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Jan 31, 2017

diving



Two weeks through the full-out rehearsal process...

I'm going to try to not make all of my Swan Lake diaries so depressing, because there have already been so many fun moments through this process, but gosh, have I been exhausted lately. My body can't recover quickly enough to be ready for the next day of rehearsals. I'm always hungry and always tired (for the last couple weeks, anyway).

I've been really bad about timing out my meals and snacks properly, lately. With my internship at a Maine Congresswoman's office, I get absorbed in the work of data entry, answering phones, and endless trips to the scanner (I know it sounds mundane, but I'm having a lot of fun!), and I forget to stop and eat lunch. I'll have a breakfast of yogurt, berries, and granola first thing in the morning, finish up my interning hours, and by the time I leave, I have to run straight to rehearsal. I don't want to bog myself down with a whole meal right before an intense hour and a half of dancing, so I'll have a banana or granola bar and off I go. It's not until after rehearsal and before our regularly scheduled technique class that I will actually get to sit down and eat my packed lunch... Like I said, I've been really bad about it. 😣

view from the portland office

Despite my time-management issues, rehearsals have been going really well. I hop back and forth between two partners, Glenn and Nathaniel. Both very different, both very amazing. And I can't forget to mention the amazing Frederick Bernier as Rothbart, whom I get to dance with as the Black Swan.


At this point, we have finished putting together both the White and Black Swan pas de deux. Pretty much everything has been set with the exception of the act two finale, and act four. We're trying to get everything learned as quickly as possible as my partner, Glenn, is taking a trip to Wales later this month. Lots to do and the days are going by all too quickly. The tedious and rather painful "clean up" coaching sessions are not far behind.




Jan 28, 2017

instagram roundup



Instagram has been a huge source of inspiration for me, lately. Ballet is a visual art and Instagram is a very visual platform... What better place to find the best content? Here are the five must-follow accounts I've scouted for this month.

@balletgatti

The beautiful international freelance dancer, teacher, and artist, Joseph Gatti.



@englishnationalballet 

Gorgeous, inspirational, and funny! One of my favorite feeds.



@lifeoftheballerina

A compilation of the best of ballet.



@claudiadeancoaching

Lots of tips, and lots of tricks!



@iana_salenko 

A Prima Ballerina with the Staatsballett Berlin, mother, wife, and a complete beast.

A photo posted by Iana Salenko (@iana_salenko) on


Whose Instagram feed do you just love? Comment below to share with us!

Jan 25, 2017

everything changes



Well, the cast list is on the wall and I can officially say that I will be dancing seven shows of Swan Lake as Odette/Odile with the Maine State Ballet. I have been writing about rehearsals for some time now, but now I know the dates I will be performing are as follows:

March 24th and 25th at 7:00pm
March 26th at 2:00pm
April 1st at 2:00pm
April 2nd at 2:00pm
April 8th at 7pm
April 9th at 2:00pm

I may have mentioned this previously, but originally I was to split the twelve performances right down the middle with a fellow MSB principal ballerina. For personal reasons, she is no longer going to be able to participate in the production. We are unsure as to whether or not she will rejoin later down the road, but we are pushing forward in her absence. The show must go on.

I don't know if she reads this blog or if she will ever see this post, but I just want to publicly say how much I am going to miss having her around. We are very different people, but we had this in common. I can say in earnest that her presence in the company made me a better dancer, that her beautiful and delicate style taught me grace, and that her incredible work ethic made me work harder. I have noticed there is a sense of hollowness without her around. I'm not sure if anyone else feels it too, but every time I walk by her dressing room, I feel a pang of loneliness.

This makes me the only active principal ballerina at Maine State Ballet (the infamous Janet Davis - former prima ballerina - is still dancing, but has retired from principal roles). I'm the last female "adult" in the company. The only woman that is out of school and juggling the "real world" with a dance career. It's not that I felt competitive with my fellow principal ballerina, but her presence certainly made me push myself further. Now I must turn that motivation inwards.

I do hope the looming mammoth of a task that is Swan Lake, will really bring our company together. Rehearsals are gaining speed. More updates soon πŸ’“




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Jan 23, 2017

i think i'll go to boston



I don't know how it's already a week later, but last weekend, Travis and I took a trip to Boston to watch a Frozen Fenway game (from a heated box suite with endless food and drink... Umm, Trav might just have the best job ever). While we were there, we explored some of the city's historical spots along the Freedom Trail. Thought I would share some of the highlights!

And just a side note... So You Think You Can Dance's Alex Wong and Cyrus just happened to be staying at the same hotel! Caught them at the hotel bar during the football game. πŸ˜… They were both incredibly nice.

Follow my personal account on Instagram for more: @rhiannonkpelletier






hotel view



Paul Revere's home











Jan 17, 2017

dance mom



I had a very strange encounter at work last night. As a precursor to this story, I'll have to  quickly explain something. When I teach, I typically don't wear a leotard and tights or put my hair in a bun. I'm in them so often throughout the rest of the week that it's nice to just wear some athletic pants, a sports bra, t-shirt shirt, some dance sneakers, and to throw my hair up into a ponytail. I have had many teachers dress this way, whether it be at Maine State Ballet, or various summer programs I have attended at establishments like Boston Ballet or the American Academy of Ballet.



 I pulled up to the studio at 3:50 to teach my 4:00 class, and set my bags down in the lobby to wait for the rehearsal going on in my classroom to let out. As I waited, peaking in and out of the classroom's small window to watch the dancers work on their contemporary piece, my little ones were arriving. Skipping inside, their little legs poked out from underneath their winter coats.

I turned to smile at them and one of the mothers caught my gaze, looking like she had something to say to me. She took a step closer, ushering her daughter over towards me and said, "So, I think you should wear a bun sometime."

I wasn't sure what she was getting at, so I turned to her daughter and asked, "Oh yeah, would you like me to show you how to do one? Is that what you mean?"

"No, I just mean in general," she said with a shrug as she motioned to her daughter. "It just came up the other day and we think you should be wearing your hair in a bun." She patted the tightly wound bun she had no doubt fashioned on her daughter's head.

I was taken aback.

Was this woman actually trying to tell me how I should be wearing my hair to do my job? 


I wasn't sure what to say, so I ended up going the route of explaining how I have extremely fine hair (and if you have ever seen my hair down, you would know how thin and pin-straight it is), and that taking it up and down from a bun really damages it, so I try to leave it down whenever I'm not dancing myself. I felt silly justifying why I wear my hair a certain way to a woman I've barely ever spoken to, but there I was. Her daughter turned away shyly as she chuckled at my explanation. She turned to follow and said, "Oh ok, well we wouldn't want you to break your hair."

Honestly, guys, I really am not sure what to make of this encounter. Should I be wearing my hair in a bun to teach all the time? Even if I go from teaching ballet in one hour and jazz in the next? Should I have let her speak to me that way? What a strange occurrence! Would love some insight as to what you would have done. Leave a comment below to let me know what you think!


Jan 13, 2017

recital planning



Another year, another recital on its way. This time I'm working on eight different numbers (excluding competition pieces). I thought I would share what I have in store for my kids this year.


Ballet/Tap Combination Class

This is for the little ones and they will be dancing to "Bella Note" from Lady and the Tramp for their ballet piece, and "Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee" from Pinocchio for tap. How cute is this costume?

Advanced Lyrical

I am very excited about this piece set to Ed Sheeran's "Give Me Love." The music gives me chills and these girls are very talented, so I'm eager to see what we will create.


Tap 1

Eight girls. Super cute. "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious..." Need I say more?

Ballet 1A

Some of these beginner ballet girls show so much promise, so I wanted to do something fun that will really spark their excitement for ballet. I chose the song "How Far I'll Go" from the Disney movie, Moana (so cute, by the way) and this sweet costume... Doesn't it look like the ocean?

Ballet 1B

"Three Little Birds," with some of my adorable little ballerinas. Simple choreography, but hearts will melt.

Ballet 2A

These girls have soaked up every bit of knowledge I could possibly bestow unto them. They exhibit such passion for ballet and an excitement to learn that has really inspired me to choreograph a challenging ballet number for them. I'm taking the corps de ballet music from "Le Corsaire" 
("Le Jardin Anime") and putting them in this gorgeous costume. It will be classic, technical, but super fun.




Ballet 2B

Similar to my previous class, I wanted to come up with a piece that would really challenge these girls. Sticking with my "Le Corsaire" theme, I'm using a piece of music from the first act and if all goes well, we'll end up with this costume...

I think it will be a fun year! Plenty of talent to work with and inspiration everywhere.

Jan 11, 2017

entering swan lake



It's the morning after my first day of rehearsals, and let's just say I've been in better shape. There's a tightness in my lower back and a stiffness in my hamstrings that reminds me - although I'm still young, I'm definitely not sixteen anymore.



As of now, I have private rehearsals on Tuesday afternoons from 2:00-4:00pm. My partner wasn't able to make it for the first day back, so it was just me and my director. We started with the White Swan variation and I was astounded by my lung capacity, or lack-thereof. It's the worst feeling to go from being in the best shape of my life through Nutcracker, to barely making it through a 2.5 minute variation. It'll be a long, hard road to get back to that point.

We went through the variation a few times, once in segments and twice all the way through, then we made our way through the second act coda with the infamous petite allegro combination... (see 1:10)




It took me a couple tries to hit my plie on the correct count, but once you find it, there's no falling behind the music. It forces you to jump right in time. After that we, "Just for giggles," as my director said, went through the Black Swan coda (hello, 32 fouettes). A bit of a shock to the system after returning from nearly a month off. Hopefully this cold I seem to be slowly recovering from fades. Then I can actually start breathing through the ballet.

Back at it on Monday. For now, MSB turns its focus to Tap Tap Jazz and I return to my first week as an intern for Congresswoman Chellie Pingree - which is going wonderfully so far, by the way!

Jan 7, 2017

the strangest thing




I had the strangest thing happen to me this week. I've been going about my days as usual, and random people from all walks of my life have approached me or my family members to ask if I was retiring from my dance career.... 

I had to laugh. I imagine that's how celebrities feel reading magazine headlines about their life - false breakups and pregnancies and such. It was to the point that even I began asking if Rhi was quitting!

How silly it would be to end my career before I get to perform Swan Lake (for which rehearsals start on Tuesday) or Don Quixote, or before my fifteenth season of The Nutcracker. Realistically, I think the rumor stemmed just from the fact that I'm getting married in September, we have begun the process of house-hunting, and I'm doing my best to develop myself professionally. Regardless, rest assured that I'm not done just yet.

This just made me realize even more that dance is a part of who I am, and if I wanted to, I could have plenty of years left.





I'll check back in after rehearsal on Tuesday!

Jan 3, 2017

first class of 2017



The holidays have come to an end and today brings us back into the studio.

Maine State Ballet is gearing up for its annual "Tap Tap Jazz" performance, where ballerinas can prove they are more than just that. I've sadly had to opt out of the show to put more time towards my internship with Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (which I start tomorrow!). I'm very excited to see what this opportunity may bring my way.

The first class of 2017 was a killer and I'm already getting sore from it... I can't remember the last time my muscles were so fatigued that I questioned whether or not I could even finish the combination. Feeling the burn is one thing, but this was on another level. Time to focus on getting back in shape for Swan Lake.