breathed into being

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Setting sail from one sweet port to the next. Finding an upturned lip in the darkened threads of a couch. Seeing stripes in the reflection of a metallic basin. Counting days, hours, minutes…then losing track of everything and anything at all.

Dancing and romancing, singing tragedies without words. Becoming someone else for an evening, savoring their spark, pushing away their sorrow. Remembering that acting can intercept with reality and- even when you don’t intend it- life informs your art.

Noticing the frayed string of a tiny tea bag. Imagining the one-sided conversation heard by strangers in the park all the way on the other end of the telephone. Imagining the way his eyes flicker when he’s saying something serious. At night, wrapping myself in the weight of us; In the daytime, walking light as air.

All of these things can be used. Taken, molded, changed, wrapped around a different character, and breathed into being on stage. And just as easily, when the time comes and the final curtain calls, they unwrap from around your limbs and dissolve into memories. A beautiful catalogue to return to from the next life.

“I’ve never been good at goodbyes.” So darling, I’ll see you soon.

benefit speaks

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“The world gave me many things, but the only thing I ever kept was absolute solitude.”

-Dulce Maria Loynez, Absolute Solitude

In the busy bodies of modern humans, you will find many cluttered minds. Wade deeper into the rising tide of the millennial mind, resist the pull of digital distraction and you will find a sliver of longing. Small and made of negative space like the eye of a needle, soft as an echo, this little longing looks for real connection.

Locating and listening to this longing may sound tough, but the true challenge lies in deciphering its request. In a culture where connection may be an epidemic, we must learn the difference between connecting with a pixelated person and a tangible one. Sometimes connecting with others requires a reconnection with oneself. Enter the Benefit Street Stroll I took myself on this past weekend…

I am a lover of solitude. There are few things I can’t do alone, and in fact, I often prefer it this way. Recently, though, I have found myself longing for some company, reaching for a hand when the cobblestones snag my shoe.

Instead, I got an afternoon of connection with the city I love. I stumbled upon a tour of the Stephen Hopkins house, a pocket of Providence history ripe with rebellious stories and shadows of the past. I tucked myself into the Athenaeum, searched for Georges Sand, got to know Walt Whitman, and filled several pages of my journal, reflecting on just how much can change in a year. Or two. Or three. I took the time to notice the colors of the homes matching the blushing autumn sky. I sifted through the crackling confetti fallen from trees that will too soon be sleeved in snow.

I decided to learn what I already knew: You are never truly alone, if you can listen when your city speaks to you.

autumnal things

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dying chlorophyll confetti

flying, fertilized, and ready

giving wind its autumn sound

painting time upon the ground

 

root to rise

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We’re sliding into slower days and I’m splayed out, one foot into nesting mode and the other five toes clinging dearly to the adventurous personality of my summer skin. As I’ve mentioned before, these past 8 months have been a real metamorphoses for me. In February, I was dropped hard onto the earth. In March, I learned how bitter it could be. In April, I recited a manifesto. In May, I was reborn, I dove into a lake. In June, I was surprised. I hugged my soulmates and let go of fear. In July, I harnessed a confidence I never knew lived inside me all along. By August, I was floating.

Then September rolled up. In her suitcases she carried anxiety and doubt, a familiar overthinking that kept me up at night. Toxic ambivalence. This duality of heart that served me such clarity 8 months ago, in the amber light of fall just clouded my lens. With my head already underwater, I’ve got no choice but to kick and paddle. So I swim.

A certain someone recently acknowledged the indescribable feeling that comes from just being with your art. No expectations, no homework, no parameter of time. Just pure connection with this inhuman, breathing beast that has grown with you always. It will make you whole, if you just let it.

Today, I am channeling that. Restore. Refresh. A new month, a new mindset. Let’s work, let’s play. Happy October.

welcome to the dark side

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For most of my career I have been “the good guy.” Fairy, princess, maiden, swan queen; she comes in many forms, all of which include a healthy does of sweetness and sparkles. Last season, however, I got to dip my toes into the shoes of a not-so-nice-guy, and well…I kinda loved it.

Our fall season opens with Ilya Kozadayev‘s (very creepy) Hansel & Greteland I’ve graduated from the young heroine and straight into the wicked mind of her evil stepmother. She’s mean, she’s ruthless, she might even be slightly possessed. And yes, I’m all about it. Who knew creating the conflict could be so satisfying?

Though the show is part of our chatterBOXtheatre series geared toward children, brilliant Ilya did not hold back on the scare-factor of this grim (Grimm, heh*) story. The role is rife with all sorts of unsettling movements in which some vile creature within nearly breaks through her skin and bursts into the scene. The choreography somehow accomplishes this while remaining folkloric and simple enough for children to grasp onto. No small task. Perhaps the most frightening thing of all, though, is the stepmother’s ability to keep all of this darkness contained behind a startlingly realistic artificial composure. Shudder. She’s an intricate bit of character work and a real treat to tuck into. Long live the bad guy.

 

*Full disclosure, I already used this joke once today, in an interview with H&G choreographer, Ilya Kozadayev. Not proud, but still sorta proud, you know?

photo by Dylan Giles for Festival Ballet Providence

not to worry

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“I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not how shall
I correct it?

Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?

Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
can do it and I am, well,
hopeless.

Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism,
lockjaw, dementia?

Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
and sang.”

-Mary Oliver, I Worried

shaping the clay

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It’s simply impossible to put this summer into words. But on a recent train ride home from New York, on the final page of a journal that has seen me through some big transitions, I tried. In the spirit of celebrating vulnerability and staying accountable, here is that entry- unedited, raw, and rambling. If you are interested…

 

I am not standing still.

I am evolving, changing, growing, blooming, becoming. Shaping my clay, never into the kiln, careful to never let the dust quite settle. I am so grateful for the gift that this summer has been. The shift to total positivity. The timing. I am awake, I am alive. I am here. I am everywhere. 

I am vowing to stay curious. To stay lost. And to always appreciate roaming. Even when things get hard, when I cry, when I get hurt, when winter seems too long and ballet seems too hard. I have been created by every experience I have had so far, and this process continues infinitely. The good and the bad. The bad things seem to thrust me ever more vigorously into a season of light and hope, and for that I am incredibly thankful.

I have found my balance, and learned that it is an active pursuit- not something to set and forget. It is my daily actions, the decision to get out. To take risks, to talk to strangers. To interact with my world and notice its ebbs and flows. To lean into the current and also go against the grain. To see the patch of sunlight on the floor and cuddle with it. To feel the weight of the world and turn towards, not away, from it. This mixture, this recipe, it’s always changing, adjusting.

The greatest asset: flexibility of spirit. The ability to re-envision my life again and again. To see the endless possibilities ahead of me, and know that reality will look like none of them. To celebrate that. To see the future as unlimited in variation, but so preciously limited in length. To be given this perspective right when I needed it, and to be given the ability to share it by doing what I love. To connect with new places and faces. To experience new relationships. To feel love. To love. To be loved in so many different ways. To love every little bit of it. 

 

Happy September. Keep shaping.