marveling mermaid

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Whoever said getting older meant “growing up” never met a professional ballet dancer. One of the best things about my job is the essential nature of imagination. The cornerstone of my career transforms “playing pretend” into “making believe”.

In one of my first story ballets, I flew on the ragged tunic-tails of a magical manboy, coated in pixie dust, second star to the right and straight on ’til morning. Neverland became real for a while, and I visited not only in my daily rehearsals but in my sleep each night. In a few weeks I will revisit the little Cinder girl who waltzes in glass slippers and rides a pumpkin to meet a prince, but first I inhabit a mermaid.

Comfort in the sea and pure wonder on dry land, I’m a wide-eyed child, reborn on the shore in awe. The Little Mermaid marvels most everything in this strange new world, an assignment whose endless benefits I do not ignore. There’s nothing quite like putting yourself in the wobbling young legs of a recently spellbound former sea creature. Tip toeing around a garden, clean of this world’s clutter and ready to receive. What a gift to be tasked with occupying this curious stranger.

And if you were wondering whether or not playing around with mythical beings and fairytales is a difficult thing to do “at the office”, note my derpy rock friend and the happy puppy in the background of the above picture. Man, I love my job.

 

If you are in New England, come check out Little Mermaid. Tickets here.

a chat with lauren lovette

Lauren_Lovette_for_Zarely_1800_1000_1400x.progressiveNYCB Principal Lauren Lovette, photo by Zarely.

At the Vail Dance Festival back in August, I was walking through the park on my way back from the amphitheater when I happened upon Lauren Lovette. She was sitting on a park bench, headphones around her neck, smiling at the wind. Mere hours away from premiering her new work (in which she was also dancing) that evening, Lauren looked calm and comfortable. So I decided to say hello.

Two hours later, we had recorded an entire (2 part!) interview and were now veering into a most interesting topic- her recent foray into veganism. Having just watched What The Health? with the rest of the Netflix loving world, veganism was at the forefront of my mind, and chatting about it with Lauren only further excited me. It wasn’t until the imminent food poisoning incident that I actually went fully plant-based, but I recently re-listened to our veganism chat and found Lauren’s story pretty enlightening.

Ms. Lovette is insightful, down-to-earth, and honest. Plus, there’s no denying her perfect podcast toned voice. ;) She shares her struggle with keeping on weight, eating a junk food diet, fighting for endurance, a serious health scare, and healing herself with plant food.

If you are curious, pull up a park bench and chat with us…

Thank you so much, Lauren, for sharing your experience!

in my skin

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I’ve been standing in the shower for far longer than necessary, letting the hot water patter over my shoulders and steam up my sore body. Two thick strips of kinesio tape flank my pulled lateral quad. A pillow of gauze inflates with water between my scarred baby toe and my bruised fourth toenail. The biggest toe on my other foot hides its half-nail under a bandage cap. Ballerina feet indeed.

That morning, finally seeing my podiatrist after a week of phone tag, he jokes that I’m lucky he doesn’t have a jealous wife. I have 3 voicemails in my inbox that say, “Hi Kirsten, it’s me. I’ll try again later.” This morning the office is empty save for my mother, the secretary, the doctor, and me. He’s wearing full scrubs, gracious nature brings him in to cut away bits of my skin before heading to the hospital for a full day of surgeries. My mother- bless her brave soul- is enlisted as accomplice, er assistant, in the scraping of my toe gunk. She patiently holds back my pesky wiggly toe- the one that’s had a bit of bone removed by that very wonderful podiatrist himself several years before- and never even squirms at its squishy ilk.

Today begins a week of 12-hour days. Beginning in the studio at 9:30am and wrapping in the theater at 10pm when the union crew turns out the lights on us, we will work. We will warm up, we will rehearse, we will warm up again. We will space, we will learn, we will dance. We will correct, repeat, perform. Repeat. A week quite literally full of ballet. Equal parts intimidated and excited, a recipe for the best kind of butterflies.

Here goes.

hbd mr. b

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It’s Mr. B’s b-day and I’m celebrating with a little homework. Ballet homework, that is…

A week ago Balanchine repetiteur Sandy Jennings was in town setting Rubies for our February program and I’m feeling pretty dang honored to be rehearsing both Solo Girl (aka “Tall Girl”) and the Principal Pas De Deux. Eeep! So much excitement, so much responsibility, so many counts.

So here I am watching archival videos online, sipping on dandelion tea, and sitting on my NEW COUCH. If you’ve been following along for a while, you know how much I love arranging and rearranging my furniture, but it’s been a very long time since I’ve made such a major change in my space. Stay tuned for photos, it’s been a wild ride…

nutcracker magic

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It felt coincidental when the first snowfall of the season came on our last long Saturday of rehearsals at the studio, little white flurries beckoning from the high windows, guiding us giddily into theater week…

It felt serendipitous when a fresh blanket fell in the wee hours of the morning just before our first Discover Dance performance, returning the world to wonderland…

But it felt utterly and undeniably magical when sparkling white flakes greeted me at the stage door after opening night, making their dizzying way down through the dark downtown sky.

Everything about the stage door at the Providence Performing Arts Center is nostalgic for me. Eight-year-old Kirsten instinctively emerged from the theater out into snowy December, half-mittened hands in the air and boots circling one around the other below. I looked up into the swirling night and felt a peaceful joy that can only be described as Christmas bliss.

Boy, what the adrenaline of opening night Sugarplum and little snowfall will do to a girl.

 

an article about my many Nutcrackers, here.

a review of last night, below…

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first photo by Cameron Morgan.

sugar and spice and snow and dew

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This weekend marks my eighteenth year performing in Festival Ballet Providence’s The Nutcracker. That’s right, folks. My Nutcracker career will officially be a legal adult with voting rights by Sunday evening. I am equal parts giddy and flabbergasted. Where the heck did the time go?

The most remarkable thing about this 18-year marker, I think, is the fact that after hundreds of Nutcrackers, there is still something new; This year I will be dancing the role of Snow Queen for the very first time. Snow pas has always been a favorite of mine…the triumphant horns, the imminence of spritely snowflakes, the sweeping lifts. Misha likes to describe the pas de deux like the beginning of a snow storm, little pockets of icy air chasing each other into swirls. A is the wind and I am swept up in him, spreading diamonds over the stage with my crystal wake. Ah, to be Queen of the Snow…

Of course I am also honored and excited to manifest visions of Sugarplums and whirling Dew Drops once again! If you find yourself in Providence this weekend, you can find tickets here.

 

photos by Emma Margulies.

the first snow

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There’s something about the first snow of the season that makes the world feel calmer. Skeleton trees don fluffy coats, icy rooftops shimmer, and the most wonderful- and busiest!- time of the year gets just a bit quieter, if only for one night. We had our first snow here in Providence this past weekend and ah, I am feeling the Nutcracker vibes. Of course, with frozen precipitation come cooler temperatures, making chilly bodies tougher to warm…

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If the cold weather wasn’t enough to make my muscles tighten, Sugarplum, Dew Drop, and Snow Queen will surely finish the job. I think I actually spend half of my Nutcracker run on my left leg, mid-pirouette. By the end of the day, these calves are BURNING. Thank goodness I have A always there to lift me up when my legs give out! And thank goodness my favorite leg warmers come in an adorable child’s size, perfect for warming those tired calves of mine.

Yup, these are actually RubiaWear “Rubita” leg warmers, and they are the cutest. Can you believe there are bunheads with legs the size of my calves? The thought is so precious I couldn’t even type it without scrunching up my face in a silent awwwww!

Anyway, these little miniatures are going to be in heavy rotation this winter. I also love wearing something made by the genuinely lovely, talented, badass boss lady, Ashley Ellis! If you want to warm up this winter and support smart ladies and their business endeavors, check out the rest of the (constantly changing!) RubiaWear collection here.