ninety degrees in the eternal city

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The weather has been…well, sweaty here in Providence, and it’s bringing back sweet, sticky memories of hot, hot Roma. I suppose it’s about time I got down to sharing my Italy photo diary, so here goes Day 1.

Four days in Rome. A claustrophobic climb to the top of St. Paul’s Basilica rewarded us with a stunning terra cotta panoramic of the city, Rome reflecting the sun with its warm, glowing tettos. The Sistine Chapel, The Trevi Fountain, The Spanish Steps…no historic stone unturned, I assure you.

Days of sweaty sight-seeing in Cathedral-appropriate attire spilled into cold showers, apertivo, and cobblestone strolls to this piazza or that. Many a family dinner, with 2 pizzas for the table, vino flowing from one end of the table to the other and back again, children’s choirs spontaneously rising behind us, a lone cellist filling the hour with that warm, sweeping sound.

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last 3 photos by Michael Collins.

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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happy sunday.

Just wanted to share a little weekend inspiration- in the form of this airy solo danced by the unconventionally exquistie Sergei Polunin.  Under the direction of David LaChapelle, the stripped down nature of this piece captures the honesty in Polunin’s movements as he soars through space, executing steps that only a dancer of his skill level could even fathom, with unembellished ease.  The location feels like the skeleton of a open church, settled into a nest of trees somewhere, removed from even a polluted whisper of the superficial stage.  In its simplicity, the project lends an unpretentious suggestion that Hozier’s “Take Me To Church” lyrics will resonate with dancers who share this similar form of worship in motion.

For more weekend inspiration…

Did you hear who Paris Opera Ballet director Benjamin Millepied announced as the company’s new associate choreographer?

Have you seen the new documentary following NYCB dancer and emerging choreographer Justin Peck as he creates a piece for the company?  I’m can’t wait to.

Speaking of ballet documentaries, why not contribute to the production of Petite Ballerine?

A review of FBP’s latest black box installment, Scheherazade & Soledad.

forest lights

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Last weekend, a group of friends and I headed up to Acadia National Park in Maine for a little camping adventure before work begins and reality takes its firm grip once more.  We really lucked out with our timing, since September is technically off-season for the park, but our weather has been having a hard time saying goodbye to summer.  We had the whole campsite to ourselves, which meant there was plenty of opportunities for “zen wheelbarrowing”, telling inappropriate loud jokes by the fire, and early morning jogs through the woods for one of our campers, who was super chilly without a sleeping bag that first night.

Although we climbed (scaled) some of the tallest mountains I’ve ever hiked (ran) up, bringing me one step closer to mastering that fear of heights, standing at the top of Bumblebee Mountain was not the most notable moment of the trip for me.  On our first night in Acadia, we, rather randomly, decided to walk over to the seawall and do some stargazing, all 7 of us.  As we shifted our backs around on the bumpy rocks, looking for a place to nestle our heads, Kevin noticed a bright light on the horizon.  We sat up and the light rose with us, as if craning it’s big eyes over the ocean to get a look at us.  No one spoke.   The light grew wider, inching up out of the ocean a bit further, and altogether, silently, we all realized what we were seeing, though I’m not sure any of us believed our eyes.   Could we really be witnessing a moonrise in Acadia?  The just slightly waning moon revealed more of its face to us, with eyes now peeking out behind the sparkling black cloak of the sea.  The more the moon appeared, the faster it rose, as if gaining its confidence from our wide-eyed awe.  When it finally cut its ties with it’s reflected twin in the water and hung freely among the stars, we all started breathing again.

That accidental moonrise viewing, over the ocean in the completely clear-save-the-stars sky over Acadia, with 6 of my best friends, is an experience I will cherish forever.  Just 4 minutes of pure natural beauty, a serendipitous gift from the universe, just for us.

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misty-fied

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If you haven’t already seen Misty Copeland’s new ad for Under Armour, you have probably been living under a rock for the past week.  The muscular beauty, who made her name as the first female African-American soloist with ABT, proves that ballet is more than tutus and tiaras in this gritty, striking commercial for the popular sportswear brand, which recently named Copeland as their latest spokesmodel.  And boy, did they choose well.

When I first saw Misty Copeland dance in ABT’s Swan Lake a few summer’s ago, I’ll be honest- I didn’t think much of her.  Clouded by the hype of her famous name, and skewed by the talents that surrounded her onstage, I remember being slightly underwhelmed by Miss Misty.  Fast-forward 3 years, I’m following an old dance friend from RI on this season’s series of So You Think You Can Dance, and sitting next to Nigel So-and-So, is a woman so graceful even in her judge’s chair, she almost danced as she sat.  First I noticed her toned biceps, then her delicate collarbones.  She swiveled in her chair, and her calves suggested a runner, but her ballerina bun contended otherwise.  Her gracefully athletic, elegantly powerful build gave away her identity before she even spoke; It could only be the unlikely ballerina whose story of “adversity and grace” she penned into a best-selling novel, her infamously strong and “un-ballerina-like” body heightening the debate of whether or not ballet is considered a sport.  I was quickly impressed by the insightful constructive criticism she had for each dancer on the show, and the eloquence with which she delivered her comments.  Just like that, in the most unexpected of mediums, Misty Copeland became someone I admired.   o-MISTY-COPELAND-UNDER-ARMOUR-570

Only a few weeks later, Ms. Copeland’s much-awaited commercial for Under Armour was released, and my adoration grew.  The ad supposedly crushes the debate over whether or not ballet is a sport, featuring the voice of a young girl reading real rejection letters received by a younger Misty, as Copeland herself cuts through the stage with all the strength and power of a professional athlete.  Of course, it begins with a slow, controlled, relevé, displaying a level of poise only possessed by a prima ballerina.  So in the great debate of ballet: Art or sport?  A little of both?  What do you think?

photos via here and here

caged

Infamous street artist, JR (you know, the one responsible for the NYCB installations at the Koch Theater), is at it again.  This time, the French artist known for his large-scale black and white images flyposted around the streets of Paris, brings us Bird Ballerina.  In this wheatpaper piece, a ballerina sits behind the “bars” of nine shipping containers in the Port Le Havre in France.  The resulting image is hauntingly beautiful, an unmistakable sadness exuding from the caged ballerina who patiently awaits her release.BirdBallerina_01 BirdBallerina_02 BirdBallerina_03 BirdBallerina_04

via Honestly WTF

modeling MAC

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Perched on my invisible post, I swirled the world around like a 6-year-old having their first go at Spin Art.  Faces spun together from all ends of the emotional color wheel; Surprised, confused, excited, distracted, alarmed, awed- all blended between florescent lights and flattened grey carpeting.  Touching down with just the tip of my toes, I paused to steady the world for a moment, and it occurred to me what a strange circumstance I had gotten myself into when I accepted the job just one week prior.

It started the morning of a rehearsal for Time vs. Money, when Viktor walked into the studio, flipped on the lights and, without hesitation or the hint of trepidation in his voice, asked me my cup size.  “A or B?”, he inquired.  Assuming the question came in regards to a costume, but leery of a costume in which the size of my bra carries so much significance, “Umm…C?”, I continued the interview with another question.  “It’s only A or B, which is it?”, refusing to accept my fullness.  I assured him we’d better settle on “B”, and he started tapping away on the flat keyboard of his cellphone, all before even revealing the reason for his inquiry.  They don’t call him Boundless Plotnikov for nothing.

Finally looking up from his 4-inch screen, Viktor explained to me about his talent scout friend-of-a-friend and the search for a dancer to model at an event the following weekend.  He didn’t give me much information, but the promise of a check during my first month of summer lay-off spread my mouth into the dubious wide crescent of a happy Cheshire Cat.  A short bit of internet correspondence later, it was all arranged.  I was booked to model (spin dance) on a pedestal (wobbly plastic perch of terror) at the MAC cosmetics counter in the Nordstrom downtown.

When I arrived at MAC on the first day, a painted girl in a chic black, multi-textural ensemble led me down a hallway to a teeny dressing room I never knew existed.  I remember thinking to myself, This is total Nordstrom VIP.  A moment later, another beautifully painted lady entered with her tool belt arsenal of brushes, goops, powders, and creams.  She sat me down, drapped a robe over my shoulders, and with a smile she sprayed, brushed, moussed, twisted, braided, wrapped and pinned me until an hour had passed and my hair stuck coiled like a tight astronaut’s rope atop my head.  Her true forté, the makeup portion, she completed with the light yet purposeful hand of a practiced profession in under 20 minutes.  The speed of the procedure only highlighted her artistry.  In keeping with the theme, a launch of the new Alluring Aquatics collection, I emerged from the secret room a vintage-inspired synchronized swimmer from space, with an intricate cap of braids and the soft, dewey maquillage of a mermaid.photo 1 photo 2

hair, makeup, and photos by Loran Diciolla