My Guide to Books for Bunheads

Another recent Facebook “challenge” has swept our collective Newsfeeds: listing the top books that have influenced us most profoundly. It is no surprise that Harry Potter has topped the majority of these lists. The books that have shaped me most, however, are those that have shaped me as a dancer. Growing up, it seemed that I always knew a little extra tidbit of dance history or reference that my ballet school peers had not yet discovered. I think these are the books that turned me from bunhead to total ballet nerd, and I therefore must admit their profound effect on the person I have become. I think it would serve any generation of ballet lovers well to add these to the shelf, if they’re not already there. Each title is linked to its listing on Amazon.com. Happy dance reading!

The Young Dancer, Darcey Bussell

This was probably my first-ever ballet book. Who needs Angelina Ballerina when you can have a book, written by Royal Ballet legend Darcey Bussell with photographs of students at Royal Ballet School? This book presents information about ballet positions, movements, shoes, costumes, and more in a fun, easy to follow format. (more…)

My Ice Bucket Challenge

The point of the Ice Bucket Challenge has been to raise money for ALS Research, and to make a scary disease easier to talk about. It’s a beautiful movement. Apparently there’s just something really fun about seeing people douce themselves with ice cold water–especially Benedict Cumberbatch (see his great video here). What has also been really beautiful is the way all types of celebrities, arts organizations, and even politicians have become involved. Of course, there’s the criticism of individuals for not donating/donating too little/what have you, but this is social media: you literally can’t even give to charity without incurring criticism. Some sources say that the money is not going to make a dent in the research and the real way to help would be to contact your member of congress.  (However, I have to say that for ballet lovers, American Ballet Theatre’s video, starring Marcelo Gomes, is a sight– I’m so used to seeing him in Prince-mode!)

But somehow, this movement has harnessed the positive power of social media and as of August 25, 2014, “Ice Bucket” Donations to the ALS Association have reached $79.7 Million; this is more than 30 times the amount of donations received in this same time period last year. 

I’m amazed, and so happy that this massive force of social culture has managed to spur something that has had a real effect. So, here I am jumping on the bandwagon in my own way. With my meager readership, I want to share the video that Upworthy has dubbed “The Last Ice Bucket Challenge You Need to See– And You Really Should See It.” It was also shared on the Huffington Post, and countless other major sites. This video was made by Anthony Carbajal, who has ALS. With the challenge growing so quickly, it was extremely moving to see Anthony come forward in such a creative way, and so courageously come out and speak to (what has become) an audience of millions. I’ve embedded the video below.

It seems that this video was originally posted on Anthony Carbajal’s personal page on YouCaring.org. According to this page, Anthony recently got engaged, and his family is planning for a November wedding! You can also go to this page to donate to Anthony’s personal fight against ALS.  According to the ALS Foundation, he is one of the 30,000 people in the US with this diagnosis. 

While I do not know anyone personally who suffers from this disease, I do happen to know a little about it. In 2012, after two years of seemingly inexplicable decline, my father had some tests done by specialists at Emory University in Atlanta. One doctor thought it was possible that his diagnosis may be ALS. In the vein of Anthony Carbajal’s courage to speak up about something really difficult and personal, I’m going to tell you what happened. (more…)

Goodbye, Boston!

Boston and I had a complicated relationship. While I always considered it a very beautiful place, and enjoyed its cultural and artistic offerings (can you say $20 student rush rickets to Boston Ballet?), I spent more time loathing than loving it. Every winter, Boston natives told me, “This is the roughest winter we’ve had in years!” Yeah, that’s what you said last year, too,  I would think. I hated the weather; growing up in sunny, humid Gerogia, the cold made my bones ache. More than this, however, I held the city responsible for the heartache I felt as I coped with injuries, grief, and social anxiety. I know it’s not fair to blame Boston for these things. In the end, though, we parted on good terms. The last night I was there, my boyfriend and I ate dinner at the Cheesecake Factory (we’re suckers for the creature comforts) and upon exiting the Prudential Center, were greeted by the fountain in the Christian Science Plaza turned up full force. Naturally, I had to take a moment to “swan vogue.”

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This past week, I moved out of my college apartment. I lived in the same apartment with two good friends, who were also dance majors. We had a pretty good setup, although it did not always seem that way when the water went out or a mysterious fungi plant sprouted overnight behind our toilet. While I was there this past week, I saw the city in a way I had never seen it before. (more…)

The Rise of the Romantic Tutu

This is a piece of writing I have looked forward to sharing on my blog for some time. This was written in conjunction with my senior project, “Girls in White Dresses: A Study of Giselle,” material from which I hope to continue to condense into blog-able content! Enjoy!

Theatrical costuming is a crossroads of disciplines that fuse social and historical influences to create images and characters onstage. It can represent quintessential tastes or decided departures form the vogue of a given period. The Romantic tutu is an iconic element of ballet’s identity, famously used in Balanchine’s Serenade, countless roles in every Nutcracker, and of course, the Romantic ballets La Sylphide and Giselle. By tracing the roots of this silhouette, one can learn a great deal about ballet history and the culture that made it possible.

Gelsey Kirkland as Giselle

The evolution of ballet technique and performance is closely linked to changing standards of dress both on and off the stage. Seventeenth-century theatrical costuming was characterized by heavy emphasis on the ornate. This was mainly due to the lack of distinction between courtly fashion and clothes worn for performance. (more…)

Feast for A Week

Left to Right: Kale chips, boiled potatoes, chicken/asparagus stir fry, Honey Coconut Chicken

Left to Right: Kale chips, boiled potatoes, chicken/asparagus stir fry, Honey Coconut Chicken

Last week, I turned our un-air conditioned apartment into a sauna. I needed to make enough food to (maybe) keep my boyfriend fed for a week. I was so proud of how everything turned out I posted my bragging rights photo to Instagram and got several requests for recipes, and I’m far overdue for a cooking post, so here we go!

Kale Chips

  • Kale
  • Salt, pepper, olive oil
  • Baking sheet

(more…)