there’s no place like home

IMG_9978IMG_9981

IMG_9984

Man, is it good to be back. M said something this week that really resonated with me:

“You know you’re living in the right place when you travel all over and you keep looking back over your shoulder.”

How beautiful is that? Walking the steps up to my apartment in Providence for the first time in a month was just the best homecoming; Walking around the Hope Street Farmer’s Market Saturday morning was somehow even sweeter. Maybe because I knew this would be my last chance to stomp Lippit Park on a Saturday morning, with the season starting next week and all…

Speaking of the season, have you guys heard that sentiment going around about how “September is the new January”? I couldn’t agree more. There’s something about the crisp fall air that stirs an urge to refresh and prepare. It’s perfect nesting weather. What better way to commemorate my renewed love of PVD and nestle into fall than with this pretty little map of my city?

IMG_9976

Inspired by her world travels, the artist behind Modern Map Art uses intricate city grids to create detailed urban portraits with a touch of nostalgia. I love the vintage font and graphic vibes in this poster- how cute would it be as a housewarming gift?

IMG_9977.JPG

The map arrived just in time, as my wonderful city welcomed me back with fresh fall feels. M and I have just started listening to Crimetown, the Gimlet podcast all about Providence’s mobster past. It’s pretty wild hearing the late Buddy Cianci’s voice (and a beautiful chorus of other Rhode Island accents) on such a well known pod. The perfect compliment to local cherry tomatoes and late-summer figs.

What city do you call home? Does it have quirks that make you feel all fuzzy?

 

Providence map c/o Modern Map Art. Check them out to celebrate your city with a custom print.

how to move a mountain

IMG_7225.jpg

Dancing in a small company has its advantages and disadvantages. Increased opportunities during the season often means a smaller contract. The season is short, layoff is long. Transitioning back into ballerina after a summer of wearing every other hat is never easy. I learn this lesson the hard way each year, and yet still, an easy solution evades me.

While I’ve vowed to intensify my search for summer companies and semi-affordable professional programs next year (recommendations?!), this season I’m relying on a certain proverb I lived through in Boulder…

Confucios said, “The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”

IMG_9084

One hot, sunny day, at the climax of a long hike, M and I crossed a steep plane of boulders to gaze out at the valley below. We sat to rest our legs before the descent, sharing an apple and patting ourselves on the backs for surviving the altitude yet again. False confidence fueled foolish movements and in an instant my phone was knocked down below the rocks. I could peek down through the cracks and see it sitting there, just 2 feet below me, but heavy boulders blocked my futile rescue attempts. M started picking out small stones from their wedged positions between boulders. We tossed aside one dusty rock after another, until one boulder wiggled and shoved aside. Then another. We carried on wiggling and prying, with the help of a passing good samaritan, and then not.

An hour later the phone was a bit smashed but back in my hand. I wanted to give up multiple times throughout the rescue mission. M persevered. The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones. We cannot expect results immediately. It cannot be done all at once. Piece by piece, day by day, I am chipping away at my own mountain. Moving small stones back into place. Sealing the wiggling joints, solidifying my stance. Reaching toward my peak…

 

first photo by Tasnima Tanzim.

i always see ballet

Screen Shot 2017-03-11 at 5.32.22 PM.png

It has been a long, sweet summer, but this lady is (beyond) ready to get back into the studio. After essentially 4 months off, all parts of me feel twitchy for movement; my too-soft toes, fidgety body, aching mind…

The other night, M and I were driving home from New York, listening to the only reliable thing on the radio these days: classical. To pass the time on road trips, we often elicit fun conversation by asking each other questions about childhood or the future or otherwise potentially controversial fodder, but somewhere west of Worchester M wondered aloud,

“What do you think of when you hear music like this?”

From the speakers flowed a quirky sort of symphony, robust at times and hauntingly singular at others. I had already been passively picturing choreography for the past 30 miles.

“Oh, I always see ballet”, I responded nonchalantly.

Saying it out loud then- and noticing M’s visible bewilderment- I realized that maybe this was not an entirely normal condition. “I always see ballet.” Ever since I can remember, when classical music plays a miniature ballet unfolds in my mind. It just does. Sometimes it distracts me, imagined movements catching my physical self and lifting a random hand off into allongé like smoke, other times it just plays on like traffic rolling along in the rearview.

Sunday morning I was listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Ted Talk about the “elusive creative genius”. In it, Gilbert outlines the progression of society’s explanation in regards to creativity. Specifically, she notes the shift from ancient Rome’s description of creative genius as an outside force brought to the artist from a “divine attendant spirit” to the modern and arguably far more dangerous assigning of this creative genius to humans themselves. Gilbert suggests that this deviation in thinking is actually quite destructive, and maybe even responsible for the death of many brilliant, overwhelmed contemporary artists. In her gentle invitation to consider the thoughts of ancient philosophers, Gilbert recalls meeting 90-year-old poet, Ruth Stone. Apparently, as a young girl working in the fields of rural Virginia, Ms. Stone could “feel and hear her poetry” like “a thunderous train of air coming at her from over the landscape”. Stone described the poem as this physical entity, chasing her as she “ran like hell” to the house, trying to get to a pencil and paper in time to write the eager words down. The writer in me- and the dancer- can totally relate.

This idea of having work surge through you with a fervor from some unknown source is not only relatable- it’s freeing. While, as Gilbert notes, it may not always happen that way, sometimes the little bits of creative energy passing through find you when your pencil is within reach. Sometimes thoughtful bits of movement latch on to your bones when you are in the studio, flowing. Other times you are seatbelted into the passenger seat on the highway. We may not know just when or how creativity will strike, but noticing its uneven tide and appreciating the existence of any stream at all- that is the point.

 

photo by Tasnima Tanzim.

weekend reads

20429612_1379322395469175_6325087984227380577_n

I have been back in PVD for less than 24 hours, now I’m off to New York to see my sweet Gma. If you’re in the bloggy mood, a few fun links from around the web..

Flip through the newest dance magazine,The Wonderful World of Dance, here. Gorgeous! (download it here)

Cannot wait to see this new dance film.

Isabella Boylston dishes on her #squadgoals cast and how her debut festival, Ballet Sun Valley, came to fruition.

Do you guys follow BalletMoods? It gets me every time.

A familiar face in DanceSpirit. ;)

 

 

photo of Iana Salenko by @pickledthoughts for The Wonderful World of Dance.

6 days in denver

IMG_9753 2

IMG_9675

IMG_9762

IMG_9773IMG_9757IMG_9772

IMG_9754 2

IMG_9285

IMG_9756

IMG_9747IMG_9770

We met Margaret Brown, Welcomed Western Week, stomped Mount Evans, echoed Echo Lake, graced the Garden of the Gods, jammed at Red Rocks Amphitheater, waved to Buffalo Bill, caught a hailstorm at the top of Seven Falls, and got stranded in Wyoming.

Being stuck at a rest stop in Cheyenne, Wyoming with a busload of people- right around dinner time- may not seem very fun. Especially if that bus begins its venture at 2:30 am and ends up running out the dear,  sweet driver’s legal driving limit in “bumpa-da-bumpa” traffic. But what you might not know, the thing that makes all the uncomfortable attempted napping positions and dangerous hanger conditions worth it, is totality. On August 21, 2017, we spread blankets, strapped on glasses, and cranked Pink Floyd to witness the total eclipse of the sun. As the moon made its way into line, we watched the light grow dimmer, felt the air cool. For a few sublime moments, the sky put on a 360-degree sunset. The sun circled hugged the moon in a perfect, glowing ring. Jaws dropped. Eyes widened. And we listened:

All that you touch
And all that you see
All that you taste
All you feel
And all that you love
And all that you hate
All you distrust
All you save
And all that you give
And all that you deal
And all that you buy, beg, borrow, or steal
And all you create
And all you destroy
And all that you do
And all that you say
And all that you eat
And everyone you meet
And all that you slight
And everyone you fight
And all that is now
And all that is gone
And all that’s to come
And everything under the sun is in tune
But the sun is eclipsed by the moon.

-Pink Floyd, Eclipse

a ruby anniversary

Screen Shot 2017-08-08 at 9.42.41 AM.png

with Alan Alberto in George Balanchine’s Rubies, photo by Zaire Kacz Photography, choreography c. The Balanchine Trust.

DISCLAIMER: There are a lot of exclamation points in the post. I do try to use them sparingly, but sometimes there is just a lot to exclaim. Here goes.

In just a few short weeks, Festival Ballet Providence’s 40th year kicks off, celebrating our “Ruby Anniversary” with a packed season. The full schedule is on the website, but a few things I’m looking forward to…

The return of Viktor Plotnikov’s The Widow’s Brooma gorgeous production based on the work of an author who is near and dear to my heart, Chris Van Allsburg.

The 40th year (and my 18th!) of The Nutcracker at PPAC. My FBP Nutcracker experience is a legal adult. She’s graduating highschool and registering to vote. This is BIG, you guys.

The Director’s Choice mixed bill in February (on the weekend of my 26th birthday) featuring Christopher Wheeldon’s The American, George Balanchine’s Rubies, and a world premiere by Viktor Plotnikov set to Igor Stravinsky’s iconic The Soldier’s Tale (with live music and narration!).

A little tour (!) to the University of New Hampshire in April.

The Little Mermaid in the spring! My niece will flip.

I would also like to formally announce that for the 2017/2018 season, I will be joining the staff at FBP as Assistant to the Communications Director!(!!!) Look out for a whole new angle of behind-the-scenes peeks from what I predict will be a very busy Keeks!

Okay, now I am done.

Will I see you at the theatre?

a short stay in…

IMG_8882IMG_9086IMG_8988 2

 

IMG_9078IMG_9079

 

IMG_9087

 

IMG_9129.JPGIMG_9131.JPGIMG_9133IMG_9168.JPG

…Boulder! These past few days have been the perfect blend of exploration and relaxation between busy Vail and a full itinerary awaiting us in Denver. A few stops worth mentioning:

Boulder Bookstore. We made 2 visits to this beautiful bookstore in the heart of the downtown area to peruse/get lost. I came away with Sheryl Sandberg’s Option B, and M bought a few nerdy business books ;)

Zeal. The grilled peach with goat cheese, honeycomb, and balsamic. Oh, boy. Wish we had more time here just so I could do another meal at this farm-to-table spot.

Boxcar Roasters. Sharing a space with the boutique foodie shop/cheese and charcuterie counter/wine corner, this coffee shop screams expert curation. I had a really yummy jasmine green tea, and M reports that the coffee was good, too.

The flatirons. We hiked up around the flatirons loop early in the morning. The weather was gorgeous. We decided to stop at the top and sit on the big stretch of rocks that overlooks the valley. In a series of unfortunate events (ahem), my phone was dropped several feet below the layers of rocks. M recalled a quote from Confucious as we pried up heavy boulders and used long branches like chopsticks to fish it out. An hour later, the phone was cracked and dirty, but in my hands. Save to say, the hike was still beautiful, just hang on to your slippery electronics!

Boulder Dushanbe Tea House. This teahouse was built in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, then disassembled and shipped to Boulder, where it was carefully rebuilt as a sign of friendship and peace between the two cities. Quite simply, the building is stunning, the tea menu is pleasingly extensive, and my Mediterranean salad was delicious.

Alpine Modern Cafe. This is fast fine-dining in a design-happy environment. Our brunch was so nutrient dense and filling, we were still quite satisfied when dinner time rolled around.