Dance Is My Livelihood

Butterfly Release 2014

Butterfly Release 2014

From the time I was very young, I had this distinct notion that everyone early in life, first learned to crawl, then walk and then of course, dance and choreograph. I see movement, line, texture and gesture in music, art and everyday surroundings. I hear music and sound and see color, movement and gesture.

In the performing arts, especially dance, the medium includes body, sound and space. After the dancer has been trained with technical skills, the choreographer takes the movement vision and develops it. The performer then becomes part of the composition and creative process.

Having been a dance maker most of my life and dance educator for three decades, I have had the opportunity to create and teach in a vast array of settings. Among the many classes I teach, choreography and composition are my favorites.  Watching, mentoring, and guiding young choreographers into the world of creating art through movement has been an exceptional experience.

Watching, mentoring, and guiding young choreographers into the world of creating art through movement has been an exceptional experience.

The process of composition has similarities regardless of the medium. This became highly evident to me several years ago when a number of our dancers needed audition photos for college scholarship and summer intensive auditions. After a great deal of frustration in orchestrating and attempting to capture the right moment, I invested in a professional camera. Following the audition season was I discovered something new… choreography for the page. The Sony camera, affectionately named Trixie, became a constant companion and fellow adventurer. She accompanied me as I enticed a dancer to pose before a cloud filled sky, against the backdrop of ornate architecture, or was showered in diffused light from a window. Trixie was named after a class lecture about the muse of dance, Terpsichore. A late-comer waltzed in, not knowing what the lecture topic was about and innocently chimed in “Who is Trixie?!” The name stuck and refers both to my camera and the creative muse. Trixie doesn’t take no for an answer and will bother me until I do something about what she is attempting to show me, be it choreography, writing, or photography.

With the addition of photography to my creative adventures, everything looks new to me, similar to when I hear music and see movement. To add to it, I see diffused light, fog, or shadows and I am drawn to create something. Often times with little warning, the nearest subject is drawn into my vortex of creating new work.

Regardless of the medium, a new piece of choreography, directing a stage production, penning a new piece or capturing a dancer on film, creativity is the basis of all… and I am fortunate to be able to act upon the creative adventures, making a living as an artist. Some things you do and some things you are… this is definitely something that is an innate part of me.

Gated Twins

Gated Twins

For over four decades, Julian Adair has performed in and choreographed numerous productions in the Omaha metropolitan area. As the Julian Adairsuccessful business owner of Adair Dance Academy, she was one of the first to establish a modern dance venue for area choreographers. These companies, Tanzlust, Inc. and Dance Conspiracy, Inc. provided annual exhibitions for modern choreographers to showcase their work.

A recipient of a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree from Creighton University, she has used this experience in creating works for major dance programs and has performed and choreographed professionally for thirty years.

As an award winning choreographer and director, she has been on the creative staff in over 100 theatrical productions and has served on the boards of the Omaha Modern Dance Collective and Theatre Arts Guild. Her latest venture involves her production company, Ever After Productions. Julian is the producer, playwright and director of the annual holiday presentation, “Nutcracker Delights” now in its eighth season.

Her supporting cast includes her husband, Steve and their daughters Camille and Colette, who are budding performers themselves. All three share her enthusiasm for the performing arts and her art photography.

To read more about Julian’s work:


Theater Is My Livelihood

battle set

Joe’s Story
I have no theater background. I have no writing background. What I do enjoy is telling stories. As a lawyer, I do this professionally. The practice of law often boils down to effective storytelling with—if you are lucky—a little law to support the happy ending you hope to convey.

Around fifteen years ago I tried my hand at a script. A local theater was encouraging writers to submit short one act plays for an annual Halloween production. So I took a stab at it, so to speak. The theater liked it, so I wrote another script, and then another. And then a full length script. And so on.

Writing a stage play is like a puzzle—it is a challenge unique to writing. Movie scripts and prose give writers broad latitude to craft a story in any way they choose. The story can be told with as many characters, as many settings, and as many points of view as the writer wants. But a stage play allows for only so many sets, only so many actors, and a limited range of special effects. This forces a playwright to distill a story to the bare necessities. The possibilities are limitless, as long as you can figure out a way to adapt the story to the parameters of a live, staged production.

I love the experience of tech week, watching something that I have written translate into a live performance, with actors putting their stamp on characters and designers creating a visual effect that I could not have imagined. I love sitting in the audience during a performance, hearing them react to the actors and the actors, in turn, feeding off the audience. And I take pride in knowing that I created the story they are all experiencing together. In “Sunday in the Park With George,” George Seurat sings about artistic creation: “Look I made a hat…Where there never was a hat.” I love creating those hats.

About Joejoe in florence
Joe Basque is a lawyer by trade and a playwright by choice. His first one act was nominated for Outstanding Script and Outstanding One Act Play by the Theatre Arts Guild in 2002. Since then he has written over twenty other one act plays that have been produced across Omaha. His first full length play, “Ping Pong Diplomacy,” was voted Outstanding Script and nominated for Outstanding Drama by the Theatre Arts Guild, and lead to an Equity production in New York and a Nebraska Arts Council Fellowship. His most recent play, “The Battle of Battles,” played to excellent reviews in Omaha this spring.

My Voice Is My Livelihood

Lora’s story
Sometimes you get lucky and you get to do the thing you love. That happened to me 23 years ago when I started my career in broadcasting. I am a native Nebraskan and I was fortunate to go to a small school where I could be in band, chorus, stage plays, speech, classics by requestand sports. I received a great education and start in music and the spoken word.

When I was a young girl, one of the ads on television caught my eye. They were offering a set of LP records containing the 50 greatest classical music selections of all time. I loved watching ballet and symphonies on television, and fell in love with the music, so I ordered them. Who knew this would lead me to a job in public broadcasting where I could “cheer on” this great music on a daily basis?

A college degree in consumer economics, several careers, and three children later I was hired to work weekend mornings at NET Radio (formerly Nebraska Public Radio Network). I had to be at work at 5:45 a.m., and I quite literally had to turn the station on when I arrived. I called the transmitter and entered a code, and suddenly we were ”on the air.” My job was to announce the weather, underwriters, and necessary information during the breaks in the shows, and I had my own classical music half hour show first thing in the morning.lora black

After seven years of working weekends, I moved to weekday Afternoon Concert, Classics by Request, and All Things Considered.

It is pure joy for me to present the most beautiful music in the world to the people of Nebraska. As Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote, “Music is the Universal language of mankind.” Each composer, every work, has a story to tell. My goal is to facilitate the telling of those stories and ensure that everyone who tunes into NET Radio finds the music comforting and enjoyable, but most of all, that they feel more connected to something bigger than themselves while they listen.

About Lora
Lora Lunzmann Black learned early to appreciate the stories that the rich Nebraska soil Lora Blackhas to tell. She grew up on a farm near Johnson, Nebraska, and after graduation attended Dana College in Blair. She finished her degree at Peru State College, and in 1980 she moved to Lincoln, where she has lived ever since. After several appearances as an extra in television and movies, she started her career in radio broadcasting in 1991. This is her 23rd year with NET radio. When not on air, you will find her in her garden, reading, or enjoying the company of her children and grandchildren. A few of her favorite things are traveling, yoga, the eating of dark chocolate, and all things purple.







The Symphony Is My Livelihood

Thomas Conducting

Thomas’s Story
My “aha moment” came very early. I was eight years old and went to an orchestra concert with my third grade class. I had never heard an orchestra before, and was fascinated by the sound and the person in front, who seemed to be shaping the sound from the middle of it all. And I thought in that moment that that’s what I wanted to do with my life. It’s remarkable to know that from such a young age, and it really speaks to the power of music.

In fourth grade you had to start with the violin if you wanted to participate in music class, and then the next year you could choose another instrument from the string family. I chose the cello, which became my instrument. I also became interested in the trumpet, and that translated to becoming a tuba player. I would play both cello and tuba all the way through school.

During my junior high and high school days, I was allowed to be the student conductor of the ensemble. That was a huge help and spark, because I was conducting every day. When it was time for me to go to college, I decided to get an undergraduate degree in music education because it was a broader education in music. By graduate school, it was time to really hone in on specifically what you want to do, and for me that was orchestral conducting.

I was the resident conductor at the Detroit Symphony when I came to the Omaha Symphony as a guest conductor. During the course of that time period, there was an opening for music director and I was considered to be one of the candidates. I came back again for a second concert, and they offered me the job. It was the same year that the Holland opened; talk about good timing!

When I came here and met with the staff and players, I discovered it was an orchestra aligned with the things that I believe as it relates to how an orchestra relates to its community. The industry thought that “relevance” was just performing for certain kinds of people groups, but for me, relevance was about how integrally we were involved in the life of the community—not just on the stage, but with who we mentor, teach, and partner with to help grow a community, help children, help the under-served. It was less about putting on a tuxedo and doing a concert and more about becoming better human beings. This was an orchestra that believed those things as well, and it was fantastic to not have to talk anybody into anything.

One of the things that we, from a music standpoint, have embraced is our versatility. You go to some places and orchestras only play Beethoven and Bach, and there’s nothing wrong with that, they have inherent qualities that have allowed them to withstand the test of time, but there are also other artists and other kinds of music that orchestras can play, and we do play, that are off the beaten path. Rock ‘n roll music. Jazz. We don’t want to leave anybody behind, because we believe we can be a source of both entertainment and enlightenment for many different kinds of people with differing artistic tastes.

This city thrives on connectivity and partnerships, and that’s the coolest thing about the arts scene in this town. At the recent Governor’s Awards, I sat in the room thinking about how cool it is that, although we are believed to be a rural state, we value the arts so profoundly that every nook and cranny of this state has some sort of art and embraces it. People came from all over the state for that event. It’s remarkable.

Thanks in part to a lot of different people, the Omaha Symphony is an extremely different organization than it was nine or ten years ago when I got here. It’s thriving while others are barely hanging on; the team we have assembled is incredibly dedicated, and it mirrors the excitement that we all feel about our city and state. It’s awesome that we are a part of all of the great things that are going on in the city.

About Thomas
Thomas Wilkins is music director of the Omaha Symphony, a position he has held since Thomas WIlkins2005. Last fall, Thomas extended his contract through the 2017/2018 season. He is principal guest conductor of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and holds the Germeshausen Family and Youth Concert Conductor chair with the Boston Symphony. Past positions have included resident conductor of the Detroit Symphony and the Florida Orchestra (Tampa Bay), and associate conductor of the Richmond (Va.) Symphony. Devoted to promoting a life-long enthusiasm for music, Thomas Wilkins brings energy and commitment to audiences of all ages. He resides with his wife Sheri-Lee in Omaha and they are the proud parents of twin daughters, Erica and Nicole.

Learn More about the Omaha Symphony »

Singing Is My Livelihood

Mary Carrick album cover for "Let's Fly"

Hooton Images

Mary’s Story
I grew up in a small Iowa town. My mother is a pianist, and my great grandmother, who lived with us for a time, was too. Piano filled the house. My parents were in the restaurant business and when I was very small we lived in an apartment upstairs. I’d sit on top of the bar while live music played in the lounge. I began Suzuki violin in kindergarten and later added other instruments. I discovered my voice in my teens and I knew I just had to sing.

I earned my vocal performance degree with the goal of being an opera singer. A month before I was to begin grad school I took what would become a seven-year detour and I stopped singing. It’s one of my greatest regrets. Looking back, I think I was meant to veer off course so eventually I could better find my way.

A few years after I married and moved to Omaha my husband encouraged me to audition for Opera Omaha. I landed a spot on the chorus roster and met singers, actors, and other artists in our community. I was home.

Today, I still sing with the company. Yet, I’ve never wanted to be classified as one type of a singer or be rooted in a single genre. I’ve found a niche as a cabaret singer and I perform across the Midwest. I’m drawn to cabaret because of the intimate connection with the audience and the artistic freedom that comes with this style of performance. There are no rules, no confines. I give life to the song as I see it.

Singing is about communicating the human experience in the given moment—revealing strength, weakness, vulnerability, joy, regret, raw emotion, and everything under the sun. It means finding the truth within me so I can tell the story with honesty.

“Singing is about communicating the human experience in the given moment—revealing strength, weakness, vulnerability, joy, regret, raw emotion, and everything under the sun.”

In recent years I’ve reignited my drive to see where my career will take me. I’ve recommitted to intense study and to exploring ranges and vocal colors I didn’t know I had. I find the preparation as rewarding as the performance itself and that embracing new challenges fearlessly with my arms wide open is what I need to stretch and grow. Nearly 18 months ago, I took a leap into the unknown to begin recording my first solo album, Let’s Fly, a collaboration with J. Gawf of Opera Omaha, my vocal coach, mentor, and friend.

It’s taken me years to realize that what I have to offer as an artist is enough – a voice, heart and soul that are uniquely mine.  And I’m grateful that I’m finally finding my way.

Mary Carrick Headshot

Hooton Images

About Mary
Mary Carrick is a vocalist who is equally at home with cabaret, musical theater, opera, jazz, art song, contemporary musical styles, and as a stage actor. She released her debut album Let’s Fly in May 2014, a collection of reimagined classic and contemporary songs co-produced with J. Gawf, resident music director of Opera Omaha. Mary tours the Midwest as a singer and has performed across the Omaha community with Opera Omaha, the Omaha Symphony, Rose Theater, Omaha Community Playhouse, along with other theaters and for many events. She made her Chicago cabaret debut in 2012, was a participant in the 2013 Midwest Cabaret Conference (Chicago), and has studied with Tony award-winning singer and actress, Betty Buckley. In 2013 she received the Omaha Entertainment & Arts Award (OEA) for Best Supporting Actress-Musical and has been honored with several Theater Arts Guild Awards and numerous award nominations for her work. She is a Touring Artist with the Nebraska Arts Council. Mary will sing the role of “Giovanna” in Opera Omaha’s 2014-2015 season opening production of RIGOLETTO.

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Watch Mary Carrick Perform “Flight”