Hey. Hi. Hello. It’s been a while!

Please excuse the absence around here, as you can see things have been…busy. I am usually a Thanksgiving fanatic, but something strange is happening this season. Don’t get me wrong- I had a fabulous time with the stuffing and pie, but this year jingle bells are just ringing a bit louder for me.

It’s not even December yet (but can you believe it will be this weekend?!) and I’m diving head first into the holly jolly. I’ve already watched most of my prerequisite Christmas movies (Home Alone, Miracle on 34th Street, Charlie Brown’s Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life, I’m looking at you), the crafting has begun, and you guys, I even decorated my tiny tree. I know.

This quick week off from work was refreshing and productive, filled with family time, tea dates, homework cramming, donkey feeding, indoor farmer’s marketing, and small business shopping. Because #shopsmallsaturday should last all season long, here’s a little round up of my favorite spots around pvd:

NAVA for the best gifts for your best gals. + plants + candles + vintage wears

Home Imagined for refurbished midcentury furniture and an epic craft corner.

The Shop for cozy. Because you can shop small for foods and drinks, too.

Queen of Hearts / Modern Love for downtown fashuuun and fun accessories.

Frog and Toad for the most unique, perfect, can’t believe this is a real thing gifts.



first photo by Emily Nunes.



weekend in wonderland





When you start the weekend on a Thursday afternoon with airport wine and your best friend.

When you realize how to spell Chautauqua.

When you fly into a blizzard, but a bold ballet dad braves the storm.

When your apartment is above the old McDuff’s, and has the puppy portraits and “wipe your paws” doormat to prove it.

When you can walk from McDuff’s to the (gorgeous) studios and the theater in under 3 minutes.

When you find breakfast cookies. And so you return after hours to beg for more. And then leave with 6.

When you warm up to Christmas carols and the snow just keeps coming.

When you mirror the 12-year-old ballerina showing you how to Sugarplum and remember yourself as a 12-year-old bunhead and wonder how this all came to be.

When you realize your tutu matches your tea saucer and your life is complete.

When the waitress thinks you’re married and refills your would-be husband’s coffee again and again (and again).

When angels literally surround you and ask questions like, “Do you live at your studio, or do you have a house?”

When you vow never to turn Hallmark channel off.

When dinner turns strangers into friends and the person across from you says “bubblah”.

When you take your partner’s hand, step into sous-sus, and feel astoundingly present.

When you sign an autograph for Phoebe on the bathroom counter and she smiles a smile bigger than her face.

…you’ve just done a Nutcracker guesting in Wonderland.


IMG_7624.JPGAs evidenced by the relative emptiness of this blog over the past few weeks, I think it’s safe to say this season has truly been one of the busiest of my life.  A senioritis-induced course schedule overload and new opportunities in the studio have been filling my time so sufficiently, I can’t remember the last time I sat down to journal, let alone blog.  There are so many things I want to share with you- stolen costumes, nostalgic cheese, nourishing drops of dew- but for now I will take a note from advent season.

Advent is a version of the Latin term “coming”.  It refers to the season observed by Western Christian churches as a time of waiting to celebrate the Nativity of Jesus.  It’s a time of anticipation and measured expectancy.  Religious or not, I find the practice of this slow expectancy deeply relatable.  In this chaotic season of life, advent reminds us to take pause, muse, and reflect.

M and I crafted up our own advent calendar (a la Reading My Tea Leaves), each tiny envelope full of good deeds (make dinner for his brother and sister-in-law who are welcoming a new baby this week), and fun winter time dates (spiked hot chocolate at Duck & Bunny) to help us savor the wait.

a christmas story


This morning I parked my car at a metered spot in Brookline and hoofed it half a mile to one of the most beautiful bakeries, Tatte.  Brownstones lined my right and a woman in blue passed by on my left.  As she did I made eye contact, smiled, and chirped my usual “Hello!”.  To my delighted surprise, her equally spirited return greeting came almost instantly- if only you knew how many people look away when I acknowledge them.  Her quick but genuine response tickled, and I walked the rest of the way feeling a tad bit lighter.

Fast forward through some pastry perusing, tea sipping and note scribbling a la Tatte, when the women next to me start “discreetly” side-eyeing my notebook, a page of which I’ve now begun staining with the dregs of my English Breakfast leaves.  I realize the rather strong likelihood that my strange activity is offending their tame Wednesday brunch chatter and check my phone.  An hour has passed!  And I only paid for 48 minutes of parking!  I cause a bit of a ruckus in gathering my things (why must I bring crafts everywhere I go?), clearing my teacup and busting out the door.  There’s still a good 10 minute walk between myself and my inevitable parking ticket, so I pick up my pace from rush to trot towards the Brownstones.

From several gallops away, like the frame-by-frame delivery of a sad comic strip, I see the ticket print out (chchchchhchh), detach from its maker (zzzzip), and smack down onto my windshield.  I’m there just in time for my ticketer to turn around and watch my shoulders shlump dramatically downward.  Between panting breaths from frowning lips I sigh out, “This is me”, placing a defeated, consoling hand on my poor car, whose already been through enough this week.  The meter guard interrupts her own automatic apology to surprise me again, saying, “You know what?  If I hadn’t seen you earlier, and we hadn’t said hello to each other, I would never do this.”  She slips the ticket away, crumples it into her pocket, and before walking away, smiles once more and says, “Merry Christmas.”

Thank you, kind stranger who made my morning feel special when it could have been frustrating.  Never have I so directly felt the power of a friendly greeting.  If that’s not Christmas spirit personified, I don’t know what is.


discovering dance


When I was two, my big sister’s girl scout troop attended Festival Ballet Providence’s Discover Dance performance of The Nutcracker, part of a program wherein schools, church groups, senior citizens and other small communities that may not otherwise have the opportunity are invited to view a daytime showing for a highly reduced rate.  Since my mother was wildly active in all things field trip, volunteer, organization and arts, and I was just a wee little Keeks, I tagged along for the day.

Now, just to clarify, when I say my mother was(is) wildly involved in the lives of her children, I mean she was not just on the PTO- no- she ran the PTO.  She not only attended every academic ceremony and school function, but would most often arrive several hours early to help plan.  Perhaps best of all, though, was the special tradition my mom established at my old elementary school, a brainchild of hers aptly called Creative Awareness.  A week-long celebration of the arts, my mom’s Creative Awareness embraced the unabashed creativity of the young, speckling the halls of Aitken School with colorful student artwork and rogue 5th graders flute, trumpet, and clarinet-ing their tiny, expressive hearts out.  This art appreciation week culminated in an elegant evening talent show, featuring students framed in decor so classy it caused audience members to question their whereabouts and out-of-districters to purchase new properties (probably).

It comes as no surprise, then, that my mother- girl scout troop leader and overall art enthusiast- would orchestrate a trip to the ballet.  At the ripe age of 24 months, I had been exposed to an impressive repertoire of live theater (pretty sure I saw Into The Woods from inside the womb), heck, my mom even co-created and directed a children’s theater group which I acted in for the first twelve years of my life!  But this Nutcracker thing- this ethereal, floating, wordless bit of magic- this was my first experience with real ballet.

According to my mother, I sat on the edge of my velvet-wrapped seat for the duration of the 2 hour ballet, eyes glowing.  When the curtain finally dropped, so did my jaw.  In her telling of this particular story, my next move was to dismount from my perch, point up to the stage, and squeak out, with the utmost assuredness, “Mommy, I am going to do that one day.” (It should be noted that my first word was a full sentence. #grammarpolice)

Twenty years later, that know-it-all oddly accurate little girl has just fulfilled a pretty incredible dream.  As my pointes brushed the hard stage of PPAC Friday morning and the child-dense house applauded my (rather shakey) double pirouette approximately 30 seconds into the grand pas de deux, two-year-old me craned her neck up.  Little Kirsten smiled her smile across my face, bearing her teeth through since-painted lips.  She leapt with abandon and reached her gaze up to the highest balcony, desperate to absorb every bit of this antipodal view before Tchaikovsky’s final horn silenced.


It’s difficult to express my feelings about FBP’s Discover Dance program.  But doesn’t that tend to be the case when such unselfish things so directly effect your own life in a way that feels self indulgent?  If from my performance last week, even just one child drew a fraction of the inspiration that I did in watching it all those years ago, my heart will surely be full for the next twenty.


making spirits bright



Over the weekend, A and I headed up to the historic town of Winchester, MA for a Sugarplum guesting.  Diverts and rosin, golden tiaras and (so many!) children- what a way to kick off the Nutcracker season…

Though it feels good to be back in my city (and stalking Seven Stars), I really am a big fan of traveling to places my eyes have never met.  No matter if the destination waits just 60 miles north and the duration of the stay plans to be quite limited; The eminence of adventure is not lost in short journeys.  Discovering (and dancing) in new places is one of my favorite flavors of thrill.  Of course, sparkling tutus, glassy birch trees, miniature bottles of bubbly, warm crêpes and generous best best friends do seem to add just the right spice.

Oh yes, it’s a wonderful life.

happy december


New England homes will always let you know when Christmas is coming; twinkle lights crop up in every window, woven greens circle door knockers and the warmth of crackling fireplaces glows from the inside out, sending plumes of exhaled smoke up through colonial brick chimneys.  December is upon us.

The successful closing of Up Close On Hope | Apollo & Bach Suites brought a short holiday break for FBP, and now with bellies full of turkey we plunge head first into Nutcracker preparations.  Ah, Tchaikovsky and sore toes, you epitomize my December.  To get into the spirit, I’ve been  doing some decking of my little halls and a bit of Christmas gift gathering too (#shopsmall), with festive socks on my feet and a chai in my hand, of course.

Last night I trekked it up north to Ballet Arts Centre of Winchester to rehearse with the students for my Sugarplum guesting this weekend (eeep!).  Back in Providence, the next 4 days will be spent hopping from France to Spain to Germany, through blizzards and living gardens to a land made of sweets, accompanied by suites my body knows forward and back.  So goes the wonderful, gratifying, exhausting grind of December’s annual preparatory routine.  Gird your loins, dancing friends, the Nutcracking season is officially here.

a midwestern nutcracker

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Saturday, December 13th, 2014 marks an important date for me;  Not only was is my first time ever performing as the Sugarplum, but also my first time dancing in a Nutcracker performance outside of FBP’s show at PPAC, which I’ve been a part of for 14 years of my life.  A pretty big deal, to say the least!

Being a guest artist was such a lovely experience, and our hosts showed us some really exceptional hospitality, with bountiful gift baskets upon arrival, hand drawn cards from the students wishing us luck, heated blankets backstage and in our dressing room, and a seemingly endless supply of cold water bottles to keep us hydrated.  The performances went fairly well, considering the less-than-favorable stage conditions, my bursitis, and a mild case of pre-performance jitters.  Although I must say, I think my favorite part of the trip was the cast party held “in our honor”, complete with an adorably inspiring question and answer session with the students.  Some of the highlights:

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In addition to the adorable notes of encouragement, and inquisitive/informative questionnaires from the littles, I especially enjoyed sharing the story of my injury recovery and some motivational words with a young dancer who had recently been diagnosed with a spinal stress fracture, just like mine.


I boarded the plane homeward bound with a full heart and an inspired mind; A change of scenery and a fresh audience can work real wonders on a tired body.  Stay tuned for the scoop FBP’s Nutcracker opening this weekend, and our premiere of Grand Pas at PPAC!

all photos via STB’s new instagram

dear santa, love dancers

holiday gift guide

Nutcracker is in full swing, my friends and I watched Love Actually last night, and my “Bright Copper Kettles” scented candle burns whenever I am home.  We picked our names for the annual FBP Secret Santa, so it seems like an appropriate time to put together a little holiday gift guide: Setting The Barre-style.  Read along for 10 special surprises to wrap up for the dancer in your life…

1. The Modern Classic.  I can’t say enough good things about this ultra soft, barre-inspired workout top. But if you’d like to see me try, check out my review.

2. Chamomile Tea.  This super-tea not only squashes stress, but it relieves sore muscles and reduces inflammation as well!  Yogi-tested, dancer-approved.

3. Warm Booties.  I have been sporting these Bloch booties since 2010 when my mom snagged them for me at a YAGP competition.  I warm up in them every morning, and have yet to find a footwear option that keeps my toes as warm and cozy as these pups.

4.  Glass Water Bottle.  I’m a big believer in reusable water bottles, but am also super sensitive to that icky taste plastic or metal options sometimes leak into the water they are holding.  This pretty glass bottle would eliminate that problem entirely, and the bamboo shell makes it both aesthetically pleasing and indestructible.  Win-win.

5. Nutribullet.  I purchased a Nutribullet this summer and can honestly say I’ve used it almost every day since.  It’s the most high-efficiency, low-maintainance way to blend up nutrient-packed smoothies I’ve ever found, and the cups come with screw-on tops, so you can bring them anywhere.

6. Heating Pad.  This one is essential if your dancer friend lives in a cold winter climate!  Equally helpful in warming up a sore spot and cuddling up with on the couch after a long day of rehearsal.

7. Knit Shawl.  The beautiful and talented Vilia Putrius of Artsy Leo knitted this little guy for me a few months ago, and I am obsessed with it.  The shawl is so soft and intricately crafted; I can wrap it around any part of my body and feel like I’m instantly warm and a tad fancy. ;)

8.  Massage Ball.  I rely on my Footrubz rubber massage ball to cure all bunion-induced foot ailments.  Arch cramps be gone!

9. Pretty Pouch.  I have about four different pouches in my dance bag currently.  One for sewing supplies, one for tape, one for hair accessories, and one for miscellaneous mints, perfume rollers, and other items that attempt to make me smell less like a sweaty foot.  This glam little option from Madewell would be a warmly welcomed update.

10. Stretch Ribbons.  I arrived late to the stretchy ribbons party, but boy am I glad I finally decided to show up.  Two words: achilles savers.  Give any and all lady dancers in your life the gift of freedom from ankle-strangling satin ribbons!  Their tendons will thank you forever.

multitasking maria

All dancers know how tough it can be to find time for gift shopping with Nutcracker rehearsals and performances crowding up our holiday calendars.  I’m loving this adorable Visa commercial, which uses San Francisco Ballet principle, Maria Kochetkova, to poke fun at the dancer solution to most time management problems: multitasking!  Since we’ll be doing our first full Snow rehearsal at FBP today, I thought it would be appropriate to share the Nutcracker-themed commercial here.  Happy Saturday!

PS- Check out another Nutcracker-inspired commercial here.