Aerial Yoga with my girl

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Kids LOVE to hang upside-down on the monkey bars…aerial yoga for kids just makes sense.

My daughter and I have danced on stage together, practiced Pilates and paddleboard yoga together and now we share a love for aerial yoga.

When I told my daughter that my friend and favorite yoga instructor, Sloane, was having an aerial yoga for kids class at her new studio she jumped up and down screaming, “YES, this is going to be so much fun!”

Remember that feeling you had when you were a kid swinging on the playground at recess? Aerial yoga provides that same sense of lightness with the support of the fabric…think anti-gravity AND anti-aging!  When the fabric is wrapped around the hips to support the body, tipping upside down feels incredibly natural…spreading the arms out like an eagle, reaching the legs out to the sides of the wall and letting go of any pressure in the lower back is an amazing sensation!

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Imagine Cirque du Soleil–style yoga. Sloane has the class start out with the hammock at your hip crease and fold forward into down dog. I could feel a release in the front of my hip joints and found a natural alignment adjustment as I folded deeper in the hammock…gravity does the work and it feels soooo good.

Yoga is wonderful for every (adult and child) body. Aerial yoga is a way to explore new and traditional yoga with your body weight partially or fully supported. This allows you to expand flexibility, increase range of motion, build strength, lengthen and decompress the spine as you relax the nervous system. Letting gravity take over while being held in a hammock can deepen yoga poses and allow you to safely invert. It’s a fun way to find some zen and feel young again while flying.

My daughter said that aerial yoga was fun but also hard. I like that she was laughing when she was being challenged. This tells me that she’s working on coordination and strength while building her confidence and mental concentration.

Try it and you will find a sense of peace, playfulness, creativity and empowerment to thrive on and off the mat. Aerial yoga is a way to dream and imagine you are an aerial acrobat feeling free and enjoying life even more.

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Cinderella: LakeCities Ballet Theatre

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One of the greatest secrets to a sold out show is good casting. For those in Lewisville who saw one of the three sold out shows at the MCL Grande from LakeCities Ballet Theatre’s  “Cinderella,” it was clear that artistic director, Kelly Lannin, has the secret in the bag…or the pumpkin carriage!

We all know that Cinderella is a heartwarming romantic story…Did you know that it came out of Russia after the war ended? Originally intended for the Kirov, it was first presented by the Bolshoi right after World War II. Stalin celebrated with Cinderella at the Bolshoi in 1945 with the dramatic music by Sergei Prokofiev. Cinderella was a fable representing the victory of a wholesome Cinderella (the USSR) over her evil stepmother. Over seventy years later, Cinderella is still timeless…It’s a tale of class distinctions erased by the goodness and self-sacrifice of Cinderella. It makes sense that this ballet was developed post-war with its lush grandeur and poignant score.

When Prokofiev wrote his score for the ballet he said, “I see Cinderella not only as a fairy-tale character but also as a real person, feeling, experiencing and moving among us.” 

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LBT’s porcelain Cinderella (Madeline Hanly) showed grace and quiet strength…just how Prokofiev probably imagined. She was a delicate heroine who took her mistreatment frustrations up into the air with fine flourishes of Italian pas de chats.

Cinderella (Hanly) and her prince (Ruben Gerding) began their happily ever after by testing their balance, displaying exquisite technique as they rotated, spinning effortlessly in their complex choreography. Their controlled smooth turns in their classical pas de deux of the ballroom were emotionally powerful. Hanly’s expressive port de bras seeming to lift her higher…as luxuriant and flowing as creamy satin.

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The Fairy Godmother (Michelle Lawyer) of sweetness and good will waved her magic wand as she spun effortless turns, her steps knitted the story together. The Fairy Godmother sends Cinderella off to the castle surrounded by the beautiful waltz of the Midnight Stars (the most beautiful costume).

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The ballet also provided sheer entertainment…the hilarious shenanigans of the stepsisters (Carley Denton and Mikaela Seale) and their high society aspirations as they cavorted in the ballroom were downright slapstick. It is always a delight to watch Denton dance…Broadway is calling her name. Listening to the sound of roaring giggles, the evil stepsisters were very much to the liking of the young audience. The comic characters wouldn’t have been as funny without their supporting cast of the dapper dance master (Shannon Beacham), Cinderella’s Father (Chuck Denton), and the selfish Evil Stepmother (Denise Clarkston).

Lannin kept in mind that a ballet production of Cinderella would have great numbers of young children in the production AND in audience so she squeezed in as much fun for Cinderella as she could before midnight…condensing the ballet and Prokofiev’s three-act score to two acts and just under two hours without sacrificing ANY of the fantasy.

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The complex patterning for the four soloist fairies (Kelsey Rhinehelder, Faith Jones, Julia Tiller and Chloe Davis), wove swiftly through the woodland forest victoriously spinning their pique turns together. It was as if the Fairy Godmother had them under her spell to dance in perfect accord blending naturally and seamlessly with the music.

It was a first-rate fairy cast with the Autumn Fairy (Tiller) as the most eye-catching…showing fine musical timing and lovely epaulement all while effortlessly dancing a dynamic solo.

In short, LBT’s Cinderella, pleased grownups and children alike…leaving them wanting more.

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Lannin’s use of the younger children in her pre-professional program was brilliant. There were many roles for children…a young Cinderella, Mice, Court Jesters, Fairy Attendants, Dragonflies, Woodland Sprites and Time Keepers. It was sweet to see the expressions of proud parents in the audience…I was one of them! Congratulations LBT on ending the season on such a magical note!

Photo credit: Nancy Loch Photography

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Modern Salt Caves for the whole family

 

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My friend and favorite yoga teacher, Sloane, introduced me to the Salt Cave of Southlake. Every time I’ve visited the salt cave, I leave feeling like I’ve been on vacation…totally relaxed. On Saturday, the yoga cave wasn’t ready yet (a couples massage was running a little over) and I was offered a mimosa before class…they really want you to relax! Since I’ve been going, I’ve noticed that I’m sleeping, breathing and feeling better than usual during these cold dry winter days. If you have the winter blues, a little salt cave time will make you feel happy and healthy.

Breathing in salt vapor during yoga class helps to breathe deeper…purifying the lungs and clearing sinuses. The combination of yoga and salt therapy naturally relaxes the body and opens airways increasing oxygen intake.

Salt therapy is an all-natural, holistic treatment recently made modern…inspired by Eastern European countries.  Natural underground salt caves in Eastern Europe have been used to heal skin conditions, allergies, asthma and more. Salt has been used for its medicinal properties as far back as the Egyptians. Modern salt caves can be found today above ground…made to feel like a natural underground European salt cave.

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The air is enriched with salt dust by reducing pure Himalayan salt crystals that are ground into miniscule micro-crystals and blown into a relaxing spa environment.

The benefits of salt therapy give a sense of well-being, reducing allergy issues, insomnia, boosting energy and alleviating depression and stress. It’s the same relaxing feeling after spending the day in the natural settings of mountains, waterfalls, or beaches…the negative ions emitted increase oxygen flow to the brain.

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The Salt Cave of Southlake also has a “Kids Cave.” My kids encourage me to go take a yoga class there so that they can come and play in the salt…it’s magical to them! Children can play, read, draw while Mom and Dad take a yoga class. It’s healthy for the whole family.

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We couldn’t survive without salt…it does the body good!

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Five things you might not know about the Rockettes

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Tourists have been flocking to Manhatten to see one of the New York City’s oldest traditions…The Rockettes.

The Rockettes are the world’s most beloved precision dance company…legendary for their high kicks. Their style of dance, called precision dance, is a combination of ballet, jazz, tap and modern dance.

Since their start more than eighty-five years ago, the Rockettes have been steadfast and iconic to New York City. These beautiful dancers are an example of the American dream performing for grateful audiences everywhere. Founded in 1925 and since 1935 they have performed out of New York City’s, Radio City Music Hall.

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Many girls have dreams of being a Rockette…(I was one of those girls) and wish that I was tall enough! For those who have the height, auditions to be a Rockettes are held in the summer in New York City then their rehearsals start in September and are everyday Monday through Friday, from 10am to 6pm. They are about to end their Radio City Christmas Spectacular (ending January 3rd) and get ready for their New York Spring Spectacular.

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Here are five things you might not know about the Rockettes…

  1. The Radio City Christmas Spectacular kicked off in 1933, and two of the original numbers still light up the stage…”Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” and “The Living Nativity.”
  2. Rockettes have to be between 5’6″ and 5’10 1/2″ tall. In kick lines, thirty-six women stand with the tallest in the middle, moving down to the shortest on the ends, which creates the illusion that they’re doing everything in unison.
  3. Rockettes do their own hair…everyone wears a French twist, bright red lipstick, and red cheeks stay put thanks to the magic of double-sided tape.
  4. They “feel the fabric” of their neighbors’ costumes and rely on their core strength to stay upright instead of holding on to each other.
  5. They have more that six costume changes per show…more than 1,300 costumes cross the stage in the 90 minutes of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.

02 Onstage in 1937, the Rockettes cut a sharp, diagonally receding line—in white and top hats—against the dark backdrop

The high-kicking precision-dancing Rockettes are full of New York City’s energy and enthusiasm. Never underestimate the beauty of a super-straight line and high kicks.

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LakeCities Ballet Theatre Celebrates it’s Twenty-Fifth Nutcracker Anniversary

The holidays provide some of the happiest times in the year. After Thanksgiving, our bellies are full and we are feeling grateful for families and friends being near…all coming together to watch The Nutcracker. It’s especially memorable if they’ve come to watch a certain dancer.

There was only one early Christmas present that my daughter really wanted…to be a mouse again in the Nutcracker! I was grateful to have been overhearing a conversation from twenty little mice backstage as a “mouse mom.” The girls discussed their dream roles. Most of them have aspirations to be Clara but my little girl was content and thought being a mouse was the BEST role ever!

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The sold-out audience was packed with little girls in their holiday dresses with red bows like Clara and sparkling tiaras like the Sugar Plum Fairy. LakeCities Ballet Theatre’s production of the Nutcracker was special this year…celebrating it’s twenty-fifth year with the classicism and innocence that it’s known for.

The ballet begins with a live orchestra. Tchaikovsky’s score is played by the Lewisville Lake Symphony’s orchestra lead by Adron Ming. These people don’t just play music; they are music. Listening to Tchaikovsky live enhances the full experience…his score is dessert for a theatrical feast.

The audience falls under the spell in Act I as it opens with a Christmas party at Clara and Fritz’s home. Uncle Drosselmeyer (Kenn Wells) entertains the children with a puppet show and he brings presents, including a Nutcracker Doll. Wells brings so much joy to his character and has the audience laughing out loud when he almost falls in to the orchestra pit. Clara (Carly Greene) wakes in the night to find her Nutcracker. Greene’s graceful arms and powerful pique turns make her a stunning Clara.

Strange things now happen and the whole stage is alive with magic…including the Christmas tree. Twenty hungry mice appear, lead by a charismatic Mouse King (Robert Stewart). The Nutcracker comes to life and leads an army of toy soldiers to fight the mice.

The Battle scene is Artistic director, Kelly Lannin’s favorite part to choreograph. The Nutcracker soldiers and twenty mice engage in a skirmish…shooting canons, carrying off the wounded on stretchers and eating cheese all while worshiping their Mouse King.

The Nutcracker Prince (Jack Wolff) defeats the Mouse King and takes Clara to a magical land on a sleigh lead by angels, where snowflakes flirt rhythmically with the night sky. This was fifteen-year-old Wolff’s second year as the Nutcracker Prince. He was impressive last year and even more so this year…gaining power and strength.

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Act II transports Clara into the Land of Sweets. The Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier introduce Clara to dances from around the world…Spain, Arabia, China, Russia and the Mirlitons dance from France. The entertainment finishes with the dance of the flowers and the Sugar Plum Fairy dances with her Prince before Clara returns home.

When Clara arrived in the Land of Sweets, the audience is delighted with more amazing partnering. Carley Denton and Ruben Gerding were spicy with sweet confection as “Spanish Chocolate”, Andre Harrigton’s flew high in “Russian Baba,” but it was  the finesse of Faith Jones and Shannon Beacham in “Arabian Coffee” that still remains one of the favorite highlights of the Land of Sweets.

Another exciting surprise was the appearance of former Dallas Cowboys player, Isiah Stanback, as the role of Mother Ginger…wearing his Cowboys jersey and helmet! Stanback seemed right at home mothering his Polichinelles and throwing the football at the end. Score!

Guest artists Sarah Lane (American Ballet Theatre) and Daniel Ulbricht (New York City Ballet) brought a glittering, era-transcending splendor to Lewisville, Texas. How do they manage to make it appear so effortless when it actually required such concentration and effort. Ignoring the laws of physics (and gravity), Lane would strike an arabesque poised and perfect with the most beautiful arch to her foot. She appeared to glide across the stage with Ulbricht…every moment was the perfect picture. Ulbricht is agile, athletic and smooth…he has hang time in his tours en l’air. Watching them dance together created a tsunami of bliss…that’s the power of the Nutcracker. The audience becomes pleasantly intoxicated on dance.

My little mouse tells me after the battle scene that she had seen Sarah Lane backstage. “Mommy, I said hi to Sarah Lane and she said hi back to me. She smelled soooo good…just like a Sugar Plum!”  The excitement backstage is energizing to the little dancers. They breathe in the atmosphere that is thick with hairspray and sometimes sweet like a Sugar Plum.

My little mouse was emotional after the last performance…she didn’t want it to be over. She sobbed herself to sleep saying it would be the last time to be a mouse with the same exact cast. When her friend, Chloe, asked her if she wanted to be in the Nutcracker again next year, her response was quick and enthusiastic…”YES, of course I do!” She is still excited for Christmas…she wiggles her mouse paws in the chilly December air just like a mouse. And just like that, it’s over. Dancers lug their makeup kits and plastic bags of snacks out of the stage doors to go home and have dreams of the Sugar Plum Fairy dancing in their heads…until next year.

Frohilich Weihachten from the Stahlbaums’ household!

Photo credit: Nancy Loch Photography

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Le Ballet de Dracula is full of gothic charm

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DRACULA, the favorite “bad boy” of Halloween is back and scarier than ever! Audiences at the MCL Grande are encouraged to watch their necks and sprinkle garlic on themselves as Dracula takes a bite out of Lewisville in its tenth production for LBT’s Le Ballet de Dracula.

Le Ballet de Dracula is full of gothic charm…it’s everything pretty ballets are not! Dracula has a strong sense of mystery that is both eerie and frightening. To add to the gothic charm of Dracula, it is fun knowing that the ballet was first performed in the former Church, which was located on the very spot where the MCL Grand was later built. The ballet has burst in popularity in the last ten years since Tom Rutherford, the company’s art director, wrote it and Kelly Lannin, the artistic director, choreographed it.

Children at the Saturday matinée enjoyed a tour from the most beloved artistic director, Kelly Lannin. Children were presented with a veil and it was delightful to see all the little brides wandering around together. My daughter was curious to see some of the secrets of stage magic. Her favorite part was learning how the Weolas, frightening bat-like dancers, got into their cage through a secret door. For LBT’s tenth anniversary they brought back the haunted house which was both scary and whimsical. The fortune-teller asked children if they would like to have their palm read…we held out our hands and she put RED lipstick on our hands and pronounced in her gypsy voice, “Now your palm is RED!”

The haunted house and bride workshop helped to get us in the mood for Dracula. The curtain opened and we were transported back in time to 1897 Transylvania.

The Weolas (scary bat-like animals) opened up the performance crawling out with contorted movements and spinning their heads like hungry nocturnal gremlins. Dracula’s minion, Ratcliff (Asia Waters) enters and manages to scare the Weolas away (for a while) by showing a shiny golden cross.

Waters is very convincing as Dracula’s slave. She’s a true performer with her nervous facial expressions and awkward scuttling back and forth movements. She has the audience leaning forward as if contemplating wanting to leap from their seats and help her search for food and the golden cross.

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A new day brings in the sun in a romantic Romanian countryside. It’s a time of celebration as the town prepares to celebrate the engagement of Aurelia (Carley Denton) and Marius (Steven Loch). The town is full of love for the happy couple and watch with awe as they Denton and Loch portray their love for each other in a lovely pas de deux.

One of Steven Loch’s (from Pacific Northwest Ballet) great points is his elevation, the distance which he is able to rise in the air and the lightness with which he rises is breathtaking!

It is always a pleasure to watch Denton perform. She has a natural stage presence that is captivating…you can’t take your eyes off of her. I hear that she can sing too…Broadway was made for this dancer, actress and singer who can execute spot on en dedan pirouettes.

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I have a fondness for folk dancing and the Maypole dance does not disappoint. The whole Romanian town dances together…the gypsies are my favorite. If I were to dance a role, I would want to be a gypsy…free, flexible and fiery with just the right amount of abandonment.

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There is just something about Dracula (Shannon Beacham)! He is so cool and controls everything…he rules the ballet. He is careful, protective but super powerful…it makes me palpitate!

When Dracula puts a spell on his newest bride, Aurelia (Denton), her controlled and sprightly movements become a little more luxurious…watching Beacham and Denton together is spellbinding.

The second act opens with Dracula’s many brides as they awaken in the crypt of his castle seductively bourreeing in a tangle of white veils. The ghostly fog and makeup is a dramatic difference to the first act.

Aurelia is rescued just in time with the help of her fiance and Dracula’s minion.

The ballet is modern and fun and shows off the talents of the company’s dancers. The stage effects, gothic costumes and lighting add to the atmosphere. Music can be improved…the transitions between the songs could be spliced (live music would be dreamy) so the dancers don’t forcast their anticipation of the next movement.

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LBT is known for family friendly ballets like The Nutcracker, Coppélia and Cinderella but their production of Dracula (while still being family friendly) shows that they have an interesting darker side.

Congratulations to LBT on a decade of Dracula! Next up, the twenty-fifth anniversary of LBT’s Nutcracker!

Le Ballet de Dracula photos, courtesy of Nancy Loch Photography.

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Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga with my girl

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Last year, I tried stand up paddleboard with my friend Pamela and loved it. This year when my favorite yoga teacher suggested that I bring my daughter, I couldn’t wait to share SUP yoga with her too!

Stand up paddleboarding is such a relaxing and fun way to play on the water. Imagine taking your stationary yoga mat into the water and feeling that buoyancy when you balance…it’s hard but in a totally fun way!

My daughter and I share a love for dance (we recently performed on stage together) and now we share a love for SUP yoga! Sharing something with someone you love so much and doing what you love to do together is such an amazing feeling!

She LOVED to SUP! The class was very challenging (imagine crow pose, three leg down dog and even head stand on a paddleboard) but all performed with a smile! I would catch my daughter in three-legged downward dog feeling proud and she’d look at me from under her arm to see if I was watching her…as soon as she lost her focus to say, “Look Mom,” she’d fall in the water and laugh like crazy! I could see my little girl jumping at the chance to do SUP yoga again. I would imagine that kids who are SUPers can gain confidence, balance and strength early on…all with a smile and lots of laughter!

Kids are not afraid of falling…they love to fall! The paddleboard becomes their playground and they are the bravest in the class because in every pose, they go for it!

When I saw my yoga teacher a day after class, she asked, “How did you sleep after class? Are you still relaxed?” I honestly was…like I could still feel the water underneath my feet.

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My favorite part of this class was when our boards found each other and we held hands during savasana…it was the ultimate happy feeling.

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Galveston Girls Weekend

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There are few things better than a Girl’s Getaway, especially when it’s with a group of ballet dancers who enjoy wine, yoga, Pilates and fine food.

Four friends kicked off the trip shopping at some local treasure troves and then hit up the Tremont House for cocktails on the roof. I’m still dreaming about the mojito! Then we happily walked the strand to The Original. Their chile relleno is my kind of comfort food.

One of the most serendipitous events of our weekend was stumbling upon the Juneteenth parade on our way to dinner…children threw us beads and candy, we saw a corvette caravan and several marching bands that put us in a dancing mood.  This Juneteenth celebration marked one-hundred-fifty years slaves were freed on June 19, 1865 after the Emancipation Proclamation was read on a harbor pier in Galveston, Texas.

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Yoga and Pilates are a great team with a lot in common. Yoga compliments Pilates with breath, flexibility, balance, concentration, and meditation. The two marry well together…four ballet dancers appreciate both.

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The second morning we headed out to practice yoga and Pilates at The Body Space. There were more serendipitous feelings when we found out that not only was our instructor certified in both yoga and Pilates but we were certified under the same Pilates program…Peak Pilates! The owner and instructor, Courtney, gave us vivid imagery cues like “knit your ribs” to help us find our powerhouse. The studio was everything you would imagine a studio at the beach to be…light, bright and airy. I can’t wait to go back.

That afternoon we enjoyed the beach with sangria, the hot tub with chardonnay (this was our favorite), and dinner with a Cabernet.

Our third and last full day was pure indulgence. It happened to be international yoga day…what better day to practice yoga on the beach. It was a truly memorable experience! The sounds of the ocean played the music and the sun warmed us awake as we did several sun salutations. It was nice to close our eyes and feel the sand underneath our mat, the salty air blow our hair back and listen to the sounds of summer.
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Ballet dancers at the beach believe…
 
  • Ballet dancers believe that there’s nothing like the feeling of becoming one with the music…especially when the music is the sound of the ocean.
  • Ballet dancers believe sometimes cookie dough is what’s it’s all about.
  • Ballet dancers believe that Pandora’s Madonna channel is the BEST channel.
  • Ballet dancers believe that wearing lots and lots of layers is ballet chic…even in the summer.
  • Ballet dancers believe that a little arnica can cure anything.
  • Ballet dancers believe that if you truly want to test your balance, sangria and dancer’s pose on the beach will do it.
  • Ballet dancers believe that you can never collect too many seashells.
  • Ballet dancers believe in cocktails that are shaken and stirred.
  • Ballet dancers believe that you can get to know someone better on a road trip than you can backstage half-naked in a dressing room.
  • Ballet dancers believe that practicing yoga and Pilates feels as natural as using salt and pepper in the kitchen.
  • Ballet dancers believe that birds of a feather flock together…because it can be hard to make close friends in your thirties and forties.
  • Ballet dancers believe that we learn by practicing, and we should never stop…no matter what age!!
Time well spent with friends at the beach is a great way to press the reset button. These friends have work, family and a seemingly endless to do list. It was relaxing, reaffirming and inspiring to take the time out…now easier to get back to the to do list. When was the last time you tested your balance at the beach with your friends?

*A big thank you to my friend Lisa for organizing such a fantastic weekend! xx

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Mother’s Day: Dancing with my girl

 

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My Mom was a dancer, I’m a dancer.  It seems completely natural that my daughter grows up with a love for dance too.

My parents put me in a creative dance class when I was three…all three of us started dancing very early in life. I remember several occasions when music would be on in the living room and I’d hop up on the coffee table in my swimsuit and put on a dance performance.

Like my Mom, I majored in dance. She graduated from Texas Woman’s University and had hopes of opening up a dance studio. I graduated from the University of Alabama with dreams to dance professionally. We are both students of the dance of life.

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My Mom and I have always had similar tastes in fashion, food and dance. We share a love for the dance company Hubbard Street. My daughter is content to watch the big girls at her dance studio and is gaining appreciation with each performance that we see. On rainy days, we like to watch The Red Shoes. It’s a joy for three generations to share a love for dance.

It was the best Mother’s Day gift to share the stage with my daughter in a recent dance performance. How perfect that the name of the dance piece was, Dream within a Dream. Being on stage with someone who you love so much, doing what you love to do…it’s unbelievably gratifying. My Mom, proudly watching in the audience, never missed a performance.

My little girl was so light in my arms, following with her soft steps, and nerves you could not see! Each performance before the curtain opened, my daughter would say, “Mommy, I’m nervous!” The curtain would open and she turned into a performer and we got lost in the dream together! After it was over, she cried because she didn’t want it to end.

My favorite part of the dance was when I caught her in my arms…climbing stairs made of dancers. Princess Diana said, A mother’s arms are more comforting than anyone else’s.” I feel great comfort and contentment when she’s in my arms…dancing or not. 

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Three generations of dancers wishing you a Happy Mother’s Day! We’re never too old or too young to dance. “You dance love, and you dance joy, and you dance dreams.” ~Gene Kelly

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*Photos by PJP

Paquita: LakeCities Ballet Theatre

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Saturday night, on our way to the MCL Grand Theatre my daughter urged me to, “hurry up Mom!” She was excited to participate in the pre-performance workshop that LakeCities Ballet Theatre was offering for children. It was a joy to watch her learn and dance the children’s mazurka from the ballet Paquita.  After a mini performance of the newly learned mazurka, my daughter and I enjoyed watching LakeCities Ballet Theatre perform their spring show, Music in Motion…a variety of works (the balcony pas de deux from Romeo and Juliet, Giselle variation and our favorite Paquita) staged by artistic director, Kelly Lannin.

If you are a fan of Romanticism and have an obsession for exotic cultures and faraway places, then Paquita is the ballet for you! The mazurka is a traditional folk dance that was performed during celebrations…popular with Hungarians and the Spanish. Music from Ludwig Minkus and choreography from Marius Petipa sets the stage to travel to nineteenth-century Spain.

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The wedding-party for the beautiful Paquita (Mackenna Pieper) and Lucien (Steven Loch) was a joyful celebration of a Spanish gypsy named Paquita, who saves the life of Lucien, a French aristocrat. When she discovers that she is herself of noble blood, they marry in a big celebration. The children`s mazurka opened the happy celebration of the couple.

Paquita’s friends demonstrated virtuosity in their solo dances. I especially enjoyed Olivia Lambert’s powerful dynamics and Carley Denton’s Spanish confidence that was thrillingly full of detail. Ali Honchell, Michelle Lawyer and Shannon Beacham captured the lightness and controlled noble presence in their pas de trois.

Paquita (Pieper) was expressive through every single fingertip (it was as if her fingers were passing through water) and epitomized the Spanish dance manner by using her head and her eyes to speak to the audience.  Loch (from Pacific Northwest Ballet) was spontaneous and impressive to watch. He responded to the music with a wild pleasure…I shiver to think how it would have looked if the music was live! Gasp!!

Pieper and Loch

The LBT company reflected the aristocratic elegance of nineteenth-century Spain. The classicism and Spanish-styled épaulement captured the aura of the romantic period. The dancers of LBT are elegant in presentation, and the level of technique is exceptionally skillful and professional. My daughter said it best at the end with her little arms over her head, she shouted a sweet Whoo-hoo!!

Photo credit: Nancy Loch Photography

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