Oct 31, 2015

halloween wishes

A joyous Halloween to you, dear readers!

Finally, an excuse for us to transform ourselves and dress as someone who we are not...

...Wait, we do that all the time.

A photo posted by Rhiannon Pelletier (@rhiannonkpelletier) on

Check out this adorable video courtesy of Pacific Northwest Ballet for ballet class costume ideas for next year!

Some music selection ideas for a Halloween-y ballet class.

And go behind the scenes with a Texas Ballet Theater vampire starring in their performance of Dracula. If only Texas was closer. I'd love to see this.


A photo posted by Texas Ballet Theater (@tbtheater) on

Oct 28, 2015

calm down, sugarplum.

Two words:

Calm. Down.

As my director told me the first time I walked into a Sugarplum rehearsal, "It's a harp and it's Merrill Auditorium (Maine's largest theater) and you're all alone on a great big stage. The older you get and the more times you do it, the more you realize that it's a big deal. And that pressure is hard to handle."
And the only way to get through it successfully is to harness all that pressure, take a deep breath, let it go, and calm down.

Thank goodness for a partner that makes rehearsals a little bit lighter!

We are four rehearsals and just over four weeks out until opening day of Maine State Ballet's The Nutcracker.

Oct 26, 2015

an engagement to remember

On what turned out to be the perfect Maine autumn's day, two weeks ago Travis and I had a handful of our family and friends over to celebrate our recent engagement (if you don't remember, allow me to refresh your memory!). There was food, laughter, tears, reminiscing, and so much love. It was a day to be remembered and Travis and I are so grateful to everyone who took the time out of a treasured Sunday to support us.

It made me realize how lucky I am to have my people. You know the ones. The individuals who drop everything on a holiday weekend to get dressed up, fill the house with décor found on Pinterest, spend a morning and afternoon in the kitchen preparing the most wonderful food, drink, and be merry for a day to kick off one of the most monumental journeys of your life.

 I love my people.

So thank you in particular to my wonderful sister Adrienne, my ever-generous and devoted mother Beth, my honorary sisters Emily and Natalie, second mother Johanna, best friend Jenna, and loving cousin Brenna. You guys have made this happy time more wonderful than I could have ever imagined.

Oct 21, 2015

wedding wednesday {tiler and robbie}

Tiler Peck and Robbie Fairchild have been the sweethearts of the ballet community in America for more than a decade. The two were married on June 22, 2014, they had been friends, partners and colleagues first as teenagers at the School of American Ballet (she was 13, he was 15), and then as members of the City Ballet, where they often danced together as principals.

My sister Adrienne sent this video listed below over to me and I had to take a moment to recover. Have you ever seen a couple so genuinely happy? Or a man so overcome with joy to see his soon-to-be wife that he catches his breath? It's amazing to see a couple that works in one of the most demanding and stressful environments come to be so completely happy.

Emily Andrews for the New York Times
According to a New York Times article, after being together constantly for so many years, the time after marriage has largely been spent apart. Robbie has been starring in An American in Paris both in Paris and now on Broadway for which he has been nominated for a Tony, while Tiler has been in Washington preparing the musical Little Dancer, directed by Susan Stroman, which she hopes will come to New York. While that was being discussed, Tiler was dancing the spring and winter seasons with New York City Ballet.

"'Everyone said the first year would be so much fun being together, but for us that’s been put on hold,' Ms. Peck said.

[Robbie] said: 'Before we were married, we had the perfect scenario - we did everything together. We could just look at one another across the room in ballet class, and that was enough to check in... Being just a guy, I hadn't thought through what being separated would mean for our relationship. For us as a couple, I wouldn't say this year was magical, but at the end of the day, there's a sense of belonging. We're partners in life. It's like watering your garden. A marriage has to be tended to.'" - NYT

I think the look on his face says it all. The day before my engagement party last weekend, lifelong family friends Emily, Natalie, and their mother Johanna were staying the night to help set up. To my surprise and delight, they pulled a  golden bottle of champagne out of their tote and everyone raised a glass to me and my fiancé. My mother Beth, Adrienne, and our three friends took turns saying a few words that hit Travis and I much harder than we were prepared for. It was a memory I will never forget. One piece of marital advice Johanna gave has stuck with me:


"If you have that initial attraction and chemistry that exists deep inside, no matter what happens or how bad things get, if you can return to that and just look at the other person and remember why you fell in love in the first place, it'll all be alright."

left to right: Mom, Natalie, Johanna

left to right: Emily, Brenna, myself, Jenna, Adrienne, Natalie

Don't you just see that in their eyes? Raw, unadulterated, easy, effortless chemistry. Two people that were simply meant to be soulmates. Doesn't it make you feel just a little better about the world to know that exists?

~ Enjoy ~

Soon to come: Western Roundup experiences and Nutcracker music in the not- so-distant-distance.


Oct 20, 2015

hoedowns and happy days

Western Roundup has gone almost as quickly as it came. A pas de deux quickly pieced together in three rehearsals prior to performance actually pulled through (wipes brow nonchalantly but was rapidly crumbling on the inside).

A photo posted by Rhiannon Pelletier (@rhiannonkpelletier) on

The review was glowing and it's an honor to be featured in the Portland Press once again!

"The second dance, “Western Roundup,” was a more straightforward dance number, but it appealed to a younger audience with its theme and exaggerations. Male dancers in cowboy hats stuck their thumbs in the belts as female dancers in satin dancehall dresses vied for their attention. In particularly rowdy moments, the cowboys danced with huge leaps and bravado and the girls one-upped them with dynamic spins and pointe work.

Meile’s choreography in nine sections had the full company of 19 dancers performing to traditional folk songs like “Yellow Rose of Texas” and “Don’t Fence Me In.” The stand-out duet was danced by Rhiannon Pelletier and Glenn Davis to the song “Shenandoah,” a slow lyrical dance that featured complex partnering with difficult balletic turns and balances that came off effortlessly, displaying true professional ballet grace and strength." - Jessica Lockhart with the Portland Press Herald

It's always nice to have a high-cardio and low-stress ballet to gear the company up for the Nutcracker season without wearing us down.

Photo courtesy of Maine State Ballet

Photo courtesy of Maine State Ballet

A long exposure shows the red curtain closing at the end of "Western Roundup" by Maine State Ballet in Falmouth. — Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer (Portland Press Herald)
And with this, I'm hearing the Nutcracker overture growing steadily in the background... Sugar Plum rehearsal updates to come soon, my friends!

Oct 17, 2015

in this moment

A moment caught in time from this past week. One worth savoring, remembering, and sharing.

I encourage you, dear readers, to do the same and post a link to your "moment" in the comments.

Every dancer has their "thing." Mine?

When a show goes well, I have to do everything exactly the same.

Don't know why, it's just the way it is. Don't question it, we're artists, we're allowed to be eccentric!

~ * ~

All ready for our final performance of Western Roundup with Maine State Ballet at 4pm.


Oct 13, 2015

teacher hacks for tots

I teach dance at my local studio on Monday and Wednesday evenings for four hours. It's the same amount of time and you would think the same amount of work. I walk inside and set my bags down on Monday night feeling accomplished and excited about my job. I like working,  I love teaching, and I'm really glad that after 4-5 years of working in dance classrooms I still feel that way.

Yet, for some reason, when I walk inside on Wednesday evenings I feel drained. My throat is dry from hours of straight talking, my body is weary, and I am usually starving. I had to wonder why there was such a drastic difference between the two workdays; then the primary difference between the two dawned on me.

On Monday I primarily teach children between the ages of nine and fourteen. This age requires slightly less demonstrating on the teacher's part and not really any of what I like to call my "teacher voice." You know the one: high pitched, twinkly, and abundant with dramatized glee. On Wednesdays, 90% of my students are all under the age of ten. Now, I'm not saying that teaching younger kids is more of a burden, because it's not. But I am saying that conducting a classroom full of three to eight-year-olds requires much more energy. Here are five tricks of the trade I picked up from coworkers, mentors, and things I remember enjoying when I was the age of my students.


1. Layout the dots.

Do a little online shopping and get your studio a couple of these, you'll thank me for it later.

"Why would I need a variety pack of rubber can openers?" you ask. Allow me to explain.

At the beginning of class assign each student a dot. This is their dot. Having ownership of an object captures the kids' attention and allows visual cues for where to stand. I find it easiest to have them stand on the tape that runs down the marley and place the dot a foot in front of them. It's their job to stand behind the dot as we do our shuffles, plies, tendus, or other exercises at the beginning of the day. Say goodbye to little ones skipping around the room when they lose focus. I'm not sure why it works as well as it does, but I'm not going to question it!

2. Perfect the teacher voice.

Every teacher has one and kids respond to it. Perhaps it's reminiscent of all the Disney movies they're watching with melodious heroine vocals, but I find as soon as I turn the teacher voice on, they're more likely to listen.


3. Incorporate props.

It's always their favorite part of the day. Having something tangible to keep their attention works wonders. For the fall season I throw on the Sesame Street "Batty Bat" song, give them each two scarves as wings and have them fly (A.K.A. bourre) back and forth during the chorus. This is definitely a favorite!


4. Keep the class moving.

A 5-6 year old's average attention span can attend an activity of interest to them for about 10-15 minutes. So spending more than that on any single activity or piece of information is a recipe for some restless little ones. I usually start them with warmups standing in one long line behind their individual dots, then bring them across the floor for some exercises, next I lead them into a circle for imaginative stretches and combinations, and lastly we have games and interactive activities.


5. Always plan a few more activities

than you will have time for.

Every now and then, there are those days when you plough through the warmups and across the floor exercises, and you're stuck wondering what to do next. I find myself in this situation especially before we start working on the recital. Have a few activities in your back pocket. Some long-time favorites in my classroom are freeze dance in which I tell them what motion to do before the music stops, and the "corner game."
The corner game is very similar to freeze dance. You give them a step or motion to perform, play the music, and they dance all around the room. The difference comes in with one student who sits in the middle of the room and closes their eyes as soon as the music stops. The kids then run to either corner 1, 2, 3, or 4 of the room. This presents the perfect opportunity to teach them which one is which. The student in the middle of the room then randomly selects a corner, and everyone in it is now out. Do this until only one student remains. The remaining student will be the next one to sit in the middle. I don't love that the student in the middle simply sits while the music is playing, so I usually give them a specific stationary step separate from the other students like sautes or jumping jacks.

The kids love this game, it really makes them feel like they've been up and moving and tuckers them right out before the end of class.

~ * ~

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for my recount of the recent wild west adventures. Peter and the Wolf and Western Roundup opened last weekend and closes on Saturday!

Oct 6, 2015

craft day

It was a quiet, enjoyable Saturday last weekend and I was surrounded by some of the best people: 

my unofficial (soon to be official) bridesmaids, future mother-in-law, maid of honor/sister, and the mother of the bride. Preparing for our fall-themed Columbus Day weekend engagement party, we got together and set to work on a series of crafts.

There was a plethora of Pinterest ideas, mod podge, and a mason jar project gone astray that we managed to get back on track. Stay tuned for a how-to tutorial to make the glowing fall mason jars with instructions that will save you sticky hands and headache not found on the internet!

I owe so much to these wonderful women who have been so supportive and loving as Travis and I begin the next step of our journey together.

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