snow day education

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Growing up, I didn’t know much about “the ballet world”.  Sure, I had heard of New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theater, and the Bolshoi, but I couldn’t tell any of them apart and the name Balanchine didn’t mean a whole lot to me.  In my mind, the ultimate principals were Cooper Nielson and the Kathleen Donahue, but no one was cooler than underdog Jody Sawyer.  Fast forward 10 years and the baby bunhead in me is making up for lost time with some borderline obsessive fan-girling tendencies, re: hours of youtube-ing on a lonely snow day (I didn’t say I was proud of it!).

Yesterday I dove in hard to the New York City Ballet’s online presence, which is rather extensive, I might add.  I thought I would share some of the beautiful content I uncovered during the NYCB-themed cyber stalk sesh…

Some gorgeous photos from the impossibly chic, talented and well-spoken Garance Doré, taking us along on her visit behind the scenes with the New York City Ballet.  (part II here)

Ever wonder how NYCB principal Sara Mearns creates that just-tossed-it-up-real-quick twist/bun hybrid thing she’s always sporting?  Ponder no more, here’s a tutorial from the master herself.  And ps, she just replaced Jody as ballet’s resident “cool girl”.  Sorry, Sawyer…

I never considered that a person actually holds the job title of “official shoe sprayer to the New York City Ballet”, but it’s pretty rad.

Take a peak inside the NYCB costume shop and follow the recreation of the Theme & Variations tutus.

The euphoric purgatory of being promoted to Soloist in the New York City Ballet.

 

photo by Garance Doré

NYCB x The Coveteur

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As a long time fan of The Coveteur, a website that takes you inside the closets of today’s tastemakers and publishes the scoop on all of the latest designer collaborations, I practically jumped out of my dress when I noticed their feature on New York City Ballet‘s annual Fall Gala, which happens to be tonight.  Because I stalk several NYCB dancers on instagram, of course I had already heard about the company’s collaboration with Thom Browne, Carolina Hererra, Mary Katrantzou, and Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen (coordinated by NYCB board member and resident fashion insider, Sarah Jessica Parker).  But, being the stalker that I am, the idea of sneaking a peek behind-the-scenes before the costumes even hit the stage was impossible to resist!  Imagine how fun it would be to don an exclusively NYCB designer costume for the night?  Swoon.

Check out the designs for yourself here!

Read more about the project here.

All photos via The Coveteur

a day in the life

Presented by the New York City Ballet, this little clip compares the daily routine of a NYCB dancer to that of a young professional.  Though the two might not cross paths all that often, this video’s witty split screen reminds us how similar they can be.  I think my favorite part is the shot of the man’s fingers padding along his keyboard mirrored by the bourrées of the dancer en pointe.  Both are so gentle, but so skilled.  I think it’s a pretty cute project, bringing professionals of all kinds together to promote NYCB’s young patrons circle.  If only more young people could learn to appreciate dance- we need all the support we can get!

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Ask anyone in a professional ballet company their opinion on the gimmicks surrounding ballet in the media (read: overdramatic reality shows and thrillers based on every cliché in the book), and they will all share with you some version of this fact: Dancing ballet professionally is dramatic, scary, and full of passion enough on its own.  It doesn’t need a script.

That seems to be the thinking behind the newest mini-series on aol.com, city.ballet.  Featuring 12 short documentary-style segments, the show gives viewers a behind-the-scenes peek at the life of a New York City Ballet dancer.  Each clip focuses on a different aspect of professional ballet, from the shoes to the makeup to deciphering the ranks, all seasoned with honest, straight to the point commentary from the dancers and even ballet master in chief, Peter Martins, himself.    The series takes us into the enormous shoe closet (fully stocked with Freed’s customized to each dancers exact bunion size and callus width), into the rehearsals of principle power couple (and real life couple) Robert Fairchild and Tiler Peck, and into the physical therapy room where injured dancers seek treatment daily.  Finally, a true representation of the professional ballet world has been documented for the world to see.  And with long-time balletomane Sarah Jessica Parker as our host/narrator, I don’t think it could get any better!

Although I’ve yet to watch them all (can’t wait to finish them up later tonight), one of my favorite segments features a part of the ballet world that every female dancer knows all too well…the corps de ballet.  The video addresses the importance of the often under appreciated corps and its role as the base of the company and the “glue that keeps everything together”.  Preach!

Check it out here, and let me know what you think!

rehearsal chic

NYC Ballet Ballerina Style

After reading this article on HuffPo about the style of NYCB’s ballerinas, I started considering; how exactly does one’s in-studio style develop?  Everyone has their preferred dancewear flavor, from the guy who sports a wrestling singlet every Saturday to the girl who never starts class without her fluffy knit shawl.  We’ve all seen (and worn) some version of the sheer black wrap skirt and we revel in the magic of the tights-turned-bra-top trick.  We’ve certainly all experienced the softness, warmth, and fat-day-concealing power of the baggy cotton overalls that are somehow deemed acceptable garb within the half circle of wooden barres.  A company-wide rumor of unclaimed “trashbag” anything (shorts, pants, jumpsuits) in the lost and found excites us beyond belief.  But what exactly determines which odd ballet trend we go for?  Why do some of us reach for a sleek black camisole while others relish the chance to don a bright purple Yumiko in the morning?

Personally, I think it has something to do with our sartorial choices outside the studio.  Par example, one of my best friends is a true earrings girl.  From big studs to pearls to danglies (made that word up), she has a big jewelry box stuffed full of them…it’s like the Whole Foods bulk section in there.  She never leaves the house without some kind of ear decor, and she’s even been known to coordinate her earring/leotard combos quite painstakingly.  The brilliance in her dressing?  Without many other options for accessorizing your rehearsal-wear (shoes don’t deviate much from pink satin and necklaces/bracelets/scarves can be cumbersome), earrings are a really smart way to jazz up your ballet gear.  So bravo, T!

As for me, I’m getting pretty excited about a custom-made pair of leg warmers currently being knitted for me by the lovely Vilia Putrius.  Her stuff is seriously amazing…can’t wait to see how these turn out!

Happy Monday!

a gala performance

Last night, I had the immense honor of taking the stage with some truly amazing dancers for Festival Ballet Providence‘s first performance of the new season.  Along with my fellow company members, an inspiring lineup of guest artists from across North America gathered in the ocean state to support FBP in raising a greater awareness of the arts in our community.  Among the celebrated dancers performing in the gala last night were New York City Ballet’s Daniel Ulbricht, National Ballet of Canada’s Greta Hodgkinson and Etienne Lavigne, Boston Ballet’s Adiarys Almeida and Avetik Karapetyan, and Ballet West’s Tom Mattingly and Beckanne Sisk (who also stars in the CW’s Breaking Pointe).  It was insanely cool to be a part of this star-studded performance, and even cooler to watch some of the world’s best ballet dancers perform from the wings.  Safe to say I won’t be forgetting this experience anytime soon!

nycb x valentino

You may think the style mavens that littered the steps of Lincoln Center during New York Fashion Week would be mere ghosts of themselves by now, but – always a step ahead – the fashion world had already planned something far too monumental to miss.  Enter the annual New York City Ballet gala event.  The theme?  Valentino.

That’s right- the infamous designer, who has a bit more time on his hands due to his recent retirement from House of Valentino, created breathtaking original costumes for the dancers to don while performing at the star-studded event.  It goes without saying that the marriage of world renowned designer Valentino and the always-impressive New York City Ballet (which bloomed from a long standing friendship between the designer and NYCB artistic director, Peter Martins) did not disappoint.  There were graphic black and white pieces, stunning red tutus with pink and purple undertones, as well as a show stopping one-shouldered gown worn by Maria Kowroski (who I had the privilege of meeting this summer!).

All of the (female) dancers wore pointe shoes dyed in Valentino’s signature red color, as they performed world premier works by Peter Martins and Christopher Wheeldon.  The only piece without custom-made Valentino costumes was Balanchine’s Rubies, which was clearly included as a nod to the designer’s vibrant color of choice.

The gala was attended by all kinds of fashionable stars including Anne Hathaway, model Iman, Diane Von Furstenberg, Martha Stewart, Tory Burch, and of course, Sarah Jessica Parker, long time friend of Valentino and active board member at New York City Ballet.  I’ll leave you with these snapshots from the gala, try not to drool…

insight

Ever since finishing the Hunger Games trilogy, I’ve been hunting for a new book to stick my nose in.  After skimming my shelves, I realize my options were pretty limited; Grimm’s Fairytales, British Social Realism, and The Color Purple were among the list of “unread”.  Also in that list was Bunheads, a novel written by ex-New York City Ballet dancer, Sophie Flack.

This book was an impulse buy- yes, sometimes I troll around the book section of Target hoping to be inspired by some great literary work calling out to me from the shelf- mostly justified by its pretty, tutu-laden cover.  So, in my book-deprived  frenzy, I snatched up the pretty cover (and all the pages inside), still holding on to my skepticism concerning any type of fictional novel about ballet.  Then I started reading…and reading…aaaand reading…and then I finished it.  In 2 days.  I even used my phone to take down some quotes I found inspiring…

What I realized while reading this book (a sort of half-memoir, half-fictional drama chronicling a young dancer’s assent into the ranks of one of the world’s top ballet companies), was how incredibly gratifying it is to read a work about ballet in the words of someone who truly understands it.  And not only does Ms. Flack understand the world of ballet, she lived and breathed it.  So much so, that its all-consuming ways forced her main character to second-guess  everything she’s ever worked for.  Her dream.  A promotion to soloist.

Yes, this book has a very cheesy title, and yes, I can admit to being a big bunhead dork for giving it a chance, but I can also say I’m very glad I did.  Because I think it’s safe to say a fire has been lit.  So WHAT are you waiting for?  Go read it.