I know The Nutcracker is over, but since it’s been snowing for the past few days, I’m putting up one more pic of me as Snow Queen. Yes, those are snowflakes on my warm up sweater. I lived in that thing for the entire rehearsal periods and performances each time I was SQ. Gotta get in the mood! And there are snowflakes in my crown and my earrings are big snowflakes too. (Shoes by Freed.)
…where I was the “Snow Queen” for the umpteenth time. Don’t get me wrong, it was my favorite part and a bit of type casting since I can be…well, icy.
That year my partner was Alexei Khimenko, orginally from Leningrad, but had been dancing for a while in Nashville, TN. Everyone loved Alexei. He was fun, charming and an intuitive and helpful partner. He was SBC’s own Baryshnikov!
He taught us a lot, even some Russian. Most wanted to learn how to count to ten, but I wanted to learn something I could use, so I politely asked him to teach me how to say “F*$# off!”. After laughing, he obliged. Before we went on stage each show for our pas, instead of wishing him “Merde”, I would tell him – lovingly – to “F*$# off”.
In the picture above, I not only certainly have a cramp in my hamstring and back, but I’m pretty sure I’m telling him (through clenched teeth) that my boob was falling out. Photo shoots are a bitch.
SBC gals post-Nutcracker sometime after electricity was invented.
Oh Nutcracker…and memories.
Pictured: the “Trinas”. One’s husband is in the background (Hi Chad!), one had recently given birth, one was kinda, sorta, not-so-secretly dating my boyfriend (or maybe that came later), and I just had knee surgery. But, we pulled off a great show. Although we did change the entire pas to be on my left leg and I wasn’t a very dainty Sugar Plum – just ask my poor partner (Sorry John).
RB as Snow Queen in "The Nutcracker" with Ben Houk.
That one time where I backhanded my partner in the face on stage. Oopsie daisy.
It was an almost perfect performance. Almost. It was the very end of the pas after we “make it snow” calling the snowflakes on to dance. All that was left was a a back attitude/penche promenade and a lame duck/step over turn into another promenade, then exit. I was stoked because the pas went so well thinking we’d just take it easy and do a few pretty floating turns to finish. My partner was thinking let’s do 15,000 pirouettes and finish with a bang!
I wasn’t ready for the major push off he gave me – add in the fact that I’m not a good turner with spotting issues – and I went all cattywhampus and smacked him in the face hard. We recovered enough to finish, but our slow romantic walk off turned into a grab-the-back-of-the-tutu shove/run exit. Boo.He was pissed.
The rest of Snow Scene went well with a stoic smile etched on my face, but the screw up left a mark on me…and his face.
Over Thanksgiving weekend I was lucky – and thankful – to have dinner (which consisted of lots of fried things!) with two of my BFFs from back home. While catching up, we brought up one particular Nutcracker that was memorable for all the wrong reasons.
While breaking in a new brand of pointe shoes, my friend developed blisters on the back of her heels. Tech week is hard core, so those blisters soon ripped and she found herself with large, deep holes that were bleeding and raw. Obviously there was no time to heal, so she powered through – I’m not sure how – by having Lidocaine shot directly into the wounds before the perfomance. It was painful to watch. I can’t imagine how it felt. However, she danced a beautiful pas and Sugar Plum variation complete with a dazzling array of turns and a big goofy smile. She insists she has no recollection of even dancing. Good drugs, I guess, but that was her final Nutcracker. Hmm…I wonder why?
Instead of a Throwback Thursday this week, I’m writing a little update on what I’ve been doing. Hint: a lot! After my birthday vaca to NYC to see and all-Balanchine program at New York City Ballet (review still to come!), I immediately started my new gig as editor at SeeChicagoDance.com. The next week I accepted a new job as Marketing Associate at The Joffrey Ballet – seriously, it kind of just fell in my lap and I couldn’t say no. Everything can change in a minute. For me, it really did.
After six years at Modern Luxury, I’m now officially at Joffrey, learning the ropes, and looking forward to The Nutcracker season. I hear it’s busy! And after nearly two years writing the dance column for Windy City Times, I will be leaving. November will be my last column, but it is going to the very capable hands of Miss Lauren Warnecke of Art Intercepts.
What does this mean for RB? Well, I’m still hoping to post dancer interviews/profiles, Where Are They Now segments and the occasional preview, time willing. Reviews will be minimal. I will still have a sassy presence on social media. As always, it will be a work in progress.
A quick Throwback Thursday this week as I’m busy getting my entire life in order before I start my new big girl gig at Joffrey on Monday. (Yay.)
Every year my dear friends have a pumpkin carving party that is a BLAST! You know I love anything pumpkin, but getting together with a room full of them to carve with your friends (while you drink) is awesome.
Anyway…I convinced my friend Chris Bell, who also happens to be the illustrator on the children’s book I wrote, to carve the RB logo in a pumpkin!!! This makes me happy.
Today’s Throwback Thursday is of a Circuit Mom number I’ve performed numerous times. On a makeshift riser stage in San Fran, in the back garden at The Pepper Lounge and at Chicago’s Metro. We even poached sections of choreography to put in other big event numbers.
This number, again by the ever-creative Todd Michael Kiech, involved bras, white material and a parachute set to Lara Fabian’s I Will Love Again (obvi a kick-ass remix). The crowd at Metro was electric and super close. This was one of the most exciting small venue shows I’ve done.
This week’s throwback is from Hell Ball, a “circuit” fundraiser that used to happen annually in San Francisco. Circuit Mom Productions (CMP), with the wonderful choreographic vision of Todd Michael Kiech, performed – in the early aughts – an epic Egyptian-themed number to a remix of Dive in the Pool (aka “Let’s Get Soaking Wet”) and Madonna’s Music.
The event was in what looked like an old airport hanger, so it was massive! The stage seemed the size of a football field. We had to take “big girl” steps to make it to our marks. This was one of the most fun performances I can remember. I always get nervous before a show, but this one was mixed with so much excitement and energy from the thousands in the crowd that I was literally shaking before we went on stage.
Post-show, I got to party with some of my best friends and we extended our tour, so we could stay for a long weekend and sightsee. Great memories and photo ops…and yes, there were band hats!
RB as Lilac Fairy and the Fairy Court in "Sleeping Beauty".
This Throwback Thursday is in honor of the opening night – tomorrow night – of Ballet West‘s Sleeping Beauty at the Auditorium Theatre. My first full-length ballet with the Springfield Ballet Company, way back in the day, was Sleeping Beauty. I was a “maid-in-waiting” and a “lilac sylph”. It was some hard corps dancing for my first thing aside from Nutcracker and a lot of it. The hardest part was standing in “B+” for the entire Rose Adage. Good lord. Feet asleep, hips cramped…now dance!
About ten years laster, I was cast as the “Lilac Fairy” and I was ecstatic. I may have gone a little overboard (only wearing purple leos, lilac lotion and acting nice and fairy-like), but I wanted to be “in character”. During the rehearsal process, I was also falling in love with the boy I was dating. Things were good.
Tech week is always stressful transitioning from the comfortable studio setting to the “big girl” stage. Things change and you freak out. The first full dress rehearsal my crown got stuck in netting of the forest. A lovely apprentice finally freed me after I’d severely missed my cue and yelled (I’m sure with profanity) for help. Then my wand got stuck on my tutu in a series of chaine turns. But as they say, a terrible dress means a great show.
Our officiall dress rehearsal is also taped and performed with a live audience of friends and disabled persons from local area, so I consider this a “real” performance. It was also the last time to get out any kinks before “the boyfriend” was to see me dance for the first time. Ahhh! I’d had a terrible cold that I inadvertently gave to “Princess Aurora” (sorry Alicia!), so I hadn’t seen “him” all week. After warm up and photos, I decided to call and let “him” know where to pick up his tickets for the Saturday matinee and…he broke up with me..over the phone…while I was backstage…20 minutes before curtain.
This isn’t quite as dramatic as Ballet West’s Allison DeBona’s longtime boyfriend not showing up to see her dance as depicted in Breaking Pointe this season, but I was heartbroken. Since the “show must go on”, I hooked up my tutu and danced. There’s a lovely video of me nailing all my pirouettes and not smiling once. Blergh.