the final round

Madison Penney FR17 VAM 1.jpg

Junior Grand Prix Winner, Madison Penney in Variation from La Esmeralda. Photo by VAM productions.

 

Tiny netted buns flock from all directions toward Lincoln Center, filling the surrounding sidewalks with even more bustle than usual. It’s April in New York City and that means flowery trees, energetic birds, and equally excited young ballet hopefuls buzzing backstage at Youth America Grand Prix.

Wednesday night’s Final Round filled me with all kinds of nostalgic warm fuzzies, a feeling that never quite managed to find me while I was actually competing all those years ago. As the gold curtain rose on little Remie Madeleine Goins, first competitor of the evening, those fuzzies shifted from nostalgia to pure adoration (is there anything cuter than a beautiful, 12-year-old teeny Harlequinade?). About 7 seconds in, that feeling shifted again to one of astonishment; Little Miss Goins whipped out some pretty spectacular pirouettes with gusto and sass to match. She went on to win the Shelley King Award For Excellence, and excellent she was.

From there the performances ebbed and flowed, with standouts in a seas of Esmeraldas from ultimate Junior Grand Prix and First Place award-winners Madison Penney and Hannah Park, respectively, as well as a technically clean and precisely French Satanella from Elisabeth Beyer. The crowd fell hard and fast for Taro Kurach’s Basilio (the longest applause I’ve heard at YAGP since Jim Nowakowski), but for me, the true highlight of the night came from sweet Viola Pantuso’s Fairy Doll variation. Though her success was no huge surprise (Miss Pantuso hails from Ellison Ballet, aka New York’s Leading Compete-erina Factory), a rather serious tumble mid-solo did leave things hanging in the balance a bit. What impressed me most was not the way she popped right back up without missing a beat, gorgeous technique highlighted by a tastefully sparkling costume, but her unmistakable stage presence- that thing that simply can’t be taught. It can be coached, though! And ex-FBP Ballet Mistress/dear old friend, Jolanta Valeikaite (who was previously honored with YAGP’s Teacher of the Year Award), is just the woman for the job! Leave to sweet, tough, brutal, loving Jolanta to put her whole self into nurturing a perfectly polished performance. Bravo!

artifacts

FullSizeRender 29

I must sound like a broken record at this point, but I have to admit…the winter blues are hitting me exxxxtra hard these days.  I’m (still) cleaning out and rearranging my apartment, and the lack of serenity at home has been making my brain feel all scrambled up.  Does anyone else relate inner peace to outside surroundings?  I decided to escape the house for some relaxation to start this busy week…FullSizeRender 28

On Monday night, MW and I attended a group meditation at Better Off.  This pretty little space is dedicated to reducing dependence on technology and relocating the lost art of human experience through reflection and the creation of real artifacts.  Cell phones locked away in a special safe for the full “uncoupling” experience (though I’m not sure I’m attached enough to my phone to require such deliberate separation tactics- but that’s a topic for another post), we nestled into a circle of simple chairs and together the small group practiced mindful meditation.  We were guided through a slow scan of the body, lead with gentle cues centered around an awareness of our physical presence in the space.

Paying such close attention to the sensations of my idle body was a completely new experience for me.  Being such an active person, it’s rare that I actually acknowledge the feeling of dormancy.  What a concept.  Cars zipping down Broadway and happy Grange-goers stumbling past, I felt myself detaching from the constant cycle of thoughts bouncing in my mind and instead truly observing the moment.  I am here.  This is now.  My right foot feels achy, my hands feel heavy, my heart feels steady.  Intentional and calm for once, my breath keeps it all churning.  It’s the only thing changing, my body remains still and the air moves in, through, and out as something different, transformed by my “inactive” body’s rather remarkable routine.  The whole experience was completely restorative.  So, in the spirit of the Better Off mission, some creative and tech-free artifacts I’m enjoying this week…

these paintbrushesDSC07538…because MW and I finally get to start our watercoloring class tonight, and also they fit so perfectly in this pouch (a repurposed cheese knife sheath from a special someone).

this coffee table crateIMG_7277…because it’s packed with a constant rotation of candles and books and inspirational goodness.

this stack of doiliesDSC07555…because February crafts. (!)

this tiny pillowDSC07561…because I knew Jacob would appreciate the artsy joke.  Heh heh.

this bedside setupDSC07514…because it feels fresh and February-appropriate (dead flowers and all).

this garlandDSC07529 (1)…because T and I made it 3 years ago at Mudsy’s and it tugs at the heartstrings (please excuse that awful pun).

 

first two photos via Better Off.

women of character

C’est dans la chute que je prends mon élan.

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 9.54.58 AM (1)

Have you seen Anthropologie’s new campaign featuring short video profiles of women that inspire the brand?  T pointed me in the direction of their October muse, Paris Opera Ballet prima and choreographer Marie-Agnès Gillot, and I found her words so inspiring:

“My body is the ultimate expression of myself.  I train and learn more about it- more about me- daily.”

“Discipline is the cornerstone of freedom, not the opposite.”

I’m also a big fan of the clothing at Anthro, so seeing them in motion was a big treat.  Oh, and I suppose the Parisienne background might have won me over a bit, too…ANTOCT15_PARISFASH_014_120_RGB_postScreen Shot 2015-09-28 at 9.52.10 AM

See the full video below, and read her extended questionnaire here.

photos and video via Anthropologie.

guest posting it up

dancehealthier

Hey all, just wanted to pop in and share some exciting news with you…

A few weeks ago, the author of one of my favorite dance blogs, Jill, asked me to write a guest post for her site, Dance Healthier.  My first guest post ever, weeeee!  Of course I obliged, attempted to write a short and sweet story about what inspires me, and promptly typed up a multi-paragraph chapter all about why I love dancing.  Woops.  Anyway, it turns out Jill loved the article and posted it on her lovely blog yesterday!  So I figured I would let you all know both about my little guest posty and also about Jill’s fantastic health-and-fitness-for-dancers blog.  Well, what are you waiting for?! Go check it out!!!

{shabby} chic

As I grow up, live in my first real apartment, and begin browsing around Craig’s list for next year’s living options, I can feel my inner interior decorator developing.  I’ve been a life-long fan of the romantic, french countryside “shabby chic” style famously curated by Rachel Ashwell (I’ve been collecting from her Target collection “simply shabby chic” for years!), which explains why I swoon at the sight of any interior involving white, pink/blue florals, distressed antique furniture (think pale paint chipping off it’s sturdy wooden base), fancy old chandeliers and quirky personal accents that tie it all together.  My mom recently gifted me Rachel Ashwell’s Shabby Chic Inspirations, a cover-to-cover goldmine of biblically beautiful, decidedly both shabby and chic spaces.  As you can probably assume, judging by the visible access of post-it arrows I’ve already marked pages with, I’m loving this book.

a hard day’s night

There’s something inspirational about peeking into other people’s workspaces.  I love seeing how people surround themselves in creativity and clutter in order to induce a productive work session.  I’ve always wanted a special work studio in my own home- but then again creating a home ballet studio (think sprung marley floors, floor-to-ceiling mirrors and wooden bars) is decidedly more difficult.  What do you include in your workspace?

Ides of March

So, it’s almost 70 degrees out and rising here in Providence and I could not be more thrilled, shocked, confused, excited, and relaxed.  Since “spring” weather in New England usually incudes a generous amount of rain and clouds with the occasional pop of sunshine that allows us to unload the peacoats and boots, this June-like sunshine seems like a wonderful mistake.  The trees are budding (some blooming!), the birds are chirping, and as I mentioned earlier the sun is most definitely shining!  On that note, I’m off to the beach to soak up some Vitamin D…Happy Thursday!

xo