an update


You may have noticed a lack of rehearsal-related posts lately.  Have you?

Maybe you’ve been feeling the absence of studio snapshots and soreness complaints and new warm-up excitement over on this little blog of mine.  Maybe you haven’t.  But just in case you’re curious, here’s a little update on ballet life lately…

That soreness you may or may not have been missing from this electronic journal?  Oh, it’s there.  Hansel & Gretel is well underway, and if you’ve never scurried across an entire stage on your knees, butt-scooted away from unidentified creatures for an entire scene or scrambled around like a terrified turkey to the sound of thunder crashing multiple times in one show, let me tell you- it hurts.  Dancing a playful, young, scared, brave, timid, triumphant little girl will do quite a number on your body (and mind), especially when you get to do it in the remarkably difficult style of Ilya Kozadayev.  His is such a musical, smooth, and balanced style of movement that feels so satisfying to perform- but not without a week or two of bruised armpits and skinned knees (sexy, isn’t it?).

Making my back ache and my brain work is Viktor Plotnikov’s new multimedia piece, a retelling of the Spanish play, The House of Bernarda Alba.  It’s a dark story, and though all of the “sisters” are supposed to be rather unattractive, I am known as the ugliest of them all.  There’s a hump on my back and a jealous fire in my heart, but dancing this familiar style with the added intrigue of a filming element (some portions of the ballet will feature acting scenes filmed in black and white and played on a moving screen over the stage) is a nice mix of comfort and change.  Not to say that Viktor’s work itself is in any way comfortable; Though the style feels more at home than most in my body after so many years, the break-dancing and shoulder-stands I’m doing feel no less arduous than they sound.

In stark contrast, Gino DiMarco’s Lady of the Camellias is bright and balletic and complete with parties for dancing and gossiping and all of those fun things you do in a french ballet.  I suppose it’s also riddled with illness and adultery and death…but let’s ignore that a moment, shall we?

Also making its way to and from the studio on the daily is my enormous informational history book!  Pictured above in all of its 800-page glory, this thing is pretty darn serious.  It’s chock-full of (extremely detailed) anecdotes about the founding of America, and after this course I’m expecting to be an expert on the subject.  My father will be proud.

And there you have it!  These days I’m doing lots of class en pointe, rehearsal on flat, homework and Whole Dancer worksheets.  So in case you were starting to think my life consisted entirely of hot chocolate, baby’s breath and snowday strolls…just an update.

ballet babies

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Juliet’s wide, toothless smile.  Juliana’s squeaking, screeching, and smacking.  Miles’ expressive brows and pouty lips.  A day dedicated to mothers means something more these days at FBP.

Several weeks into our 37th season, the company was graced with 3 adorably animated additions, and our 24 hearts were promptly stolen.  Although split 3 ways, it seems our affections are limitless, each of us scheduling tummy time, flying lessons and bouncy walks into our already packed days.  We are all now well-versed in the ambiguous language that is “baby talk”, and have taken to a guessing game called “What will you be?” wherein wildly polarized future professions are submitted based on Miles’ vespa-themed onesie, Juliet’s calm demeanor, or Juliana’s constant kicking.  We notice when Juliet is feeling especially giggly, when Miles has a cold, and when Juliana is uncharacteristically quiet.  We know what makes them smile, and will perform ridiculous acts of lunacy just to score the slightest smirk (can’t tell you how many times I’ve blown teeny bursts of air onto Juliana’s nose just to see her infamous O-shaped mouth and hear her infectious laugh).

Having a bad rehearsal?  Smell a baby!  Each morning is so brightened by their sunny eyes and squishy cheeks that one day without their presence in the studio darkens the mood, and 2 consecutive weeks baby-free since the end of the season has been borderline unbearable.  Spending so much time with these precious babes and watching them grow from newborns has been one of the greatest gifts this company has ever known.  So, to our rockstar ballerina mothers, Marissa, Ruth, and Leticia, I wish you the happiest of Mother’s Days (a bit belated), and thank you so much for sharing your beautiful children with us.  It’s a privilege to share in these early memories.

*photos from various sources.

in the studio: coma

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I thought it would be fun to share some rehearsal photos from Coma, a ballet I can’t seem to ever get enough of.  Last year when we did Boundless Plotnikov, I posted a rambling of “viktorisms”, little tidbits of interesting language used throughout the rehearsal process.  More of a random narrative for my own personal archives than an engaging article, the post proved to be pretty fun to write, so I thought I’d do another, Coma edition, to accompany these rehearsal shots.  A bit darker than last year’s rant, I’ll admit, but this is a state of comatose we’re talking about now…

“Get out of your skin.”  Viktor describes the entrapped feeling of an unchangeable disaster like being suffocated in a prison of your own body.  He often asks dancers to perform movements as if they are desperately trying to escape this invisible chokehold, scratching their skin down to the bones always driven by frustration and sadness, never anger.

Hollow bodies, we ghost from one point to another.  Like a “glitch” in a computer screen, you never quite see us until we’ve assembled, and even then we are “transparent”.

Empty metal cubes form a frame for the passage from our world to theirs.  They are tangled and bound up in it, unable to pass through, but with a bit or urgency I am staring straight into a line of grieving loved ones shrugging why.

A stark contrast, the third movement often references “our childhoods”, wiggling our toes up to the sky like babies who see their feet for the first time every time they catch a glimpse of the great toed-wonders.  We feel the sun on our faces in a dream we wish to never wake from.

Octopus, citizens and green cards, screaming through your hand, half crucifix/half wings, big mama, pulling on the reins, petrushka, and pinocchios.

For tickets to see Juxtapose.

all photos by Dylan Giles for Festival Ballet Providence.



The familiar blend of cigarettes and toe pads swirls in the air, thick around my face and I avoid breathing too deeply.  My sweating hands give a sticky rub down the back of my tights and a smear of barre rust trails like warpaint.  Careful to use the back of my hand in hopes that less germs have accumulated there, I nudge the baby hairs from my face, allying them with the rainbow of blondes whose ends twist back into a pin-empaled donut at the nape of my neck.  I notice my feet climbing up onto pointe and back down, left, right, left, right, my hips shifting more dramatically than I’d like.  But it doesn’t matter.  No one is looking my way, and even if they were, no one would care.  In the studio we have complete physical freedom to explore and abuse as we please, no questions asked.  Here we are not at home, we are somewhere far more comfortable.

There’s a show tonight so the lights are switched off, save the bright booms hugging the edge of all but that illustrious fourth wall, and I’m playing with my shadows now, watching them follow me left, right, left, right, left.  It’s a game my mind doesn’t need to play; My bones have a body to themselves this time.  I vaguely muse to myself, sometimes it’s nice to turn that brain off, isn’t it? and my rhythm slows down.  It’s time to start the run, and I need to move.  Like a dog who tipped the trashcan, I slink one huge step into the temporary wings and plop down without warning my legs of my decision.  It takes a conscious effort to reconnect that neural/physical volley, I am reminded by the spawn of a new bruise on the outside of my knee.  I watch in the darkness as blue plumes flood toward the surface, like a drop of ink spiraling into a glass of milky water.  Another for my collection, I think to myself.

Before I have the required attention to realize it, we are running Viktor Plotnikov’s Surrogate, and in fact we are more than halfway through.  I’m leaning on my right hip, legs bent in towards my chest, my upper body reaching out into the audience.  My head is suspended, right cheek in Alex’s broad palm from above, and he’s sweeping it back and forth, weightlessly.  My eyes have been closed for twelve slow counts, and I can feel the ground dropping away from me as I float in this moment.  For the remainder of the piece, my eyes are at half-mast, and I roll with the gliding motions my feet seem to prefer today.  It was a strangely sleepy-but-not-tired run, but it doesn’t matter.  Because I am in my more-comfortable-than-home.




photo from Viktor Plotnikov’s Surrender, shot by Cemal Ekin.

work shoes


The first full week of Peter Pan  rehearsals has come and gone, leaving a trail of battered pointe shoes and swollen feet in its wake.  Last Friday I strapped on the satin death traps and didn’t stop once.  I’m hurting all over, and we’ve only learned Act I.  Woof.

Clearly demonstrated by my lack of activity here on the blog, I’ve been pretty swamped with rehearsals and PT and getting over a cold and sewing pointe shoes and reading for my new online Physiology course and…trying to stay sane?  Am I the only one who has a hard time separating studio life and real life?  Is it hard for anyone else to transition from work time to playtime?  Sometimes I forget that the weekend is not only a time to rest and recuperate my body, but also a chance to see friends, drink wine and cheat the diet (if we’re getting specific ;).  I’m hoping to do a better job of balancing all that out next weekend…although I’ve heard rumors that a 6-day work week is approaching tomorrow…wish me luck!

Running On Air

As my third and final week of spring break (read: almost a month of unpaid vacation) proceeds, I find myself anxiously itching to get back in the studio.  While several weeks of layoff throughout the season are to be expected in a ballet company, these three consecutive weeks have left my body feeling strangely underworked.  I’m desperately missing the incomparable quench that is achieved only by beginning one’s day with company class.  My now-rested brain searches for the challenge of tackling new choreography, my heart misses the comfort of my colleagues and friends, and (oddly enough) my legs and feet long for that specific breed of torture defined only by  a day packed with rehearsals.  Fortunately for me, these recently estranged aspects of ballet life that I more often than not greet with familiar, informal salutation will soon return to my daily routine with a vengeance.  In two week’s time, my shell-shocked muscles will be rudely awakened to the intense reality that is Swan Lake…

Oh, did I mention we’re closing the season with Swan Lake? ONLY MY FAVORITE BALLET EVER.  Yup.  I might be a liiiittle excited.

{photo above: my partner Ian and I performing George Birkhadze’s My Sorrow}