Clara’s Tea: Nutcracker Dreams

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The Nutcracker is a holiday tradition that truly puts you in the spirit of Christmas. Each holiday season, if we’re very lucky, we get a glimpse of what makes the moments of the season sparkle.

For weeks my daughter was saying, “Mommy, I can’t wait for Clara’s Tea!” She would have liked to have driven herself there in twice the speed.

Most little girls would like it if they were just a little bit older. I imagine my daughter thinking, “How great would it be to live Clara’s dream, wear pretty dresses, dance in the snow, meet the Sugar Plum Fairy but then come home to Mom and Dad after the dream is over?” Clara has a very special Christmas magic and little girls like my daughter, eat it up…

Clara is infectious and very relatable to most young girls. My little girl aspires to be Clara but she’s not too far off in being similar in character at just age eight. Both, my daughter and Clara, are sweet and optimistic. They both have little brothers that are sometimes annoying. They also both love to play with dolls and believe in a sweet kind of magic you can taste.

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Really understanding the story helps make the Nutcracker ballet become even more magical. It’s a wonderful way to introduce children to the ballet before seeing it. For many, it becomes a holiday family tradition and it all starts with Clara and her dreamy journey into the Land of Sweets.

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My daughter’s dance studio recently hosted Clara’s Tea and the party guests were made to feel like they are part of the story…dressed for a Christmas celebration that felt like a fairy tale. Children would join Clara and her friends…including the wind-up ballerina.

The artistic director of Ballet Conservatory, Kelly Lannin, read the Nutcracker while guests sipped hot chocolate and ate Christmas muffins and quiche. Before the tea party was over, the children walked the red runway in a holiday fashion show followed Clara and her friends.

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My little girl doesn’t have to awaken from her Nutcracker dream. She will continue to live it…this year as a mouse.

Happy Nutcracker Season!! xx

Related posts:

LakeCities Ballet Theatre Presents its 30th Anniversary Nutcracker

Jenifer Ringer: Mom, Sugar Plum Fairy, Role-Model

 

LakeCities Ballet Theatre presents, Le Ballet de Dracula: A Ballet with a Bite

Bram Stoker’s 1897 Gothic novel, Dracula has inspired LakeCities Ballet in their ninth production of Le Ballet de Dracula.

Dracula is gruesome, scary, bloody…just in time for Halloween!

My daughter and I enjoyed Le Ballet de Dracula so much last year that we couldn’t wait to see it again. This year, we opted for the pre-performance workshop where little dancers have their makeup done and learn a part of the second act and perform on the stage with Dracula’s brides.

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After the pre-show, we are in the mood for Dracula.

The ballet opens with frightening bat-like dancers, Weolas (my favorite characters in the ballet). They have that Cirque de Soleil feel…twisting and writhing with an gnarly kind of beauty.

Day breaks and this small Transylvanian village prepares for an engagement celebration of Aurelia (Ali Honchell) and Marius ( Blaine Quine). The costumes and set truly transported the audience to romantic Romania’s charming countryside. Honchell and Quine danced with expressive arms that portrayed the sweetness of young love.

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The Maypole dancers delighted the audience with their joyful upper-body movement and precise footwork. The villagers, gypsies and Romanian dancers performed with a lightness, weaving ribbons in and out together all for the joy of romantic love.

An uninvited guest darkens the celebration as Count Dracula (Shannon Beacham) puts a spell on Aurelia…to be his newest bride. Beacham brought a supernatural sense of strength and once Honchel was under his spell, she was totally vulnerable and under his power…especially en pointe in her breathtaking bourrees.

The second act, we are introduced to Dracula’s harem of un-dead brides (all seventeen of them). Dracula’s brides are irresistibly drawn to his power.

The horror and romance of Dracula is still fresh and alive after hundreds of years. The sets and choreography by Kelly Lannin, celebrate a sophisticated version of Dracula. The feeling of fright and fear that might be expected from the presence of Dracula was more of a feeling of excitement. Especially at the end when the audience wonders…will there be a part deux?

My friend and fellow dancer, Pamela, loved seeing the sparkle of fun in the eyes of these young dancers…I think that’s what the audience enjoyed the most.

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

Related Posts:

Some not so tricky treats from FoodNetwork

Le Ballet de Dracula 2013

LakeCities Ballet Theatre Presents its 30th Anniversary Nutcracker

Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga

 

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I asked my friend Pamela if she’d like to try a SUP class (stand up paddleboard yoga) with me. We like the same kind of movement…ballet, Pilates and yoga so I knew she’d say, “Yes, Let’s do it!”

I found out about the class from one of my favorite yoga teachers.  When Pamela and I arrived, we were greeted by Sloane telling us to pick out a board and enjoy the calming effects of the water…Sloane would say, “Listen to the sounds of summer.”

I love outside yoga practice…the feel of the sun warming your body, the smell of sunscreen but the relaxation of the water added a new element that was challenging AND energizing. We all need more vitamin D!

A paddleboard is about the same size as a yoga mat. When you place your belly on the hole in the center then you stay centered.

I imagine that if I practiced paddleboard yoga all the time, I really would stay centered…I would also get one of these pretty boards.

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The balancing poses were the most difficult. You HAVE to use your core to stabilize. Paddleboard yoga calls for more focus and I also felt more motivated simply because, I didn’t want to fall!

It was easy to see if your balance was off because the board lets you know if you have more weight on one side.

Sloane’s eight-year-old daughter was the bravest of the class. She would go for it, fall, and get right back up with a smile. She’s a little girl who is growing up VERY balanced!

The best part of practicing paddleboard yoga is that feels a bit like walking on water. Once you’ve tried a SUP paddleboard yoga class, you’re going to want to repeat the same feeling…it’s magical!

When Pamela and I left our boards, we said the same thing that we did going in…“Yes, Let’s do it…AGAIN!!”

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Misty Copeland: Bringing diversity to classical ballet like a Firebird

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Before Misty Copeland, there hadn’t been a black soloist at the American Ballet Theater for twenty years. She is only the third in the history of ABT to achieve soloist status. Misty is the first black woman in history to play Stravinsky’s Firebird for a major ballet company.

In her new book, Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina, she shares her struggles from being one of six children raised by her single mother and living in a shabby motel in San Pedro, California to dancing at the Metropolitan Opera House. It is her impoverished and diverse background that makes her an “unlikely ballerina.”

Here are five things you might not know about Misty Copeland:

1. She is the new face for Under Armour with a goal of shattering body image types. Misty shows both her inner and outer strength in Under Armour’s new ad. Watching the ad, you can certainly see similarities with athletes and artists. “I will what I want” makes a strong and encouraging statement. She also partnered with Sean James Student Athletes Foundation “Athlete Meets Artist.” It’s easy to see that ballerinas ARE athletes and artists.

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2. Misty is an ambassador for the Boys and Girls Club (where she began) hoping to bring ballet to more people…specifically the “little brown girls.” She has a passion for educating children. She also helped to establish Project Plie through American Ballet Theater. This program introduces children to ballet and identifies them for future training through scholarships.

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3. Misty began taking ballet classes at the Boys and Girls Club when she was thirteen. This is a VERY late age to start training. She had natural abilities and was called a ballet prodigy. She says this about starting ballet late, “There are ballet dancers who burn out by their teens, but I was ready to go, and still hungry. My body wasn’t worn down, and I didn’t have that craving for approval that gets ingrained when you start at age three or four. I was just dancing to dance, because I loved it.”  

 

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4. Prince asked Misty to be in his video, Crimson and Clover, and also to perform with him in France and a few dates of his “Welcome 2 America” tour dancing at Madison Square Garden. Prince gave Misty a lot of freedom for creativity telling her, “Be you, feel the music, just move...” Dancing with musicians like Prince and TLC, has given classical ballet more exposure…reaching people who might not go to a classical ballet performance but bringing it to them in other genres and keeping ballet alive outside the classical world.

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5. In addition to her book, Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerinashe has also written a children’s book suitably called, Firebird that will be out September 4th. I can’t wait to read it to my daughter. I have a feeling it may be similar to another story I have read to my second grade class for years, Amazing Grace. In the book, Grace’s Nana reminds her granddaughter that she can do anything she imagines and helps her to realize that when she takes Grace to see a famous black ballerina perform.

Picture a ballerina in a tutu and pointe shoes. What do you think she looks like? 

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Five things you might not know about Amelia Earhart 

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Five things you might not know about dance

 

 

Dance it Out

Dance It Out!

How much do I love Steller…? Oh, so much. It’s my favorite new
way to tell stories. Do you Steller? The app allows you to create interactive small
stories made up photos, videos, text and music that can be shared with friends.
I like that stories can be grouped into certain collections like dance, food or
art…people can create their own unique collections. Here’s my first Steller
story on DANCE inspired by a recent performance. Dance It Out!

Top ten ways to dance into spring in North Texas

It’s raining it’s pouring…so go to the theatre while the green grass is growing. There are so many spring concerts and so little time. Spring time is one of the best times for dance concerts. Here’s a round-up of the top ten dance shows for North Texas that you won’t want to miss this season. Dance in the spring.

BROOKHAVEN DANCERS’ THEATRE

Dancers’ Theatre Concerts, April 11-12, 8:00 pm and April 13, 2:30 pm Choreographic works by Brookhaven faculty and guest artists. This is a free event. Brookhaven College Performance Hall 3939 Valley View Ln. Farmers Branch, TX 75244 (972) 860-4118 More information and tickets

DANCE PLANET 18

Dance Planet 18 Saturday, April 12-Sunday, April 13, 2014 Everyone will be slipping on their jazz shoes for Dance Planet 18 featuring Broadway dancer, North Texas native and BTWHSPVA alum—Dylis Croman. The Dance Council of North Texas proudly brings this vivacious New York professional back home as the headliner of this free, community-wide, weekend dance festival. Come out and take free Musical Theater and Fosse Jazz dance classes with Dylis, who among her numerous accomplishments, was featured in the famed trumpet solo in Sing, Sing, Sing for the Tony Award-winning revue Fosse. Dance Planet 18 features 30 free classes from Samba to Swing, from African to Middle Eastern, with Circus Silks and more. Also on the roster are two thrilling afternoon Performance Showcases with dance styles from around the world. April 12, 2014 dance master classes and Pilates workouts begin at 9:30 am with dance performance showcases running from 1:00-5:00 pm; April 13 dance master classes, Pilates workouts, and dance performance showcases run from 1:00-5:00 pm in the Montgomery Arts Theater at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing & Visual Arts, 2501 Flora St., Dallas, TX 75201. Free. 214- 219-2290 214- 219-2290. More information

AVANT CHAMBER BALLET

Alice in Wonderland April
12th at 8:00 pm and April 13th at 3:00 pm
 This family-friendly production will feature a commissioned score by
composer-in-residence Chase Dobson for nine musicians performed live for all
shows and original choreography by artistic director Katie Puder for a cast of
forty-six dancers. You will also see fifty-four new costumes designed in
collaboration by three costume makers and Ms Puder. For the scene design ACB
had commissioned local artist Chris Campbell to create the world of Wonderland. More information and tickets

CONTEMPORARY BALLET DALLAS

Of Vice & Virtue – with a tribute to Hans Christian Andersen April 18, 2014 7:30 pm Stories play an important role in the building the values of children and we often reflect upon the lessons learned throughout our adult lives.  Specifically, stories of virtue and vice shape character, and this concert’s works rely on love, compassion, responsibility & grace to relay our tales. Paying homage to the legacy of Hans Christian Andersen Friday, The Latino Cultural Center 2600 Live Oak Street

Dallas, TX 75204 (214) 821-2066 More information and tickets

LAKECITIES BALLET THEATRE

Friday, April 25-Saturday, April 26, 2014 7:30 pm LakeCities Ballet Theatre 30th Anniversary Gala! Past meets present as LBT presents favorite works presented during the last 30 years with choreography by Artistic Director, Kelly Lannin, Shanon Tate and Fabiana Fadlala-Poulis in addition to exciting new works by new faculty members, Deborah Weaver and Shannon Beacham. Featured on the program is Carmina Burana, choreographed by Lannin. Photo by Scott Young Photography. Medical Center of Lewisville Grand Theater, 100 North Charles St., Lewisville, TX 75057. $15. 972-317-7987 972-317-7987 More information 

COMMAND PERFORMANCE

TITAS presents Command Performance Gala 7:00 PM  Friday, May 2, 2014 Winspear
Opera House
 Ten of the world’s most renowned stars performing the best of
dance today—from classic pas de deux to awe-inspiring
contemporary works. 2403 Flora Street, Dallas, TX 75201 (214) 880-0202  More information and tickets

MARK MORRIS DANCE GROUP

TITAS presents Mark Morris Dance Group 8:00 PM Saturday, May 10, 2014 at the Winspear Opera House Mark Morris holds a special place in my heart for his commitment to use live music in every performance and his work with children and seniors…all ages and abilities. Morris continues to change the way audiences see modern dance. 2403 Flora Street, Dallas, TX 75201 (214) 880-0202 More information and tickets

DALLAS BLACK DANCE THEATRE

Dallas Black Dance Theatre Spring Celebration Gala May 16th and 17th 7:30 pm at the Winspear Opera House The Dance Community joins in the celebration of Ann William’s legacy with two Gala evenings of spectacular performances and receptions at the 2000 seat Winspear Opera House. The event will feature new Company ballets with choreography from Lily Weiss and Christoper Vo. Other performances scheduled for the evening include Texas Ballet Theater, Bruce Wood Project and Troy Powell of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. More information and tickets

TEXAS BALLET THEATRE 

Texas Ballet
Theater
 performs Swan Lake accompanied
by the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. Bass Performance Hall 
May 30 – June 1, 2014 525 Commerce St. Fort Worth, TX 76102 The romantic Swan Lake celebrates Tchaikovsky’s work at its best. More information and tickets

BALLET CONCERTO

Ballet Concerto’s SUMMER DANCE CONCERT June 26-29 8:30 The SUMMER DANCE CONCERT continues Ballet Concerto’s tradition of reaching an ever increasing and diverse audience. The concerts are presented to audiences of all ages and backgrounds and are held in a barrier-free environment. People may take advantage of the concession stands available during the performances, as well as bring picnics to enjoy with family and friends. The SUMMER DANCE CONCERT epitomizes Ballet Concerto’s purpose to bring ballet and other forms of dance to all types of audiences, and to promote dance awareness in Fort Worth and the North Texas area. More information and tickets

Other posts you might enjoy:
DANCE PLANET
ENJOY A STARRY NIGHT WITH AN OUTDOOR SUMMER CONCERT

P.S. I hope you come see me perform in the Brookhaven show. xx

Aim True with Kathyrn Budig


(Photo by Jasper Johal)

My husband asked me the day before my workshop with Kathryn Budig, Are you excited?” “Yes, super excited!” Everyone has a secret pleasure. Mine involves running off to my favorite yoga studio to recharge my batteries and find my happy place.

Kathryn Budig is well known yoga teacher and writer. She has a playful approach that makes the whole room smile. The yoga expert for Women’s Health Magazine, she’s also a philanthropist and a foodie. She co-founded Poses for Paws, an organization that raises money for animal shelters. She’s also partnered with ToeSox, who donates 10% of proceeds to her Poses for Paws organization. It’s fun for me to know that she works with one of my favorite chefs, Giada de Laurentiis.


(Kathryn Budig and Giada de Laurentiis. Photo by Ture Lillegraven)

I’m a big fan of Women’s Health Magazine. I recently bought Kathryn Budig’s The Women’s Health Big Book of Yoga. I love how I can customize my practice to whatever I need for the day. I also have the Big Book of Pilates…I’m a Pilates instructor! Both books are loaded with pictures. If you follow Kathryn’s writing, you’ll read that she loves Pilates too! She’s also enjoys rock climbing, hiking and sky diving. Yep, she’s amazing!

Kathryn studied musical theatre and English in college at the University of Virginia. She moved to LA to become an actress and teach yoga on the side. She realized that she didn’t care for Hollywood but had a talent for teaching yoga. I found it interesting that someone with a musical theatre background didn’t play music in her classes. I actually really like that she didn’t. My most memorable yoga and Pilates classes are those where you can just hear the music of the breath. I think without a playlist going, you’re able to go a little deeper within yourself and hearing others breath around you is like a sea of motivation. Kathryn’s cues match her playful style. She helped me find my “Jackie Chan muscles.” She says to get into your Jackie Chan kung-fu stance…”elbows bent, biceps tight to the body, and forearms out will help you feel strong and safe.” The second favorite thing that I took away from Kathryn’s workshop (Jackie Chan being the first) was her standing splits series. I love, love this pose…I”m a ballet dancer and splits just feel good (especially against the wall).


(Instagram photo kathrynbudig)

1.  “Ever wake up on the wrong side of the bed and allow a bad mood to spoil your day? If you’re nodding yes as you read this, you’re probably not doing enough yoga. Or maybe you’re not having enough sex…”

2. ” The only way to experience happiness is by taking chances and following what makes my heart beat.”

3. “I believe food is meant to be enjoyed, so if you find yourself out to dinner at a fantastic restaurant—enjoy it! You can go back to kale and quinoa tomorrow, but life is meant to be tasted and enjoyed.”

4. “A big part of what I teach is the ability to move through and past fear. Fear is a huge issue in our society that keeps people locked in habits and inhibits the ability for growth.”

5. I have the best job in the world. I’ve been blessed with traveling the world in order to teach people yoga. I realize yoga still carries stereotypes such as granola-loving, uber flexible chant-till-you-drop fanatics, but I’m here to prove those people wrong. Yoga will change your life.”

Thank you Kathryn Budig! You are an inspiration! xx

Hubbard Street Dance Company Comes to Dallas

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When I was twenty years-old, I auditioned for Hubbard Street Dance Company . I was majoring in dance at the University of Alabama and three other of my Alabama dance major friends traveled to Dallas together to audition for Hubbard Street at the Booker T. Washington High School. I remember being so nervous; stretching and warming up feeling optimistic that I would get my big break! Once the audition began they split the hundred or more dancers into groups of three to do a basic ballet step: tombe pas de bourree glissade assemble. They then picked a select few to stay from that and told the rest of us, thank you very much. That was it!
My mom and I had seen Hubbard Street at Texas Woman’s University in ’94. I will never forget the dancer moving slowly like liquid gold to Willie Nelson’s Georgia on my Mind. I was hooked; this was and always will be my favorite dance company. I saw them again in Dallas after the audition and then more recently on Friday night at the Winspear Opera House.
It would have been a dream come true to have danced for Hubbard Street. They are free-flowing, contemporary, jazzy, strong, athletic, modern, balletic, and full of life. My classically modern body was made to dance for them. Oh Hubbard Street, if only you would take on a thirty-four year old mother of two into your wonderful company! I’m not twenty anymore but I’m still hungry with a passion to dance. What’s unfair about aging to a dancer is that with additional life experience dancers are more capable of demonstrating feeling and emotion than younger dancers who haven’t either seen with or into as many tearful or disappointment laden eyes.
My friend Margot and I sat in the Winspear Opera House on Friday to watch three unique pieces by three different choreographers. Each piece was like a new language (that’s what dance is, the simplest form of language). The first piece, Tabula Rasa (meaning blank slate) had a sense of calm. The second piece, Physikal Linguistiks, fused hip-hop with ballet. The last piece, Untouched, had a Spanish feel and was moving (literally).

There were movements like the ocean when the dancers seemed like calming waves; it was like a built in intermission for the soul. There were also strong poses, matrix moves, and playful manipulation. Hubbard Street won’t let you check out mentally! They make you gasp, laugh, breathe…I love the unexpected! Dancers came out into the audience and for a moment you couldn’t tell if they meant to. One dancer pretended to be an usher and the spotlight kept following her. I also love the added element of sound from the body: a slap of the hand, breath, even talking to the audience all make dance human and relatable.Something I love that Hubbard Street does is their work with children in public schools. Creative movement is a necessity I think! It teaches children that they can have their own unique way of moving through life. I feel that teaching Pilates to kids does this too. With both dance and Pilates children can build confidence in their body and learn control and coordination while waking up the mind. There are so many children who are kinesthetic learners; when Hubbard Street Dance Company introduces creative movement to children, they open up a huge window for creative learning and the expansion of individual pride.

In a few weeks, thanks to the Greater Denton Arts Council, our school (as well as several in the surrounding area) will be invited to see the Denton Ballet Academy’s performance of the Nutcracker. In preparation for the field trip and to enhance student appreciation for a story we read about dance, I decided to dance for second grade in my pointe shoes and tutu. I wanted them to see close up and appreciate that ballerinas are athletes. It was also important to me to make ballet cool, especially for the boys!

Anything in the arts has a stereotype. It makes me sad that children get tuned into that so early. A child’s view of the arts is so pure; they see more than we do because they haven’t been tainted with negative opinions. What I love about all of the arts is that everyone will see something different. Children’s pure eyes pull out more than we do. My friend mentioned, I tried to “get it” but I’m not sure I did. As long as it makes you think long after you see it, it’s a great work! Sometimes seeing a piece that is foreign to the eyes takes some getting used to.

My parents gave me the gift of culture exposure early on. They sent me to Europe after high school and then in college to Harvard Summer Dance Program. My friend Ginger and I were thrilled to have Harvard credit on our transcripts! This exposure made me who I am today; it opened my eyes to a life outside my home that was rich with the arts.

The rich aura provided by appreciation of the arts can be icing on the cake of life. Life is simply better with it. It can’t be complete without it. Martha Graham’s words are to me a special resonation of the way I feel about the relationship between the art form of dance and life.

I am a dancer. I believe that we learn by practice. Whether it means to learn to dance by practicing dancing or to learn to live by practicing living…. In each it is the performance of a dedicated precise set of acts, physical or intellectual, from which comes shape of achievement, a sense of one’s being, a satisfaction of spirit. One becomes in some area an athlete of God. ~Martha Graham

For you and your little dancers I highly recommend the following movies and sites:

Cupcakes and Conversation shares interviews with dancers around the world.
Ballerina Project beautiful photographs of ballerinas set in New York City.
Angelina Ballerina my daughter loves the books, show, and this site!
The Red Shoes movie is a ballet classic; I cannot tell you how many times I have watched it (this would make an excellent stocking stuffer)!

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