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

four decades of dance

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You know how I’ve been complaining for the past year about how busy I’ve been? Well friends, I wrote a book.

What started as a simple chronicle of Festival Ballet’s 40 years became a thorough narrative not only encapsulating the history of the company, but showcasing photos and memorabilia that had since been lost in the depths of the archives. I spent many an afternoon elbow-deep in the chaotic filing cabinets that keep Festival’s past, riffling through playbills from the ’80s, checking facts and faces as I went. Many summer days spent sweating in the little conference room at 825 Hope, choosing fonts, resizing photos, playing graphic designer…

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I am a perfectionist. I am rarely happy with my work. For the first time in what feels like a long time, I am truly pleased. I have so many people to thank for their assistance and mentorship along the way. But here, in this special little piece of webspace where I can open myself up, I will say: I am proud.

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Stay tuned for the final version of the book, and information on how to order it, if you’re interested. For now, I’ll just remain unabashedly tickled. :)

 

photos of me by Michael Collins, cover photo by Jacob Hoover.

back to the stage

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Beethoven, Phillip Glass, unauthored cacophonies, but first ballet class…

This weekend I will (finally!) perform in my first real program of the season! That’s seven longs months offstage, folks. Despite last minute adjustments in choreography, costumes, timing, spacing (you know, the usual), I am feeling emotionally r e a d y. I’m dancing Plotnikov, Kozadayev, Yanowsky, and Douglas. Ooof, now say that all five times fast…

So tonight’s the night. It’s about dang time. Let’s do this thing. Go get ’em, tiger. And all those other clichés. See you on the other side.

 

Photo by Dylan Giles.

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.

 

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.

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.