Aside from the fact that my eyes are extremely heavy, right now I look absolutely nothing like I do in these photos. I am bruised over most of my body from the hips down, my hair is still in a towel from a shower I took 2 hours ago, and I have pillows supporting my neck, back, and knees…if only I could look as effortlessly sleepy as Princess Aurora every day. Le sigh.
I wanted to share a few photos from the Collaborations project with you, but it felt wrong to make you believe I look anywhere near this serene as I sprawl on the couch creating this post for you now. In a way the juxtaposition between these images and my appearance tonight is sort of what this blog is all about: bringing awareness to all of the ugliness that goes into making ballet look beautiful, like the calluses stuffed behind those pink satin pointe shoes we ballet dancers all love to hate.
Just popping in to share some photos I took backstage before last night’s Sleeping Beauty premiere. Laden with sparkly beads, embroidered golden crests, stacked satin ribbons, and glossy sequin strips, these gorgeous costumes could not go undocumented.
I didn’t realize how disconcerting it would be to sit in the audience on opening night. Of course it’s been strange staying home while my roommate goes off to theater week rehearsals, but it wasn’t until the lights went down and the first notes of the overture sprang from the stage-framing speakers that I felt a flutter in the pit of my stomach. Wait, no, I haven’t got my hair up yet! My pointe shoes are miles away! I forgot to bring pink tights! These thoughts all raced through my mind, only to be shooed out by the startling mental image of my fractured spine that has recently taken up residence there. So I put the battling brain bothers aside to watch my friends perform on stage, something I rarely have the pleasure of seeing. And what a pleasure it was!
Sitting solo in the audience for today’s matinee, I realized how lucky I am to be part of a company where everyone is so gosh darn nice. I couldn’t keep the smile from my face as I watched my little violin girls, fairies, and nymphs balancé and emboîté across the stage. This craaaazy bunch truly is my special kind of family, and I’m so honored to call them that.
This morning FBP has it’s first performance of The Sleeping Beauty, one in which the audience will be filled with (mostly) excited school children attending the show as part of our Discover Dance program. The company holds one or two performances during school hours and invites elementary-high schools around the area to catch the show for a reduced very rate, allowing schools the otherwise unattainable opportunity to see a full-length ballet being performed by a professional company on a real stage. For some kids this could mean the field trip from hell, but for other eager young spectators, this could be the first date in their love affair with ballet! So MERDE dancers, and may you perform,ignite, and inspire the future of dance this morning! Can’t wait to watch you from the audience!
The other night, in the spirit of Sleeping Beauty preparations, my roommie Tegan started watching a clip of The Royal Ballet’s Alina Cojocaru performing Aurora (as if all of her rehearsals in the studio weren’t enough Sleeping Beauty for her!). After being blown away by Cojocaru’s first few steps, Tegan restarted the video and turned it towards me a bit so we could both revel in the resplendence of this dainty Aurora’s every movement. Wow. Cojocaru is Royal Ballet’s hidden gem. She is gorgeous, expressive, explosive, gentle…not to mention whacked out like crazy! Today on Facebook, ballet photographer Gene Schiavone posted a link to an article which interviews the Romanian ballerina about her work with Hospices of Hope in her home country, as well as her current injury, plans to return to the stage, and her future with fiancé and fellow Royal Ballet dancer, Johan Kobborg. One response, I found particularly insightful:
“When do you think you realised that what you were doing in that daily drill would be your dream?
Cojocaru: I have a feeling it was when we were taken to watch Giselle. That’s when I realised, oh, we don’t just stay at the barre, it’s an emotional thing, we get a story, we get involved. I’d never even seen a ballet before.
I tell you what I liked. I liked the teachers saying to me, “Good.” And I worked for that “good” every day. Not knowing. It was someone telling me I was doing well. Slowly discovering that I could do something well, without being at home. And then I became passionate about it, and the “goods” were not the only aim, it was about going further, to understanding what “good” is. I came across a diary I kept – I didn’t even remember. It seems I was counting hours to seeing my family. But now it’s the good memories I keep. You choose to keep the good memories.”
It’s so interesting to find out that although Alina and I had different reasons for initially becoming involved in ballet (I was 2 when I saw/fell in love with my first ballet- Alina had never seen one until she was dancing in it!), growing up in ballet class we shared a similar hunger for self-improvement and affirmations awarded in the form of scarcely heard and therefore coveted “goods” from teachers. I know, this is probably true of many ballet students, but I’m having fun convincing myself Cojocaru and I are similar in some way!
With one week left in the season, the final curtain call is quickly closing in. The dancers are working very hard to put the finishing touches on Sleeping Beauty; a colossal ballet for such a small company, but a welcomed challenge for the talented artists of FBP. I watched rehearsal for 3 hours last night, and I will tell you right now- I’m beyond excited to see this on stage. If you are in the area, don’t miss this classic story ballet. Shows like this one are what peaked my interest in ballet as a child…you never know if you have the ballet bug in you until you experience it first hand. And it’s never too late to find out! Unless of course you don’t buy your tickets and you miss out on the show next weekend. Then you’re too late. And I hate you. Just kidding, I love you. But seriously, 401-421-ARTS. Keep the arts alive in your community, Rhode Islanders!
So what if you’ve already discovered your own lack of the ballet bug? Well GUESS WHAT? It’s Mother’s Day next weekend, and chances are your mom has ignored her hunger for a night at the ballet to tend to your sporting events, playdates and illnesses. So why not give her the evening of her dreams? You know you want to.
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
Just thought I’d share a little peek at my Monday/Tuesday “weekend”. It finally felt like spring here in Providence; The sun was shining, the picnics were plentiful, and the birthday cake was delicious. We hiked, brunched, tanned, and even made a little bonfire last night…so wonderful! But now it’s time to head back into the studio to start some serious work on The Sleeping Beauty– stay tuned!