scattered

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“Don’t bite off more than you can chew,” they said. “Time management is my jam!”, I boasted in response. Oh my sweet friends, time management skills…

Pumpkins, witches, press releases, and midterms. Out of state reviews, at home interviews. Rehearsals and lack thereof. Community Land Trust events, a surprise Fireball appearance. Vegan transitioning, city strolling, gift shopping for a soon-to-be5-year-old. Dish washing, pointe shoe prepping, tea date catch ups, Swan Point walks. Show consolidation, damage control; busy messy life. Plans, schedules, routines, lists. Music to my ears.

Most days are spent navigating the quirky soundscape of Aleksandra Vrebalov’s beautiful score, picking apart Viktor’s intricate choreography and placing pieces into my body parts. I smooth them in with a few hundred repetitions. I am a mother in the morning, a widow when the lights darken. Buzzing in the kitchen, lonely in my rocker.

As you can see by the scattered nature of this post, it’s been a busy few weeks. I promise, I’ve been doing a lot of writing! Just not here. If you’d like to see, here’s a bit of what I’ve been up to…

My review of New York City Ballet‘s Here/Now Program celebrating contemporary choreographers, up now on The Wonderful World of Dance.

My interview with beloved children’s book author/illustrator Chris Van Allsburg (The Polar Express, Jumanji)– conducted entirely through snail mail- now on Festival Ballet Providence’s blog.

A press release for our first main stage performance, The Widow’s Broom, up on several different media sites, but here it is on Broadway World.

My interview with Tony Award-winning set designer Eugene Lee (of Wicked, Sweeney Todd, and Saturday Night Live) for Festival Ballet Providence’s blog.

 

photo by Jacob Hoover.

24 hours in nyc

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Hey, guys. Our quick trip to the city was a bit less adventurous than planned- note the puffy-eyed half-smile above. ^

I guess I can count myself lucky to have lived 25 years without experiencing serious food poisoning. But like most adventures to exciting places, this weekend’s trip gifted me with an unexpected notch in my belt…and a stitch in my belly. Safe to say this girl will not be eating sushi anytime soon!

Despite the many embarrassing circumstances my body surprised me with this weekend, I felt supported, loved, and cared for. There is a lesson in every bit of life (besides being wary of raw seafood) and this weekend’s was certainly one of compassion and trust. If only I could express my true level of gratitude for this sweet beanfriend. All I can say is I am sorry for couping you up in the big city. Thank you for making me feel cute in the least cute of times. Thank you for turning rain into sunflowers. Thank you for carrying my tea and toast. Thank you for all that you did and do. Thank you for being a one of a kind boo. Preesh you. Yup. I really, really do.

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weekend update

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Season 40 is off to a roaring start, and this beautiful beast shows no signs of slowing. In 5 weeks the company have learned almost 6 ballets; One new work is still in the creation phase, and our first full length Widow’s Broom is currently a collection of scenes. I have eight countable bruises on my legs and a fire in my belly. The time is now.

Speaking of full seasons and carpé-ing diems, this weekend M and I are off to the city to see New York City Ballet’s Here/Now program on Sunday. Wheeldon, Wheeldon, Ratmansky, Peck. What an incredible lineup! I will be reviewing the show on The Wonderful World of Dance, so stay tuned.

it’s october third.

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Oh, October. Sweet month of change. Temperatures finally dropping, but the sky does not yet fade. A dark bar incites its usual existential sound; crunchy brussels and and fluffy hummus abound. A bright breakfast expands palettes into poaching, Nick’s eggs + veggies do the experimental coaching. A weekend date requires little more than borrowed beanies and held mitts: a westside going golden and freshly layered knits. Dusty vintage rockets provoke one too many sneezes, strip-shouldered mannequins provide warm woolen squeezes. Grocery store hide-and-seek yields new plant babes and boo Sunday snacks. Portuguese fado follows carefully unplanned naps. Beanfriend makes soups, 90s Bourdain loops. Welcome, Dear Autumn, we’ve been waiting for you.

a week of wheeldon

How can 7 days feel like 28? Monday rehearsing, Tuesday teaching, Wednesday writing, Thursday sneezing, Friday performing, Saturday learning, Sunday running through.

Christopher Wheeldon’s The American is a 25-minute study of style. An energetic corps frames the ballet, the first and third movements clasping around the pas de deux like a joyful storm unable to disturb its tranquil eye. These rigorous bookends accentuate a languid pas de deux, ebbing and flowing at the heart of the ballet. One lift flows into the next with an unattainably smooth finish. It’s like treading water: keep both feet moving and you’re head will stay above water.

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That’s how this week has felt, too. Just keep moving. Put one foot in front of the other. Lean on each other. Lift each other. Confront discomfort. Find peace in solidarity. Work. Sweat. Love. Relax. We are searching for the strength, but first, it’s ice, massage, acupuncture, rest, then on to the next. 40th season, you are already a force.

a ballet a week

The 40th Season is off to a roaring start with an ambitious ballet-a-week tempo. Our bruised bodies are struggling to slip into the rhythm, like sun kissed cheeks through turtleneck sweaters come cool nights.

Vrebalov and Dvorak swirl their dramatic strings through the studios, comforting Mozart tempers mighty Magnificat. Ten thousand steps carve pathways in my mind, boot printing seemingly arbitrary aisles from one ballet to another. As I fall asleep at night, the hard lift from The American makes its way into Minna Shaw’s movement; But this Widow is grounded.

I’m an enlightened, distressed, heavy, heavenly creature in one studio, a wild flung tango temptress in the next. Counts and breaths and corrections seep up every pocket of my being, consuming me with the challenge that I love most of all. I am tired and sore. I am happy and whole. I am stepping into Week Three. Ready. Set.

 

photo by Tasnima Tanzim.

facing fears

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Like many dancers, I have struggled with body issues for a long, long while. I was a petite child until puberty threw me some curve(ball)s, forcing me to examine and reexamine my body. When I turned 18, I discovered my cooking skills (or lack thereof). When I turned 21, I discovered drinking (ha). When I turned 23, I discovered drinking in moderation (ha again). When I began doing more soloist work, I discovered cross training and eating consciously. When I began taking on more principal work, I discovered my fears.

This past weekend, I was nervous about hosting Wheeldon/Balanchine repetiteur Michele Gifford while she was in town setting The American. I am an introvert, so these kinds of intimate social interactions with strangers tend to give me anxiety. But, like most things we fear, it turned out to be a real learning experience. After dinner Saturday night, Michele and I had a long heart-to-heart.

“Every moment of every day, you have a choice.”

For so long, I have heard the same comments about my body. I have run a thorough obstacle course of attempts to shape my frame, most of which were fueled by hurt feelings, self-depreciation, and doubt. Sometimes my methods were healthy, other times they were not. Ultimately, each effort was squelched by a defensive inner voice.

“The only thing standing in your way is you.”

Feeling self conscious and attacked by male superiors at the ballet, I often found myself giving up on my goals as a way to give voice to my insecurities. What if I never look the way they want me to? What would happen if I did? Society says I am physically fit- why is ballet pressuring me to feel otherwise? Yeah! I look FINE! I would create angry narratives in my mind, convincing myself that the advice given by those in charge was outdated and wrong.

But then I would look in the mirror. While my inner voices created a strong sense of balance and continue to stave off dangerous aspirations, they also kept me from reaching my fullest potential. Michele reminded me that these angry thoughts are fears in disguise.

“If you know what you need to do to achieve something you want, just do it.”

Michele’s openness felt refreshing. She shared similar experiences, connecting with me on a struggle almost all female dancers face at some point. Her words of wisdom were honest and clear. If you want it, do it. It’s not easy, but it is simple.

What motivates you to reach your goals? If you are a dancer in need of support and guidance in reaching your potential, consider The Whole Dancer’s Best Body Program, a community of understanding individuals led by the insightful Jess Spinner.

 

photo by Tasnima Tanznim.