happiness is a warm back

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Way back in January, I made one big new year’s resolution and a smaller one: to learn how to knit.  One of my best friends shared the desire to learn, so together we made an adventure of it, rounded up supplies, filled a big bowl with popcorn, and started YouTubing tutorials.  I like to fancy myself a crafty lady, but my goodness!  Knitting is hard.  Several frustrating hours and unraveled skeins later, though, we were very slowly sort-of-kind-of-knitting.

Quite a few of the dancers at FBP are avid knitters, but none rival the ultimate knitting queen, Vilia Putrius.  With several decades of knitting experience, she has certainly earned that title…

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Vilia learned to knit when she was just 5 years old.  You could say a talent for crafting runs in the family.  Ms. Putrius grew up in a family of circus artists (how cool is that?) and some of her earliest memories are of her parents sewing costumes and knitting clothing for she and her brother.  By age 18, Vilia had become a professional ballet dancer, but that homespun tendency ran deep.  When she struggled to find warm ups to suit her distinctive style, Vilia took matters into her own needle-clad hands.  Her obvious talent turned the craft into a business, and a few years later Arleo Wear was born.

Being a professional ballerina herself, Vilia is able to design pieces that a dancer truly needs. The Arleo Wear-covered dancers of FBP are a clear indication of that specificity; In the studio we stay bundled  in her cozy overalls, signature sleek ankle warmers, and on-trend convertible shorts, but it seems everyone’s favorite design might be the brilliant back warmer.

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Perfect for class and rehearsals alike, the Arleo back warmer allows freedom of movement in the hips and shoulders while keeping the core toasty.  Finally a way to keep an eye on lines without sacrificing comfort and style, ah!  Her knitting expertise is also woven into every garment she designs, using only the finest yarns to create these essential pieces.

Now that I have my back warmer, I truly wonder how I ever got along without it.  It’s like a ballet-appropriate version of your favorite cozy sweater.  And really, isn’t that what we all want?

to shop.

also check out her accessories while you’re at it. (you might see a familiar face;)

ladies who l u n c h

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On Saturday M gave me my first taste of Olga’s Cup and Saucer.  I was blown away by the extensive menu and peaceful garden outside, but a warm May morning and a secret spot by the river beckoned (as they do).  So we ordered brown bag breakfasts and went dockside.  Of course this meant returning to experience the outdoor dining area as soon as possible was nonnegotiable…

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It was quite serendipitous, then, when Duck & Bunny‘s Monday hours (or rather, lack thereof) called for a quick change of location for the tea/bridal party duty date my mother and I had planned.  We scooted from Fox Point to Point Street in search of fresh salads and a quiet patio.  From one bunny to another!

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I’m happy to report that our food completely lived up to the expectations set by my wandering eyes a few days prior (I had the teriyaki salmon salad, my mom had the chicken caesar), and the sun drenched patio was every bit as serene as I had hoped it would be.  With vibrant basil and scallion plants thriving from banks all around us, I had to keep reminding myself we were still in downtown Providence.

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Bravo, Olga.  I raise my English breakfast-filled cup (+ saucer) to you.

spread the {dance} love

IMG_4478Tights, tutus, hairpins, legwarmers, leotards, lessons, shoes.  Oh, all the shoes…

Being a student of dance is expensive.  In fact, much of the elitist stipulation surrounding ballet stems from the steep price of entry.  The combined costs of attire, training, and transportation add up quickly, and for those who simply cannot not dance, this financial struggle creates an impermeable wall.  The inextinguishable desire to dance rattles both bodies and bank accounts, forcing those who must move (and their families) to make huge sacrifices in pursuit of a dance education.  Sadly, sometimes even the most extreme sacrifices are not enough.  That’s where Jordana Jands and her new startup dancewear brand, dancelove, come in.

“Once a dancer, always a dancer.”  We’ve all heard and Amen, honey!-ed this before, right? Well Ms. Jands, dance educator in Alberta, Canada, wants to harness the strong familial nature of the dance community.  Our world is universal, but small; exclusive, but shared.  Once you’re a part of the dance family, you’re in for life.  Dancelove celebrates that relationship. IMG_4507 The brand new apparel line features scripted dance lingo on each piece, providing a nod to the shared culture, while dancelove’s mission honors the unwavering support system that makes the dance world so special:  $1 of each purchase will be donated to the student scholarship fund of a local studio in need.  If that doesn’t warm your heart, twinkle your toes and make you want to sauté wildly on your bed first thing in the morning…well, merde.
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pirouette sweater by dance love c/o, all photos by Jenay Evans for STB.

fade into night

DSC_9579DSC_9650The first time Chris and I met, we were on, in, and around the Rhode Island State House, passing through its archways and clambering up and down those majestic marble stairs.  This time, we moved away to admire the iconic building from a new perspective.Image-1
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Instead of a grey Saturday morning downtown, Chris and I decided to meet on a balmy Tuesday evening at the top of Congdon Street.   Lined with pretty little trees and historic old homes, Prospect Park perches high on the hill, where it overlooks the skyline through a wrought iron fence.  There’s an aura of peace in the tiny park, as couples huddle onto benches pressing their noses together, college students sketch their surroundings, a lone yogi sits in sukhasana.  Providence shows off to the beat of the setting sun.  This city wears amber well.

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The ombré design of this Intermezzo leotard could not have complimented the sky more perfectly that night.  It’s delicate grey dip-dye echoes our old marble friend as it reflects the sky’s twilight performance.
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Every dancer loves a good pinch in their leo, and this beauty has two: one in the front and one in the back.  Its sleek cut pulls in a bit at the waist, and the tightly knit lycra keeps a strong hold, creating an overall slimming effect.  I prefer my leotards snug this way (I felt totally supported by the full lining), but if you are into a looser feel, I would recommend sizing up.

In music, an intermezzo is a piece which fits between two other, more dramatic, entities.  Like the golden hour of sunset linking day to night, this leotard marries dark and light with its elegant subtle fade.

Intermezzo leotard, c/o firstposition.com

photos of me by Christopher Emerson, photo of the skyline by me.

dizzy stripes

IMG_2115 IMG_2117 IMG_2116 IMG_2119IMG_2120IMG_2118I fell in love with these playful little petal shorts the moment they hit Instagram.

Then they landed on the Danseuse blog, and my heart skipped yet another beat.

For weeks, my legs longed for their sheer stripe-y goodness from all the way across the pond.  Then one very lucky Tuesday they arrived in a pretty little package at my doorstep.  Naturally, I immediately put them on and twirled around the house.

The modern, yet feminine shape features a deep front slit on either thigh, allowing for a complete range of motion.  And boy, do they move beautifully.  I’ve been wearing mine rolled to the hips, but they look just lovely up on your waist as well.  The contrast between that polished base fabric with a casual jersey drawstring elevates this already wonderfully unusual design to a whole new level of unique charm.  They are the special kind of shorts that will attract copycats but never truly be replicated or replaced.  No dancewear will ever out-cool them, that is, of course, until the Danseuse team inevitably strikes again and I’m left longing once more.  Sheer genius, ladies and gents.

Danseuse Balletwear Petal Sheer Shorts in Blue Stripe, c/o (and psssst, they come in blanc and a longer length indigo, too!)

photos by Jenay Evans.

for the lover of ballet

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When I was first approached about reviewing Zoë Anderson’s A Ballet Lover’s Companion, I’ll admit, I had no idea what to expect.  The hardcover beauty boasts quite the dreamy cover and I’m a confirmed glutton for pretty packaging, but its 300+ pages detailing the history of the world’s most celebrated ballets do seem daunting.  Where does one begin?

On my favorite sofa with a cup of tea and a candle lit, Sunday seems as good a time as any to dive in.  I flop down on a pillow and flip open to a random page.
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Le Spectre de la rose.  A ballet whose title I had scarcely heard prior to FBP’s Season 38 photoshoot, in which Mr. Alan Alberto donned the most stunning, ornately-sculpted piece of art to enter our halls since Orchis.  The costume, I learned, was that of the rose in Dominic Walsh‘s Spectre de la Rose, a revival of the classic Fokine ballet which FBP will present in October as part of our Ballets Russes Reinvented program.  
IMG_2048Le Spectre de la rose was inspired by poets and roses…Fokine created it quickly in just two or three rehearsals.  Built around Nijinksy’s soaring leap and Karasavina’s delicate dramatic presence, the ballet’s success took even Diaghilev by surprise.”

Several paragraphs later and my excitement for our first program is now Nijinsky-level.  In a matter of a few page flips, I have located and learned 3 Ballets Russes ballets, Spectre, Afternoon of a Faun, and Firebird, all of which will hit the Vets stage in various “reinvented” forms this October.

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Anderson’s account sweeps through the romantic, imperial, national, soviet, booming and international stages of ballet’s history; The ultimate comprehensive reference for those seeking a deeper understanding of an underexposed art form.  Though together they form an impressive mass of information, the little histories comprising The Ballet Lover’s Companion read short and sweet.  Each begins like the playbill of a ballet, introducing choreographer, music, designs, premiere, and original cast.  A brief background of the artists and inspiration behind the work comes next, followed by a synopsis and, if applicable, a listing of any additional stagings.  Fun mentions include a shout out to Charles ‘Lil Buck’ Riley’s interpretation of Dying Swan in the Memphis jookin style of hip hop.

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The beauty in this book lies in its details.  Complete with a ballet terms glossary (finally a logical explanation of character dance for all of my non-dancer friends who raise their brows in the 3rd act of Sleeping Beauty!) and tips like what to look for during a performance, The Ballet Lover’s Companion is bleeding with perspective.  In its pages you’ll find the secrets of Balanchine, Manen, Millepied, Mcgregor, Wheeldon, Kylian, Ratmansky, and more.  What are you waiting for? Stories beckon

IMG_2035The Ballet Lover’s Companion, by Zoë Anderson, c/o

photos by me for STB

happy feet

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I’ve mentioned how picky dancers can be about their leotards, their pointe shoes, and their diet.  But, for me, no stronger proclivity exists than that of my selectiveness when it comes to socks.  I have been known to wear exclusively unmatching socks, like the tragic result of a greedy dryer, but on purpose.  Why, you ask?  I wish I had a proper response, but I suppose I’m just an odd duck.

As a child (I’ve been told) my sneakered, booted, and mary-janed days included nothing short of twenty shoe-removal-sock-adjustment breaks.  My little feet just couldn’t bear the feeling of a thick seam traversing the tips of my toes, a wrinkle under the metatarsal, or- mon dieu!- the dreaded heel slip.  Talk about a brat Princess and the Pea situation…

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