LA

Upright Citizens Brigade

Nicole Voris

You may have seen this on my Instagram, but last week I completed UCB's improv 101 class.  Upright Citizens Brigade was a sketch comedy show created by Amy Poehler, Matt Besser, Ian Roberts, and Matt Walsh.  It ran on Comedy Central from 1998-2000. During the success of the show they opened a sketch and improv training center in New York which they later expanded to Los Angeles.

I feel very lucky that I live within walking distance of this awesome school.  For the last year I had been thinking about how it would be fun to take an improv class.  I saw a live show of the Lady to Lady podcast at the UCB Sunset theater and was drawn to the space.  In January I finally decided to sign up.

The first class I was super nervous.  I had never done anything like this.  As a dancer I am used to expressing myself, but generally through movement and rarely using my voice.  I was super lucky to discover that my class was full of the nicest most supportive people I could hope to work with.  My teacher Marissa Strickland was fantastic and so supportive.

The work was so much different than the world of ballet I know so well.  In the ballet world you come expected to know exactly what you are going to do.  You rehearse for hours and hours, perfecting the same steps over and over.  In improv comedy you don't know what's in store and must present yourself as a blank book and write the story as you go.  It's very scary to be that vulnerable, but even the beginner scenes we created I felt were something to be proud of.

Like for ballet, I tried to clear my mind and prepare my thoughts before I went to class.  I also found my years of physical movement helped me to physically embody a character. 

On Easter Sunday we held our class performance.  We were all pretty nervous, but it went amazingly well.  We all supported each other in the scenes, responded with "yes, and", and were able to get some laughs from a pretty full audience.

My class and I relieved after our show. 

My class and I relieved after our show. 

I definitely plan on taking more classes in the near future!

If you are curious to check out UCB I highly recommend going to one of their shows.  They have shows 7 days a week, a lot of times for only $5!  Their performers are incredible artists and it's really wonderful to see how they work.  If you live in or plan on visiting New York or Los Angeles I would highly recommend making time to see a show!  

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Griffith Park

Nicole Voris

Before we moved to LA I really had no idea what to expect.  I had only spent a few days in the actual city of Los Angeles, and those were spent downtown.  I basically only had visions of tall buildings, dirty streets, and traffic.

Los Angeles has surprised me in so many ways and easily became my favorite city that I have ever lived in.  I am so happy to call this place home.

One of the best surprises was Griffith Park.  When we lived in Austin we were lucky enough to live right off the greenbelt.  It meant that we were only a five minute drive from a beautiful hike.  When moving to LA I was sure that was something I would lose.  Griffith park completely surprised me.  It's over 4,000 acres of land right in the middle of LA.  It is also home to this sign which I'm sure you've seen ;)

The park actually has a really strange and dark history including ghost stories, a criminal, prisoner camps, and other violence.  You can read about it on the wikipedia page.   I'm glad that despite all that, the park can now have a positive presence and influence over the city. 

 

I really love hiking here.  We usually start at the very bottom of the trail and make our way up to one of the peaks.  You get a 360 degree view of the surrounding city and on clear days you can see the ocean.  It's not an easy hike and I usually complain for the first 10 minutes.  It's so worth it to get the top though.

Griffith has been called the Central Park of Los Angeles, but it's actually much more wild than the Manhattan landmark.  The trails are all dirt, and vary in difficulty.  Theres also a ton of wildlife, including a mountain lion that managed to cross two LA freeways in order to settle in the park.   I've seen deer close up as well as smaller life, like bunnies and snakes. 

The park is also home to free museums and art.  The Griffith observatory is a free museum and national leader in public astronomy.  I suggest completing a hike then heading on in to see this awesome public facility.  http://www.griffithobservatory.org/

Griffith Observatory 

Griffith Observatory 

Another one of my favorite parts of the park is the abandoned zoo.  It was left as a zoo in 1966, but you can still hike and explore the old cages.  During the summer the Independent Shakespeare company performs for free four days a week. (I suggest making a donation if you take advantage of this great opportunity.)  This last summer Oliver and I saw Romeo and Juliet.  They did a fun 1980's style and I absolutely loved it.  I can't wait to see more from them.

These are just a few things you can do in Griffith park.  There's even more, but these are the things I've taken advantage of.  If you live or visit LA I highly suggest taking some time to explore this awesome park!

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