plié this way

DSC_7659DSC_7727DSC_7636

DSC_7809

I remember the first piece of Free People clothing I ever wore, because I still own it.  Decidedly outside my usual color scheme, the tangerine hoodie is embroidered in thick black thread with an intricate floral pattern.  It has been mine for nearly a decade, a most prized gift for accomplishing the awkward task of turning fifteen.  Since then I’ve moved from my parents’ home to my brother’s, to a shared apartment in Providence before finally my own, and a certain orange sweater has come with me every time.  Though admittedly not something I wear every day, that Free People hoodie gives me such fuzzy feelings.

These days my uniform has changed slightly, from tangerine sweatshirts to easy dresses, flowy tees and seamless intimates by the boho brand.  It would be no exaggeration to say my closet is chock full of freeps…and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

So when Free People contacted me about styling a few pieces for their Movement is Free campaign, I yipped, squealed, and jumped on the idea.  Kelly did what she does best (with a side of cuteness and Christmas) and HERE WE ARE!  On the FREE PEOPLE WEBSITE!  Sorry for the shouting.  I’m a tad excited.

Go check it out, if you like.  Let me know what you think, should you feel so inclined. I’ll just be here, happy-dancing…

 

all photos by Kelly Louise Photography.

summer solstice

Monday morning starts with an apartment in the trees.  On the West side of Providence, somewhere on Broadway, I sit in a yellow kitchen surrounded by the most vivacious potted plants I have ever seen.  I don’t think the owner of this apartment has ever thrown away an empty bottle of liquor; he chooses instead to make the many vessels into candlesticks and homes for dried lavender.  This is a sentimental touch that I, of course, appreciate.  Samara buzzes all around me, and when she stands back my hair is curled, lashes applied and lips fully glossed.  Melissa dresses me in a way only she could, romper and tank layered and ready to “lounge”.  There’s a python peaking out from a rock across from me, and she’s growing longer by the minute, clearly curious of my intentions here.  Under Evan’s direction, I rifle through records, thumb through ghost stories, and dance- freeps style- to Magpie Blues Collection, Volume 1 on vinyl.FullSizeRender 101.jpg

Emily joins, her blonde tresses mirroring mine, and together we prepare for the outside world.  Outfits changed, hats and sunnies placed and replaced, we take to the streets for record shopping, bike riding, and other “first day of summer!” tom foolery.

FullSizeRender 104.jpgFullSizeRender 105

DSC_8596

DSC_8591

When the evening is closing in and my architecture class drawing near, a few polaroids by the river commemorate the end of our “Best Day of Summer”.  And all sarcasm aside, with (free- thanks Evan!) lunch at Geoff’s, a cuddle sesh with Hudson, and an introduction to some talented new friends, this day really is going to give the next 72 a run for their money.

hair + makeup: Samara St. Martin

styling: Melissa Csigay

first 3 photos by Frame & Anchor, all others by Kelly Louise Photography for Free People.

stay tuned for more about the making of this collaborative video…

tracing our tracks

IMG_2666

with the chill of an april night in may,

we march out again to float above the river.

365 days dustier, our train tracks seem only to have magnified in magic…

IMG_2683

so too has my aversion to such height-induced adrenaline,

but now we are we, and together we walk free.

clutching your expert hands I tread since-vanquished coals with care as if they still burned.

I follow your flippers, tracing your tracks and placing each velvet slipper on the rail behind yours.

someone else’s mother’s leather floats across the divide and I trail…

IMG_2668

it seems 12 months time has erased my subtle cool completely, and I freeze.

please.

please wake my feet that they may flee in tidy take off,

incite my knees that they may ensure a steady landing,

and oh please, leave my racing mind at peace that it may not tempt curious eyes to seek the water below.

a shaky leap and at last I meet you for the first and five hundredth time…

IMG_2567

we turn to face           a searing sky.

burning hearts pressed together,

now above the train tracks

over the river

we fly.

 

5.24.16. written on a cool tuesday morning, dreaming of the past weekend…week…year…and all of the painted skies to come.

the fourth wall

Klaus_Frahm_4th_Wall_itsnicethat_7

As a child of performing arts, the view of an empty theater from behind the “fourth wall” is wildly nostalgic.

Klaus_Frahm_4th_Wall_itsnicethat_11To me, the rows of vacant seats are not hollow, but filled instead with a warm familiarity.

Klaus_Frahm_4th_Wall_itsnicethat_13They are balanced, orderly, reliable.  Overflowing with the promise of their imminent fullness, but still an expression of beauty as they wait.
Klaus_Frahm_4th_Wall_itsnicethat_10

Arriving hours before opening to prepare for performance, I silently converse with the sacred space which lives in the absence of a dark red curtain.  I see the theater in its polished glory.

Klaus_Frahm_4th_Wall_itsnicethat_9

I see its restful moments in between shows.

Klaus_Frahm_4th_Wall_itsnicethat_12

And so too, its occasional center stage nap.

Klaus_Frahm_4th_Wall_int_1

Hamburg-born photographer Klaus Frahm created a series of images featuring European theaters captured from behind.  The collection feels oddly personal to me, like a visual documentation of my relationship with performing.  Equally insightful is Frahm’s philosophy regarding the art of photography as “revealing something laying under the surface”, a concept beautifully manifested in his work.

Though as diverse as the countries they inhabit, there’s a strange sense of continuity in a venue specifically intended for the sharing of performance art.  I find looking out at a theater from the perspective of the performer always provides a sense of home, whether that stage be in Rhode Island or Russia.

photos & quote via

the fading of light and love

lAi9_d2F2UGaRikIeM1UNAJa7iXsr3LOZaPVXcU4oegLFrRoijFKxH5c_JREgsaghFYcHcJHfxG0sWMdZ9pptkbp5AwOVlmsxY57fXU0RsTiOI4WP9zOwJF6l8LjpttxA

We enter the back of a sublimely bare church, the void of prayers sated only by a rich wash of morning light.  Soothing acoustic plucks guide a white dress through satisfyingly simple, narrative movement.  Intimate perspectives drift over pews, peeking their way down into a dreamy scene.  The videographic rendering of indie rocker Rob Drabkin‘s Stay (The Morning Light Fades) is refreshingly elegant.

exoRLyzhpeW9RF77wTxq71SiJOakj7QFu12yHwAKvrI PywvTyUupMA04D42pr0OUD_4aBSKPUeeEtLeJR0OdYU

Featuring clean choreography by Amanda Copple of Denver’s Michelle Latimer Dance Company, the music video is indulgently fluid in all of its facets.  Copple, partnered by charming fellow MLDC dancer Luke Kamppila, weaves the melody into each step, chords rolling over shoulders like a third dancer, visible only through the expression of its creator.  As our trio of dancers spill out from the pews of Colorado Springs’ Shove Chapel, we follow their “catch and release” love story, desperate movements shadowing the beauty and pain of an endangered relationship.  Copple and Kamppila float in and out of each others arms, the discord in their energies demonstrated by opposing directional focuses and out of sync turns.  They swim through the open air into feathery lifts and gentle connections, then combust into an irreparable dissonance.  Director Dillon Novak reflects on the result of a “once in a lifetime” videoshoot, offering,

 “Partitions of stained glass and countless rows of outstretching pews and columns become the physical bounds of a relationship. Beginning in the back of the sanctuary, a history of love unfolds into a dance. Their story travels through radiant light and crushing darkness, fighting their way towards the front of the church.”

jWgYzue4gfIPlR1TPig6G_QcBx11sQzw6lNrDXGHfhw gIT7BvLlmWdF7z2r2CyKTqk58leujvkEUf-zRiL5v7U

The composer and musician Rob Drabkin himself, who chose the video’s venue not for any religious or nuptial semblance but for the pure enchantment of its natural light and stained-glass windows, sheds perhaps the most insightful light on the collaboration.  Drabkin’s soulful singing reflects his own experience with the ache and relief which shadow the ultimate expiring of a faded relationship.  Stay‘s delicate chord progressions materialized as movement in Drabkin’s mind from the moment he conceived them, and when the song was complete, a need for choreographic accompaniment became impossible to ignore.  “It was time to take a risk and put the idea into motion.”  And we’re so glad you did, Mr. Drabkin.

Catch the full music video on vevo.

6_B2ZiGMYsH6ZaM_46MAv58ge8dnVPzoctAJAoaGU7U

rethink ballet

How cool is this new “Rethink Ballet” promotional clip from Boston Ballet?  The slow-motion quality and pared down setting allow for a unique observation of each dancers gorgeous technique.  There’s something so satisfying about seeing the climax of a saut de chat when the moments just before have been warped in temporal extension.  A soaring jump is lovely, but a perfect preparation satiates the soul, am I right?  Stretched speeds, prolonged lines, and an apparent refusal to accept all matters of physics.  Are you rethinking ballet yet?

Tonight I will be attending BB’s final program at the Boston Opera House, Thrill of Contact, and with Balanchine, Forsythe, Robbins and Cirio on the bill, I must say my hopes are very high.  Such an incredible repertoire, and the charming principal dancer Jeffrey Cirio’s mainstage debut as a choreographer- sign me up!

leading ladies: misty & amy

IMG_7912

Ballet and fashion have enjoyed a mutually propitious relationship for quite some time, volleying inspiration throughout history and resulting in some pretty amazing collaborations.  But the bond goes so much deeper than the beauty and glamour they share, and who better to showcase that bond than two of ballet and fashion’s leading ladies, ABT soloist Misty Copeland and Teen Vogue editor-in-chief Amy Astley?

If you’ve ever wondered what a conversation between these powerhouses might consist of, you’re not alone, and you’re in luck.  As part of their fantasy-indulging “Possible Conversations” series, online editorial platform, The Thick, has brought Copeland and Astley together (in a super luxe setting, to boot) for an exclusive feature.  The resulting discussion does not disappoint, diving right in passed the glitz and straight to the grit.

I was so pleased to follow the conversation into truly honest territory, in which the ladies weigh in on the juxtaposing grace and strength that can exist within a single creature.  So much of fashion pursues a seemingly unattainable “easy” chicness, and the mastery of ballet revolves around making each impossible step look natural.  One comment in particular, from Ms. Astley, really struck me:

“Whether in dance or fashion, if you can get to the top, you know you’re made of stern stuff. It’s sort of like ‘Swan Lake.’ The swan is so beautiful on the water, but underneath, the legs are working like crazy.”

When I teach ballet to younger students, this is one of my favorite examples to use.  In an attempt to calm their often rambunctious port-de-bras and shift some of that excess energy into the lower halves of their bodies, first I ask my students what a swan looks like from our point of view, gliding over the water.  “Elegant!  Soft!  Smooth!  Feathers!  One time I fed swans with my grandpa!”…you always get that one giggle-inducing response.  Then, I ask them to show me what a swan’s feet and legs are doing under the water, and their rollicking interpretations never fail to spread a smile across my face.  It’s such an accurate illustration of the work that goes into making something look effortlessly beautiful, and the fact that Ms. Astley used this comparison to link fashion and ballet just makes me love the special connection between them that much more.

IMG_7911

The ballet world can feel so isolating, with its strong focus on physical aesthetics and that winding road towards an impervious perfection, but an inside look at the fashion industry lends comfort in its lipstick-masked strength.  Amy and Misty cover so many relevant topics, comparing views on beauty, art, femininity and what happens when you’re just a tad bit of a glutton for punishment (sound familiar, anyone?).  I highly recommend playing fly-on-the-gorgeously-bookshelved-sapphire-wall of this Possible Conversation.

photos c/o The Thick.