Personal goals, and obtaining individual dreams fulfill the passing of everyday life. Sometimes I can step forward and openly speak about being proud of what I have performed and where I have come and how I’ve developed form year to year. Other times it can feel boastful and premature as i hope the future only holds more promising things performed by a more highly developed dancer. I’m on the path working to make that ballerina I have in my head reality.
The beginning of this season with the Royal Danish Ballet in 2012 has been the most exciting, and rewarding time I have had in the currently freezing country of Denmark. I have worked harder and longer then ever before but with some truly awe inspiring people which has made the process a huge growing development.
The first production was the, Golden Cockerel, by Alexei Ratmansky. I performed the lead as the queen in a role that began outside my comfort zone until I rehearsed it enough to only want to beg to do it again.
The next production was, La Bayadere, which included two solos. One, a slow adiago as a shade and the other a quick turning and jumping solo. I spent the month dancing in multiple different rhythms covering a spectrum of ballet technique.
The last production of 2012 was, The Sleeping Beauty, by Christopher Wheeldon where I performed my dream role of the Bluebird. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more comfortable and happy onstage.
I’ve been looking forward to going into work and working on new challenges everyday. Inspiration hasn’t been lacking. I’ve felt very grateful.
But it wasn’t until until the New Year passed that I accomplished something that represented a huge milestone in my head for my career. I performed the Pas D’action from La Bayadere dancing the leading role of Gamzatti. The part is a long pas de deux beginning with jumps and lots of turns leading into an adiago right away. The solo is technical with turns that aren’t as typically seen onstage and then the coda ends with the famous fouetté turns. The role to me represents everything that a ballerina is expected to be able to do wrapped and put together in one piece. Once I finished my three performances, I could feel the warmth in my heart and gratification in my head and sense of being proud of succeeding in a surprising challenge for a corps de ballet dancer.
I’m intrigued and encouraged for the rest of 2013. I’m looking forward to continue enjoying dancing. I’ve been reminded why I love to dance and perform. I’m hooked to the feeling of hard work turning into a successful accomplishment.
Stepping out of my hotel
I can instantly tell,
That it has been too long since my last farewell.
The autumn leaves now fall
Disguising that smell
That could set off an alarm bell,
But… Oh well.
In the streets too many yellow cabs fill,
What limited space isn’t taken by a human cell.
My Starbucks in hand guarantees I’ll propell.
There is so much to see and do, I could yell.
To the right is Chanel,
To the left is a belle,
Straight ahead, who knows, it could be Adele.
The buildings are grey, just a few are caramel.
Only the decorations in the windows are pastel.
I step on to the sidewalk to join all that is well,
And simultaneously, my heart swells.
Im in the commotion as quick as a gazelle,
Feeling more alive then ever in every blood cell.
The noise is so loud you can’t hear the church bell.
Dont make me leave this city, I will raise hell!
Dear New York City, I have fallen under your spell
I do, love you. I hope you can tell.
I was very fortunate to participate in a special trip to NYC this October. Seven dancers from the Royal Danish Ballet traveled with Nikolaj Hubbe to perform excerpts of the upcoming new production, La Bayadere at the infamous Guggenheim Museum. We performed three times in the course of two days! Yet we still managed to shop, go out to dinner, create memories together, visit with family and reconnect with old friends. We were only there for a total of three days before leaving to come back home to Denmark, but the city is so powerful that even in that short amount of time you could feel it’s magic.
Here is a review including a video of the first performance:
Probably not quiet as often as society pushes that we should….
Probably not quiet as sincere as religion subconsciously pressures even the most unreligious person to be…
There is an inner calmness that comes with reconnecting with the values of ones life. Back to the simplifted version of our self created complicated lives. Those stories that just make so much sense or touch your heart in just the right way to leave an impending print.
And so this happened when I was lent the book, Tuesdays with Morrie, by Mitch Albom while I lazily enjoyed the passing days of summer. ”An old man, a young man, and life’s greatest lessons.”
The true story is about the lessons from an professor named Morrie Schwartz recalled by a past student of his called, Mitchelle. Morrie became Mitchelle’s favorite professor. Jump forward twenty years when he was meant to stay in touch and he finds himself reconnecting with Morrie. Morrie sadly is dying of the disease, ALS. The illness quickly takes it toll on Morrie, but it doesn’t prevent him from giving his last class. There was only one student, Mitchelle. No grades, no papers, nothing like that. Only questions were encouraged and talking was required. The topic was the meaning of life.
We have all probably asked ourselves, What is the meaning of life?
And probably everyone came up with some kind of an answer but always with a question mark at the end of the sentence. Where is the correct answer? Who has figured it out? Who has the right to say that only they are correct?
Morrie doesn’t try to claim that power. But he does have his two cents on the matter.
For example his idea of Tension of Opposites.
“Life is a series of pulls back and forth. You want to do one thing, but you are bound to do something else. Something hurts you, yet you know it shouldn’t. You take certain things for granted, even when you know you should never take anything for granted.”
Which side wins??
“Love wins. love always wins.” p. 40
Learn to detach….
“Detachment doesn’t mean you don’t let the experience penetrate you. On the contrary, you let it penetrate you fully. That’s how you are able to leave it.” p. 103
A Meaningful Life
“Devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.” p. 127
” The culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves. And you have to be strong enough to say, if the culture doesn’t work, don’t buy it.” p. 42
Love & Marriage
“If you don’t respect the other person, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. If you don’t know how to compromise, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. If you can’t talk openly about what goes on between you, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. And if you don’t have a common set of values in your life, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. Your values must be alike.”
“And the biggest one of those values is your belief in the importance of your marriage.” p. 149.
However you may reconnect, or refresh your values, wether it be religious book, song lyrics, the ocean crashing… Etc. There is wisdom in the people around us. In the man or woman sitting right next to you. Just listening is more powerful then it seems. Or in this case, just by reading, it reminded me of the important things in life. The things that are too often forgotten or put out on the back burner while life’s other excitements, and worries, stress and joy cloud the air. Morrie knew what he was talking about while he fought death. He’s definitely worth a listen/ read.
With platinum blonde hair cut short volumed by soft curls, blue eyes drooped heavily downward and ruby red lipstick all over her slightly parted mouth. She looks the part, she acts the part… there is no doubt, she is Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn Monroe, the quintessential American sex symbol. Marilyn, the sixth greatest female star of all time ranked by the American Film Institute. Monroe, a typed cast actress; a one of a kind model. A beauty! A star! Marilyn Monroe was an all American star that held the attention of the entire globe. She was on top of the world.
Yet, she didn’t believe it. The demons inside of her own head never allowed her to reach pure bliss. Her head was filled with doubts about her talents, and her overwhelming insecurities. Her fear and stage freight kept her away from a working set for several days or even weeks. And if you did get her on the set, it was never on time, usually hours late leaving her fellow colleagues in full makeup and costume for hours. Her mind could never rest. She could never stop thinking. The idea of a mental illness was never too far from her thoughts especially because of the constant reminder of her own mother’s mental illness and trouble. She held a hugely strong desire to be loved unconditionally only enhanced by her troubled childhood. She searched her whole life for simple happiness. She ended up in one way being the most famous woman of her time and yet in another way the saddest woman of her time. The blonde hair, the soft whispery voice, and her naive behavior was the character she created for herself. The character of Marilyn Monroe.
There is mystery, there is glamor, there is Hollywood, there is scandal, there is intrigue! Marilyn was the whole package of entertainment, on screen and off screen. There is story after story about the frustrations of working with Marilyn. There are the documented reports of her pill and alcohol abuse. Complaints about her ability to never be on time. Her personal life alone could fill magazine after magazine. Some of it truth, and most of it gossip. Yet she was Marilyn. It all made her the unforgettable Marilyn Monroe. No one is quite like Marilyn. And despite all the wonderful qualities and major accomplishments she made for herself, her success story from a trouble childhood to stardom, her mind was a burden that she carried daily that weighed her down.
Marilyn was loved and idolized but she was always suffering from her mindset. No one can act as Marilyn truly would have because to even to start to understand her brain and thought process one would have to destroy their own security, confidence, and happiness. Many dark clouds were constantly over her.
She succeeded in making herself unforgettable. Even today her ghost remains just as memorable as before. This past November a British biographical film was created called, My Week With Marilyn. The movie depicts the making of the 1957 film, The Prince and the Showgirl. Actress Michelle Williams took on the challenging role of Marilyn. Overall, I throughly enjoyed the film. I think that Ms. Williams gave a good attempt to try and capture the spirit, both the good and the bad of Monroe. Some of the shots of Ms. Williams rang true of Marilyn. Whether it was a pose or a facial expression, a whisper of her voice or behavior. Williams hit it dead on for a large part of the movie. Although despite her good scenes there were times when Ms. Williams did appear as just another platinum blonde actress on the screen.
I enjoyed seeing an reenactment of Marilyn’s always present acting coach, Paula Strasberg. The movie captured the growing frustration it gave the director on the set. It was interesting to watch a timid Marilyn lean heavily on Paula when she was struck with stage freight and insecurity. The film does a great job portraying a more realistic glimpse into the infamous actresses life then just the perfect pictures and great films. It shows her vulnerability.
I would recommend this film. It was an interesting peak into what life may have been like for a well-remembered and loved American icon. For the troubles she suffered she lived one unforgettable, timeless, beautiful, and amazing life.
Flashback to when the weather was freezing, the stores were packed with mad shoppers, the list of things to do grew by the minute, Christmas presents, Christmas cards, rushing here, rushing there…. yes, remember Christmas time?? Although it may have been only two months ago when we we were squishing two months worth of work into one, in many ways it feels like forever ago. It is nice that the hectic time has past but it is always worth a look back.
I received a group of pictures from the wonderful photographer David Amzallag who contributes his love of photography to the Royal Danish Ballet. He captures moments. He makes movement stand still, so when we remember a performance or remember dancing it isn’t all just a memory in our minds. His photos are treasures. Thank you.
Sometimes we don’t know the true value of a moment until it has become a memory. Now looking back I’ve realized that I learned so much during the Nutcracker season. These pictures reminded me and I just want to say thank you.
Taking a chance on the stage, is worth every risk, even a fall. If you fall there is a moment when you can either decide to get back up and finish as if nothing happened and rock it or let the fall tare you and the rest of the dance apart. I took my first fall on stage professionally this Nutcracker season. I was shocked. What was I doing down there!? It happened on a step I never even thought twice about, so how could it happen? What happened!? To be honest, i’m still not sure. A piece of tap on the stage, a trap door under the dance floor, or just me… I don’t know and really it isn’t even worth an excuse. It happened. I got back up though and I finished the dance to the best of my ability. I made damn sure that I was aware of everything going on around me and that nothing else was allowed to go wrong. Welcome to my head in a panic in a nutshell. After the show I was disappointed in myself. I was hard on myself. I like when things are perfect. But a new layer of stage development, confidence and belief in myself occurred from that event. Even if the worst thing happens to me while I’m in a spotlight I know that I will get up and I will push through it. I will finish and I’m determined that the fall will not be the remembered part of the performance. Once I did the dance without falling (the next time and every time on from then) I knew that everything was ok. All my doubts that came from the fall about me as a dancer were drowned. So now that I was past the glitch there was nothing that was going to stop me from taking this part and getting every ounce of knowledge, and skill and joy I could from it while I had the chance.
Maybe I had to fall, maybe I didn’t but it sure got me grabbing my opportunities and making the most of them that I could. Every performance felt limited so I had to try and challenge myself right then, that moment, to perform my heart out and grow as a dancer. I was reminded to always push yourself. Who knows, maybe you’ll fall, but oooh maybe you wont. Maybe it will be your best performance yet!
As I was getting ready to spend my three week vacation in the Land Down Under, the book I was reading, The Forgotten Garden, by Kate Morton was also bringing its main character on a long adventure. “Nell’s” adventure was about to intertwine with mine. We were both headed to the same country. Actually we were both going to the exact same city.
Nell grew up in Australia with her parents and her siblings. On her twenty-first birthday her father pulled her aside to tell her the truth about her identity, which was in fact that they had no idea where she was from. When Nell was a little girl she was found on a boat by her now father as he worked as the dockmaster. She wasn’t in any company and all she had with her was a small, white suitcase containing some clothes and a magical book of fairy tales. With Nell’s newly obtained knowledge about herself, something inside of her changed. Her life was thrown up into the air and her identity shattered. Nell decided to search for her roots. She needed to figure out who she was. As the clues started to unravel she found herself in Blackhurst Manor located on the Cornish coast trying to piece together the secrets of the Mountrachet family. With every intention to return to England to solve her own mystery she journeyed back to Brisbane to collect her belongings. But because of life’s complications the mystery was left behind to her granddaughter, Cassandra. Cassandra took up where her grandmother left off and through solving her grandmother’s identity she put her own life in order in a way that she hadn’t been able to do in a long time.
The story flows from page to page making it difficult to put the book down. The plot stays fresh as the chapters change in location and year from the previous one. Some chapters are modern day with Cassandra in Australia and some are the way of life in England in the 1900′s. It is a beautiful read with fairy tales, excitement and mystery about the longing to know where one belongs and finding oneself.
The author sets the scenes taking place in Australia by mentioning the intense rays of the Australian sun and the loud, whistling birds that sing pretty tunes. At the same time of reading about this place in the world I was experiencing it. I woke up every morning to the tune of a Magpie. I saw the Rainbow Lorikeet settled up in the trees. I experienced the Brisbane rainstorms and the intense heat that made my sun-free skin of four months break out in a heat rash within an hour. The story was alive, the story was happening now, my location became the setting for an outstanding book to unfold.
In the midst of a busy city that beats to a quickened pace, from the traffic to the footsteps of the people walking in it, is a historical gem that cannot compare to any other theater in any other city. Antiquity surrounds this gem as romance flows over every bridge leading into the metropolitan city. This city is Paris. And its gem is the Palais Garnier.
The Royal Danish Ballet was invited to perform for a week at the Palais Garnier. We danced six performances of the wonderful, classic Bouronville ballet, Napoli. We took one of the Danish treasures and shared it in a French gem with ballet linking the two.
Entering the theater from the stage entrance, right away you notice the highly waxed, wooden floors. It is only the first reminder of how elderly the building is. The size of the structure can only be discovered by the multiple times you get lost when you think you know the route to the ballet studio, or even to the closest restroom. Hall after hall, turn after turn, hidden room tucked behind another hidden room. It is incredible. My first moment of complete awe was when I was crossing behind the stage and stumbled upon a small ballet studio covered from floor to ceiling in romantic art and golden statues. It was the decor of a Palace’s grand foyer and here it was, only a curtain slightly askew giving away its very existence. The building is incredible. And the secrets it must hold, endless.
Two different sets of elevators take you up to the ballet studio where we took class and rehearsed for the week we were there. The floor in studio Petipa is on a rake and every dancers eyes grew a little bit wider as they took their first steps inside. The rake was a new, small challenge that became only more fun and exciting as the body adjusted to using a different center of balance.
After warming up, the stage called for us to come forward. Stepping onto the stage and looking out into the audience, the old wealth the city of Paris once held just drips from the walls. Every seat is in a cherry red velvet, lined with gold. The walls are decorated by objects fit for a King and Queen. The Palais Garnier is the grandest building I have ever stepped foot in. The building is outlined in wealth, history fills in the lines and dance legends are remembered for years and years. The Palais Garnier is pretty unforgettable.
After a successful opening night, a reception was held in the Grand Foyer. Maybe the Palace of Versailles would give this room a run for its money but it was glamor from one end to the other. Huge chandeliers lined the ceiling, large mirrors hung on the walls with lavish, oversized curtains as frames and decor fit for a golden age filled in every inch of the room until nothing more could squeeze in. As you approach the room, you can’t help but gasp when your eyes first take in the sight.
The Palais Garnier in Paris is a very rare gem in a magnificent city. It is among the most famous theater’s in the world in history. So many dancers have jumped and turned in that building and hopefully they will continue for many years to come. The theater is French through and through but it was incredible to set foot and perform our Danish treasure inside. We may have brought all the dancers, and the ballet back home but the memory will always remain in Paris.