happiness is a warm back

DSC08349.jpg

Way back in January, I made one big new year’s resolution and a smaller one: to learn how to knit.  One of my best friends shared the desire to learn, so together we made an adventure of it, rounded up supplies, filled a big bowl with popcorn, and started YouTubing tutorials.  I like to fancy myself a crafty lady, but my goodness!  Knitting is hard.  Several frustrating hours and unraveled skeins later, though, we were very slowly sort-of-kind-of-knitting.

Quite a few of the dancers at FBP are avid knitters, but none rival the ultimate knitting queen, Vilia Putrius.  With several decades of knitting experience, she has certainly earned that title…

DSC08355.jpg

Vilia learned to knit when she was just 5 years old.  You could say a talent for crafting runs in the family.  Ms. Putrius grew up in a family of circus artists (how cool is that?) and some of her earliest memories are of her parents sewing costumes and knitting clothing for she and her brother.  By age 18, Vilia had become a professional ballet dancer, but that homespun tendency ran deep.  When she struggled to find warm ups to suit her distinctive style, Vilia took matters into her own needle-clad hands.  Her obvious talent turned the craft into a business, and a few years later Arleo Wear was born.

Being a professional ballerina herself, Vilia is able to design pieces that a dancer truly needs. The Arleo Wear-covered dancers of FBP are a clear indication of that specificity; In the studio we stay bundled  in her cozy overalls, signature sleek ankle warmers, and on-trend convertible shorts, but it seems everyone’s favorite design might be the brilliant back warmer.

img_0078

Perfect for class and rehearsals alike, the Arleo back warmer allows freedom of movement in the hips and shoulders while keeping the core toasty.  Finally a way to keep an eye on lines without sacrificing comfort and style, ah!  Her knitting expertise is also woven into every garment she designs, using only the finest yarns to create these essential pieces.

Now that I have my back warmer, I truly wonder how I ever got along without it.  It’s like a ballet-appropriate version of your favorite cozy sweater.  And really, isn’t that what we all want?

to shop.

also check out her accessories while you’re at it. (you might see a familiar face;)

up close on chameleon

IMG_8110

There’s less than one week left in the season, and my body is begging for a break.  Bruises splatter my knees and my eyes wander out the window towards the sunshine too many times throughout the rehearsal day.  Spring is calling.

We’ve made it through our second of three weekends of Up Close On Hope, and I’ve had the pleasure of dancing five very different pieces so far.  With drastically different styles from one ballet to the next, I’m feeling like a bit of a pointe-shoe-clad chameleon.  First there was Mein Weg, Joseph Morrissey‘s linear and at times anxiety-inducing show opener, which, with Morrissey currently residing in Hong Kong, we learned and set using 4 video recordings of the piece.  This may sound like an easy, every day ballet task, but the intricate arm motions, partnering, entrances and exits comprising this dynamic and challenging contemporary ballet transformed it into a truly ambitious exercise for the body and the mind!  I also had the pleasure of dancing in FBP principal Vilia Putrius‘ deeply moving All Birds Become Silent With the Moon’s Complaint, a highly narrative work depicting a troubled girl’s life from joyful childhood to arduous adolescence, culminating in the stirring final breakdown.  The part I danced last night, which I’ve loosely interpreted to represent a negative relationship from which one cannot seem to escape, required I be strapped to another dancer through an elastic between our waists.  We maneuvered in and out of lifts, turns (I even do a brief menege-like sequence involving cartwheels!), all the while tethered to one another.  Another new experience provided by the ever creatively fresh mind of Ms. Putrius.  I was also lucky enough to be tossed into resident choreographer, Viktor Plotnikov‘s, newest piece Urban Shadows, after only four rehearsals.  It’s really a beautiful piece of art, showcasing difficult weight-sharing partnering and fluid movements which have lead me to affectionately bestow the nickname “Aquatic” Shadows.  Performing in Plotnikov’s piece last night taught me a lesson in dancing before the muscle memory has had its chance to set in, and the particular importance of exhibiting a relaxed awareness on stage.

In one evening alone, Alex and I experienced an entire romantic relationship from start to finish…ballet style.  We met, “nuzzled”, and fell in love in Misha’s floaty and romantic pas de deux, For Susan.  Post intermission, an intimate male pas de deux (originally choreographed for a man and a woman by the incredibly cool Sydney Skybetter), projects my dear partner’s true feelings (hehe), foreshadowing our emotionally charged breakup, where he leaves me in Jorge Rullan’s powerful 3.23.  Of course, none of these pieces were actually related, and the “relationship” was entirely of our own creation, but that’s what’s so great about partnering with one of your best friends; You get to share strangely wonderful experiences together that no one else will ever quite understand.  We’ve performed so many widely variant things together now, and each time I seem to appreciate our bond as partners and friends more and more.

If you’re in the RI area, come check out our final weekend of Up Close On Hope and then celebrate the next day with the company at Fiestival!