monday, monday

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I’ve been busy getting back into shape for my first (pre-season!) performance this Thursday night(!!!) and if the excessive use of exclamation points wasn’t enough of a giveaway, let it be known that I am EXCITED about it.   Here’s some fun from around the web I’m poring over with a side of English Breakfast this morning…

Absolutely love Pittsburgh Ballet Theater’s new season preview video.  Those overhead shots!  Also Clair de lune will never get old.

What do you think of the death of the American Dance Critic?

…on that note, this dance reviewer just articulated exactly how I feel about So You Think You Can Dance. (and pointed out the show’s annoyingly over guided approach to generating an emotional response from its audience.  Amen.)

Did you guys catch this webinar?  It was so inspiring.  Can’t wait to try out Shelby’s recipe for ginger nut butter this afternoon!

Also going to make these, because I have a serious pile of dead bananas at zee moment.

“I want to be a ballet dancer more than anything.” An old 1974 60 Minutes special covering an audition day for the school at American Ballet Theatre.

Goals.

how to: beat the monday blues

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Happy Monday, all!  A few fun reads from around the web to get you through the world’s most dreaded weekday…

Ballet is Boring. (ha.)

The truth about ballet dancers. (amen)

The best kinda bread-bread ever. (looks so strange, and so yummy)

A love letter to my strained left hamstring. (made me laugh)

Ballet 422 is on Netflix. (what are you waiting for?)

Julie Kent just retired to a 30-minute standing ovation. (#endofanera)

Why I photograph dancers. (so much love for Kenneth, his photography, and his mission)

sunday morning

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Yesterday I went from flat shoes to pointe shoes to flat shoes to pointe shoes to flat shoes to pointe shoes.  That’s 5 shoes changes, with 0 exaggeration.  A constant alternation of footwear from death traps to soggy canvas slippers can only mean one thing:  Up Close On Hope is just around the corner.

With just one month left in the season (crazy), my inherent and at times unhinging need for sunshine and warm weather has been kicked into the highest gear.  Luckily this lazy Sunday morning has served up some sunny windowsills, and I’m more than content eating spoonfuls of cinnamon raisin almond butter/strawberry preserves (game-changing combination, you guys), drinking tea, watering my new “love fern” and reading some short stories by the raddest B.J. Novak.  Have you guys read his new book, One More Thing?  I heard about it over on A Cup Of Jo, and was hooked by the simplicity of one of the shortest stories in Novak’s collection…

“If you love something, let it go.  If you don’t love something, definitely let it go.  Basically, just drop everything, who cares.”  Made me laugh…

I’m off to a photoshoot with the lovely Andrew Marnier, have a relaxing Sunday, all!

the pooh way

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Remember how I said I read an entire book the other day?  Well, per the expert recommendation of a close friend, I quickly made my way through Benjamin Hoff’s The Tao of Pooh.  I found its teachings so interesting, I wanted to share them with you.

This light-hearted book explains the ideals of Taoism to its readers in terms any child, or child at heart, can not only understand, but appreciate and enjoy as well…the Pooh way!  Using the classic Winnie-the-Pooh characters, the otherwise slightly complicated principles of Taoism are illustrated clearly and with style- emphasis on the illustrations!

This easy read has got me really thinking about what Taoism teaches and the way of life that Pooh, as the ultimate definition of Taoism according to this book, practices daily.  According to the author, Taoism is perfectly demonstrated by Pooh every time he makes the decision to just be.  With Rabbit’s cleverness always guiding him to the next pointless task, Owl’s wisdom robbing him of any actual life experience, Piglet’s fear of the world keeping him from Pooh’s effortlessly happy lifestyle, Eeyore’s cynism defying any chance of inner nature, and Tigger’s attempts to be the best at everything standing in his way of realizing his own truths, Pooh is the only animal in all of the Hundred Acre Wood who can truly be considered a Taoist.  When Pooh doesn’t know what to do, he does what he wants.  He sits in a nice spot and thinks.  Or heads to the kitchen to eat some Honey.  Or walks around the whole forest just to say hello to each of his friends and wish them a Happy Thursday.  Because he is just “That Kind of Bear”.  Pooh realizes that things are the way they are.  Instead of thinking of complicated ways to fix problems, Pooh does the obvious.  He sees a situation in front of him, and takes the most blatant straightforward approach to solving it.  And you know what?  He succeeds.  That’s why in the end, everyone is always giving “three cheers for Poohbear!”

What do you think of this “pure happiness” approach to life?  Do you really think it’s possible to simply choose happiness and feel happy?  Studying a little of the logic behind this theory really did open my eyes to the idea of it…I’ve decided to try and think of Pooh when I’m feeling lost or frustrated by this injury.  What would Pooh do?  I mean, it can’t hurt, right?

collections

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I can’t say enough good things about Stephanie Lacava’s new memoir, An Extraordinary Theory of Objects.  It’s bittersweet, whimsical, heartbreaking, thought-provoking and just the right size.  The adorable little mint blue book entices its reader’s imagination from start to finish, pausing occasionally to proffer a playful little drawing accordingly.  The story is written in an interruptive yet continuous narrative, suggesting an insight at the unusual cadence of the author’s scattered thoughts.  As readers, we follow Lacava back in time through a highly visual account of her Nirvana-loving ’90s childhood after being uprooted from New York to France at the ripe age of 12 (in “outsider years” that’s one of the most awkward: the beginning of the end, if you will).  The story takes us into Lacava’s most intimate memories, recounting most notably her constantly apparent obsession with the collecting of beautiful (and at times, strange) objects.  It is in the reference of said objects that we receive the heart and soul of the book:  Lacava’s footnotes.  Each time an object of importance is introduced, a small asterisk signals the reader to skip down to the bottom of the page so that a carefully worded mini-history lesson on the origin of the object may be disclosed.  Sometimes lasting halfway through a page, these frequent asides not only supply the memoir with its unique voice, they create for us the exact uneven, confused rhythm of thinking that the author recalls experiencing so vividly during each vignet, while simultaneously justifying Lacava’s fixation on collecting.

When we are actually submerged within the narrative itself, the reader is exposed to some of the most raw, exposing moments of Lacava’s life, revealing some pretty painful scenes, all of which are imperative to the understanding of her character and therefore, the intention of the book.

It’s safe to say that somewhere in the middle of this memoir, I fell in love with the story and its author.  Whether it’s the fact that I can relate to becoming attached to small, seemingly “ordinary” objects (or treasures*, as I’ve always referred to them), or the incredibly not-boring, condensed history lesson subliminally provided that cultivates my adoration, I’m not sure.  But what I do know is that its given me a whole new appreciation of the inanimate objects that surround me, and I highly recommend indulging yourself in this little hardcover slice of heaven.

all photos via my instagram and here.

*When I was young, I would often set up a small table of “treasures” for sale (treasures included old McDonald’s Happy Meal toys, particularly smooth or shiny rocks, handmade animals crafted out of various recycled goods, and the occasionally toy car swiped from my older brother’s collection).  Most frequent customers: good old Mom ‘n’ Pop.   Ps, I hope you like my attempt at Ms. Lacava’s infamous footnote style of writing.  Cheeky, oui?

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.