sugar on the road

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Hey, hi, hello. We have to stop running into each other like this! And by like this, of course I mean with far too much time between visits…

I have been neglecting this little space a bit, as life has just felt full up to the brim. I’ve been reading and dancing and working and writing and loving and occasionally sleeping. But today is my first Nutcracker of the season (a guesting in Winchester!) and what else but Nut to make you feel nostalgic enough to sit down and document?

Grand Pas never seems to get any easier. Season to season, you never know what you’re going to get. Steps that I’ve breezed through in previous years are giving me trouble, and things that I have always struggled with feel smooth and clean. It’s all sugar and spice, and sore toes. The most wonderful time of the year!

A few photos from the rest of life lately, if you are interested…

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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.

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

back to the grind

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Hey.

Hi.

Hello.

It’s been a while. My absence on the blog has coincided with my absence from the studio, as I’ve taken the longest break from ballet since my spinal injury years ago. It was not a planned break, but of course the biggest lesson of the summer was in being prepared to be surprised. And what a beautifully surprising summer it has been!

Rhode Island, Maine, New York, Colorado. I’ve been living in trees, on ferries, between mountains, and below buildings; smiling and writing and loving every minute. But with our 42nd Season less than 2 weeks away, the reality of harnessing my technique and regaining control of my body is feeling like Sisyphus and his hill.

I have been hesitant to write about this- even in my analog journal- for fear that any sort of negative talk on the subject will worsen the struggle, but the truth is I am having a hard time. The frustration of returning to my body after each summer is always a challenge, but this year seems to be proving particularly difficult. Perhaps it’s the fact that I am more eager and excited to dance than I have been in the past few August’s, or the fact that my unplanned break from ballet has left me further away from “in shape” than I’m used to. Each morning I take class, hating what I see in the mirror, and ignoring these thoughts so not to give them weight. My pointe shoes feels like hooves, my ankles are shaky, my pirouettes are wildly uncoordinated, and my hips crack in every grand battement.

I know I’m not alone here, as so many of us dive back into our full-time schedules this time of year, retraining or summer selves to better balance work with play. I suppose the point of this meandering post is to help me refocus. To remember that all worthwhile things require a bit of toil. All efforts contribute to the cause and progress is not linear.

Whew, more updates to come. Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.