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‘A Chorus Line’

Every time I complete a new assignment at the Herald, I’m surprised by how much I’ve learned. Yesterday, I went to UND’s production of “A Chorus Line.” I will be honest and say I wasn’t all that excited for the play. That was until I got to the Burtness Theater and interviewed two of the student actors, Jackie and Patrick. From the moment they sat down for the interview, I could see the passion in their eyes and hear it in their voices.

They told me about the play, their deep emotional connections to their characters, Cassie and Paul, and the history behind it all. I’ll save the details for the story, which will print Friday in Accent.

After the interviews, I went into the theater, which was nearly empty as it was the first dress rehearsal, and I waited for the show to begin.

From the moment the lights came on and 25 nervous dancers filled the stage, I was captivated. I’m sure the fact that I was basically the only one in the audience made it a little more dramatic, but it was incredible. I couldn’t believe how real It all felt. My heart started racing when the director called the names of the people who were being cut. And when the dancers were on the floor broken hearted over just the thought of not being able to dance again, my heart hurt too.

I don’t typically get emotional during plays or movies, but there’s something different about “A Chorus Line.” It’s as if you’re watching these actors real-life audition process with all the pain, excitement and anxiety. It’s terrifying and beautiful, and I absolutely love it.

I didn’t get enough with the play last night so I looked up the documentary about the 2008 revival of the show and watched it tonight. Again, it was so captivating.

The play has a great story behind it and a lot of history packed it. Each of the characters is based off a real life dancer in the industry and many of the lines are from real dialogue that took place in the 1970s during a workshop.

To learn more about the musical, watch for my story at gfherald.com on Friday. If you’re in Grand Forks, be sure to check out UND’s production, which opens Thursday and runs through Nov. 23 at the Burtness Theater.

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Rosenquist: A true inspiration

A couple months ago, I received a press release from the North Dakota museum of art about a well-known artist named James Rosenquist, who would be coming to the museum for his 80th birthday celebration. I hadn’t heard of Rosenquist, but I decided to pitch the idea to my editor. Before I could even get my pitch typed and printed for our brainstorm meeting, she said I’d be covering the Rosenquist event. But, she wasn’t talking about the birthday celebration in October. She was talking about the opening reception for his exhibition that coming week. So, I jumped on the story and contacted Laurel Reuter, director of the museum, to set up an interview about Rosenquist.

I went to the museum the next morning and watched Rosenquist’s installers hang the painting, “Through the Eye of the Needle to the Anvil” which is 17 by 46 feet. As I took it all in, Laurel explained to me that the piece was an homage to his mother. She said the high heels on the left of the painting represent his mom and the painting was about ideas starting small and growing into paintings, novels, inventions… From my interview with Laurel, I found out that she personally knew Rosenquist and his curator Judith Goldman. She said Rosenquist was North Dakota’s most well-known painter. And that he learned to paint large scale when he was a bill board painter.

I later contacted Judith and she told me more about his artwork and his painting. I researched Rosenquist and read excerpts from his biographies and slowly began to realize how much of an impact this man had on the art world. I wrote my first article and received great feedback from the community.

A month or so went by and I prepared myself for another Rosenquist story. This time I would interview the artist himself over the phone from his home in New York. Nervous to interview such a remarkable artist, I had done a ton of research and prepared well-thought out questions for a Q & A, but I quickly learned that I wouldn’t be doing a Q & A. Rosenquist answered my first question and then said he’d prefer to just talk and tell me what he wanted to, so I let him talk.

He told me about his connection to North Dakota and how living on the plains made him see things differently. He spent much of his childhood in Mekinock, N.D., before moving to the cities and eventually New York. Although he lived in the large cities most of his life, he said the open plains had a great impact in his art and his creativity. He told me a story about sitting on his front porch as a boy and seeing a four story horse walk by. He said he later learned it was his neighbors white stallion which had gotten loose. He was seeing an optical illusion from the heat.

After talking to Rosenquist, I wrote up another story and waited about a week. Then, it was time for Rosenquist, his wife Mimi and Goldman to come to New York for his 80th birthday celebration at the museum. I rushed back from my Godson’s baptism in the Twin Cities, so I could make it to the celebration in time and finally meet the artist himself. It was remarkable to see him standing there with old friends and distant relatives admiring his work, which took up the entire east gallery in the museum.

I didn’t get much time to talk to Rosenquist but I was able to talk to his son and a good friend if his who is also a painter. We talked about his artwork and their lives in New York and I couldn’t help dream of moving to a big city filled with art.

When I first received that press release, I honestly had no idea who Rosenquist was. Now, I know he is a remarkable artist who has greatly impacted the art world with his amazing, intricate, large scale collage pieces.

To read more about his artwork, read my stories at gfherald.com or visit his website.

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Internship update

Wow, it’s been quite a while since I last posted on here. I guess you could assume I’ve been busy with my summer internship at West Central Tribune, as well as updating my style blog and getting everything ready for The Advocate next year.

It’s been quite an interesting summer to say the least. I can’t believe I’m already down to my last few weeks at the paper. I truly have enjoyed working here and getting to know all the reporters and editors. They all have very different personalities, but they all seem to mesh well (for the most part anyway). I have also enjoyed meeting all the wonderful residents of Willmar and the surrounding towns.

I’ve met so many amazing people and written so many stories. An since I didn’t keep the blog updated like I had hoped, I suppose I should run through a few of my favorites:

  • One of the very first stories I wrote for West Central Tribune was about the changes to the Becker Market. The Becker Market is a weekly farmers’ market and a street fair all-in-one. Every Thursday afternoon people head to downtown Willmar for all their fresh produce. I still have not had a chance to make it down there due to the timing, but I absolutely loved meeting with the organizers and farmers to write my story. This year they added an e-coop to the Becker Market allowing customers to reserve items online and simply pick them up on Thursday. The organizers were so excited about going online this year, but the farmers were a little anxious about the new technology. Everyone was so kind and really made me feel welcome my first couple weeks in Willmar.

    Photo by Jasmine Maki

  • An unforgettable assignment was the storm in June. I had just gotten back to the house on Sunday night when it started storming really bad. The power went out, my phone was almost dead and I didn’t have any candles or flashlights. It was honestly quite scary, especially being in the old house. But, I made it through the night and was able to cover the storm damage on my way into work. It was awful to see all the fallen trees in yards and a few fallen trees had even damaged houses. But it was great to see how helpful and friendly everyone was to their neighbors. It was also interesting to hear all their stories from the storm and be able to take photos of the damage. (Article link)

    Photo by Jasmine Maki

  • In late June, I went to New London for a feature article on the local art group C.A.T. (Creating Art Together). I had so much fun talking with the ladies as they painted shirts for a special project. They were so sweet, creative and fun. It was cool to hear what inspired each of them and why they loved the group so much. (Article link)
  • I also had the opportunity to visit with Gavin Hill and Rosie Hartwig, who have been pen pals for many, many years and are now working together on several projects including a themed-theater with 15 children. I was able to go one of the rehearsals and photograph the kids, which was unbelievably difficult with the lighting and quick movements. Gavin and Rosie have such a touching story and truly are amazing people. I honored to have met them. (Article Link)

    Photo by Jasmine Maki

  • The four-day Christian music festival in mid-July was definitely my favorite part of the summer. I’ve been wanting to go to Sonshine Festival for many, many years. When I found out I would be covering the event for my internship, I was more than excited. I got to talk with amazing people, listen to a lot of music and write about all of it. But, my favorite part of the week was probably learning more about utilizing social media for reporting. I was Tweeting throughout the event and tried to post photos to Facebook when I got the chance. Utilizing social media during events like that is definitely necessary for reporting. People are looking for the latest news, even if it’s just what band is playing next or what people are doing to keep busy. It was a lot of fun and I really look forward to utilizing social media more for reporting. Not to mention, I also got to interview Drew Shirley, guitarist of Switchfoot. (Article link)

Photo by Ron Adams

Of course, I cannot forget all the articles I wrote for different tabs, especially the bridal tab. I also wrote two articles for the new issue of Live It!, which comes out in August. Since my dream has always been to start my magazine, I was more than thankful to have the opportunity to write a few articles for the magazine. I even got the chance to write a fashion article.

I have learned so much about the field of journalism from this internship and I can’t wait to put it to use at my school paper.

A big thanks to everyone at West Central Tribune for giving me this opportunity to learn and get more experience. Also, a big thank you goes out to Charly Haley. Without her I would have never got this internship!

Jasmine

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