The A-Z of Dance

I love this video. Dubbed “The A-Z of Dance,” it’s actually an ad for Diesel, promoting their new, flexible jeans. But it’s still an awesome celebration of dance, in its many forms.

One style or stepВ is represented for each letter of the alphabet—and quite a breadth are displayed! Of course, I was happy that it opened with an arabesque. (Though I could have done without the prolonged twerking, rendering this video a little NSFW.)

Watch below and enjoy! How badly does it make you want to get up and move, too?

(Found via Fast Company)

Finally!

hudson river

This morning, I rode the bus for an hour to get to Mal’s place, north of the city. She and Peter have an awesome apartmentВ right near the Hudson—whichВ hasВ a large, private roof deck that overlooks the water.

Today was the first warm, gorgeous weekend in months. I’d come dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt, but within a few minutes in the sunshine, I’d stripped down to my t-shirt and changed into shorts.

Mal and I (and later, Peter) spent the day chatting, snacking on fruit and borekas, and just enjoying being outside after a long, chilly winter. As someone who lives for hot weather, I was thrilled to be slathered in sunscreen, sweating through my clothing. But most of all, I was so happy to be spending such a gorgeous day with two of my favorite people.

On my way back into the city, I texted Mal, “Best day of the year!” It really felt like it. And it’s amazing how the little things in life can make you so happy.

Gorgeous Gifs

When I think about.gif"turntable cat" href="http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m8dynhbpJ01qbbs8oo1_500.gif" target="_blank">this variety.

Which is why I was so blown away when I came across Rebecca Mock’s.gif"http://rebeccamock.com/index.php?/nytimes/the-quiet-ones/">the quiet ones

main street blues

This one is my absolute favorite. It so reminds me of sweltering NYC afternoons in the summertime. (How much longer until it’s that hot?)

nothing to do in this heat

Check out more of Mock’s amazing illos on her site, as well as her Tumblr.

(Images by Rebecca Mock; found via NPR)

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)

4 Great Places to Eat in Philly

Last week, Evan, the special guy in my life, had a special birthday. (The big 4-0!) And since there’s no better way to celebrate than by getting out of town, that’s exactly what we did.

Due to our schedules, we only had 24 hours to go somewhere over the weekend. So I narrowed our options to places within a two-hour drive from NYC. Since we’d recently taken trips to Hudson, NY; Vermont and the Berkshires, we knocked similar destinations out of the running. (And yes, I will post some photos and recaps from those trips, soon! :)) Evan wasn’t interested in Atlantic City. And Boston and D.C. were a little too far for a 24-hour trip. We decided to head to Philadelphia, a city that most of us New Yorkers often neglect to explore, despite it being less than two hours away.

Unfortunately, it rained the entire time we were there. As a result, our plans for wandering around different neighborhoods were quashed.

On the upside, we ate some really good mealsВ and otherwise relaxed in our hotel room. (We stayed at the Four Seasons—excellent service and big rooms, but definitely old school decor.)

Here’s where we ate:

Barbuzzo

barbuzzo interior

Our dinner reservation was actually for Sbraga, but we arrived in town too late to dine there. (Sbraga stops serving at 11—and we weren’t ready to head over until then.) So we went to Barbuzzo, a Mediterranean place that serves dinner until midnight. We were pretty happy with how that worked out!

The place was still hopping when we arrived atВ 11:30. All the pizzas, pastas and small platesВ on the menu looked delicious and we had a hard time narrowing our options down to a few dishes. We opted for a charcuterie board, a pizza with spicy wild boar sausage, and—my favorite plate of the evening—butternut arancini.

bb_charcuterie

For desert, we shared a salted caramel budino—a decadent custard over a dark chocolate crust, topped with rich caramel.

bb_budino

While our server could have been friendlier, I couldn’t have been happier with the food. I’d make a trip back to Philly just for the arancini and budino!

 

Wedge + Fig

Evan and I can both eat cheese until the cows come home (har har). So when choosing a brunch spot, we both gravitated to Wedge + Fig, a cheese shop in Old City that also serves meals.

wedge + fig

Inside, the space is sunny and cheery, and our server was super-friendly. While it seemed like a travesty not to get an ultra cheesy dish, I was seduced by the NOLA—poached eggs on top of homemade cornbread. Luckily, Evan’s strata had more than enough cheese, and I helped myself to a good deal of it.

 

Sonny’s Famous Cheesesteaks

Of course we couldn’t leave Philly without getting В cheesesteak. Right before getting back on the road to NYC, we stopped at Sonny’s, which Alan Richman and several other criticsВ recently declared, inВ GQ, had the best cheesesteaks.

Evan and I split one cheesesteak with onions, peppers and provolone. (I know, Philly natives! I couldn’t bring myself to order Cheez Whiz!) It was really tasty, with a nice kick from the peppers. The sandwichВ was also surprisingly light and not a bit greasy—we devoured it in minutes. And had this conversation:

Evan: That was so good. I could seriously eat another one.

Me: God, so could I. Um, there’s actually another cheesesteak place a few doors down. Should we get another one there?

I’m sure you could guess what we decided to do.

 

Campo’s Deli

campos

A few minutes later, at Campo’s, we ordered almost the exact same sandwich: a Philly cheesesteak with provolone, onions, peppers and mushrooms. Evan and I ate it on the ride back to NYC. Campo’s sandwich was more of what we expected a cheesesteak to be: juicy and heavy. The mushrooms gave it a nice, rich flavor. Though overall, I preferred the lighter version at Sonny’s.

We’ll have to go back to Philly when it’s not pouring and chilly, and explore the city beyond its restaurants. But we definitelyВ had an awesome time eating our way through our 24 hours there. (And Evan, I hope you had a very happy bday trip!! xoxo)

(Images via Barbuzzo, Wedge + Fig, TripAdvisorВ and Yelp)

A Whimsical Treehouse in Atlanta

Speaking of wooden houses—aВ few months ago, while browsing Airbnb, I came across a listing that I haven’t been able to get out of my head:В In Atlanta, a couple createdВ a suite of three treehouses, connected by wooden bridges.

I know. Treehouses sound likeВ a travel cliche. How many top 10 stories have you read listing quirky places to stay? (Treehouses! Castles! Old railroad cars!) And I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve written about plenty of said places, both hereВ and elsewhere! 😉

But this place looks so amazing that it won me over at first glance.

treehouse4

I love how the lights createВ such a whimsical feel.

treehouse2

Plus, how awesome that the bed is halfway outdoors! After trudging through this longest of long slogs, I’d give anything to sleep comfortably in open air—in a comfy bed, not just a sleeping bag.

treehouse1

One of myВ favorite features is how the couple incorporated the trees into the space—it really melds the outdoors and indoors.

treehouse3

No joke, I’m seriously considering a weekend trip down to Atlanta, just to stay there! Check out more pics of the place here.

(Images via Airbnb)

Wooden Houses in Greenwich Village

There are days when my beloved city feels like an overwhelming mass of concrete—street after crowded street of brick and pavement. It’s not a wonder that even the most die hard of us New Yorkers often need to escape.

When I’m outside the city, I can’t help but marvel at scenery that feels a bit foreign: open expanses of grass, rolling hills, more trees than IВ can count. Plus, adorable wooden houses in rustic styles—a-frames, cabins, barns—that you never see in the city limits.

That’s why I was intrigued when I stumbled upon a listing for “Wooden Houses of Greenwich Village,” a talk from the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. Seriously? Wooden houses in Manhattan?

Apparently, there are a few! And they’re adorable.

This one, at 17 Grove Street, was built in 1822. (Love the red shutters and molding!)

17 Grove Street

And over at 121 Charles Street is another, which was transported downtown, from the Upper East Side, in 1967.

121 Charles Street

77 Bedford Street was originally a wooden house, though parts of its facade are now brick.

77 Bedford Street

The histories of these buildings are fascinating—read more about themВ here, on GVSHP’s blog.

I’m, unfortunately, not in the West Village all that often, so I haven’t stumbled upon these houses by chance. Though I know that once the weather gets warmer, I’ll be seeking them out to see for myself, in person.

(Images via the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation; found via the NY Times)