that’s a wrap

IMG_4154

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Two weeks from today marks opening night of Nutcracker and the first official day of winter. But dancers know Nutcracker season is already in full swing, and New Englanders (or other cold-weather-dwellers) know winter has indeed arrived.

Early sunsets and extended studio hours make for chilly ballerinas. Luckily, my absolute favorite dancewear brand, RubiaWear, has us covered. Literally. Hehe.

IMG_4173.JPG

I firmly believe everything Ashley Ellis touches turns to gold. The RubiaWear creator and Boston Ballet principal dancer has been growing her collection of ultra-soft and flattering warm ups (which began as a range of legwarmers), and I am all about it. I’ve waxed poetic on the perfection of Rubia legwarmers in the past, but have I introduced you to the Cora wrap?

IMG_4152

Made from the softest fabric in a rainbow of color options, the Cora is cut to the perfect long-enough-to-warm-you-up but short-enough-to-keep-things-light way that Ashley’s designs seem to nail every time. The cozy wrap multitasks as much as its maker, lending itself to a whole gamut of various functions. While I tend to wear it doubled up around my hips, I’ve also been known to circle it around my neck when my shoulders feel stiff, or blanket it over my knees backstage.

Versatility, coziness, and a ballerina-run business. Win, win, win, as they say.

Curious about Cora? Check out my chat with Ashley here and browse the full RubiaWear line here.

four decades of dance

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

You know how I’ve been complaining for the past year about how busy I’ve been? Well friends, I wrote a book.

What started as a simple chronicle of Festival Ballet’s 40 years became a thorough narrative not only encapsulating the history of the company, but showcasing photos and memorabilia that had since been lost in the depths of the archives. I spent many an afternoon elbow-deep in the chaotic filing cabinets that keep Festival’s past, riffling through playbills from the ’80s, checking facts and faces as I went. Many summer days spent sweating in the little conference room at 825 Hope, choosing fonts, resizing photos, playing graphic designer…

0FD124F8-C636-46BF-877D-5578E566C354IMG_2212

I am a perfectionist. I am rarely happy with my work. For the first time in what feels like a long time, I am truly pleased. I have so many people to thank for their assistance and mentorship along the way. But here, in this special little piece of webspace where I can open myself up, I will say: I am proud.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Stay tuned for the final version of the book, and information on how to order it, if you’re interested. For now, I’ll just remain unabashedly tickled. :)

 

photos of me by Michael Collins, cover photo by Jacob Hoover.

kinetic

594F9A72-E7C0-497D-A8F2-3DFBBB07FCDF.JPG

Second piece on the program, we hopped and jogged through half the first, building the blood up in our bellies. Listening for the change in key, we scurried through the wings behind the backdrop, waiting stage right. Silently and in darkness, we writhed. Each of us feeling out our bodies in the tight strip of blackness, checking for the twist of our spines, the flexibility of our shoulders. Measuring the bare space before us with micro-movements, careful not to brush our backs against the drop- give ourselves away. Shifting from one foot to the other, testing balance in this blankness. In my careful tangling I became aware of the odd process we practice: eyes closed, somehow separate but synced. Moving in a coil, gathering energy up from the floor through our feet and into this one mass we became.

From our swirling came lights, strings, an explosion of electrified bodies zip-zapping and bouncing from one spark to the next.

Of a work of art, depending on movement for its effect. Kinetic.

And now, the morning after, I find myself revisiting an old friend. White Electric. One of my favorite west side coffee shops, with its three bolts of electricity flashing across the front window. Just sitting like a citizen, reminiscing on 14 hours ago when I was made of some other matter.

back to the stage

Processed with VSCO with b1 preset

Beethoven, Phillip Glass, unauthored cacophonies, but first ballet class…

This weekend I will (finally!) perform in my first real program of the season! That’s seven longs months offstage, folks. Despite last minute adjustments in choreography, costumes, timing, spacing (you know, the usual), I am feeling emotionally r e a d y. I’m dancing Plotnikov, Kozadayev, Yanowsky, and Douglas. Ooof, now say that all five times fast…

So tonight’s the night. It’s about dang time. Let’s do this thing. Go get ’em, tiger. And all those other clichés. See you on the other side.

 

Photo by Dylan Giles.

perform and protect

IMG_1927

Every year around the first week of November, my calendar fills up with acupuncture appointments and ice baths. My heating pad fires up multiple times a day, I sit down whenever possible, and when standing is a necessity, I consciously shift weight back and forth between my two legs to avoid (or let’s be honest, delay) the eminent burn out of my left calf muscle. That’s right, Nutcracker Season is upon us and my left leg is feeeeeeling it.

IMG_1928

If you have danced any variation of the “traditional” Petipa version of Grand Pas (affectionately referred to as Grandpa), you know what I mean. Each and every section of the 15 minute pas de deux- from adagio to coda- seems to depend heavily on the strength of the left leg. It’s the supporting leg in every pirouette, promenade, and balance and by the last cymbal crash, that baby is screaming.

IMG_1926

Swooping in to give my left calf any chance of survival this season, my favorite compression-tech dancewear brand, Apolla, sent over one of their newest products to save the day. The K-warmer (short for Kinesio) is made with a tight-knit to provide targeted compression to sore leg muscles. The special weave encourages circulation, which reduces inflammation and lowers the risk of injury. It’s sort of like having a personal physical therapist following your sore legs around, wrapping tape where you need support and applying pressure where you need blood flow.

IMG_1932

I love that the K-warmer provides support while still allowing my body to perform at its full range of motion. The warmers (which come in a set) can be extended for full leg coverage, but I like to double up on the squeeze-factor by folding one down around my calf for an extra warm hug. On particularly long days, I keep my K-warmers on when I leave the studio, so they can keep working their magic while my body transitions into rest mode. Performance and protection, double whammy! They are also antimicrobial (aka not stinky), sleek fitting (hello tutu time), and dancer approved.

IMG_1930

I really do swear by all of Apolla’s products and wear them daily. You guys know, I only work with brands that I genuinely love and think you will, too! If you want to get your hands on/legs in a pair of K-warmers, use code STB-ApollaDiscount-4 for 10% off at checkout.

PS- this is not an affiliate code- I don’t make any money from this, just want to spread the love and help you survive Nutcracker Season! Code is valid through November 22, 2018. xx

october thoughts

4349199F-D321-4962-A5EF-CD8D1455020F.JPGTwo old souls finding softness in a militaristic movement. Ions attracting and repelling, sharing energy and exploding into convulsive, wiggling bits. A journey from one corner to another, whirling up and grounding down on the way. A war between love and sex, excitement and exhaustion, swing and still, girl and mirror. Up Close On Hope will be a close up study of polarity for me.

Kozadayev, Plotnikov, Douglas, and most notably Yanowsky’s Reverso are forcing my body to produce opposing qualities, while my mind is confronted with an eerily similar feat. Reverso has me with eyes straight into the mirrored wall, unable to avoid self-examination, critique, judgment…all of these useful dancer tools so excellently exploited into an emotional movement that has no use for acting. We’re pressing limbs against their reflections, plunging forward into ourselves and out again. What a unique concept to make an exhibition of introspection. And oh, the danger of what we might see…

I’ve shared insecurities here before, and written several times about life’s uncanny ability to match studio and soul. When heartbreak left me speechless, Moonlight told the story of writer’s block. When new love filled up my journal once again, Apollo put Calliope’s scroll in my hands and the words flowed like Balanchinian building blocks. Now, in this period of change- both in company and home life- I am confronted daily with the demons that ballet can so cruelly conjure. Some days I feel more armed to fight than others. And in this written therapy session I am wondering if I can ever devise a way to simply…not fight.

Is it possible to just drop my weapon? Unhand myself? Call off the charge? Can I just dance? Can I just not? A sad question for such an ethereal art form. And all the while I’m bruising my toenails and enflaming my itis in preparation to do just that; dance and not. Sugarplums and grieving girls are pas de deux-ing in my head. Halloween week has certainly arrived, friends.