on the wrong side of the curtain

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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.

sometimes

Sometimes, being a ballet dancer is really, really hard.  Sometimes your first (and last) dress rehearsal before the show, is a colossal failure does not go well.  Sometimes you fall out of every pirouette and twist your ankle while hopping on pointe.  Sometimes the tutu that fit you perfectly 3 days ago proves impossible to arabesque in, and your artistic director is home sick in bed and you rip a hole in your favorite pink performance tights.  Sometimes your replacement tutu doesn’t come with a matching headpiece.  And your partner’s black velvet jacket sleeves make his arms look like they’ve been swallowed by two large panthers.  And this is all a very real problem, because what may seem like an extremely minut detail in the pedestrian world, is an invaluable puzzle piece in the ballet world.

But then, just sometimes (the lucky times), the replacement tutu was literally made for you, you can arabesque like a dream in it, your artistic director makes it to the show, and you find a new favorite pair of pink tights.  Sometimes you decide to smile so much the audience won’t notice the navy blue flowers and feathers in your headpiece do not match your black tutu (I know, navy blue and black…huge difference, right?!).  And sometimes the sewing machine works its reduction magic on your partner’s panther sleeves and now his arms look much more like dark chocolate covered strawberries (this is a good thing, in case you were wondering).  While I will not pretend last night’s performance was a complete success, it was a vastly better experience than the dress rehearsal, which leads me to sharing this little bit of performance art wisdom with all of you:

Sometimes, a bad dress rehearsal means a good opening night.

first day back

Today was the first official day with the entire company back in the studio.  While you might be picturing me doing a whole lot of this:

It actually looked a bit more like this:

And by the end of the day, this:

The first day back in the studio with everyone is NEVER easy.  Your body is being reintroduced to the intensity of a full day of dancing, your brain is forced to jump right into quick memorization, and your mind is caught up in the middle of it all, burdened with the stress of impending casting and the excitement of spending the whole day with people you love.  It can be frustrating, gratifying, exhausting and liberating, but in the end all that matters is that after a long summer away, we are coming home.

mariinsky’s mogul

It’s rare that a dancer is able to achieve something so monumental that their accomplishment makes ballet history.  However, for 22-year-old Keenan Kampa, this seemingly unattainable dream has become a reality.  This summer Keenan became the very first American dancer ever to be invited to dance with the world famous Mariinsky Ballet in Russia.  Her joining the company marks a moment in ballet history that many of us in the ballet world never even considered a possibility.

Aside from Ms. Kampa’s obvious talent (I saw her as Mercedes in Boston Ballet’s Don Quixote last spring-  her technique is immaculate), she also happens to be gorgeous.  I absolutely adore the above photo of her, taken by Gene Schiavone, and the way it subtly combines ballet and fashion (something I am clearly an advocate of).  The photo has such a high fashion behind-the-scenes-of-an-editorial vibe to it, with the lights, ladder and paint cans, and I love all of the vibrant color-blocking belts wrapped around her extra long trunk.

What do you think of Keenan’s high fashion photo?  Have you ever been lucky enough to see her perform?

talking tutus

Woooaah, tutus that can talk?!  Sadly no, that is not the explanation for the title of this post…

Instead I’d like to introduce to you the newest addition to this little blog ‘o mine, “Tutu Talk”.  You may have noticed the freshy fresh brand spankin’ new page that appeared over on the left sidebar (or maybe you didn’t, but I wouldn’t want you to be out of the loop so I’m giving you the scoop now!).  And if you’ve clicked on it, you’ve discovered it’s a bit rambly and serious.  But on a blog that’s primarily fun and fashion, I feel it’s important to address the grittier bits of my life.  What might surprise some people is that those gritty bits are (for the most part) hidden underneath rhinestones and tulle.  I thought it might interest some of you to hear what the life of a ballet dancer is like behind all of the makeup and costumes.  But I might be wrong.  Are you guys into it?!  Is it boring?!?  Let me know by checking out the new page and commenting with some feedback!

…g

Life is made up of moments.  Moments of impact that arrive without warning and change you forever.  These moments come in all varieties- beautiful, ugly, monumental, minute- they alter your outlook and force you to slow down and think.

During the intermission between II and III Act of Saturday night’s show, I was given advice by a very wise friend/philanthropist/videographer/fan of the ballet (this man wears many hats).  He told me that life is about collecting moments.  He said, “Collect the moments that make you proud.  Remember these moments so you can use them later in life to remind yourself of your accomplishments.  Bookmark this day, don’t ever forget this feeling.”

I plan on following this advice at every moment of impact life throws my way.  Starting with the moment I noticed the above photograph taken and posted to my Facebook wall by Gene Schiavone (signed “…g”).  Gene is famous in the ballet world for his stunning photography, characterized by his ability to capture the passion, artistry, and intensity behind each movement, without sacrificing composition and form.  Mr. Schiavone travels to different companies around the world photographing dancers in rehearsals and onstage, yielding gorgeous photos that a few lucky dancers have the privilege of adding to their collection of moments.  This weekend, I became one of those lucky dancers, and I am beyond honored and STILL in shock.

If you want to see more of Gene’s outstanding ballet photography, view his photos and support him by ‘liking‘ his fan page on Facebook!