boston ballet

Nutcracker Memories

When it comes to Nutcracker, I feel like dancers, critics and dancegoers fall into one of two camps: You either love or loathe it.

I fall into the first category. I’m a sucker for most things holiday-related: twinkly lights draped all over the city, old-school Christmas carols playing at home, a pine tree in the corner of my living room—even freakin’ gingerbread lattes!

Given that, it’s probably no surprise that I love the Nutcracker, too. I’ll admit that I usually wish I could fast-forward through the party scene and skip to “Snow” and the pas de deux. And the embarrassingly outdated, stereotypical Land of Sweets characters make me cringe. But over the years, the Nutcracker has remained one of my most enduring holiday traditions. Over the past 31 years, no matter where I’ve been, or what was happening in my life, I’ve always been able to count on the familiarity and nostalgia of the Nutcracker, every Christmas season.

Like many kids, one of my earliest ballet memories was seeing City Ballet’s Nutcracker. I remember being amazed watching the tree grow, and seeing the Mouse King with his manyВ heads.

In years following, my mom also took me to New York Theatre Ballet‘s one-hour production for kids, and the Harlem Nutcracker.

As a college student, a group of friends and I saw Boston Ballet’s Nutcracker. A couple years later, while working at the Boston Herald and doing some dance writing, I had the opportunity to review Jose Mateo‘s Nutcracker. That same season, I watched Boston Ballet’s Nutcracker again—and thought their “Snow” choreography was the best I’d ever seen. (One reason I’d love to revisit that production.)

Boston Ballet's Nutcracker

When I moved back to NYC in fall 2006, one of my “welcome home”.gif"abt's nutcracker" href="http://www.abt.org/performances/nutcracker.asp" target="_blank">ABT’s Nutcracker on two different years—and really enjoyed Ratmansky’s fresh take on the ballet. (Like how Clara and her Nutcracker prince mirror Sugarplum and her cavalier, as they dance together in the snowy end of Act 1.)

ABT's Nutcracker

And with my own return to ballet, I’ve had the chance to perform “Snow” and “Flowers” during the last two Novembers. (We did both pieces in soft shoes, though I’d still love to dance them en pointe…)

waltz of the flowers

Last December, when I was in London, my parents surprised my best friend and me with tickets to see the Royal Ballet‘s Nutcracker. That evening at the Opera House was a big highlight of my quick trip.

royal opera house

Tonight, Evan and I are seeing City Ballet’s production. As a New Yorker, I’m a bit biased—Balanchine’s version has always remained my favorite.

NYCB Nutcracker

I was also surprised to learn that Evan has his own Nutcracker memories, about the same production. When he was a kid, his mom used to take him suit shopping, then to Houlihan’s for lunch, and then to City Ballet’s Nutcracker.

I’m excited to keep my—our—tradition going.

…now if only someone would please update the Land of Sweets! 😉

A Weekend in Boston: Old and New Favorites

Two weekends ago, I spent a whirlwind few days in Boston. Every trip up, I feel like I never have enough time there. Nevertheless,В I managed to catch up with a few friends and check out my dad’s booth at the New England Flower Show. I also went to a few places that were new to me, as well as some old favorites from when I lived there. The highlights:

Area 4

Area 4_coffeehouse

Area 4 pizzas
Kind of crazy to say, but I wish we had more places like this in NYC. For whatever reason, NYC has a lack of good cafes/restaurants/communal spaces to do work, in my opinion—and I say that as a blogger and former freelance writer! That’s why I was wishing I could somehow transport Area 4В from Cambridge to Manhattan. This bakery/coffeehouse/bar is located in tech-centric Kendall Square and looks the part. It’s bright, glassy and airy and has a sweet front area for laptoppers—I could see myself happily pecking away at my keyboard for hours there. It also has a back area for sit-down diners. We went for a late lunch and split a few of their delicious wood-fired pizzas. (I was especially excited about topping off our Carbonara pie with an extra egg—my fave pizza topping!)

Legal Sea Foods Harborside

Legal_Harborside_From_Water_Landing_Page_Hero

Legal_Harborside_Floor_1_Dining_Room1

Sure, it’s cliche to go to Legals. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t! I’ve ended up at various Legals during the years I lived in Boston, and the ones after, and enjoyed every experience. In fact, I look forward to eating there, each trip! This time around, we had dinner at Legal Harborside, which is right on the South Boston waterfront (conveniently close to the flower show). The restaurant has a great view of the city skyline, which, I’m sure, is even nicer in summer, when you can eat outside. And my lobster was pretty awesome.

Boston Ballet

boston ballet school

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to catch the ”All KyliГЎn” programВ I’d hoped to see. I did manage to take a class at the Boston Ballet School, though. Back when I lived in Boston, I attended a few classes there. At the time, I thought the studios were the prettiest I’d ever seen, but the classes intimidated me! Even the advanced beginning level was daunting. But on trips back, over the past few years, I’ve enjoyed taking the open classes. I still find the studios gorgeous—they’re sunny and spacious and it’s a luxury to be in the space. The instructor, Arthur Leeth, is good—I especially like his lengthy adagios. And now that I’m no longer scared of the classes, it’s fun to just go there and dance. (Which helps offset all the eating I do in Boston!)

Brookline Booksmith

brookline booksmith

brookline booksmith

I spent my first few post-college years in Brookline for one main reason: I wanted to be close to the big Trader Joe’s in Coolidge Corner. Since I could barely afford to eat, that was the only place where I could get a week’s worth of groceries for $25. (For ALL meals—with my entry level newspaper salary, my budget didn’t allow me to eat out or order in!) Luckily, the neighborhood also had a few good restaurants, bars and shops.

During this trip, I met up with my all-time favorite dance buddy, Jackie, who still lives in the ‘hood. We had a nice brunch at Hops N Scotch, one of many places that had opened up since I’d lived there. (The breakfast biscuit sandwich was exactly what I was craving!) Before and after, I went to the Brookline Booksmith, right around the corner. I’d forgotten how much I loved that place. And how great it is to have an awesome book store nearby. The Booksmith has it all going on. It draws fabulous authors for talks and signings; displays new and recommended books in a way that encourages browsing for hours; has a rainbow-ordered wall of Moleskines (!!!); offers amazingly curated tables of.gif"area 4 fb" href="http://www.facebook.com/areafourcambridge/" target="_blank">Area 4’s Facebook page, Legal Sea Foods, Boston Ballet School’s Facebook pageВ and the Brookline Booksmith’s Facebook page)