Travel Blog Entry 3: Free time

A large chunk of Monday and most of Tuesday were filled with rehearsals and our first performance. So many amazing things happened during that time that it deserves its own blog post. So here is the tale of how we filled our in-between times those days.

Exhausted from our long hike the evening before, we spent most of Monday morning relaxing. After rehearsal, we headed up to the pool deck to enjoy some post-sunset pool time.

Next stop was the “Lulu Hypermarket” (basically an Omani Costco from what we can tell), where we gaped at an enormous fish tank. The assumption was that if you ordered a fish, they would just catch one for you out of the tank. We didn’t text that assumption. We DID, however, spend about 20 minutes in the candy aisle, discovering new versions of our favorite treats as well as some we had never seen before. I made sure to pick up some Kinder chocolate. That stuff is incredible.

As it turns out, a mall had just opened next door to the hypermarket, so we headed over to ponder the assortment of western stores (H&M, Claire’s) that sell the sort of clothing we haven’t seen most locals wear.

Side note: many Omani women wear what’s called an “abaya,” a long (typically black) cotton dress/tunic with long sleeves that reaches to the feet, and they keep their heads covered as well. From the conversations I’ve had with the women, they dress this way for both cultural and religious reasons, and they take great pride in it (this could be a much longer discussion, but this blog post is supposed to be about our free time so I’ll stop here). Moral of the story, somehow I don’t see these women breaking down the doors of an H&M for jean shorts.

We spent most of the day Tuesday at the theater, but not before Tarah, Chops, Jason, and I took a walk to the Natural History Museum (with two pit stops: one at a music store for a quick jam sesh and one to take pictures of a beautiful mosque). With just a few Omani Rials as entry fee for the four of us, the museum offered taxidermy dioramas displaying the various landscapes and wildlife found in Oman. There were also a LOT of bugs on display, including a spider that we all agreed was probably the most terrifying thing in existence.

The museum also holds the “Whale Hall” (its a room big enough for a sperm whale skeleton and a few dolphin skeletons.) Apparently much of the Indian Ocean is a whale sanctuary, and the waters surrounding the coast of Oman are filled with many different species (the more you know!). We also learned that the clicking sounds made by a sperm whale sound a LOT like a prog-rock drummer, and that Chops is afraid of blue whales.


The rest of Tuesday was filled with AWESOME experiences from our first performance. So more on that next!


Travel Blog Entry 2: “Easy Hill and Wadi Walk” (5/18)

Remember how I said the rest of today would include some walking and shopping? Well half of that was the understatement of the century. Spoiler alert, the understatement is about the walking.groupshot

We threw on our lightest-weight clothes and geared up for a dayof walking around “Old Muscat” – the area of the city that

used to be all there was of Muscat. Before modern roads were built, traders had to traverse rocky hill trails to reach the city, but more on that later.

We began at the Royal Palace of Muscat. It was (again) hot, but we were quickly distracted by the beauty of the space we had entered. A wide walkway, lined with white stone covered hallways, led us up to the gates of the palace. Carefully cultivated gardens framed the palace itself, which stood behind the safety of two decorative cannons.


Step two? Grab some water and ice cream in a beautiful park full of locals, take some gorgeous pictures by the bay, then walk towards the trailhead for our “easy hill and wadi walk”. (wadi = dry riverbed. they’re all over)


Allow me to clarify… Most of today’s decisions had been borne of Chops’s travel guidebook. So far it had proven itself to be quite trustworthy, though it had a few museum times wrong, and the lack of marked roads made it tricky to follow ourselves on the map. But it did lead us over a really cool bridge.

It also made this hike sound just so wonderful. At this point i don’t remember what the guidebook’s exact words, but even though words like “rocky” and “elevation change” were present, there were also a lot of words like “enjoyable” and “easy.” Besides, it was an old trade route… how tough could it be?

Tough. It could be real tough…


After an initial scramble up a steep hill (covered in nothing but rocks), a few of us began to question our clothing and footwear choices. Still, we paused at the top of the hill to enjoy the view of where we’d come from (the tiny sculpture in the pack of this picture is a giant incense burner… cool huh?). Then we heard the call to prayer echoing from the mosques across the city.

It was a peaceful moment, until we realized we were losing our light and should get a move on. We wanted to make it to the top of our hill and begin our slow, easy descent through a dry riverbed that had been promised by the guidebook.

Unfortunately, the hills started to play those tricks that only hills know how to. A second peak appeared behind the first one we summited, followed by some fairly narrow traverses. This was definitely not an “easy hill.”

We were relieved to finally begin our descent, but (unfortunately) the sun took that opportunity to begin its own descent. Headlamps and flashlights came out, and our walk down got that much more interesting

The rest of the hike down consisted of a lot of teamwork and encouragement, as well as a few adrenaline-packed moments, specifically the moment in which i thought i saw a monkey climbing down a rock right at me. It was a shadow. I don’t think there even ARE monkeys in Oman. We were also disappointed to see that the “dry riverbed” had quite a few pools of standing water that merited some extra climbing to get around.

After an arrival at what seemed like a certain dead end, we quickly realized there (in fact) WAS a way out, and one last uphill scramble brought us in view of buildings and lights. They were such a welcome sight we didn’t even notice that this popular trail had just spit us out through a graveyard. Well we noticed it right at the end. We walked pretty quickly back to that road.

That’s the short version of the hike story. Maybe someday I’ll write out the whole thing. I think we’re all looking forward to a day of rehearsing and relaxing tomorrow. But for now, goodnight from Oman!


Travel Blog Entry 1: Welcome to Muscat (Sunday 5/17)

We did it! After about 22 hours of travel, we arrived safe and sound in Muscat. Highlights and realizations from the journey include:

  • Lindsay packed the heaviest checked-bag
  • Chops can sleep for HOURS on a plane
  • Qatar Airways has what must be the biggest movies selection of any airline ever

We shared our flight to Doha with some Northwestern Qatar students.  A brief chat with them revealed they have the same acting teacher that Durbaugh and I had in college. She is still her same intense and wonderful self. Small world, right? We also shared that flight with an astoundingly helpful/pleasant flight crew and a gaggle of screaming babies. Thank heaven for ear plugs.

Our brief stay in the Doha airport allowed us to browse an enormous duty-free shop and ask each other important questions like “what time is it?” “how long did I sleep on that flight?” and “wait, can we send texts over wifi?” We also came to the conclusion that we were at least a little bummed that we couldn’t spend more time in Doha.

Our long trek came to an end when we arrived at our Muscat hotel just after 10pm local time. This morning has consisted of a battle against jetlag and a few trips to the hotel roof deck. Let me tell you… it is HOT here. Like sitting inside a hair dryer hot.


Fascinating sculpture in the Doha Airport. The whole airport itself is SUPER new and gorgeous.


The view from our roof deck. Right after I took this, I checked the temperature on my phone. It said 113 degrees fahrenheit.

Our real adventures start after lunch – we’ve got some wandering and shopping on the schedule for the rest of the day. More updates to come.


Annnnnd we’re off!

That’s right, ladies and gents. Be the Groove is headed around the world! We’ve been invited to represent the US at the International Rhythm Festival in Muscat, Oman. We’re performing at The Royal Opera House. Here’s a picture:

Screen shot 2015-05-15 at 9.59.55 AMPretty cool, huh?

For the duration of the trip, will become our very own travel blog, so check in for daily updates. Before we leave, here are some thoughts from cast members…

“I am most excited about meeting the other international artists and learning from them. Also excited about exploring the Middle East for the first time with 6 of my favorite people.” – lindsay

I’m excited because I bought a sun protective hat that looks vaguely like Indiana Jones….” – durnbaugh

“Excited about the food! Apparently there are tiny cups of thick-brewed coffee with cardamom everywhere, and fresh fruit juices.” – chops

As for me? Well I didn’t know about the fresh fruit juices, so that’s pretty exciting. I’ve got to say I’m most excited to see a culture that I otherwise would NEVER have been exposed to (let’s be real, I had never even considered going to Oman before). It’s a whole new set of social codes and values and I can’t wait to learn about it.

I’m also SO pumped to share rhythm with people from around the entire globe. We’re going to communicate with 3,000 audience members while we’re on stage, most of whom probably don’t speak english, but that won’t matter. We’ll be communicating and they will (in their own way) interpret and understand what we’re doing. That sounds pretty incredible to me.

Stay tuned for pictures of us being sleepy and cranky on the plane and then the ADVENTURE!


Happy New Year!

January 1st is a time to look back at the previous year, learn from mistakes, and try to figure out what we can make better about the upcoming year. Apparently, so is January 8th…

2015 is shaping up to be an EXCITING year for Be the Groove. Let’s check in with the company members to find out what resolution(s) they’re making this year, as well as the resolutions I’m making for them:

Make the most of each day. Also, read at least one book per month. – Tarah Durnbaugh. She’s also resolving to start her own apple orchard, operated entirely by NFL players, called In-Cider-Linebacker.

To get my butt out there and run. – Kevin Durnbaugh. He will also spend this year perfecting his one-man, spoken word, performance-art piece based on the music of Taylor Swift.

Less phone, more books. According to my new kindle (oh hi, very applicable Christmas gift), I’m 38% through my first book of 2015. *Takes deep, overdramatic bow* – Laura Weiss. In addition to all that reading, Laura resolves to become an adorable puppy
I’m going to try to make serious attempts at meditating. The amount of time I spend staring at Facebook might be better spent looking inward… Or maybe not. I’ll find out and report back to you. – Kevin Brown. Kevin is also creating a social media app for people who make their own beer called BRWR (working title).
To live each day like I travelled back in time just to enjoy it again. – Lindsay Shepherd. Her other resolution is to actually build a time machine.

Often times we wait for big events or milestone birthdays to do cool and exciting things.  Why wait?  Nothing is guaranteed.  My 2015 resolution/ motto is: Live my life NOW. – Stephanie Paul. Steph also aims to become the first person ever to execute a tough-mudder in stiletto heels.

I resolve to be bold. -Lori Buchanan. She also continues to work on her lifelong goal of getting the ring to Mordor.

I did this last year and it worked really well up until April. I’m going to try it again. The goal is keep up with more current music. The rules are: listen to two albums I’ve never heard before each week. At least one must be from the past year. And I have to listen to them at least twice to give the ones I don’t like a second chance. I fell out of this resolution last year because I found myself circling back and listening more and more to my favorites. -Jason Hanggi. Jason also resolves to ALWAYS use the Oxford Comma.

Happy New Year!!


BTG Jams: songs that inspire us

Welcome to BTG Jams. Every week(ish), a few cast members will share the music they’re jamming out to. Give ’em a listen – Let us know what you think! Throw some songs our way! Make up a dance and send us the video! (The possibilities here are endless).

From Laura:

10cc – “I’m Not In Love”

It’s classic and from 1975 and it makes me feel like moving in slo-mo. Also this song kicks off Guardians of the Galaxy, which is an awesome movie.

Annnnnnd Lindsay:

Dave Brubeck – “Toki’s Theme” from his album Jazz Impressions From Japan.

I found this record in a thrift store, and it’s one of my favorites. As soon as I heard this song I just started choreographing a tap dance in my head- which I may actually set on some dancers this summer.

Last but not least, Steph:

Odesza- “Say My Name” (feat. Zyra)

I’m a huge fan of electronic music that doesn’t cater to the “WAIT FOR IT! WAIT FOR IT! THE BEAT IS ABOUT TO DROOOOOOOOP!” syndrome (because if you wait too long, bad things happen- exhibit A).  I find Odesza’s music to be incredibly smart and soulful.  I live for music that has me grooving and feeling like I’m floating  all at the same time.   This song (and the entire album) does exactly that.  Just try to sit still during the chorus.  Impossible.

That’s it for round 1 of BTG Jams – check back soon for more!

Off the Stage

I love Be the Groove for a lot of reasons. I could go into all of them here, but I won’t. No one really needs to scroll through a blog post THAT long. But I do want to talk about one reason I love being a company member, one of the reasons we decided we needed to start this blog: we have an absolute blast any time we are together.

The current cast has been working and performing together for over three years now. Some members have known each other for many more. We travel together, share meals, and laugh a LOT. Our rehearsals are sprinkled with jokes, smiles, and ridiculous dance warm-ups. And I believe all of this shows up on stage when we perform. There’s something really satisfying about looking across the stage at a friend you’ve shared years of memories with. There’s something satisfying about getting to share that with an audience.

We want this blog to give you a little peek into our world, so you can meet each of us not only as performers, but also as people (people who play on playground equipment, have fake sword fights, and sing karaoke). You’ll be hearing from many cast members along the way, but for now, here are a few pictures of some of my favorite BTG memories. For the record, Durnbaugh and I are singing a song from RENT in the karaoke picture.




Congratulations! You’ve made your way to Blog the Groove. The official blog for any and all things Be the Groove related.

If you aren’t familiar with us, we’re a Chicago-based drum, rhythm, and dance ensemble. Check out our website and our facebook page for more info.

Stay tuned to find out what’s really going on behind the scenes at BTG – what makes us tick, what makes us dance, and really anything else we want to share. Our goal is to give all our fans and friends a chance to see what inspires us, and to get to know us off the stage and out of rehearsal.

So if you want to know all the awesome and hilarious details about being a member of BTG, check back soon. Or better yet, subscribe!

Rhythmically yours,

Be the Groove