teaching dance, she was practicing her craft in performance. If a movie or something else would come up, she would try to work it into her schedule. She is in the various performance unions. When she finally had it
with teaching, she just decided to take up where she left off and tell her story on the stage.
I recently interviewed Dawn Wells who played Mary Ann in Gilligan's Island. I brought up a quote about Gilligan's Island from Skipper, Alan Hale. He said Gilligan's Island succeeded because everyone needs a little nonsense in their lives. I asked Judi what she does when she needs a little "nonsense"  in her life.    
Judi admits that she has a rich fantasy life. She really enjoys her own company when she is alone in her apartment. She tries her clothes on. She tries on different outfits. She plays different characters. "It is 'nonsense, because if anyone would see what I was doing with my closet, they would think 'she doesn't even have an audience and she is entertaining herself'".
The seed of Dancing Through Life was planted in March of 2010. She was kicking around some thoughts with a colleague and telling her stories. It may have seemed like "nonsense" to a lot of people, but her colleague was enjoying the stories. Judi feels that everything she does in life is a "dance" of one kind or another. She started stringing it all together with that
premise and started writing. She took a course from Matt Hoverman, who is a solo writing specialist. 
He helped her find a focus with her stories. She shifted gears, realizing that she had to be more "commercial" if she desired to work, so she made a decision that she was going to get an arranger. She asked one of her friends who she used and she recommended Tex Arnold. Tex and Judi started working on the music end of it.
they put together a "first show". They designed a DVD and had projections. It was geared mainly for the population in Florida, the OLDER people because the music is of their generation, Ann Miller, Gwen Verdon, Ruby Keeler, those ladies who danced. She went to Florida and played it for two seasons in different places. She got a great response, but then felt like it wasn't enough.
She talked to some people down in Florida  and was referred to Mark Keller, a booking agent in Florida. He suggested Jeff Harnar as a director. Mark had seen some of Jeff's shows and thought very highly of him. Judi came back to New York after being away for twelve weeks and hired Jeff to be her director. They instantly hit it off. "He is a real gentleman." They went through many changes and had showcases in Judi's apartment. They invited other directors and Judi's friend, Donna McKechnie, and other industry professionals. They did three soirees before they went out and did the first trial of this show. Jeff and Judi have been working together about a year and a couple of months together as of this writing.
If Judi could change one thing about herself, she would like to reverse the clock a little.
She wishes that she was more focused when she was younger. Jilly Rizzo, who was Frank Sinatra's body guard, pretty much, used to hang out with Judi when she used to open for Pat Cooper, said to her, "Judi, What do you want to be? A dancer, a singer, or an actress?" At the time, Judi desired to be all three, because she was inspired by Shirley MacLaine. She saw herself being like her. She was one of Judi's role models. Jilly said to Judi that she could not do that; she would have to pick ONE. Then she could add on later.
She didn't believe him at the time. She realizes she had her own ideas at the time. She believes that if she had had more direction and if she had more family support, she would have done this for a longer period of time and would, most likely, have achieved more recognition.
The one thing that Judi, and I, would love to see is more support from the clubs for the artists in a promotional aspect. Judi and I have had this discussion before. It is so hard for artists to bring in the audience when all your time is being spent working on your art. This business end of it is very difficult
Judi cannot imagine having not done this show. She HAS to. As she said earlier, it is "unfinished business."
It is a passion. 
This is "over the top" with
Judi.
Eric Michael Gillett once said to Judi, "You are going to become a personality."
She didn't get that when it was said to her, but she gets it now. It is no longer just about Judi dancing or singing or acting. She sees herself emerging from this show AS a personality. She is excited about it. She feels as if she is coming into her own skin now. She wishes that she had had this opportunity early on in her life.
Another friend of hers who IS famous said to Judi, "Do you think everybody gets famous in their thirties or earlier? Lots of people achieve that status when they are much older." They end up having great careers. Judi is hoping that that will be her situation.
Back to Jeff Harnar...Judi LOVES him. He is a sincere, hard working, concerned person who is in touch with every thing that Judi is doing. She emails him; she updates him, and he responds immediately. He doesn't make her wait for days before he answers her. When they are not working, they see each other for lunches, and the like, once in a while.
When they are working, they keep a steady schedule. They work with Tex as well. Jeff then goes home and writes up notes and sends them to Judi and she works on them and brings them back to the table. She is a good student. She does her homework.
In March 2010, when the idea first came about, she began jotting down ideas. Jeff was not part of the very early stages. 
That original show has evolved over the years. When Judi was playing Florida, she felt as if she was playing for her grandmother.
She connected with them in that sense, but didn't feel that it was enough. When Donna McKechnie and Judi were talking, she said, "You know, Judi, I want to know more about you personally. Who are you? I want to hear about when you were teaching dance and etc." There was not a lot about that and Judi was shy about exposing herself that way. Jeff and Judi worked so hard pulling out different stories. He managed to get the music that Judi had already selected and piece it together so brilliantly, that Judi started to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Even now, she goes up and down, but she does feel more confident now.
There is an important man in Judi's life. She says he is the kind of man that gives her her "freedom".
He understands that when she was married before, that was one thing that was almost taken away from her.
Her former husband was a doctor and he expected her to play the role of a doctor's wife. She did her best to comply, but at a price. The man that is in her life now allows her to soar. He supports her dream as much as he can. He desires no part of the business. As of this writing, he is out of town. By living in her own apartment in New York, Judi has the freedom to pursue this at the level she desires. Her apartment has actually become a rehearsal space with piano, mirrors, etc. She just does her thing. Balancing it all means maybe going out to Long Island once in a while and cooking and relaxing and just being a "person", BUT, she has to maintain this very disciplined schedule. She takes dance class every day or yoga or Pilates or something like that. She has to watch her diet. That, in itself, is a balancing act.
Her mother always said, "Take time to smell the roses."
She takes that to heart. Judi does a little gardening on her balcony. She loves plants and flowers and all of that. She has a beautiful view. She balances her life better than anybody can.
Judi desires the audience that spends an hour with her tomorrow night and beyond to feel inspired by a woman who had to struggle on her own for a long time. She wants audiences to see how she did it.
She desires them to have fun. She wants them to laugh at the funny parts and enjoy the connection they feel. She is making that very clear. There are many commonalities that we all share.
We are all dancing on one big cosmic dance floor together. When Judi goes to a show, her biggest desire is to be entertained. She wants no less for her audiences.
Donna McKechnie once asked Judi what it is that she really desires above all other desires. Judi desires a career!
She is willing to work as hard as it takes to make that a reality. She has passion, determination, persistence, and, finally, freedom to dance!

For more information on Judi Mark, visit her Website


Thank to ALL mentioned in this blog for the gifts you have given to the world and continue to give!
With grateful XOXOXs ,
 


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Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!


Please visit The Laurie Beechman Theatre Website to reserve for Judi Mark's Dancing Through Life




Be sure and see Judi Mark tomorrow night as she is Dancing Through Life!
Upcoming Performances
October 28: Laurie Beechman Theater @ 7 pm  NYC

November 18: Laurie Beechman Theatre @7pm NYC

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TILL TOMORROW...HERE'S TO AN ARTS FILLED DAY


Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com
                                         Dancing Though Life...is not just a show, it is an attitude!



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