ballet

Video Love: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’ “Man on Fire”

Yesterday, a friend sent me a link and said, “You might like this video.” That was a total understatement because I absolutely love, love, love it. I’m a big fan of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic ZerosВ and I’ve been listening to their new album, “Here.” But I didn’t know they’d created such a brilliant video to go along with their gorgeous song, “Man on Fire.”

The lyrics are about the desire to dance, and the video, filmed in NYC, celebrates movement in various forms: dance, stepping, cheerleading, tumbling. I love how they’re mostly everyday New Yorkers doing their thing in school gyms, small studios and local sports fields. And (spoiler alert) I really loved the end where a dressed down City Ballet dances in a vacant lot.

Check it out (and watch it over and over–I already have):

The Tutu Project

Last week, I stumbled upon an amazing exhibit via Canadian Art Junkie. To celebrate its 60th anniversary, the National Ballet of Canada is presenting “The Tutu Project,” a display of 60 original tutus. Some are iconic costumes from renowned ballets; others are whimsical creations from artists, ballet fans and even the dancers, themselves. The exhibit is running from July 11 through September 2 at Toronto’s Design Exchange.

While I’d love to see it live, that’s probably not happening. But on the upside, the National Ballet has a very nice online gallery showcasing many of the tutus, as well as photos of ballerinas wearing them in action:

Kitri, Act III from Don Quixote. Designed by Desmond Heeley. Photo by Setareh Sarmadi.

Gizella Witkowsky in Don Quixote. Photo by Barry Gray.

Wilis from Giselle. Designed by Desmond Heeley. Photo by Setareh Sarmadi.

Artists of the Ballet in Giselle (2009). Photo by Bruce Zinger.

The Firebird. Designed by Santo Loquasto. Photo by Setareh Sarmadi.

Jennifer Fournier in The Firebird (2006). Photo by Dale Dong.

The tutus created for the exhibit are just as gorgeous as the ones designed for the stage. Two of my favorites:

Designed and built by Krane Design. Selected by the Fashion Design Council of Canada. Photo by Setareh Sarmadi.

Designed and built by Louise Yu. National Open-call for Artists selection. Photo by Setareh Sarmadi.

What’s your favorite ballet costume? Most recently, I was pretty dazzled by the new costumes City Ballet wore for “Symphony in C” this season.

(Photos via the National Ballet’s Tutu Project; and thanks to BoomerOntario for first posting about this at Canadian Art Junkie)

It’s NYC Dance Week (Take Classes for Free!)

ballet

I love that I work in a low-paying field but have a super-expensive hobby (at least from a writer/editor’s standpoint). Ballet is one of my biggest expenses–a good chunk of my take-home income goes toward classes. To compensate for that, I have to be extremely frugal in other areas of my life (like going clothing shopping once, maybe twice, a year). But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I get so much happiness from ballet that it’s 100% worth it.

So I’m thrilled whenever we dancers can score free classes. NYC Dance Week–which actually runs 10 days–starts today and goes through June 30. About 25 studios around the city are offering free classes, including the Ailey Extension, where I go. (In fact, my awesome teacher, Kat Wildish, is holding a free ballet class this Saturday.) And if ballet’s not your thing, there’s a free class for almost every style, from hip hop to tango to Pilates. I think it’s a great way to try a new style or get back into dance if you’ve been meaning to for years. (Believe me, I’ve been there!)

(Photo via Pinterest)

Serenade

 

serenade

As part of our Mother’s Day celebration, my mom, stepdad and I went to a City Ballet matinee. The all-Balanchine programВ of “Serenade,” “Firebird” and “Symphony in C” was great. It was the first time I’d seen the latter two, and I really enjoyed both–“Firebird” is a slightly campy, theatrical fairy tale that looks like a Chagall painting brought to life (which shouldn’t be surprising, since he designed the sets and costumes). And yesterday’s “Symphony in C” was so joyful and exuberant. The corps was tight and the soloists spot-on–plus theВ flashy new costumesВ were pretty stunning, too. But I was especially glad to see “Serenade” a second time.

Though my ballet history knowledge is, admittedly, limited, “Serenade” is one of my favorite pieces. I was blown away when I first saw Boston Ballet perform it in 2006. And yesterday I found City Ballet’s staging just as haunting and powerful. I love the ballet’s simplicity and restraint–there are no show-stopping solos, stylized character motifs or gasp-inducing penches and turn sequences. Even the costumes and lighting are understated–just whispy periwinkle gowns and soft blue lighting.В “Serenade” was Balanchine’s first ballet created in America; it was born from a lesson in stage technique and students, not professional dancers, initially performed it.В I can see that lineage in the choreography. It’s gorgeous, and the interplay between dancers is subtly intricate. But the sequences aren’t terribly complex–“Serenade” is ballet in a very pure form. As an audience member, I find it easy to get lost in the dancing and really appreciate the dancers’ clean lines and grace when they’re laid out so bare.

I also have an affinity for “Serenade” on a personal level: It’s the ballet that made me want to dance again. When I first saw it, I hadn’t danced in a couple years. But I remember watching and realizing that I could easily break down the sequences in my head, which really made me miss ballet. It took me a few more years to return to dance, but even now, “Serenade” remains the ballet I wish I could perform if I were a dancer.

So I was glad I could see the piece with my parents, especially my mom. She was the one who first instilled the love of ballet in me. She signed me up for classes and took me to performances when I was a kid. And she encouraged me to restart and continue dancing, no matter how old I got.

(P.S. I made my parents–both born and bred New Yorkers–pose for a touristy picture in front of the Met. They were kind of like, “Why are you making us do this?” but I think the photo is cute!)

meme and e at the met

(“Serenade” photo via New York City Ballet)

Breaking Pointe: Ballet Gets a Reality TV Show

Given the number of crazy reality TV shows out there (Swamp People! Hoarders! Toddlers & Tiaras!) it’s kind of surprising that there hasn’t been a ballet one, yet. That’s about to change at the end of the month whenВ the CW network launches the new seriesВ Breaking Pointe. Produced by BBC Worldwide Productions, the show goes behind the scenes at Salt Lake City’s Ballet West to show viewers all the hard work, sacrifice and dedication required to be a dancer.

According to Ballet West Artistic Director Adam Sklute:

When the BBC approached us, their idea was to create the antidote to the movie Black Swan.В My hope for Breaking Pointe is that we can set the record straight about the dance world. I want to present the real joys and heartaches–dramatic, yes, but not with overblown and exaggerated stereotypes.

I didn’t get a clear sense of the show from the trailer–other than that it looks slickly produced and like it’s geared to a young audience. But I’m hoping it’ll live up to Sklute’s expectations. In all honesty, I’m in favor of anything that brings dance–especially ballet–to a mass audience. So I’ll definitely be checking out a few episodes (I’m hoping they’ll show a lot of actual dance and not all backstage drama!).

(One more ballet/pop culture mash-up: dancers shown in slow motion to Radiohead’s “Everything in Its Right Place.”)

Love This: OPI New York City Ballet Nail Polish Collection

opi new york city ballet

Sure, it’s a marketing gimmick. But I’m a sucker for most things ballet and I’m loving OPI’s just-released New York City Ballet-inspired nail polishes. I’m already planning to make “Barre My Soul” and “My Pointe Exactly” my go-to summer shades (which will hopefully cover up the purple bruise under my big toenail which is, coincidentally, from ballet.)

Barre My Soul

OPI's Barre My Soul

OPI's My Pointe Exactly

OPI's My Pointe Exactly