happy birthday julio

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Julio Bocca and dancers, photo by VAM Productions.

Is there any better way to round out a week of wonderment than by celebrating a man as talented and charming as Julio Bocca? I think not. Friday evening, the Koch Theatre replaced its grandiose guise with a delightfully casual vibe for the Bocca Birthday Bash. With famous dancers flooding the aisles to greet each other and catch up pre-show, I started to feel a bit like I’d stepped into a gigantic living room for a dancer dinner party catered to the likes of Stella Abrera, Lauren Lovette and Isabella Boylston.

As the curtain rose, my intuition took form: A pack of A-list dancers gathered buoyantly around a table stage left, clinking glasses in symbolic toast to Mr. Bocca. Georges Bizet’s Carmen flowed from the speakers, pouring over into the house and inciting an audience-wide exhale in collective satisfaction. The backdrop transformed into a red-wallpapered living room wall, decorated with a gallery of electronic picture frames whose contents came to life, changing with the tide of the program. Each piece seemed befitting of the Bocca theme, many of them proceeded by an insightful commentary from performers past and present.

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Marcelo Gomes and Luciana Paris in My Way, photo by VAM Productions

American Ballet Theatre’s Marcelo Gomes addressed the audience (or were we party guests?) first, transitioning from his touching speech to a rascally rendition of Twyla Tharp’s “My Way” from Sinatra Suite, in which he partnered a refreshingly grounded Luciana Paris. Gomez returned later in the program with Ballet National SODRE dancer Maria Noel Riccetto to dance Macmillan’s Balcony Pas de Deux from Romeo & Juliet, serving up a performance nuanced enough to rival even the great Bocc-omeo himself. That music, and those lifts…

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Marcelo Gomes and Maria Noel Riccetto in Balcony Pas de Deux from Romeo and Juliet, photo by VAM Productions

Suave Mr. Joaquin De Luz spoke next, leading into his flirtatious performance of the Suite from Other Dances with Tiler Peck. Perhaps I was still relishing in the glow of spotting Ms. Peck leaving rehearsal Wednesday afternoon, but this pas was one of the highlights of the evening for me. The Jerome Robbins choreography seemed to flow out of Peck, as if she was creating it spontaneously right on stage. Excuse the cliché expression, but it was all so organic, as if Tiler was a wet paint brush being swept across a blank canvas by an invisible force of genius. Effervescent joy radiated from them both.


Tiler Peck and Joaquin De Luz in Suite from Other Dances, photo by VAM Productions

The classics were certainly represented quite well, featuring an adequately impressive Don Quixote, complete with stunning balances and triple fouettés from English National Ballet’s Tamara Rojo and Isaac Hernandez, plus a jaw-dropping opening of the Black Swan pas de deux from San Fransisco Ballet’s Yuan Yuan Tan and Vitor Luiz.

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Yuan Yuan Tan and Vitor Luiz in Black Swan Pas de Deux, photo by VAM Productions

There were three solos presented, the first being an energetic solo from Mambo Suites danced by the dashing Gonzalo Garcia, followed by a Georgian folk dance from State Ballet of Georgia’s Nina Ananiashvili, and finally the return of Vitor Luiz to finish the show with a Bob Fosse piece which, honestly, sort of started fun and then fizzled.

Contemporary works abounded as well, most noteworthy  from Paris Opera Etoiles Isabelle Guerin and Manuel Legris. The two performed a rather moving piece of choreography that, while I admit took a while to win me over (re: the slow as heck first half), ended with a strong, emotional adieu. Though most of the contemporary works were less than thrilling (I love Yuan Yuan and Vitor, but found the choreography in their contemporary pas, Yuri Possokhov’s Final Pas de Deux from Bells, to be quite dated), there was no doubting the extreme level of professionalism on display all evening.

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Vitor Luiz in Percussion 4, photo by VAM Productions

Between performances, dancers took to the stage or screen to share stories and express their appreciation for Bocca. Artwork on the pseudo living room wall transformed to reveal coordinating sketches, vintage photos, and video clips. An on-going interview with the birthday boy himself served as endearing evidence of his contagiously upbeat spirit. In it, Bocca describes himself as being “open and honest on the stage”, a sentiment as equally proven by the footage of past performances as it was in the adoration from Bocca’s colleagues. Former partner, Natasha Makarova, for example, fills the dancer dinner party with sweet praise, remembering,

“I loved you as a partner and as a human. The combination is unique. Ah, to be able to throw myself without fear, and you would always catch me.”


photo by VAM Productions

It was loving comments like these, combined with charismatic responses from Bocca which made his magnetism so irresistible. By the end of the evening, you couldn’t help but just love Julio and feel glad for the existence of this ballet legend.


A big THANK YOU to YAGP for having me! I will be posting a few more highlights from the week, so stay tuned. For now, in case you missed them- here are my reviews of The Final Round and The Stars of Today Meet The Stars of Tomorrow Gala. (and a bonus gala dinner post, too!)

dining with the stars


Thursday night’s post-show gala reception was something of a fairy tale. Bearing witness to this week’s impressive display of talent was a dream come true; Being a guest at that dinner was simply a dream.

Still buzzing from the collision of stars on stage, B and I ascended the stairs to the Koch Theatre’s grand promenade, unsure just what to expect. We were met with elegant rows of long dinner tables, sheathed in crisp white linens and delicate place settings. Curve-top chairs scalloped the edges of each strip, offering a place to rest and nosh on three courses of Mediterranean mezza, roast chicken and vegetables with light, thimble-sized cupcakes for dessert. Bottles of red, white and rosé dotted the tables generously, offering a welcoming dinner party vibe at the otherwise deliciously formal affair.


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Have you ever found yourself continuously looking around wondering Is everyone here Someone? and Wait am I cool enough to be here? It is only appropriate that a gala honoring such stars of the stage be also star-studded in attendance, but the realization of this fact does not quiet the giddy fangirl within. Luckily, I was able to keep it together long enough to introduce myself and congratulate some truly inspiring people on their well-deserved success. One of my favorite conversations was shared with the evening’s honorary chair, Amy Astley, whose ongoing support of ballet education throughout the years has been not only touching but also arguably integral in the rising popularity of ballet in the fashion industry and mainstream media. She was genuinely sweet, with an endearingly open adoration of the students circulating the event in tutus and pointe shoes, donation baskets in hand.

Of course, when it came time to express my thanks to the illustrious gala co-chairs, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, my 12-year-old self struggled to the surface of my skin, revealing her awkwardly emotional appreciation of their presence which read less as “thank you for being here tonight” and a bit more like “thank you for your musical detective series and Billboard Dad and New York Minute and for designing my first ever training bra and inspiring me to experiment with peasant puffed sleeves in the early 2000s!!!!!” But yeah, don’t worry, I totally kept my cool…


I can’t think of a more glamorous way to support young ballet dancers pursuing their dreams. There’s a special sort of heartwarming that comes with seeing the likes of Julie Kent, Paloma Herrera, Chelsea Clinton, Woody Allen and Nicky Hilton supporting ballet education in a venue so near and dear to me.

Of course the night would not be complete without a bit more dancing. And it is here that I will get strange: ABBA’s Dancing Queen has now followed me twice into euphoric evenings- first at my brother’s wedding, where I belted and shimmied through the throwback with my adorable Gma, and again Thursday night in the middle of the David H. Koch Promenade. The groovy feel-good melody seems to be somewhat of a celestial symbol for me, a reminder to pinch myself and appreciate that I am absolutely having the time of my life.

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Sidenote: Another throwback (this time of MK & A) is absolutely worth rewatching. Practice, practice, practice!

photos 5, 7, 8, 9, 10 & 14 by VAM Productions.

an evening in neverland


Monday night, FBP held its annual spring fundraising gala at Aspire at Hotel Providence on one of my favorite streets  downtown.  The theme of the event was An Evening in Neverland, a clever nod to the company’s upcoming production of Jorden Morris’s Peter Pan.  It was quite a lovely night, with yummy hors d’hoeuvres, free wine(!!), a performance (Alex and I danced Joseph Morrissey’s beautiful neoclassical pas de deux, Poised, on a carpeted floor, in pointe shoes, mind you) and an exciting silent auction where prizes included a week’s stay in a 30-room mansion in Poland, a precious piece of glass artwork by world renowned, locally based artist and FBP board president Toots Zynsky, and a private museum tour in NYC lead by the one and only Mikhail Baryshnikov!

This week I’m switching gears from Esmeralda pas de deux to Balanchine’s iconic Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux.  It’s a romantic duet, complete with a flowy dress for me, puffy sleeves for my partner, and an adorable little “cuddle” lift at the end.  Festival favorite and Balanchine Trust Repetiteur, Sandra Jennings, makes her return to Providence tonight (eep!) to watch our rehearsal and spruce, shape, mold, and refine us before Friday night’s performance.  Considering I had to put this piece very much on the back burner to prepare for Esmeralda for the past two weeks, my Balanchine footwork is a biiiit rusty.  Here’s to hoping I can whip those toes into shape before 7 pm!

smiles, smooches, and smooth toes

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Hello, everyone!  This week has been action-packed…

Date nights at The Grange, pre-gala giggles with my girls, Waterfire smooches with the boyfriend and- GASP- stuffing those feet back into pointe shoes for a few daily relevés.  For any of you who have never gone 5 months without strapping on some of those pink satin bad boys, let me just tell you this:  Calluses disappear fast.  You won’t notice it at first, but one day you’ll try to stand up on your toes and consequently discover that this strange, silky skin has replaced that once beloved patch of crunchy padding on your baby toe.  The thick toupé that used to sit atop your big toe?  Vanished.  Oh and that long strip of hardened cells (aka the built-in-bandaid) that used to wrap around your heel?  Gone with the wind.  So, please, do whatever you can to keep those hardened skin swatches attached to your feet for as long as possible.  Sit around in heels, take cold showers, whatever it takes.  And above all- despite how much your open-toed shoes try to convince you- STAY AWAY FROM THAT BIG COZY PEDICURE CHAIR.  Even if you’re going purely for the massage and polish, that soak/pumice stone combo is going to make you wish you’d never learned the difference between an ouch pouch and lambswool toepads.  So just don’t do it.

Drops mic.

urban beauty

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Last night my fellows dancers and I had the pleasure of attending an elegant gala at Aspire in honor of Festival Ballet’s 35th season.  Complete with a silent auction, live music, and an open bar(re)(ha…haha), the evening was truly a lavish affair.  Guests mingled with company dancers and FBP staff members, celebrating this season’s success thus far and getting excited for next month’s production of The Sleeping Beauty.  The dancers were asked to decorate old pointe shoes (worn in various shows throughout the year) using any and all materials available to them, to be auctioned off at the end of the night.  To me this read more like: Arts and crafts!?  Okay!


Here we are auctioning off our smelly old beautifully decorated pointe shoes, and here’s how my shoe turned out (haha, no pun intended)…


…there’s no real theme there, but bling-tastic is how I’ve been referring to it.  The gorgeous downtown fundraising gala, aptly entitled “Urban Beauty”, turned out to be a huge success (my pointe shoe sold for $500!) and a real shining moment for FBP.  Here’s to the last 2 1/2 weeks, 2 dress rehearsals, and 4 shows of the season! xx


Last night, I had the pleasure of attending Festival Ballet Providence’s Black & White fundraising gala event.  Let me just say now- I live for these things.  Fancy dresses, high heels, sparkly jewels, dramatic makeup, delicious food, dainty desserts, dancing…check, check, check, checkcheckcheckcheck aaaaand check.  This gala was particularly enjoyable because it was spent with all of my best girlfriends AND we got to help raise money for our company.  Win win?  I’d say so.