Authentic Emotional Response

Authentic emotional response by Jennifer Blaine

I was standing in the kitchen this morning reflecting on the somewhat predictable weekend routine: get my kid to do her homework, do the dishes, get the food shopping done. I noticed this did not inspire me. I also noticed that I was already seeing this as a stale day. With this awareness I grabbed a hold of myself and said, “today could be really awesome.” I interrupted the predictable pattern that was stifling me and I planted this sparkling intention. A half hour later I got a text from Jess Noel asking if Lily was available to do some choreography she had just made. “I want to see it on two bodies,” she said. “We can be there in 42 minutes!” I said. I just had to find my car… another story for another day. 

Reunited from their project this summer, Paprika Plains, in which they danced and were body painted by Jess’ sister Natalie Fletcher, Lily and Jess pledged to find a way to collaborate again on a project in 2019. For today they just warmed up and worked through some steps for an upcoming audition Jess would be holding this week. Although it had been 4 months since Lily and Jess danced, they moved to the latest LSD song “Mountains” and marked through their motions and dance vocabulary, picking up the dance dialogue they last had in September. 

Afterward we chatted about our creative hopes and dreams for the new year. For this year Jess shared she wants to make art and connect deeply and in meaningful ways. Lily wants to do some professional theatre work. And I want to create a new show to explore anti-semitism which will somehow not be depressing, and possibly funny. We talked about the magic of the Paprika Plains project, how so many in the audience shared with us that they were moved. I recounted how each and every audience member I spoke with shared about their own lives, and felt that the piece spoke directly to them. “That’s what I am looking for,” Jess said. I want an “Authentic Emotional Reaction” from the audience. I want to make art that does that.” “You should write about that,” I told her. “No,” she said, “but feel free to write about it if you want to,” she told me. 

So here I am, embracing the start of another magical year of creating work. And I’m now embodying the purpose to evoke an authentic emotional reaction, a connecting thread that envelops more and more people into a community for dialogue, trust and change. I asked for an awesome day, and I got it. I am asking for an authentic emotional reaction with my creations and am curious what will happen. By the way, I still haven’t done the food shopping and I am just fine about that. Making the art and writing about making the art is a bigger priority. The joy that results from that is now fueling my day.

Sometimes You Need A Good Shove


When I was 17 I competed in the “Macbeth” contest on Broadway. High school students from all around New York City participated, seeking to best all others in Act 2 Scene 2 of the Scottish Play. My scene partner, Phillip Baskerville, and I advanced, round after round, until we found ourselves standing onstage to compete in the finals at the Mark Hellinger Theatre.  The judges were the producers of Macbeth, currently playing in this  Broadway theatre, as well as the inimitable Glenda Jackson who was starring as Lady Macbeth.

Shortly before our turn, I became immobilized with fear. My heart racing was nothing new to me, but frozen legs were a first. What was I going to do? “Phillip! … ..You have to push me onstage,” I pleaded. With a great shove Phillip succeeded in launching me onstage and into my opening monologue. Once offstage, neither of us could remember how our performance went, but hoped that we somehow did our best to replicate the choices we’d made during countless rehearsals.

Finally it was time to announce the results. First were the third place finishers, and it was not us. Then second place went to the students from the High School of the Performing Arts (our greatest competition). At last we heard our own names called as the victors! We appeared on the news, interviewed by Christiane Amanpour and were featured in an article by the great theatre critic Howard Kissel. As we toured the theatre on a subsequent visit we also got to meet Christopher Plummer. “Don’t be an actor,” he warned, while sweeping his sword and marking a battle scene, utterly undermining his own words with every jab. 

So when people ask if I have performed on Broadway I say “yes.” But I rarely tell them how I did, or that without my amazing scene partner, I would never have made it onstage. There are so many resistances that keep us from going forward and trying, but I hope this piece serves as a good shove to push you where you want to go.