new york city ballet

A Ballet Dancer’s Feet

Speaking of ballet, how striking is this photo?

I came across it in this week’s NY Magazine and immediately had to stop and read the related item.

The image is part of Ballet, a new book and exhibit by photographer Henry Leutwyler. He spent last winter with New York City Ballet, capturing intimate moments with the dancers, both on and off-stage.

Here’s what Leutwyler says about the photo:

If I had to title the picture, I would call itВ Reality and Dreams.В The footВ en pointeВ is what every little girl dreams of. The other is the hard, hard work, and the reality.

So true—and I love how this simple shot depicts that perfectly. I only started pointe recently, as an adult, and was shocked at how difficult and scary it is—and I have pretty decent technique! The fact that professional dancers work through that pain and fear and make every move look effortless, weightless and graceful is truly amazing. When you’re watching a performance, it’s easy to forget all they went through to achieve that ability.

More of Leutwyler’s gorgeousВ Ballet photos are on NYMag.com and the Foley Gallery’s site; his exhibit runs through January 6. (I’m definitely going to check it out!)

Have you studied pointe, as well? What was your experience like?

(Photo by Henry Leutwyler via NYMag)

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):

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)