a premiere in which i did not touch the ground


This weekend A and I danced our first Christopher Wheeldon ballet. Well, part of it anyway…

We (rather unexpectedly) performed the pas de deux section of Wheeldon’s The American, a lovely ballet set to Dvorak’s triumphant score of the same name. The Company will perform the full ballet as part of our February mainstage, but this weekend PVD got a taste of what’s to come in the Black Box Theater. I’ve been describing this little ditty as 6.5 minutes of being either off your leg or in the air. Poor A never gets to let go of me. But somehow we made it through! Relatively smoothly! A triumph. And now for my own enjoyment, but if you care to see, a rehearsal code run down of one of the hardest, sweetest, most frustratingly beautiful pas de deuxs we’ve done to date:

that hard promenade, the first backwards lift, the lift that kills your arms, the nervous arabesque, the backpack press, the cartwheel, the tricky promenade, the split and scoot, the getting up, the run around, the impossible lift, the weirdly difficult fouetté + fall, the traveling baby lift, the birdy, the slow roll, the floor, the spiritual moment, the walk-walk, the run around, the flip lift, the swizzle, A’s least favorite lift, the drop, the rock, the running, the big lift, the craddle lifts, the backwards cartwheel, the second tricky promenade, the hip killers, the second swizzle, the drapey lift, the last backwards lift, the slow floaty pirouette, the bourrées, the end.

gypsy girl

photo 1

“All around her, all glances were riveted, all mouths open; and, in fact, when she danced thus, to the humming of the Basque tambourine, which her two pure, rounded arms raised above her head, slender, frail and vivacious as a wasp, with her corsage of gold without a fold, her variegated gown puffing out, her bare shoulders, her delicate limbs, which her petticoat revealed at times, her black hair, her eyes of flame, she was a supernatural creature.” -Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre Dame

My mom sent me this quote a few weeks ago when Alex and I started working on the pas de deux from Esmeralda.  I just love it.  Hugo paints such a vivid image of his gypsy girl, from her unveiled arms up to her flirtatious shoulders, while leaving the more suggestive bits to the implications in his transitions; Her limbs are bare, but only when occasionally exposed by a wildly dancing petticoat.  You can almost see Esmeralda’s designing mind in the way Hugo describes those piercing eyes it lives behind.  Perhaps even more significant in the illustration of her enchantment are the reactions of those around her: Glances riveted, mouths open, is there any better way to leave your audience?

As it turns out, learning and preparing a classical pas de deux in less than 3 weeks is just as close to impossible as it seems.  Nonetheless, with very little time to rehearse, Alex and I have been working overtime to ground our tricks, balance our lifts, and settle our pirouettes before tomorrow night’s opening.  Of course it wouldn’t be the day before the show without a little drama and a whole lot of stress, right?

Here’s to hoping my inner-gypsy emerges onstage tomorrow, with a few shakes of the tambourine and a spirited smirk!  Here we go!



The professionalism of the entire company has been challenged this week.  We open our spring series of Up Close on Hope this Friday, just 8 rehearsal days after the closing of Boundless Plotnikov, and everyone has been working around the clock to get the program ready.  I am currently rehearsing four different pas de deuxs and one brand new ensemble piece…woof.  Let’s just say I’ve started to daydream of beachside vacations, springtime picnics in the park, or really any outdoor activity that would rescue me from the oppressively fluorescent lights constantly incubating the studio.

This weekend I will perform the minxy pas de deux from La Esmeralda with one of my favorite human beings, Monsieur Alex Lantz.


I remember learning the iconic variation in my high school days, watching from the wings nervously as tween after tween competed the daring baloné-ridden solo at YAGP, and noting how the sassy character didn’t seem quite “me”, though I hoped someday she would.  Here I am 7 years later, emulating the vixen gypsy girl and still feeling like that 15-year-old who was uncomfortable putting on her own false eyelashes.  I mean, I still don’t wear them unless I have to.  But Esmeralda feels like an occasion to bat some giant eyelashes, doesn’t it?  ;)

*ps, if you’re still looking for Nemo….I found him.