I feel like it has been years since i shared anything with you. A week at Rider easily feels like a month on its own.

Week four and five at Rider has certainly reached the extravagance of the earlier weeks. I wonder if there will ever be a time I have nothing to tell you!

At the beginning of week four I attended "Rhythmic Connections." This was a program entirely put together by Rider students, with a senior, David at the helm. The theme was focused on tap and some contemporary dance with older music about love. Now obviously this could have been pretty predictable, but many of the numbers put a modern feel to music we already love. It was really inspiring to see students doing all the work for once. The entire band was made up of students and the finale song, the only modern song in the show, was written by a senior, Colby, who also play guitar for the show. Not to mention David's intense choreography. His solo number was incredible; I have never seen ankles as lose as his. It's rare to see a tapper capable of making THAT many sounds. After the performance, Briana, a freshman friend, and I were definitely starting to plan our choreography showcase for the future!

I had a pretty typical week last week in terms of academics. My music theory teacher said last Monday that we, the freshman MTs, were starting to seem settled, and I definitely believe that's true. Everyone is really beginning to feel comfortable. It's cool to really feel like this is the right place for me with all the right people. Not to mention I got a 100 on my first college exam!!!

After our first exam all of us needed some relaxing fun over the weekend. Many of my friends and I want to the mall this weekend. It was a pretty good mall, but nothing beats Northpark! After a little shopping, no damage done I swear, we all had a really nice dinner at the Cheesecake factory. I really love when we get to share a meal together. Something about it just makes you closer to people from learning their food allergies to hearing how they are feeling. Also, nothing helps me rejuvenate like chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake!

This Monday the feelings of comfortability were just intensified by Mariann Cook and Robin Lewis. They each met with the freshmen class separately. Marian talked to us about auditioning and provided information on summer stock, slang for a theatre that uses one company to do a season of shows over the summer. She was extremely comforting to all of us with encouraging words and reminders that we don't have to do everything the upperclassmen do. I am planning on doing summer stock auditions; however, many of them are for practice purposes; I'd much rather get a job closer to home. No worries! Robin gave the freshman a dance class that resembles the jazz class we will take next semester. I'm telling you my abs are still sore from his intense warm-up. We did a combo to The Boy from Oz and it was just incredibly enjoyable. The freshmen girls were working their booties off. Robin even made all of us take our hair down so we could work our hairography! There is a video on Facebook if anyone is curious.

Today I got the truly incredible opportunity, along with five other students, to sing for Preston Boyd. You may know him from Broadway's Big Fish, Bullets over Broadway, On the 20th Century, and upcoming She Loves Me. He was super chill and made everyone really safe. We talked a lot about how to use your life to connect to a character and how you have to find unique ways to consider material. Don't take a piece of music and sing it the way you've heard it sung. Find something in a piece to make you stand out, whether it is a vulnerable moments in an unexpected place, or a build up of emotion where many just flatline one emotion.To all of you students I cannot express the importance of connection. There is no better tool in your tool belt. You can't belt an A5 while doing a pirouette and it won't matter if you aren't connected. Being connected is how actors are able to touch the audience. The audience won't be sad if you are playing the "why me?' victim, be a person who believes they can't get what the want and show the audience how you're gonna get. I posted a video of my cut I sang for Preston. It's pretty incredible to be seen by somebody who gets it and has found success in the arts.

I'm learning so much here at Rider. I wish I could take all of my kiddos and teach them what I am learning. Its really wonderful to see different perspectives, as their is no "right" way to perform in the arts. Remember artistry is all about being true to yourself. How will you understand a character and who they are if you don't know who you are? Be brave, be bold, and breathe, my loves.

Tu Me Manques, McKenna