GIVEAWAY!! – #OverExposed

Hey Y’all!

If you read my last post, you saw that I have been working on a side dance project with Lindsay Fisher and Matt Pardo. Well, our show is NEXT WEEK, and I cannot explain my excitement!

I thought it’d be a great idea to get the word out, AND send two lucky winners to see the show FOR FREE, by posting a little something about the brains behind it all – LINDSAY FISHER !

At first glance, Lindsay is absolutely stunning – A (surprisingly) 37 year old, beaut!! BUT once you get to know Lindsay on a deeper/more personal level, her inside beauty just busts through her lean, muscular seams. She is the epitome of beauty from the inside, out!

I have had the privilege of working with Lindsay for the past 6 months. During this short time, she has shown her true colors and confidently exposed some of her deepest vulnerabilities. Not only has she been a dance mentor, as I travel down this strange road, but also a personal mentor. She’s taken the time to explain her values in the studio, as a daughter, and as a wife. She is freaking AWESOME, and I feel immensely lucky to have been chosen to assist in expressing her journey with an audience.

We have gotten together and decided to do a GIVEAWAY for two lucky dancers (or non-dancers) !!

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One lucky winner will be given TWO free tickets (for themselves and a friend) to our show at the New Hazlett Theater on April 6th at 8pm!

All you have to do is follow these three EASY steps –

  1. Follow @montifresh and @datfitdancerchic on instagram!
  2. Post a dance (or non-dance) photo beautifully/confidently exposing a vulnerability or insecurity that you wish to embrace
  3. HASHTAG #OverExposed

Winners will be chosen THIS Saturday (April 1)

Here are some Lindsay Fisher insights – Explaining her life from a small child up until today. She so bravely expresses her honest and raw experience of dancing for the past 33 years.

Check her out and make sure to check out our show at the New Hazlett Theater on April 6th at 8pm! Click on link below for tickets!!

Over Exposed – April 6th @ 8pm

(Link to purchase tickets is also available at the bottom of the post!)

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1. Start by telling us a little about yourself and your career. Where are you from? When did you start dancing? And what has your career been like up until this point?

I am from Butler, PA which is 40 miles north of Pittsburgh. I was 4 years old when my mom signed me up for dance lessons…I hated them. In truth, I hated them because they were on Saturday mornings, which was exactly when the best cartoons were on, and therefore, I hated going to my dance classes because I genuinely loved the Smurfs. Up to this point, my career has been fulfilling. I spent the bulk of my performing career in NYC dancing for a number of different companies. I would consider myself a freelance dancer since I really enjoyed doing multiple choreographers’ work. I joined the professional dance world at a time when the the good old days of the big companies were beginning to dwindle, and more dancers/choreographers were doing “pick up” work. But, I’ve been incredibly lucky to have danced with some incredible dancers and choreographers. I’v done everything from classical and contemporary ballet, to musical theatre and commercial work, to post-modern dance and performance art…I love it all! Luckily, my first dance teacher stressed the importance of being well rounded and versatile which has definitely paid off in continual work.

2. Tell us about “Over Exposed” – Where did the initial inspiration come from? How has your original idea morphed into what will be shown on the stage on April 6th?

Over Exposed started as a way for me unearth all of the crazy things that have made my life what it is. I don’t think I’m special, I just don’t think many people like to share some of their insecurities and failures. Originally, I had planned on creating an evening length work with three dancers: Matt Pardo, myself and the beautiful Montana Michniak. However, my plans took a drastic shift when my mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer in December. Since both of my parents are currently battling cancer (my father continues chemotherapy and hormone therapy for prostate cancer) I knew I didn’t have the mental capacity to continue to create during this trying time. Luckily, my dancers are incredible human beings and willing to roll with the punches, so I changed the structure of my evening to include 5 works. I have restaged some duets as well as reworked some larger group pieces that include some of the dancers I work with at Slippery Rock University. The funny thing is, pretty much everything I make is directly related to my experiences, so the feeling of exposing my dirty laundry is still felt when the evening is finally put together.

3. Of all of the crazy stories that you have from throughout your years of dancing – Which story seems to still sit heaviest in your heart, today.

I could literally write a book of all of the crazy things that I’ve either done, or experienced. I mean, I lived with a 76 year old Irish nun in the East Village of Manhattan (with 3 other dancers…who were Swedish) simply because the rent was $300/month. But what sits heavy on my heart are the things that have shaped the way that I see myself. When I was younger, I had a teacher who made comments about my legs. In truth, I was a string bean and when I see photos of my 15 year old self, I can’t believe anyone would have commented on the size of my legs. But that stuck with me for over 3 decades. It’s funny how a nonchalant comment to a teenager can change the way she views herself and her worth. From that day on, I identified as the girl with the huge legs. I would make jokes about my over developed thighs every chance I got so that other people would know that I understood I had flaws. I became so comfortable identifying as overly muscular that I couldn’t see myself in any other way. In Over Exposed, there is some footage of me covered in plastic wrap. After I heard this comment about my legs I spent months wrapping my legs in plastic wrap thinking I could sweat them smaller. When I created this “nest” solo, I cried. I felt so deeply for that 15 year old girl. I hated that she went thought such self-hate when in reality, she was just fine as she was.

4. Do you have a Life Mantra that you like to live by? Is there a phrase that you constantly repeat in your mind, write down, or use to help you keep your head up through all the nonsense that dancers have to put up with?

My dad had this wonderful phrase that I found poignant: “Be careful of the toes you step on, on your way up the ladder…they just might be connected to the ass you’re kissing on your way back down.” My parents always raised my sister and I to be kind and helpful to everyone. I think that’s why “dancer intimidation” is strange. You know, when you go to a class or audition and someone is trying to intimidate you by stretching or executing some insane pirouette sequence? I genuinely think that a lot of that stems from insecurity. When I would go to auditions, I would warm up, but chat with the other dancers who seemed friendly. The way I saw it, we may be coworkers, or living on the road together; what would I gain from being an asshole to them? So I guess my mantra is, “Don’t be an asshole!” Sorry for the language, I’m not known for my ladylike vocabulary.

5. As far as the show is concerned- What are you most excited for and what are you most nervous about?

I’m excited to perform in Pittsburgh! I grew up here, but I’ve only performed here twice. This will be the first time I’ve presented my work here. I’m nervous to be vulnerable. I think dancers can be fairly critical ( I know I’m guilty of this, at times) and so I’m nervous that my work won’t be seen as valuable. But, I think anytime you put yourself out there, you’re bound to be nervous. The same could be said for dating.

6. As a professional that’s traveled the world, spent many years in NYC, and heard all the bullshit there is to hear (but still been able to come out beautifully on top) What is one piece of advice that you’d give to a dancer graduating from college and entering into the professional world?

Take advantage of all opportunities and don’t be afraid to network! I used to think networking was cheating. Then I realized that all of the other dancers who were “calling in a favor” were actually just freaking smart. I’ll give you an example: my senior year of college, Kevin McKenzie (Artistic Director of ABT) invited me to take company class whenever I was in NYC. Now, My naive self literally thought he was just being nice because I had worked with him and the ABT Studio company while in North Carolina. So, one day I finally got the courage to take class. There I am, feeling like an utter fool standing in a room full of dancers who intimidated the hell out of me. I felt out of my league and insecure. A smarter dancer would have come back to take class again….I never went back. I let my own insecurities get in my way. Could I have potentially been hired at ABT…hell no….but I’m sure the artistic director of one of the most elite ballet companies in the world might just have some pretty impressive connections. Don’t let insecurities or fear determine your future. Those opportunities don’t come along every day.

THERE SHE IS!! Ugh. #Beautiful !!

Over Exposed Tickets – April 6th @ 8pm

#DreamTeam

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Hope to see y’all there !

Over n’ Out –

Monti 😉

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The Road To (Re)Invention

Hey y’all-

Long time no talk. I know, I know … it IS, indeed, 100% my fault. And for that, I am immensely sorry. BUT you must know- I was going through a very strange phase of my life. In fact, I still am…

Reason be- No matter what had changed in the past: siblings, my parent’s divorce, puberty, high school, piercing (both sides of) my nose, moving from Texas to Pennsylvania, break up after break up – boy after boy (bleh), graduating from college, etc. This time, the change was different- something was missing. There was a very scary realization that I was not entering the next part of my life with the same security as before – and that terrified me.

Up until this point, every time I had experienced change, there was always one variable that seemed to stay the same –

Dance. 

As soon as I finally reached the week of my graduation, I very quickly began to realize just how fed up and finished I had been for quite some time. My whole family traveled to Pittsburgh to watch me graduate, and honestly, I could not have been more of a brat the entire time. I remember sitting at lunch with my mom and step dad the day they got to town, and my mom becoming very angry with me. She wanted to know where I could pick up my cap and gown – I didn’t know. She wanted to know if I needed to be anywhere for any type of rehearsal for the ceremony – I didn’t know. She even, so simply, wanted to know what time the actual graduation ceremony would begin – and again, I. Did. Not. Know. I ended up snapping at her, and quite frankly, I was even a little surprised with my behavior.

I had made “being positive” such a strong priority during my three years at Point Park, that when it was finally time for it to end, I began to release all of the anger that I had been holding in behind closed doors.

Don’t get me wrong – Point Park is a great place! My troubling time had nothing to do with where I was. Instead, it had everything to do with who I was trying to be.

Inside, I was traveling on a very negative personal journey. And to be honest, it was because I was trying my very hardest to be someone other than Montana.

Along with inorganically trying to stay in love with dance, I also struggled with self-image, finding a solid group of friends, and pretending to be happy in a very fake relationship.

They say, “you find yourself in college.” (Whatever tf that means, and whoever tf they are.) But, for me- I quickly realized that I spent no time TRULY “finding myself” until the day after I graduated.

For a while, I knew I didn’t want to dance. I actually went back and read journals that I had kept throughout my schooling – and even, in the midst of the most beautiful dancing I had ever experienced, in Tel Aviv, Israel, I was writing about how bored and disinvested my mind and body both were.

Eventually, through many tears, a few temper tantrums, and one really big fight with my mom, I got through it. Now, when I look past the actual situation, I see that what I truly learned was an extremely valuable lesson-

Before you can realize, admit, and/or change anything – YOU have to realize, admit and/or find the drive to change it YOURSELF. Nothing can ever be put into effect, in YOUR life, by other people. YOU have to be the change. (Oh, God. The cliché. Spare me. But for real…) YOU have to have the courage and the motivation to say it and want it yourself. 

Today – I can confidently say that I do not want to purse dance as a career any longer. Although, I am extremely aware of how far it took me in life, and I would never trade one second that I spent training and/or performing for anything in the world. Dance molded me into the human being that I am today. For that, I am forever grateful.

So, once I got past it… I thought, “What the hell am I going to do?”

I didn’t know how to go about living life, or taking the next step, without dance. I spent 8 months barista-ing at a local Pittsburgh cafe, and 4 of those months serving at a Mexican restaurant. (Shoutout to my food friends. I effing love y’all.) Those 8 months were great! It was the first time in my life that I wasn’t worrying about training, being thin, binge eating, self-image, auditions, cast lists, swollen joints, or eating ibuprofen like skittles (shout out to my girl Lindsay hehe). For the first time, I was actually making a tiny bit of money. I was straight-up chilling, and it was great. But I quickly became both exhausted and bored. I NEEDED to find something more- something that made me feel like there was room (and desire) for growth.

Well, luckily, an angel was sent into my life – Jorae Hassinger. @heyjorae – A designer at American Eagle Outfitters corporate.

Back story- Our boyfriends are friends from college. They introduced us, and I very quickly learned what an exceptional human Jorae is. (Don’t even get me started on the boyfriend. He is an absoulte gift. I would be so alone without his constant support, honesty, humor, ambition, affection and laughter. He is one of the main reasons that I was able to realize that I had been living a lie for the past 3 years. Since I have been with Matthew, I have never been more Montana.)

Long story short – (and for real: short) Jorae pulled some strings and got me an interview with the Marketing Photo Studio at American Eagle. With a B.F.A. in Dance and absolutely no experience with styling – I somehow got the position as a Freelance Stylist for AEO.

I’ve been at AEO for about 2 months and I literally love it more than I could ever explain in a blog post.

AEO is a Monday through Friday, nine to five job. But, I don’t stop there.

Side Hustle is a VERY real thing, y’all.

I am working on a side dance project with two absolutely beautiful humans both inside and out. Lindsay Fisher and Matt Pardo! (I know, I know – I just got done ranting about how I quit dance. Bare with me…) I still sometimes serve at the Mexican restaurant. I work parties slash banquets at my boyfriend’s family’s resturant, Mitchell’s, in Downtown Pittsburgh. And hell, I even have a profile on Rover – I dogsit during my free time. Whatever tf “free-time” means.

SO- long story looong—

This is officially the re-vamping of my original blog. (And I could not be more excited!!) Only this time, it’s not going to emphasize the steps to becoming a professional dancer, it’s going to EXPRESS MY steps to becoming professional. Period. No matter what tf that may end up entailing. Because let’s face it – we are all a little bit more confused than not when it comes to “life.”

I’ve decided to take a couple steps back and look at what I really want to do with my life, instead of trying to impress the people from my past.

So, please – join me on my journey! Monti’s Road To Reinvention!

Because Let’s be real –Life hands you shit, but there are silver-linings everywhere.

My first goal with this blog is to post every other week. Wish me luck!