ballet

Everywhere We Go

More video love.

Check out this trailer for Everywhere We Go, Justin Peck’s new ballet, premiering during New York City Ballet‘s spring season, on May 8. This piece will be Peck’s second collaboration with musician Sufjan Stevens. (Their first was 2012’s Year of the Rabbit.)

I’ve been trying to figure out which of City Ballet’s spring performances to attend, and those withВ Everywhere We Go have shot to the top of my list. You’ll be able to see why, after watching.

The trailer was directed by Jody Lee Lipes, who also shot the film Ballet 422, about Peck’s process of choreographing the ballet Paz de la Jolla. That’s at the Tribeca Film Festival now, and I’m hoping to see it, if I can still get a ticket!

In the meantime, enjoy Everywhere We Go. My favorite part is around 1:15—the close-up of dancer Tiler Peck’s gorgeous feet.

(Found via Pointe)

Dancing Through It

The Four Seasons

Jenifer Ringer was a longtime principal dancer with New York City Ballet. She retired just this winter, andВ her memoir, Dancing Through It, came out a few weeks later.

I downloaded and finished it within a couple days. It’s a quick, engaging and fascinating read. ThoughВ Dancing Through It often feels like a long, personal essay—or a series of interconnected personal essays—I appreciated Ringer’s clear voice and honesty.В She comes off as very likable, humble and down-to-earth. At times, she’s also self-deprecating and very funny.

Dancing Through It traces Ringer’s journey from a talented kid in her local, South Carolina dance school, to the Washington School of Ballet, to the School of American Ballet and her acceptance into City Ballet. As she rose through the ranks there, she struggled with an eating disorder that took her out of the company for a year. Eventually, she worked her way back in, and became a principal a few years later.

As someone who’s only danced for the pure joy ofВ it, I’ve never experienced the struggles elite professional dancers go through. They may have what seems like the best job in the world (at least, in my book), but it takes an insane amount of hard work. Ringer describes long, grueling days in the studio taking class, learning ballets and performing others pieces that same night. And doing this day after day.

Plus, anyone who’s ever danced ballet—at any level—knows how difficult it is, and how it never gets easier, in our pursuit for perfection. Ringer captures that perfectly, here:

If something about our dancing is good, we ignore it because it will take care of itself. We fixate on the parts that are wrong. Ask a dancer what her weaknesses are, and she will be able to give you an immediate and very detailed list. Ask a dancer about her strengths, and she has to pause and think about it.

So true. (As I typed that, my own list of weaknesses started to run through my head: Tombe coupe jete turns, especially to the left. Fouette turns, especially to the left. Actually, all turns to the left…)В This pressure to appear perfect on so many levels was what led toВ Ringer’s eating disorder.

While I enjoyed Ringer’s personal story, I especially lovedВ herВ tales of dancing in NYCB’s ballets, especially since I’ve seen someВ of them, myself. Ringer tells of dancing until nearly passing out during Tschaikovsky Suite No. 3, slipping and falling on another dancer’s vomit as a snowflake in Nutcracker, and inhabiting the various female characters in Dances at a Gathering.

My very favorite description is actually the opening line of the book, in which Ringer describes Balanchine’s Serenade, the ballet that inspired her to become a ballerina. That piece carries particular meaning for me, as well, because it’s the one that motivated me to return to ballet, after several years off.

Here’s how Ringer describes it:

There is a ballet that is like an ocean; it seems to stretch beyond the horizons of the stage. No matter how many times I see or dance this ballet, George Balanchine’s Serenade, I always find something new to discover, something so beautiful that I wonder if the audience should laugh or cry.

I couldn’t have put it better, myself.

serenade

(Images by Paul Kolnik via New York City Ballet)

Holiday Highlight: The Royal Ballet’s Nutcracker

As you may have noticed, from my lack of posts, this holiday season has been nutty! But as hectic as it’s been, I’ve enjoyed every minute: spending a whirlwind long weekend in London with my best friend. (Highlights coming soon!) Seeing Ailey during their annual City Center run (Wayne McGregor’s “Chroma” was the highlight of the program I saw) and ABT’s Nutcracker. And celebrating Christmas with all my loved ones, yesterday. (Mal and Peter are the best hosts, ever! They plan the menus, do all the cooking and somehow manage to mix and mingle with everyone.)

In a month filled with great times, one experience especially stood out as a highlight: Seeing the Royal Ballet,В in London.

Like I’d mentioned, my best friend, Reen, and I both tried to get Royal BalletВ Nutcracker tickets weeks ago, but they were sold out. My parents (who I already knew were the world’s most awesome parents), however, surprised me with tickets before my trip.

nutcracker envelope

They’d purchased them via Stubhub. And in an additional surprise, the seller included this beautiful note when she mailed the tickets. (I’ve also transcribed it, below, since it’s a little hard to read.)

nutcracker ticket note

Dear ‘Kevin,’ [my stepdad]

I see that you have my tickets and I just hoped that if they are for you that you have a wonderful time and if not then someone else enjoys them.

Just so you know, I am not a [illegible] and this is a special show for me and it is years since I have managed to get tickets to the Opera House—where I saw the Nutcracker with my divine late husband—also called Kevin!

This year, I had a later opportunity to visit a goddaughter in Jersey, one thing the past, one the future. Decisions, decisions, rather than do my usual toss a coin, I costed the Jersey trip and put the tickets up for sale. If they sold, Jersey, if not the Opera.

You know the rest.

Merry Christmas.

Anison (really quite sane!)

…I nearly cried after reading that! (And, to be honest, got a little teary while typing it up, just now!)

Dressing up and going to the Royal Opera House was so exciting. For such a renowned theater, it’s surprisingly nondescript from the outside.

royal opera house exterior

I was also shocked at how small it was, in the inside! I suppose I’ve become accustomed to the massive proportions of the Koch Theatre and the Met Opera at Lincoln Center.

royal opera house

Our seats were in the center of the balcony, but it felt super-close to the stage. Since the theater is so intimate, there isn’t a bad seat in the house.

The performance, itself, was great—I really enjoyed watching a production that was new to me.

Elizabeth Harrod as Clara in The Nutcracker В© Johan Persson/ROH 2009

Unlike in Balanchine’sВ Nutcracker, the version I’ve seen the most, Clara is a company member, rather than a child. She dances en pointe through most of the performance, and is featured in most numbers.

Francesca Hayward as Clara with Artists of The Royal Ballet in The Nutcracker В© ROH / Tristram Kenton 2013

Plus, it was interesting to see how the company still keeps the tradition of putting most dancers in wigs. I can’t recall a U.S. company that does the same!

Laura Morera as The Sugar Plum Fairy and Federico Bonelli as The Prince in The Nutcracker В© ROH / Tristram Kenton 2013

One particularly special moment, for me, came at the end of Act I, during the “Waltz of the Snowflakes”—my favorite part of the ballet. I’d forgotten that the version of “Snow” that I’d performed last year was partially based on the Royal Ballet’s choreography. So when the snowflakes came out and started dancing, I remembered that I had done many of those steps, myself. I felt truly lucky to see the Royal Ballet perform it live. I’d watched this low-quality YouTube versionВ many times in the past. It majorly pales in comparison to seeing it in person!

During intermission and after the performance, Reen and I went to the Opera House’sВ Paul Hamlyn Hall Champagne Bar, which is in a gorgeous glass atrium.

opera house bar

At the bar, you can pre-order food that would be set out for you during intermission. So Reen treated us to champagne and plates of smoked salmon andВ charcuterie, which we ate between acts. (Thanks Reen!)

I can’t thank my parents (and Reen!) enough for such an awesome night. You can just tell, from this photo here, how thrilled/thankful/happy I was. And still am.

heg and reen at opera house

(Royal Ballet photos via the Royal Opera House)

Ballet Monsters

I have to thank New York City Ballet’s Facebook page for introducing me to “Ballet Monsters,” an incredible illustrations series by Taipei artist Keith Lin.

His line drawings are simple, yet they capture ballet so well. Lin’s lithe figures not only have perfect technique; they also convey grace, passion and elegance—despite being virtually faceless.

As Lin told Pointe magazine:

I rely on ballet positions to express feeling. Dancers speak with their bodies onstage, and to me the closed eyes show how they are enjoying the moment. Sometimes I feel like I’m choreographing on paper.

I love how Lin’s figures also cheekily—and accurately!—illustrate the mindset of us ballet addicts. Lin’s closest friends are dancers and he draws his inspiration from them.

A few drawings that I particularly loved (and related to):

ballet monsters 4

ballet monsters 2

ballet monsters 3

В 

ballet monsters 1

Check them all out on the two “Ballet Monsters” pages here and here!

(“Ballet Monsters” illustrations by Keith Lin, found via New York City Ballet)

“After the Rain” in NYC

Christopher Wheeldon’s “After the Rain” is a piece I really want to see live.

I’ve watched several excerpts of the pas de deux via YouTube, and love the stripped-down quality of the movements and the tender interplay between the dancers. Simplicity is what makes the piece so stunning. It’s the kind of choreography I want to dance, myself.

This morning, at sunrise,В Maria Kowroski andВ Ask la Cour from New York City Ballet performed “After the Rain” on the 57th floor of 4 World Trade Center. This performance, billed as “New Beginnings” was in remembrance of 9/11, and a “testament to the resilience of the human spirit, and a tribute to the future of the city that New York City Ballet calls home.”

It’s just gorgeous, especially against the backdrop of the city waking up.

Watch it (a couple of times!) below:

(Video via New York City Ballet)В 

A Weekend of Summer Faves: Performing and Tubing

This weekend, I got to partake in two of my most anticipated summer activities: performing and tubing!

Despite battling a horrible cold, I still made it onstage for this edition of Kat Wildish’s “Performing in NY Experience” showcase. I felt pretty terrible for the Friday show. But—luckily!—was almost 100% recovered for the two Saturday shows.

My group performed the “Peasant Pas” from Giselle…

peasant pas

…as well as the “Pas de Premiers Wilis” scene from the same ballet.

giselle

I loved having the opportunity to dance such different pieces. The peasant number was lively and upbeat, while the Wilis scene was somber. The latter was probably one of my favorite pieces, of all the ones I’ve performed. Even though there’s a lot of standing around, I was lucky to have a small, featured role. Plus, I feel comfortable in Romantic ballets, and appreciate the intricate shapes we created with our movements. (Check out the Paris Opera Ballet looking just a tad more polished than we did. ;))

MyВ annual tubing tripВ in Frenchtown, NJ, was the following day. The weather wasn’t ideal—it was cloudy and drizzly, at times, and not particularly warm. But my friends and I went anyway, since it was the last summer weekend that worked for everyone’s schedules!

I was just glad to be out of the city, floating down the Delaware River—as evidenced by this year’s requisite Toms shot.

toms

pennsylvania

I didn’t even mind that I had to wear a wool hat and scarf the whole time…

tubing

…and drink a few cans of beer to stay warm. Have to take full advantage of the few summer days we have left!

modelo

(Performing in NY Showcase photos by Arthur S. Coopchik)