Jul 30, 2015

{throwback thursday} bar harbor retreat

Bar Harbor is undoubtedly a tourist town, and for a handful of Maine natives, we like to poke our fun at the tourists from time to time. The bad drivers, noisy lake neighbors, and did I mention the bad drivers? But as a handful of Maine natives, isn't it only right that we get to appreciate the beauty our home has to offer too? When Travis told me he had never been there before, I immediately set out to plan a weekend-long, affordable vacation for us, a close friend of mine that shares my major at Saint Joseph's College, and her boyfriend.

After long nights of staring at excel spreadsheet packing and grocery lists (yes, I am that much of a nut) we finally hit the road for the trip up north.

Adventures abundant with rock climbing, vertical hikes, whale watching, biking carriage trails, late night barbeques, and games of Cards Against Humanity, the weekend was one I will never forget. I'd recommend everything we did and even do it again myself.

-camping at mount desert campground-

*beautiful campsite. quiet, peaceful, beautiful waterfront views. even the woodsy area where we stayed (for a lesser cost than a waterfront site) was wonderful.*

-whale watch-

*would recommend closer to august. sadly, we only spotted one whale and freezed our butts off. parkas are necessary!*

-climbing cadillac mountain-

*with a car, of course. cadillac mountain is the first place in the united states to see the sun rise. undeniably magical.*

-dinner at jordan pond house-

*buttery popovers with house strawberry jam, creamy lobster stew, flavor-bursting blueberry lemonade... let's put it this way, I have dreams about their food. jordan pond house is one stop you just can't skip when in acadia.*

-sand beach-

*it's as close to hawaii as new england could get.*

-beehive summit hike-

*the photo below says enough. the view was breathtaking.*



-rock climbing with atlantic climbing school-

*1: rock climbing is incredibly difficult
2: the atlantic climbing school instructors were amazing and didn't make us feel like we were completely incompetent (even though we were, with the exception of josh who was basically a monkey)
3: would highly recommend!*


*view from the top of our first climb*

-downtown bar harbor-

*quaint, gorgeous coastal town. plenty of nighttime activites. the perfect end to the perfect trip*

 for questions about what we did/where we went or advice for your acadia adventure, shoot me an email <3

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Jul 27, 2015

monday moods

Week four of Maine State Ballet's summer workshop is underway. A frenzy of early morning classes, rehearsals, ice buckets, and Advil have swept the company off of our feet.
Coppelia premiers in eleven days and the thought gives my stomach a healthy stir of nerves and utter excitement. I love the milestone in the rehearsal process when you are finally comfortable enough to forget about the steps and settle into the character. One more run-through of the ballet and maybe I'll be at that point... I've come to the conclusion that no amount of rehearsals will ever make one feel truly and profoundly ready for opening night. All you can do is work your hardest for a few months and eventually have to dive headfirst into the production.


Jul 26, 2015

saturday grind

Took my day off yesterday to indulge in a little cross training. A light workout to keep stamina levels up and muscles mobile left me feeling absolutely refreshed especially after a big Saturday brunch. Having Trainer Trav around is always handy!

The perfect "recovery day" workout during summer intensives:
Spin a mile on the bike
Squat to presses x 10 (I used 8lb weights)
Medicine ball slams x 15 (I used a 16lb medicine ball)
TRX rows x 20

-repeat three to four times-

Sit-ups x40
Bicycles x 15 on each side
Reverse sit-ups x 20
Penguins x10
-repeat three to four times-
I'll admit, I'm feeling a little sore this morning which reminds me I haven't exercised my muscles in that way since the beginning of summer intensives (three weeks ago!). However, I'm definitely glad I got up and moving yesterday, leaving room for a late-night ice cream run which hit the spot hard.
hope you're all enjoying your weekend <3
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Jul 24, 2015


Summers always fly by but this one has rapidly gained speed with each passing day. I cannot believe week three of Maine State Ballet's summer workshop has concluded, bringing us halfway through the summer... But at least it ended with crashing cymbals, flying Italian pas de chats, and spidery grand battements. What could we possibly have been doing? A fantastic assortment of George Balanchine choreography, beginning with our choice of two variations from Donzetti Variations as well as an excerpt from The Four Temperaments, and concluding with an original piece by our own artistic director, Linda Miele, Bach Concerti.
A challenge it was, the Friday performances always are, but I haven't had that much fun on stage in a long while. Learning and retaining the steps of The Four Temperaments was certainly the biggest challenge what with music that is virtually impossible to count, but once the tempo had been engraved into our brains (which I can't believe it was with less than a week of rehearsal) it was more than easy to let go, enjoy the uniqueness of the steps themselves while playing with the neoclassical choreography.
A photo posted by Maine State Ballet (@mainestateballet) on


In pas de deux class this week we took a stab at the infamous white swan pas de deux which I'm pretty sure is why my back has been so sore all day. But who doesn't love learning a good swan excerpt? I'm eager to continue working on it next week in between Coppelia rehearsals, which are finally starting to come together. After a run-through of act three on Thursday afternoon which circled beginning to end a total of three times, I'm finally feeling myself settling into the role. Once I'm comfortable enough to actually envision myself performing during a rehearsal, lights, costume, false eyelashes and all, I know it's truly coming together. The nerves are ever-present but at least I expected that going into this. Having only ever performed Sugar Plum in The Nutcracker for lead roles, this is somewhat uncharted territory, but the process is the same which offers comfort.

Finally, my week was topped off by parking my derrière in a deck chair and embarking on some bunion therapy with some gel toe stretchers... Strangely relieving yet aching at the same time.
A photo posted by Rhiannon Pelletier (@rhiannonkpelletier) on

Shish kabobs with the family for dinner and a long, rainy weekend ahead offering plenty of time to sew pointe shoes, relax, and contemplate which variation I'll decide to perform next week with the choice of Don Quixote's Mercedes' variation, Kitri's entrance, or the Dryad Queen... Life is good.
Enjoy your weekend, readers! <3
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Jul 22, 2015

sara esty - a true american in paris

I am so excited to have had this article featured by Kirsten Evans on her entirely lovely blog, Setting the Barre. It's an absolutely beauteous site, be sure to check it out. This interview premiered there and now I'm thrilled to share it with my own readers. The Esty twins are two strong, determined, down-to-Earth women that I idolize in every way. It is my pleasure to have been able to discuss with them a new chapter in both of their lives.

~ * ~

At my home, Maine State Ballet, there isn't a person in the building who fails to snap to attention when the words, "The Estys are here," trickle down the hallways. We all know who they are; their names have become somewhat of a legacy. Twins Sara and Leigh-Ann Esty, from small-town Gorham, Maine, have roots planted firmly with our school and company. They not-so-quietly climbed through the ranks and took on roles as prestigious as the Sugar Plum Fairy and/or Dew Drop Fairy in The Nutcracker. A dynamic duo they are.

Sara Esty
Leigh-Ann Esty

The two eventually migrated down to take on the Miami City Ballet where they stayed for ten years. Leigh-Ann is currently a corps de ballet member with the company and Sara Esty reached as high a rank as soloist before an exciting opportunity came her way...
Sara was kind enough to work in between her busy schedule and indulge me with a Facebook conversation about her new and exciting life.

~ * ~
Firstly, congratulations on your life (no, seriously). You've certainly taken advantage of this blossoming crossover between ballet and Broadway. How did this opportunity come about?
Thank you so much!!! So I had been with the ballet company in Miami for about 10 years and one day I literally got a random Facebook message. It was from a casting director in NYC, saying she was working on a new project with Christopher Wheeldon for Broadway and asked if I would be interested in contacting her. There was no doubt in my mind that the answer was yes! Two of my favorite worlds were colliding - how could I not be part of it? I wrote her back and soon came to find they were looking around in professional dance companies for artists interested in singing and acting for a new version of An American in Paris. The rest is history!
That's incredible. Has Broadway always been something on the bucket list?
I think I've always had a theatrical personality and drive about me, but it wasn't till around high school that I made the promise to myself it would happen someday.
Coming from a small-town atmosphere, was the prospect of opening this premier Broadway show in Paris, one of the biggest cities in the world, overwhelming? ... I mean, you are the "American in Paris!"
Haha! Yes, I mean all I was prepared for was to do what I know how to do... The rest was icing on the cake. I love the show and the experiences and places it has brought me so far. It can be overwhelming at times but mostly exciting and extremely gratifying!
What an adventure... Could you describe a typical day for the cast while you guys were in Paris?
Well, we had the mornings off typically and then would rehearse a bit after around noon. Shows were around 7 or 8. Other than that we had Paris at our finger tips!
I understand that you and Leigh-Ann have been blessed to work side by side one another for almost all of your professional careers. How are you coping with being separated for the first extended period of time?
Leigh and I have been dancing by eachothers sides for over 20 years. Being apart in life, let alone at ballet, has been a bit of a struggle. Good and bad I would say! The worst thing is just missing eachother and having to catch one another up on our daily activities, people, and lives where as we never used to have to do that. We have gotten more used to it, and because we are so close, nothing changes whenever we see eachother. It also came at an appropriate time I think. Independence is such an important thing for siblings, and we are really loving finding ourselves as individuals. Needless to say, I hope we get to dance together again one day!! This time is important and healthy though. :)

(Leigh-Ann contributed a few words regarding their separation as well: When we first separated, it was a total shock. I think we both didn't know how to handle it. However, as time went on, things improved. We were able to share fun stories with each other about new experiences, introduce new friends over FaceTime, things like that. One thing that remained a constant was always wishing the other one was there! It's bizarre living 28 years with someone and then separating. I think it's healthy in many ways.. It has forced each of us to establish ourselves as individuals, and find our own voices. We are still closer than ever, and continue to dream about the day when we live in the same city again!)

 There are rumors twirling around that you're dating a fellow cast member, can you confirm or deny them?

Haha yes I can happily confirm them. What can I say, Paris is a magical place! We started out as friends. I've always wanted to find someone who is first and foremost a good friend :)

Last question! How did it feel to perform as the lead for the first time at the Palace Theatre?

It was unreal, surreal, emotional, empowering, exciting - all of the above! Life dreams - ✔️

I can’t thank Sara enough for taking time out of her wonderful, busy life to indulge her fans! You’ll never meet more gracious, humble, extraordinary people than Sara and Leigh-Ann.

* Sara is dating fellow cast member Will Burton (and may I recommend them both as perfect candidates to stalk on Instagram - @sesty5 @willburtonum). She will be performing the lead in An American in Paris July 21-26. Don't miss it. She's incredible<3 *

UPDATE: Sara will now be performing the role of Lise for the production's Wednesday matinee performances beginning July 15th.

~ * ~

A big thank-you to Kirsten Evans for posting this interview and especially to Sara and Leigh-Ann Esty for always inspiring, working, and continuing to be the most perfect role models.

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Jul 19, 2015

summer things

There's so much to talk about, where do I even begin?

Summer intensives have commenced and are well underway. Almost three weeks into the season and I'm finally starting to feel my body agree with the work I'm putting it through. The first week is always the worst what with tight muscles, aching bones, and tender toes. Finally, I can feel the company settling into the season.
I must apologize for my absence. I'm positive everyone can relate to the busy time of year. I always thought fall was the most limited in terms of free time but now that I have a job through the summer (and this is the first year I've had one through this season) I think summer may take the cake.
We start full act run-throughs of our summer ballet, Coppelia next week. As I mentioned before, I will be dancing the role of Swanhilda and it is undoubtedly the most fun role I have take on yet. Swanhilda is a brat, there's no nice way to put it, really. Determined, curious, and mischievous, what more could you ask for in a character? The entire second act is a pas de deux of trouble making between Swanhilda and poor old Dr. Coppelius. Getting to interact with Maine State Ballet's most prestigious character actor, Fredrick Bernier, is always a blast. He submerges all he has into his characters and his guidance has truly helped me bring Swanhilda and Coppelia to life... Both literally and figuratively (pardon the pun).
Our school puts on a miniature show at the end of each week to showcase what the students have learned during their training. Company members are invited to perform as well; both to inspire the students and to rack up a few more moments of stage-time. Comfort and familiarity with performing helps make a ballerina, so we get in front of an audience every chance we can.
Week one was "Sleeping Beauty Week." I and my sister tackled the Aurora Vision variation, a short and simple number that forces control and gentle strength in a dancer.
Maine State Ballet Company members and apprentices pre-performance during week one of summer workshop
Week two we were blessed to have the amazing Leigh-Ann Esty teach 90% of our classes. She is a corps de ballet dancer with the Miami City Ballet and has performed many prestigious roles with the company including the fifth variation in Balanchine's Raymonda Variations, which is what she taught us throughout the week. After hours of stuffing our brains with choreography and hopping our toes away, Leigh-Ann assigned each of us a variation to perform on Friday. I was given the fifth which boasts a nearly impossible sequence of turns to finish it off (see the video of NYCB's Savannah Lowery performing it here).
It makes me so glad we perform each week in the summer. It's a wonderful exercise to dance such challenging pieces.
It was truly a blessing to have Leigh with us. She grew up in Gorham, Maine and trained with MSB before migrating down to Miami with her twin, Sara, and eventually being picked up by their company. Read more about Leigh-Ann.
Speaking of the Estys... Stay tuned for an exclusive interview with Sara Esty about her experience being a cast member with the twelve-time Tony nominated production, An American in Paris.
Also, more to come about a vacation to Maine's beautiful Bar Harbor, a visit to see the final weekend of Victor Victoria at the infamous Ogunquit Playhouse, and other summer adventures had thus far.
Thanks for reading <3
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