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I’ve been collecting moments throughout this dear little career of mine. Writing them down, sharing in this space, keeping them safe here where I can return to them when they are needed. Last Saturday night amidst multiple mediums of fire and water, I scooped up a pretty powerful one. It’s past my bedtime, but I’ve got to get this out, down, locked away here in my safe space…

At 8:14 I crouch behind the basin stage. In full red unitard and crimson pointe shoes, it would be tough to hide me even without the hundreds of fiery crystals and plumed feathers crowning my head. Our elliptical audience catches my heart beats then tosses them up like sparks spit from blaze, left to scatter down wildly into the water below.

At 8:20 the performance begins. At 8:24 the first torches are lit. At 8:27 it starts to rain.

Then comes my cue. Stravinsky’s Firebird is reaching its swell, behind thin black capes I make my way to center stage. I enter the huddle of students, worriedly whispering, The stage is so wet! Be careful Miss Kirsten! and as the horns exhaust I am hoisted up from the group.

The music takes a sharp breath in while the audience applauds. Slowly in cadence with the petering cheers, I feel wet ground replaced beneath me and I stare boldly into the crowd. A bassoon guides my sanguine step forward, carefully onto pointe and then downstage. Red feet are less timid than mine. Looking through the layer of thin black smoke and metallic raindrops between us, I finally break gaze with the crowd to twitch my chin down with the quick recoil of my wings.

Oboes lead me through my trance before the flames assemble and the horns creep up again. We board the boat and push into the river as the finale builds. I peak. On a platform in the center of this wobbling wooden vessel, I can feel the warmth of four huge torches surrounding me. I stand in a deep lunge, never feeling more balanced and unstable. Stravinsky’s creation lets out its largest blast. I peek. Up into the weeping night sky, bending back toward flapping wings. It’s then the crowd’s cheers fall silent and I’m wrapped up in my moment. Under water, over water, through fire and cloaked in it, I cry.

This perfect, strange, magical moment, between PVD and me.


photo by John A. Simonetti.

new bruises, ancient worlds

For the past week, I have slept with a pillow under my left knee, I’ve had completely un-sing-able compositions stuck in my head, and the sweet start of a callus forming on my right big toe.  FBP’s 38th season is underway at last.IMG_2743

These days the studios are vibrating with a mix of Stravinsky (both Firebird and Apollo), Debussy, and Weber.  Our halls host Dominic Walsh (and his squeezable 6-month-old daughter, Vivi) for the setting of his Afternoon of a Faun and Le Spectre de la Rose for our October Ballets Russes Reinvented show.  You guys, this stuff is beautiful.  Dominic practices the challenging yet grounding method of “spiraling” through movement, in which the body continuously twists in opposition of itself, growing taller while sending energy out through the floor.  His choreography depends on a releasing of the muscles in the legs and neck, while engaging the back, ankles, and core from the center outward.  It’s such an anti-visceral way of working for me, but I am enjoying the freedom of expression this technique allows.  Practice, practice, practice.  Good thing I have sweet penny candy from a far sweeter guy to fuel me!  Anyone else have a strange love for this stuff?IMG_2742

As I don the many hats of nymph, princess, monster, and muse, I can’t help but feel transported back in time.  I’m reminded of the days of Russian monarchy, defection, and reinvention in a country to which ballet had yet to arrive.  This time of dramatic discourse between companies battling for fame.  A period of creative cultivation and collaboration between artists the likes of which has not yet been repeated throughout history.  This ancient world where Balanchine, Stravinsky, Nijinsky, Dalli, and Matisse spawned new work with a seemingly endless fervor.  And speaking of ancient worlds, I’m spending every off duty hour immersed in the Foundations of Theology, because, you know, the fall semester wouldn’t be complete without a course at Providence College.