facing fears


Like many dancers, I have struggled with body issues for a long, long while. I was a petite child until puberty threw me some curve(ball)s, forcing me to examine and reexamine my body. When I turned 18, I discovered my cooking skills (or lack thereof). When I turned 21, I discovered drinking (ha). When I turned 23, I discovered drinking in moderation (ha again). When I began doing more soloist work, I discovered cross training and eating consciously. When I began taking on more principal work, I discovered my fears.

This past weekend, I was nervous about hosting Wheeldon/Balanchine repetiteur Michele Gifford while she was in town setting The American. I am an introvert, so these kinds of intimate social interactions with strangers tend to give me anxiety. But, like most things we fear, it turned out to be a real learning experience. After dinner Saturday night, Michele and I had a long heart-to-heart.

“Every moment of every day, you have a choice.”

For so long, I have heard the same comments about my body. I have run a thorough obstacle course of attempts to shape my frame, most of which were fueled by hurt feelings, self-depreciation, and doubt. Sometimes my methods were healthy, other times they were not. Ultimately, each effort was squelched by a defensive inner voice.

“The only thing standing in your way is you.”

Feeling self conscious and attacked by male superiors at the ballet, I often found myself giving up on my goals as a way to give voice to my insecurities. What if I never look the way they want me to? What would happen if I did? Society says I am physically fit- why is ballet pressuring me to feel otherwise? Yeah! I look FINE! I would create angry narratives in my mind, convincing myself that the advice given by those in charge was outdated and wrong.

But then I would look in the mirror. While my inner voices created a strong sense of balance and continue to stave off dangerous aspirations, they also kept me from reaching my fullest potential. Michele reminded me that these angry thoughts are fears in disguise.

“If you know what you need to do to achieve something you want, just do it.”

Michele’s openness felt refreshing. She shared similar experiences, connecting with me on a struggle almost all female dancers face at some point. Her words of wisdom were honest and clear. If you want it, do it. It’s not easy, but it is simple.

What motivates you to reach your goals? If you are a dancer in need of support and guidance in reaching your potential, consider The Whole Dancer’s Best Body Program, a community of understanding individuals led by the insightful Jess Spinner.


photo by Tasnima Tanznim.


It would be wrong of me to let this season float by without blogging about my steamy summer fling.

That’s right, guys, I’ve been having an affair.  And it’s grown into quite the relationship, full of love, pain, and immense reward.  We spend most of our time in sweaty, skimpy clothes, and miss each other oh so much whenever we’re apart.

This summer, I have fallen toes over gloves in l-o-v-e with kickboxing.  What were you thinking?


Desperate to keep in shape during layoff, a few of the dancers and I signed ourselves up for a class (thanks, Groupon!) and I’ve been absolutely hooked ever since (see what I did there?).  It is by far one of the most intense workouts I have ever attempted, and one that I always leave drenched in sweat.

The class comprises 15 minutes of conditioning (re: death by way of burpees, push-ups, fancy crunches and other fat-blasters), a little stretching interlude (re: splits have never felt so good), 30 minutes of bag work (re: 6 rounds of punching, kicking, and grunting), followed by partner drills that make you want to weep a tad bit.  I told you it was intense.  But it’s also never boring.

What I love most about my class, though, must be the incredible instructors and supportive family forged on that mat.  I have never been part of a work out community that so aptly embodies an actual community.  Our kickboxing family encompasses a rather large range in fitness, but we all share one common goal: a healthier lifestyle.  The social media element also provides a constant source of motivation and camaraderie; There have been days where I would have skipped, if not for a fellow ILKBer’s encouraging facebook post convincing me to keep working toward my goals.

I now have the slightest formation of abs when I stand in the right lighting ;), more power in my kicks, muscles tone in my arms, and I think, the slightest of hope in the unfortunate event of being attacked.  I think this summer fling just might turn into something more permanent.

join the family, but watch out for my left roundhouse…you’ve been warned.

photo of the current state of my backseat via my instagram


Today is rainy and cold in York Beach, and it’s left me sitting in bed delving far too deep into the mysteriously expansive depths of the interwebs.  And what have I found, you ask?  Why, a trove of old ballet photos of myself I never knew existed! Needless to say, it’s making me miss my pointe shoes, my friends, the studio and that ballet body that is quickly disappearing (seriously abs, where did you go?!).  Unearthing these oldie pictures (most of which were taken in the summer of 2010) is making the sting of my temporary ballet ban even more poignant.  :(  I just have to remember, it’s for the best!  Please everyone send your good vibes over to my stitched up baby toe!  On that note, I leave you with these ghosts of summer ballet intensives past…