work shoes

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The first full week of Peter Pan  rehearsals has come and gone, leaving a trail of battered pointe shoes and swollen feet in its wake.  Last Friday I strapped on the satin death traps and didn’t stop once.  I’m hurting all over, and we’ve only learned Act I.  Woof.

Clearly demonstrated by my lack of activity here on the blog, I’ve been pretty swamped with rehearsals and PT and getting over a cold and sewing pointe shoes and reading for my new online Physiology course and…trying to stay sane?  Am I the only one who has a hard time separating studio life and real life?  Is it hard for anyone else to transition from work time to playtime?  Sometimes I forget that the weekend is not only a time to rest and recuperate my body, but also a chance to see friends, drink wine and cheat the diet (if we’re getting specific ;).  I’m hoping to do a better job of balancing all that out next weekend…although I’ve heard rumors that a 6-day work week is approaching tomorrow…wish me luck!

a dark audition day

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In the ballet world, auditions are a fact of life.

Sometimes you’re competing against thousands of ballet students for a scholarship to a summer intensive, sometimes you’re rivaling hundreds of young dancers for a spot in a professional company, and sometimes your up against 25 of your closest friends and colleagues for a role in an upcoming ballet.  Regardless of the exact setting, the pre-audition jitters are universal.

Friday was FBP’s first full day back to work (thanks, blizzard!), and we were welcomed warmly back to the studio with an audition.  Of course, this came after I overslept, lost my keys somewhere in my own apartment and almost wiped out in the snow on my walk in.  I blame those pesky pre-audition jitters.  Nonetheless, not a particularly good start to my day…

Now, the first day back after a two-week nacho-eating-marathon resting period is a lofty endeavor in and of itself, but dancing your first class back while being stared down by Jorden Morris, the mysterious Peter Pan choreographer whom you’ve never met, is a true challenge.  I entered the studio the same way I always do, warmups in hand, back contracted and shoulders rounded to keep the cool draft off my chest, and feet scurrying quickly beneath me.  I stretched my quads, hamstrings, calves, hips, warmed up my back, did some ab exercises.  Then the waiting began.  The ballet mistress and several dancers would be arriving late, the roads were terrible, our director announced.  After 20 more minutes of excessive calve stretching and crunches, the last dancer settled into their place at the barre and we began with pliés.

Somehow we all made it through that painful first class back, only to be rewarded with a rather awkward waiting session between the audition and the cast posting.  We all shimmied back into the warm-ups we’d shed during class and rolled out, stretched out, ate apples and checked Instagram important emails, trying to keep things light and ignore the obvious tension in the air.  That’s when something strange and unexpected happened.  Our artistic director entered the green room and calmly told us that an ex-FBP principle dancer, Jaclyn Ricci, also the younger sister of a current FBP dancer, had passed away the night before.  I felt my hand clap over my gaped mouth and I froze for a minute.  She was 36.  I just saw her two days ago.  This can’t be real.  The tangible stress in the room was abruptly cut with a collective held breath.  A dark cloud hung above us.  Then the casting went up.

I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again; being a ballet dancer is one of the most intense jobs in existence.  Far more theatrical than the stories our bodies tell on stage, the day to day life of a professional ballet dancer is never lacking in drama.

I would like to dedicate this post to Jaclyn Ricci.  She was a beautiful dancer, warm spirit, and an inspiration to so many dancers, including myself.  Her bright smile and poignant sense of humor will live on forever in our memories.  RIP.7545_644331578962504_571349828_n

PS- stay tuned for an update on the outcome of the Peter Pan audition!

Untitled

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I wanted to call this post “Nutcracker Selfies and Feet Pics” but it seemed a bit crude lengthy for a Tuesday evening montage of slightly immaterial photos.  So instead I called it “Untitled”, added the aforementioned random assortment of iPhone-captured shots and called it a day.

I was told that (and I quote) some of you will never tire of seeing backstage ballet pictures, so here you go!  Enjoy the reflections and feet of Nutcracker before they disappear for a whole year.

And if you’re wondering, yes those are ice baths my feet are “relaxing” in, yes, I struggled through one every night during the weekend of the show, and yes, they hurt like hell.

preparations

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It’s officially Nutcracker theater week, day one!  I’ve yet to actually set foot inside PPAC this year, but with preparations already taking up so much of my time (notice the above photo in which I’m sewing pointe shoes in the car en route to a check up with [one of ] my [ many ] back doctor [s]), I can already tell it’s going to be a great deal busier than my last theater week.

With a definitive cast list still up in the air, I’m feeling a bit uneasy about this weekend’s performances.  When will I be dancing which roles and with whom?  Just tiny details!  Although, casting questions aside, I’m not sure I’ve ever really felt super duper prepared to perform by day one of theater week.  It’s always those tech and dress rehearsals onstage that take my comfort level from restless to ready.  Hopefully PPAC works its magic and I can sleep easy tomorrow night before Thursday morning’s show.  Wow, just two days until we open!  Where has December gone?

going nuts

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Nutcracker is officially in full swing here at FBP.  The snowflakes are flying, the flowers are waltzing, and Drosselmyer’s cape is swirling around the studio leaving little magic tricks and heaps of dust glitter in its winding path.  I got a jump on my annual pre-Nutcracker CVS splurge, replenishing my dwindling stock of false eyelashes and blonde tinted bobby pins for the big weekend.  Just a few more pointe shoes to break in and I’m ready to hit the stage…

But all I want to do is sleep.  And ice my feet.  Under a giant blanket with hot chocolate and ibuprofen.  Forever.

I can always feel the week before Nutcracker’s opening in my sore body and raw toes.  To avoid the disastrous pre-Nut blues, the whole company is dreaming of family style breakfasts and naptimes and gingerbread-house-making schedules instead of run-throughs and corps cleaning.  Just one more week until opening night.  Counting.  Down.

nutcracking

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With the first two school performances under our (dance) belts, it’s time to start getting into the real meat and potatoes of Nutcracker weekend.  Tonight will be my first performance as Spanish, something I’m both excited and nervous for!  Hopefully my little “merde” gift from Alex will bring us good luck on stage tonight…until next time, Happy Weekend, loves!photo

today…was hard.

Today, all I really want to do was this:

…and also: give up, quit ballet, go home, open a pint of ice cream and cry while watching some form of trash tv.  But instead, my day looked more like this:

…pointe shoe-shaped bruise admiring, toe nail-smooshing and tutu battling.  Only the crying part remained invariable.

Some days, (usually after a particularly restless night), it’s like I just wasn’t meant for ballet.  Nothing feels right, nothing looks right, I find myself quickly waning in energy and simply unable to do anything about it.  At this point, I usually start to get extremely frustrated over the teeniest details, I realize how small these details are (despite how monumental they seem in that moment), and then wonder why I even care so much.  Why do I get so torn up over having a “bad class” or not being able to land one. lousy. pirouette.?  This, my friends, is a question only answerable by the ballet gods.  All I can do now is relax on the couch with my heating pad and a bowl of cereal, take a deep breath, and prepare for a better day tomorrow.  I’ll leave you with something a bit more uplifting; a photo I snapped of our amazing principals Vilia Putrius and Mindaugas Bauzys during their Agon rehearsal…

Peekaboo!

your daily dose of bunhead babbling

I suppose it’s time for a ballet update.  Well, I received my first paycheck of the season on Friday, (first post-raise check, woo!), and I must admit it felt well deserved.  It was a strenuous week, both physically and mentally, as my body eased into that familiar soreness routine, wherein I’m unable to comfortably walk in the morning, then warm and explosive around noon, then sweaty, tired, and hobbling out of the studio at the end of the day.  But you know what they say – Nothing a few painkillers and a footsoak can’t fix!

So that’s what I do.  And this cycle continues with surprising regularity, despite the week’s rehearsals being as unpredictable as a New England winter.  Right now, the company is hard at work preparing for the second annual Together We Dance gala as well as an all new program of our fan favorite, the “so close you can touch it” Up Close On Hope series.  Simply proclaiming “so close you can touch it” does not quite do this unique performance justice; We (the dancers), are literally jumping, kicking, running, lifting, pointing, posing, prancing, turning, twirling, sliding and gliding into the laps of the front row ticket holders.  As you can imagine, it quickly becomes a task to contain the panting heavy breathing and dripping sweat light perspiration that are taking place in and around our bodies as a result of said jumping, kicking, running…you get the point.

Why must all of this melodic hyperventilating and endearing skin glistening be “contained”, you ask?  Well, the answer here is actually a bit more polarized than you may think.  One half of the response cries, “Because we must maintain the magic!”…you know, ballet must look effortless, dancing is supposed to be enjoyable – not the close cousin of an unflattering clip of marathon runners doing a victory shimmy after the race (I’m telling you, sometimes my face gets Louboutin red and Swarovski shiny during an intense performance, it’s not as pretty as I try to make it sound).  But the other half of this response deeply sighs and coos the most freeing and genuine, “Thank you.”  The intimate experience that is Up Close On Hope allows the audience a chance to view these incredible works of art as well as the artists interpreting them from a vantage point otherwise unattainable by anyone other than those very faces painted in the playbill.  An astonishingly human, yet perhaps (we hope) a touch reality-defying, display of athleticism, artistry, grace and power becomes unmistakably apparent before the eyes of the unsuspecting audience, which at this point has evolved into something more of a group of all-access-pass-holding, in-on-the-secrets observers.  This connection between dancer and observer bridges that legendary gap otherwise occupied by an elevated stage, an orchestra pit and a veil of illusion-creating distance.  Without these, the observers are exposed to dance at its most raw and real form.  They experience what we see and feel every day, in our very own studio space.  It’s a kind of authenticity that cannot be faked.

While this authenticity is, in my opinion, priceless, it also makes dancing a classical pas de deux – “effortlessly” – about 3000 x more difficult.  So perfecting this shall be my enterprise for the next 2 1/2 weeks, wish me bon chance!  Until next time…xx

hope street fall festival

Tegan and I had a fabulous time at Providence’s Hope Street Fall Festival yesterday!  Thanks to our prime apartment location, the festival was a mere block’s walk away – and BAM – we were immersed in an abundance of autumn activities.  There was Seven Stars cookie decorating, free apple eating, food truck admiring, boot and sweater wearing, vanilla chai drinking, horse-drawn hay carriage riding, local band listening, and of course, flash mob workshop dancing!  That’s right, the roommie and I donned matching tank tops and leggings (you know you’re jealous of our coolness, don’t try to fight it), to teach a crowd of adorable kiddies (and kiddies-at-heart!) some of our flash mob moves- more news on that later!

After all of yesterday’s festivities, it’s safe to say I’m beyond ready for all things fall.  Which meeeeeans: apple cider, apple sauce, apple picking, pumpkin carving, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin bread, fall garland crafting, cashmere, boots, leather jackets, colorful trees, cozy nights on couches, tights under dresses, performance season (!!!), burgundy, army green, and candles that smell like cinnamon.

What gets you in the mood for the shift in seasons?