Just the musings of a small-town professional ballerina, business owner, wife, and beagle mama as she attempts to make it through this thing called life.

Dec 30, 2015

recital plans

I'm not usually a procrastinator but this year I may have definitely postponed selecting recital music and costumes. How the fall term has slipped away from me, once again! I teach eleven classes a week and have seven recital dances to choreograph... Think, think, think.

More often than not, I'm grasping for ideas at the start of the choreographing process, searching for inspiration wherever I can get it. Where is the best source of inspiration in the twenty-first century? Why, the internet, of course! Perhaps you can find some inspiration with my recital ideas for the 2016 season.

Sorted in order of level/age at the studio.

Ballet/Tap Combo Class

For forty-five minutes a week with my little 4-6 year-olds, we split the time between tap and ballet. This gives them a little introduction to both styles, the classroom structure, and gets them moving. The fun part is they get two short recital dances, one for each style. The complicated part emerges because for both recitals, we need to use a single costume. So for the ballet portion they will be dancing to "Castle On a Cloud" from the Les Miserables soundtrack, wearing this adorable purple piece:

For their tap piece they will be dancing to "Ev'rybody Wants to Be a Cat" from the Aristocats soundtrack and my plan is to find some headbands with kitty ears to pair with the dress. Amazon usually helps with the obscure props search! I also have a little boy in this class who will be wearing the costume below in purple to match the ladies. I have to say, the selection of boys costumes, although understandably limited, is just that. Too limited.

Ballet 1A

These young ladies are just lovely. It's always exciting to be teaching first-time ballerinas and watch as they absorb every new piece of information and some take to it with flying colors. Dancing to "Go the Distance" from the movie Hercules, I've paired it with the costume below. Doesn't it look like a sunset?

Ballet 1B

These are my little ones and I will say without bias that they are one of my favorite classes. Each student shows great promise and they are a class particularly motivated to do well. I'm amazed each week with the extent of their cleverness. Dancing to "La Polka de Minuit" from the new Cinderella movie soundtrack, I've paired them with this lovely costume in pink:

Tap 1

These energetic students needed a piece to match and I think the nail was hit on the head with "Boogie Wonderland" from the Happy Feet soundtrack. And how fun is this costume?

And for the young lad in the class: ... How adorable?!

Ballet 2

This class is so lively and bears many larger than life personalities so I had to take advantage of this and harness their acting abilities. The song is a Cakewalk piece that I actually borrowed from a coworker at another studio and unfortunately cannot find anywhere online. It's very cheery and the character the students will be playing is a sort of village girl. They all gather in the town square and excitedly greet each other before they begin to dance.

Jazz 4

I love teaching jazz. It wasn't the style I was primarily trained in but with teaching there is so much freedom and artistic interpretation allowed. I was driving to college one day and "Accidentally In Love" by Counting Crows came on my phone (gotta love Bluetooth radio) and I though it would make the sweetest recital dance. These students are ranging in ages from 12-15. One student will be the focal point as she sits on a bench, picking at a rose and swooning over her date last night. Her friends emerge and gather round to hear what happened and share in her excitement. And of course, it needs a flirty and fun costume to match!

I'm very excited to get back in the studio after Christmas break and really start working on these pieces. Wishing everyone a happy new year! How are you coping with Christmas break? Getting antsy yet?

Stay busy and stay warm, friends!

Dec 27, 2015

sunday loveliness

Today I present a collection of highlights circling around the blogosphere that captured my attention and hopefully will capture yours.

The story behind the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Photo by Rachel Hewig

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A moment I think many of us have had... The, "Mommy, I want to do that someday," moment. For me it was also at my first viewing of The Nutcracker. I was eight and when the little ribbon candies emerged from underneath Mother Ginger's skirt I was convinced that I was fully capable of doing that too. I remember my mother having to tell me to sit back as I was quite literally on the edge of my seat. Here we are thirteen Nutcrackers with Maine State Ballet later.

Photo courtesy of settingthebarreblog.com

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A luscious flower costume that has yet to cease its enchantment of my dreams.

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A little more inspiration...

A video posted by ashley ellis (@ashleyellisb) on

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Undoubtedly my favorite Nutcracker scene, you can actually smell the garden of delicate petals before you with the magic combination of wispy romantic tutus and a spunky "Dew Drop" in Waltz of the Flowers. Although Sugar Plum is always a joy, there's just something about the impish quality of the Dew as she leaps and twirls about the stage that makes glitter burst from my chest. It's just a joy to do. I came across a full black and white video on some social media platform of Balanchine's Waltz of the Flowers that had to be from the '50s. I searched and searched and searched to rediscover it and share it with you all but I can only assume the Balanchine Trust had to shut it down. So instead, let me share a more modern but equally beautiful rendition by PNB.

Valsa das Flores PNB <3
Posted by Sรณ Bailarinos on Saturday, December 19, 2015

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And to really brighten your Sunday... how ballet is helping young girls cope with the stressful lifestyle in Gaza.

Ballet Is Helping Kids Cope With Stress Of Life In Gaza
Young girls living through the war in Gaza are learning ballet to cope with stress
Posted by NowThis on Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Dec 23, 2015

in the interim

With Nutcracker past, finals finished, and the holiday season upon us, I'm feeling the sigh of relief breathing throughout the halls of my home and workplace. I feel it releasing the sharp tension in my shoulders and flushing deeply in my toes, making its way through easily and quickly.

There's something comforting about stillness but also completely unnerving. I find myself sitting here as my fiancee watches TV, fencing with the stirring need to be getting something done. There must be something I need to do, there's always something that needs to be done. Peace? Quiet? What even is that?

Since when has my family had time to go out to breakfast together? I can't remember the last time we did. And how lovely it is.

if you're ever in Portland, ME, you simply must stop in at Hot Suppa

There's a to-do list for this vacation, of course. Recital costumes and music need to be selected, school books need to be ordered for my last semester of college (something I'm definitely not freaking out about... definitely not), emails need replying, presents need buying, and I'm slowly dying.

(I had to)

In my time off, I had the chance to address my Smash Book (if you don't have one of these and you consider yourself an even slightly crafty person or a compulsive memory hoarder [like myself] then you need one). 

This book makes me look much more fondly on life. It's a reminder of the little things that show you the path to the big things in life that matter. As I sifted through piles and piles of my memorabilia or (for lack of a better word) crap, organizing and sorting by category: dance; teaching; adventures with Travis; and random personal items; I came upon dozens of little notes, drawings, and letters from students. From my first year as a teacher all the way through last week at our final classes before Christmas break. I unsheathed them from torn envelopes and unfurled their edges to find words that moved me to tears. "You are my idol, I want to be just like you..." What pressure the admiration of a child brings. 

And there were "thank yous." So many of them.

Dance has given me many things, whether it be blisters, bunions, smiles, tears, laughs, frustration, love, anger, or anything in between. 

But at the end of the day, I realized the only thing that mattered was that it gave me the ability to make a difference. 

It gave me a job that I'll always be qualified for that I absolutely love. That I have a passion for. I love my students. Even the ones that give me the hardest of times are probably the ones that need a teacher's love and attention the most. The ability to help others through physical activity and art and provide goodness to those who need it is why I will be forever grateful to my dance career and education. It gave me that.

Something to be thankful for in this season of giving and love is the ability to give love.

Happy Holidays, readers. I'd love to hear stories of your vacation adventures or just your own ponderings. 

Please don't be shy.


Dec 21, 2015

bridesmaids boxes that won't break the bank

Firstly, I'm really pleased with the alliteration in the title of this post. Secondly, as you might know, I'm planning a wedding! Although this blog is a space primarily to write about my dance career and the many lessons and adventures that go along with it, it is also a digital journal of sorts and I hope to share my journey with you dear readers in its entirety.

With that said, I've said yes to the perfect man, and now I can only hope that all my girls will say yes to being with me throughout this time of transition and adventures to come. I wanted to do something special and who doesn't love all the "bridesmaid proposal boxes" scattered on Pinterest? As I looked into putting my own together I realized putting five of these together was going to be ridiculously expensive. For a twenty year old college student/part-time dance teacher/ballerina that needs to buy pointe shoes/part-time magazine editorial assistant who can't quite afford to move out of home yet, I wasn't exactly prepared to spend five-hundred dollars on boxes of goodies.

So I set out to put a smile on my potential bridesmaids' faces with a budget I could work with and I would definitely consider it a success!

what's inside and where to find it:

I think it's safe to say they loved them. All my ladies came to the same Nutcracker performance and we gathered at a restaurant afterwards to celebrate where I had the opportunity to surprise them!