odette’s leitmotif

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I’m laid out on a portable table with physical therapists on either end of my body. Feeling like the Scarecrow in Emerald City as J & J pull, twist, squeeze, and bend my limbs, I let my muscles go limp and my mind wander…

…but my brain can’t help its connection to my bones. My left big toe twitches- or maybe one of the J’s tugs it- and the twinge of pain pulls me into Act II. Odette’s suspension and sadness seems so sweetly suited to me today. Her fragility and strength juxtaposing into a whirl of delicately feathered fortitude. The pinnacle of feeling most beautiful in sadness, now Odette is really singing my swan song.

A feather, like the shadow of a crushed flower, reveals its gentle spine only when it has fallen. With grace matched only by the spring petal, a feather floats on air. Buoyant elegance. Powerful subtlety. Tender sovereignty. This is my thesis. This is Odette’s leitmotif. This is the fine mingling of swan and queen.

heart like a canvas

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“leaving is not enough; you must
stay gone. train your heart
like a dog. change the locks
even on the house he’s never
visited. you lucky, lucky girl.
you have an apartment
just your size. a bathtub
full of tea. a heart the size
of Arizona, but not nearly
so arid. don’t wish away
your cracked past, your
crooked toes, your problems
are paper mache puppets
you made or bought because the vendor
at the market was so compelling you just
had to have them. you had to have him.
and you did. and now you pull down
the bridge between your houses.
you make him call before
he visits. you take a lover
for granted, you take
a lover who looks at you
like maybe you are magic. make
the first bottle you consume
in this place a relic. place it
on whatever altar you fashion
with a knife and five cranberries.
don’t lose too much weight.
stupid girls are always trying
to disappear as revenge. and you
are not stupid. you loved a man
with more hands than a parade
of beggars, and here you stand. heart
like a four-poster bed. heart like a canvas.
heart leaking something so strong
they can smell it in the street.”

-Frida Kahlo to Marty McConnell

spring wind

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Ah, a sunny Sunday spent spring cleaning before an evening show. Is there any better way to refresh and reset?

Life, man. It seems to wrack me with obstacles while I’m trudging through challenges and just when I think I might break, comforting words from an old favorite sing out, green air bursts through the windows, and I exhale.

I lived awhile without you,
Darn near half my life.
I no longer see our unborn children,
Born to you my unwed wife.
But yesterday I had a vision,
Beneath the tree where we once talked,
Of an old couple burning
Their love letters so their children
Won’t be shocked.

Love calls like the wild birds-
It’s another day.
A Spring wind blew my list of
Things to do…away.

My friends are gettin older,
So I guess I must be too.
Without their loving kindness,
I don’t know what I’d do.
Oh the wine bottle’s half empty-
The money’s all spent.
And we’re a cross between our parents
And hippies in a tent.

In a mucked up lovely river,
I cast my little fly.
I look at that river and smell it
And it makes me wanna cry.
Oh to clean our dirty planet,
Now there’s a noble wish,
And I’m puttin my shoulder to the wheel
’cause I wanna catch some fish.

-Jack Johnson, Spring Wind

pigs and figs

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3 pigs, 2 weekends, 6 sold out shows! Another successful chatterBOX in the trenches…

Time to reflect on curly tails and tiny blooms, as it’s starting to feel like Spring in Providence. And just in time…boy, does the universe have a way of serving what you need when you need it. Like that one reassuring saying goes, “you are never given a challenge that you are not ready and prepared to use for your own growth and evolution,” or something like that.

Speaking of timely quotes, after our “Mirrors” program, I stole away to Miami with B and read Sylvia Plath’s “The Bell Jar” in 3 days. I just couldn’t put the morose story down, Plath’s quiet cries seemed to cut through the thick South Beach air, past the sunshine and right down into my emo-loving soul. One passage stood out enough for me to copy down into my journal:

“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”

― Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

How tragically beautiful is that?

moving me

IMG_7312This bitter earth
Well, what a fruit it bearsIMG_7314What good is love
Mmh, that no one shares?IMG_7313 2And if my life is like the dust
Ooh, that hides the glow of a roseIMG_7317What good am I?
Heaven only knowsIMG_7311Oh, this bitter earth
Yes, can it be so cold?IMG_7315Today you’re young
Too soon you’re oldIMG_7316But while a voice
Within me criesIMG_7319I’m sure someone
May answer my callIMG_7318And this bitter earth, ooh
May not, oh be so bitter after all

This Bitter Earth
Dinah Washington
Snapshots of rehearsal for the contemporary solo from Christopher Wheeldon’s Five Movements, Three Repeats (thanks, Aza), originally created on the incredible Fang-Yi Sheu at the Vail Dance Festival. One of those five movements is the ballet-famous “Bitter Earth Pas”. Have you seen it? It was made for Wendy Whelan and Tyler Angle, and it is truly breathtaking. Each and every time I hear this song, I find myself teary in the wings tuning into the lyrics as I wait for the third repeat.
The piece began as a mutual “fan-girling” between Fang-Yi Sheu and Wendy Whelan (former principals of Martha Graham Dance and New York City Ballet, respectively). This mini-documentary (thanks, Melissa!) gives a nice background of the collaboration and creation process. What is it about watching masters watch other masters shape their craft? So inspiring.


If you’d like to be moved too, come and see this weightless work live at Up Close On Hope. Tickets here.

colors of the wind

Okay, okay, I hear you. I just posted a gallery of photos including both bougie hotel room views and 3 angles of a public restroom. It’s confusing here today. But so is life.

Lately life has been, well, confusing. The sky is falling, the world seems to be full of friends and strangers, with surprises- and coincidences- around every corner.

I hear Mercury is in retrograde. Do you guys believe in that stuff? Yeah, I don’t know either. More confusion. Ambivalence…

…but Mercury does appear to be flying around backwards, and life on Earth is coming up…color coordinated? This warm fuzzy hue of green/orange/yellow keeps making its way into my suitcase, around my best friend’s neck, under my dinner plate, and in front of my lens. It’s in the bathroom mirror behind me, under the sink where I wash my hands for the weekend, in the midnight meal we prepare. Life is doing this chameleon thing and it’s all I can grasp onto to keep from flying away with that retrograding rock.

This weekend B and I performed in Ballet Theatre Company’s 20th Anniversary Gala. Ah, what a weekend, and what a feeling to find a place that feels so cozy and welcoming and inspiring. And and and, here are some non-bathroom-related photos from the weekend, including more unintentional matching!



leap of faith

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What a weekend.

Opening night always generates the most jitters.

Before the curtain’s first rise, the corps de ballet is tilting chins from one corner to the next like birds, cooing and checking in with the fluttering heartbeats around them. Feet shift from one to the other, hovering in sixth position, right arm ready to raise up and block out the moonlight. Finally the strings ring out and the adventure begins.

I whirl, I twirl, I collapse, I pose, I dip, I dive, I wake, I die. Waltz girl is a swirl of emotions, overtaking me and flooding the stage. I leave it soaked and stained with that euphoric feeling.

The rest of the evening continues in the bliss of performing a truly fulfilling program. The following day does not.

Saturday night I am in the corps of Serenade. Just before the start of the Waltz, I turn to dramatically drag my invisible mink coat off stage left. It’s surprising but not altogether startling to see Misha standing in the wing, directly in line with my slow exit. It is quite startling when he takes my shoulders and frantically whispers, “Can you do Russian Girl?”

My heart flips and then sinks. My best friend is cast to do Russian Girl that and every night. I manage an, “I guess so,” followed by a, “…wait, right now?” and a, “but what’s next?” and 32 counts later I’m running out from the wings to someone else’s cue.

The corps shuffles around to accommodate one less as I blindly navigate the role I barely learned and have left unconsidered for weeks. My mind wanders dangerously into worrying about the shoes I am filling- my very best friend’s. Where is she? What happened? Is she in pain? My own shoes turn their tips toward our dressing room, and then sharply back to the stage. I must do this for her.

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Never in my life have I experienced a more intense performance. Never have I jumped into an unrehearsed role mid-show, unsure of the steps, the timing, the spacing, or why any of this was happening. Never have I felt so shaken and helpless towards the fate of my friend, unable to follow her ambulance to the emergency room because there are still two ballets on the bill.

Never have I felt so tangibly the support of this ballet family, stacking up like human beams to bolster me, eyes wide and minds ready to slip a hint where one was needed. Hands criss-crossed like little Russian dolls, sending squeezes from one hand to the next. A circular hug and immediate murmurs of quiet, strong love. A dedication to our spritely Russian Girl, to whom we unanimously, simultaneously, unspokenly dedicate the entire weekend to.


The Elegy finds me in a different light. I am dancing when Waltz Girl is statued. I am a strange new spoke in our pinwheel and I’m dizzier than before. The wheel bursts and I am thrown from the explosion. I run frantically towards center stage, saud de chat with everything I have left, and dive into the wings.

Finally, the curtain falls. We bow. The curtain falls again. My powder blue family surrounds me. Hugs, tears, hair stuck to my eyelashes and a bitter taste in my mouth.

A surprising Serenade it certainly was.


first and third photos by Ty Parmenter.
second and fourth photos by Dylan Giles for Festival Ballet Providence.
fifth and sixth photos by Alex Lantz.
Choreography by George Balanchine
© The George Balanchine Trust