circling the nest

It has been 9 months since I last performed in pointe shoes. Just in case my math is off- because, let’s be real here, it usually is- that is December to September. Yes, you’re reading that correctly. I have not performed en pointe since Nutcracker. OOF.

For all those months, I have wondered what my return to the stage might look like. Would it be in 2 weeks? 2 months? Half a year? Somewhere outdoors? Something virtual? Livestream? Pre-recorded? Would it involve bells and whistles, hoops to jump through and mountains to climb? Now, all these months later, several weeks past the usual “start of season”, I finally have some idea of what it might be…

And to my delight, it’s seems it may be so much simpler than all of that. Of course, nothing is simple about re-teaching your toes how to not only tolerate but excel at standing on their very tips, guiding your body into now-foreign positions, turning out joints that prefer to remain in their “upright and seated position”, if ya catch my drift. But if there’s any way to make the process just a bit easier, it certainly must be reconnecting with your favorite kind of wings and your favorite instrument. Sometimes all you need is a piece with a soul, a space to keep distance, and a team with a vision.

If you’re interested in peeking into the journey of a ballet dancer returning to the stage amidst COVID, please follow along! I could use some hands to (virtually) hold. Wish me merde.

we are family

when i set out writing “the silhouette inside” i had no idea i would be seeing it on a shelf. what started as lines written in the back of my mind has become an external piece of me. this book is so personal, like the pages of my diary turned inside out and illustrated. i’m so excited to share that my book is officially on stock at books on the square in my beloved home, providence, ri!

i would be remiss if i didn’t pay some thanks to this little corner of the internet, which i created 10(!) years ago to document my life as a dancer and keep my writing skills somewhat in tact as i began my professional career. back in 2010, a month before my first day of work at festival ballet providence, i opened a wordpress account and started typing. a decade ago, back when blogs were a thing of the future (hah), i could have never imagined that this site would grow into what it is today.

nostalgic to my core, i still look back on posts from the past fondly, some so clear i can almost read each word before i see it and others sweet reminders of memories long lost. somewhere along the way, this space grew from an online journal to a community of readers, entrepreneurs, and friends.

in honor of that relationship, i am giving you all a special discount on my book, “the silhouette inside“. use the code STBFAMILY (in all caps) at check out for 15% off the book. and pssssst…if you’ve been here for a while, you’ve already got a sneak peek into book number two ;)

preorder perks

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my book “the silhouette inside” will be available for preorder TOMORROW August 9, 2020 at 10am.

like free stuff? yeah, me too. good things come to those who act fast!

~ the first 10 people to preorder will receive a FREE matchbox press t-shirt and a personally signed book

~ the first 60 people to preorder will receive a signed book

thank you so much for following along on this crazy fun experience. i can’t believe i’m about to publish my own book! click here to check out my author website and join the email list the be notified when the preorder period officially begins.

MY BOOK COVER IS HERE!

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they say not to judge a book by it’s cover, but c’mon.  designing a cover for my book felt like a colossal undertaking. i’m not a designer, and i would never purport to do an adequate job at something many talented people have spent their lives learning to do. but since i had written an illustrated every page of the book thus far, something felt phony about hiring another contributor to put a face on my work.

first impressions are everything. i wanted my book to represent not only the poetry within, but my brand as a writer. i looked to artists i admire for inspiration. i wanted something modern, but with a vintage twist. something simple, clean, and subtle, yet speculative enough to make you want to turn the page…

i created the cover image using a vintage strawberry plant wallpaper from the 1970s (strrrrrong strawberry vibes in this book, guys) and the outline of a photo my mother took of me jumping up into the air. the result appears almost like a cut-out (hello, henri), which felt perfectly appropriate for a book about a silhouette.

i hope you love the cover as much as i do! preorder info coming soon!

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three things…

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a poem from the #cuttingroomfloor of “the silhouette inside”:

circe can’t go home
oceanid with holographic hair
her formation is terrestrial
every cell hails de la mer

saltwater nymph
imprisoned in her own shell
destined to sway the unwilling
to hold them in her hell

historically avoided
her plea silent like the sea
to be requited is to be understood;
to be understood is to be free

tormented temptress
neither goddess nor goodness, she waits
for the creature who will create her
the only one who holds two fates

circe can’t stay home
her liquid lips must rise
to meet her lightning lover
in the heavy-handed skiesv

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a sneak peek!

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an anniversary.

a year ago, in the glow of your post-show, we shared a bottle of WA in the king’s club and discovered that we both collect matches. you did a jerry seinfeld impression and i sang the praises of providence. we kissed for the first time that night in vail, and spent the next night making excuses to keep walking around the village, willing the sun not to come up. three days later, i cancelled a trip to nyc and drove up to jacob’s pillow to see you. and we knew.

seven months of phone calls and splitting weekends between our cities + five months of quarantining together = one whole year. i’m not one for sappy posts, but boy, you make life good(t).

a conversation, sometimes in rhyme

silhouette back cover

when tasked with creating the “back matter” for my book (fancy publishing terms, ooh la la) a basic summary of the contents just didn’t feel right. so you can probably guess what i did…yup, i wrote another poem!

a poem to encapsulate the collection of poems that describe the past year of my life. a year of emotional turmoil, unexpected transition. a year of finding new life from the i n s i d e and falling in love with what i found:

 

a conversation-

sometimes in rhyme

between the writer

and the silhouette inside

words strung together

much more than a line

a reintroduction

soft shifting of sides

bloomed into being

collected and tied

fruitful and all-seeing

outside-in, synchronize

take this, my crescent year

hear the silence, read my mind

planted, rooted, growing, free

the voice inside, bold and outlined.

 

the art that i created to accompany this back cover poem was based on a silhouette cut for me by a man in montmartre, paris. one afternoon, following a lunch accompanied by several glasses of wine (as was the status quo throughout our stay in the city of light) my friends and i wandered through a busy market of artists painting, sketching, and snipping away. a silhouette artist stopped me and asked if he could cut my silhouette for me- to try and drum up some business. his stand was right on the corner, and he promised my silhouette would be free if i sat just a few minutes for him. maybe it was the charming accent or the wine turning my cheeks red- i shrugged my shoulders, hopped up onto the stool, and he went to work, cutting away my profile from glossy black paper while passersby stopped to inquire.

the small portrait now hangs in an oval-shaped frame in my bedroom. it is one of the first things i see when i wake up in the morning, and the last before i fall asleep at night. in a way, it helped inspire the idea of an internal conversation being with “the silhouette inside”. a piece of my favorite city, a story, a portrait that speaks.

 

PREORDER “the silhouette inside” SOON! Stay tuned for details…

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

museums in paris that aren’t the louvre

  1. La Musée de la Chasse et de la NatureIMG_7598

Nestled amongst beautiful shops and famous falafel in the heart of Le Marais, La Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature is almost eerily quiet. The lesser-known museum offers a quiet respite from the bustling streets of the busy Marais, where one can explore the extravagant structure that is home to antique armament and taxidermy beasts of all shapes and kinds.

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2. La Musée RodinIMG_5477

The diverse and serene Musée Rodin is an immersive experience, delighting its visitors with a multitude of scenery. From the outdoor gardens featuring the super famous “Thinker” and “Gates of Hell” to the softer interior works elegantly showcased by stately wooden architecture, Musée Rodin offers the exquisite art of a world class museum without the selfie-stick-clad crowd armed and ready to ruin your day. Highly recommend!

*Pro Tip: Stop at Café Coutume for a spring toast and some caffeine, post-museum.

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3. Le Musée d’OrsayIMG_7618

Okay, so it’s not exactly a “hidden gem”, but this quiet(er) museum boasts an impressive collection of masterpieces from the likes of Degas, Monet, Matisse, Van Gogh, Lautrec, and Rodin, to name a few. Second only to the artwork, the beauty of the building itself-  an ornate old train station- is breathtaking. If you have time, get lost in the adjacent Musée de l’Orangerie, home to Monet’s epic waterlilies. It’s my number one must-see for the Paris traveler who is “not a museum person”. Must see!

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you want thing-a-ma-bobs?

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WOW.

It’s been almost a month since my foray under the sea, and I have yet to chronicle it here! What an interesting experience, to dance a ballet with no legs, hovering above the stage in a shimmering pseudo-fin. With some support from my undertow (blue unitard-clan men), I bobbed through back flips and press lifts, paddling through the waves with the wonder of a woman in love with a world she’s never known.

Of course, I owe the great fun of Act II to my Prince, whose garden grows greener and waltzing whirls worthier than any I’ve known. Okay, things are getting strange…enjoy some behind-the-scenes photos, I’m off!

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first 6 photos by Thomas Nola-Rian.