For Ballroom and DWTS Fans: Cast Your Vote in the Swarovski / Dance USA 2011 Championship

For all you ballroom and DWTS fans who read this blog, Swarovski Elements (you know, the crystal designers whose stones everyone uses for their dresses) recently teamed with Dance USA to host a little costume competition. At the April 2011 Dance USA Championship, held in Baltimore, several top couples in various divisions – including my personal Latin fave, Valentin Chmerkovskiy and Daria Chesnokova (in video above) – was dressed in a costume designed by one of four leading costume designers (working with Swarovski gems of course). They want your input on which costume (and / or couple) you like best. You can watch videos of all the couples and vote online at Swarovski’s Facebook page.

Here’s a ballroom couple – Daniel Shapiro and Katya Kolvalyova.

The videos made me homesick for a ballroom competition. Blackpool time is just about here and unfortunately I can’t go again this year; I’ll be at Book Expo America instead. But I do hope to go to the Manhattan DanceSport Championships at the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott at the beginning of July.

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Missing the Sonoran Desert

Here are some pictures I took of my trip to Phoenix (and surrounding areas).

My cousin recently bought a house in an area north of Phoenix that’s not very developed. At least not right now. Phoenix is one of the most rapidly expanding cities in the US. I stayed mainly with her and I loved it. Made me want to build a ranch house out in the middle of the desert, perhaps in a town like Cave Creek. So immensely peaceful, quiet, warm. I’m finding NY to be so distracting lately. I don’t know how I wrote my first novel here but I’m finding it increasingly hard to concentrate. I can’t imagine ever leaving NYC completely, but I really need something different, at least for a couple months out of the year.

Above is Camelback Mountain, near Scottsdale, my favorite suburb of Phoenix. The mountain is so named because it kind of resembles a camel.

I haven’t been back to Phoenix (where I grew up) in ten years. And I haven’t lived there in almost 20. I had a bit of culture shock. I wasn’t used to the wide open spaces. This is the weekend, in the middle of the afternoon. Not so many cars.

And inside Scottsdale Fashion Square mall. This is on a Thursday afternoon. Practically had the place to ourselves.

Such a shock to see free seats! Never, never in New York. This was taken at Metrocenter, another mall, in central Phoenix, where I took ice skating lessons as a child. I’m really not a mall person; I just like to see my old familiar places when I go back.

Back at Scottsdale Fashion Square, a flyer I found at the movie theater there – the Harkins Camelview – one of the only arthouse cinemas in the Phoenix area. So psyched to see that they’re housing the Emerging Pictures Ballet in Cinema and Opera in Cinema series! Apparently, they’ve already shown the Bolshoi’s Coppelia.

In Scottsdale, I wanted to visit the Borgata as well, but we didn’t have time. Instead we found this newish little mall of boutique shops and restaurants across from Scottsdale Fashion Square. The pack of shops was called The Scottsdale Waterfront and bordered some kind of body of water – a canal I imagine.

Restaurants looked packed but stores here, as everywhere, seemed pretty empty. I guess it’s the same pretty much everywhere with the economy and people shopping online and all. Will there be any storefront stores in the future?

Of course one of my favorite things about Arizona is the Mexican food. It’s everywhere, regardless of whether a restaurant specializes in Mexican food or not. This is just at a run of the mill breakfast place – The Village Inn I think it was called – where I had potato pancakes and eggs with avocado, green chile hollandaise sauce, and spicy pork carnitas.

My cousin found some margarita-flavored wine from a local winery, Kokopelli. A little too sweet for me, but interesting.

On my way back, I was browsing in a magazine shop in the airport and found that Phoenix Magazine‘s May issue is devoted to the city’s best Mexican food. I’ve made my dad promise to take me to all of them when I return. Which must be in far fewer than ten years.

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Natalie Portman’s Black Swan Acceptance Speech at the Oscars

So what did you guys think of it? I tried to find a YouTube video but couldn’t find a free one. Interesting that companies are going to start charging for subscriptions for that kind of thing… Anyway, I love that she thanked and named all the professional dancers who trained her this time, and that she expressed how wonderful and enlightening it was to work with them all. She honestly elevated the film with her speech in my opinion.

And how sweet was it for her to try to bring Millepied up with her onstage! I watched E!’s red carpet show – mainly to see her – but she arrived last and seemingly without Millepied (since she was interviewed alone). I was like, where is he?! But he was there, of course.

Speaking of the red carpet show, I loved Mila Kunis’s dress.

And Scarlett Johansson’s, though it didn’t seem to go over too well with Kelly Osbourne and the other woman who was hosting the show:

And Helena Bonham Carter noted that her dress was by Colleen Atwood, who is the costume designer who ended up winning best costume design for Alice in Wonderland. She said she preferred to celebrate the movies rather than fashion on this night:

I thought all of the best actor and best supporting actor speeches were good. Loved Colin Firth’s, loved him in King’s Speech, but still love Jesse Eisenberg as well. Love that in her excitement, Melissa Leo used profanity. How’d they bleep that out so quickly? And did Kirk Douglas actually grab her butt? Someone on Twitter said they thought they saw that. He was kind of acting in an antiquated sexist kind of way, with all his flirting with Hathaway and all, so I totally believe he may have. He would have made me so nervous if I were Leo. Poor Leo, I thought. This is her moment, not his. Interesting (and proper) move, to include Douglas as a presenter, because Anne Hathaway and James Franco seemed to keep sending the message that they were invited to host because they represented the young, hip generation. Is that true? She seemed like a big, clumsy, awkward goof – probably the nerves, and he seemed to have taken a bit too much Valium (or something else) to calm his. Does Hollywood feel the need to pander to the young ‘uns too? Like ballet and the opera? How odd – movies are generally for the younger generations, I’d thought… Anyway, they bored me, those hosts. And Kirk Douglas scared me. Isn’t there, like, someone in between, who’s not too unsophisticated to take on that kind of role but who can also keep from violating current-day boundaries?

Anyway, overall a decent night. The end of the evening speeches made up for the poor hosting. Kind of.

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Sample Sunday: Wedding Belle

For this week’s #SampleSunday, here’s an excerpt from Swallow‘s chapter eight, titled “Father Christian.” For a synopsis of the whole book, go here.

I made it to the boutique only ten minutes late. Speed walking toward the glass-doored entrance, I saw Francie inside looking out, peering up and down the street, pacing back and forth, perfectly steady on her six-inch, stiletto-heeled, candy red pumps, her flawlessly coiffed strawberry mane bouncing girlishly with each pirouette. Oh, I pray I’m Francie at fifty, I thought.  New York women never get old, I swear. When our eyes met, she tapped her French-manicured fingernail on the face of her watch, then shook her finger at me in mock reprobation.

“Sorry sorry,” I mouthed, pushing open the door.

“It’s all right, it’s not like there’s anyone else here.” She stood in fifth ballet position and extended her left arm gracefully toward the middle of the store, her frown at odds with her delicate pose. “What is it about getting married here? No one in this city seems to do it.”

“That’s because New York women are all so independent and sophisticated, like a certain fashion maven I know,” I gushed.

“Yeah yeah yeah. Perpetual singlehood has been a real friggin’ joy.” She fluttered her hand about dismissively. “Come on, let’s find you the Audrey dress of your dreams, skinny girl,” she said, pinching my arm. “Geez Soph, you really are losing weight. Look at these little twigs.”

“I’ve lost twenty pounds,” I said. I knew it was getting to be a lot; another ten pounds and I’d weigh 100. But truth be told, I felt like I was really beginning to fit in in New York. It looked rather elegant, if not downright trendy, to be thin here. Still, I knew I couldn’t lose a whole lot more. It had to stop at some point.

“Shit, Soph. What’s your secret? How come you’re keepin’ it from the old lady?”

“Hey, I did tell you; you just weren’t listening.”

“Huh?”

“The throat ball. The ‘ball’ — remember?”

She had the loopiest smile I think I’d ever seen.

“Okay, after we’re done here, we’ll go out to eat,” I said. “Then you just imagine a big ole ball in your throat and you choking to death whenever you try to swallow. Beats the hell out of a diet any day.” I couldn’t believe what I just heard myself say.

“Shit, Soph, you’re starting to sound, you know, a little fucked up,” she said, echoing my thought.

“Hello, ladies.” Marlena, with whom I had my appointment, appeared as if out of thin air.  She was sixtyish, immaculately groomed, with snowy whitish-blonde hair, and a full face of makeup that — unlike on me — made her look polished rather than fake. Already I felt like a street urchin with my shiny nose, flyaway hair, and now oversized, dowdy suit.

“You must be Ms. Hegel,” she smiled, cupping my hand between her palms. I always felt so uneasy in places like Saks and Bergdorf, like it was so obvious to all the salespeople that I didn’t belong anywhere near the place. Funny, I wasn’t feeling that so much with Marlena though.

“Um, yes.” I tried to return her smile, not anywhere near as elegantly.

“And you’ve brought your big sister with you. Excellent idea,” she said, extending a hand and smile to Francie.

“Basically,” Francie said, giving her a cursory New York handshake.

“Now you tell me what kind of dress it is you’re looking for, dear,” Marlena began, eyes now focused solidly on me. “Would you like to look at the catalog, or do you have something in mind?” Something about her was so familiar, like she was an old dear nanny or governess or something. Except of course I never had such a person in my life.

“Mmm…” I looked at the four huge tomes on the counter. They looked far too intimidating; we’d have been there all day if I started with them. “I think I’ll start with the actual gowns.”

“That’s perfectly fine,” she sang, with the sweetest of smiles. “Let me just tell you a little about my job here at Bettina’s Bridal. I’m not here to dictate what you should wear. You brides today are more sophisticated, more mature, far more educated than you were in my day,” she chimed in a fantastical voice that sounded like she’d been around for centuries. “You have your careers, you know who you are and what you want out of life, not to mention out of a dress,” she laughed. “You’re not to be bossed around by your mothers, your sisters…” she gave a nod and wink to Francie at this, “certainly not your future husband. This is obviously your most important day. This is the statement that you’re making to all your friends and family, to the world, of who you are.” She positively glowed.

Francie rolled her eyes. Argh, can you say, ‘jaded New Yorker,’ I thought.

When I looked back at Marlena she radiated a fairy godmother smile, and I felt a tear starting down my face. I was so embarrassed I could’ve just fallen to the floor and rolled myself up into a little fetal ball. What was with my total lack of control over my tear glands?

“Oh dear. Would you like a glass of water?” she asked, grabbing a tissue.

“No, no.” I felt like the consummate ass.

“It’s normal, you know, this is quite an emotional time.” She stood smiling down at me, her hands folded in front of her, her long eyelashes glistening, her cheeks glowing.

“Okay.” I took a deep breath, pulling it together. “I have an idea of what I want. Something basic, not really frilly, just simple, but you know, a fabric with a nice sheen.” I had no idea what the hell I was saying. ‘Nice sheen’ – what was that? Such the couture dyslexic was I.

“Sophisticated, elegant, you know, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn. Maybe matte satin or Duchess silk, possibly organza. I think she wants to go with a simple A-line silhouette, natural or dropped waist bodice, attached chapel train, very little if any embellishments.” Thank you, Francie, I thought. Whatever you just said.

“Let’s start here.” Marlena showed me a simple satin dress with beautiful beaded buttons trailing down the back. Only problem with that one was a monster bow right on the butt — made it look like her bottom was a big present to the groom.

“Kind of makes her look like a present,” I said to Francie.

“Well, you are a present, my darling,” she said.

“No, like an object, I mean. Like she has no personhood.”

“Ugh.” Francie rolled her eyes again. Francie didn’t have the most developed feminist consciousness, I kept forgetting. I mean she did, but she just wasn’t schooled in feminist theory, didn’t have the jargon down. Not that I wanted her to though; she was far, far more interesting the way she was!

“Then there’s this nice simple organza ball gown.” Marlena next showed me one with a lacy bodice, cinched at the waist by another bow that led to a poofy floor-length skirt. This one reminded me of the ballet dress I wore for a recital at Phoenix Symphony Hall right before Daddy left. And the cinching bow recalled a bit of the Barium Swallow ordeal. Uh-uh, I shook my head. Far too much baggage contained in one dress.

Then she led me to a plain, but soft and silky, form-fitting gown. But this one had underwire cups stitched on the outside of the fabric.

“Ooh la la, sexy,” Francie said.

“Yeah, for the slut bride,” I whispered to her.

Francie rolled her eyes again. “You have body issues,” she said to me under her breath, her voice trailing off at the end, indicating this was a continuing issue that she intended eventually to cure.

“I don’t have body issues, and I am not wearing a bra on the outside of my dress to my wedding,” I whispered back, smiling over at Marlena, who was looking a bit weary. I was being too picky. I decided I’d try on the next one — which happened to be very pretty, with pearl buttons tip-toeing down the back. It’s just that the buttons didn’t start practically till the waist-line; I had no idea how the thing stayed up and I knew I’d be worrying about it nonstop.

Before I knew it, we’d spent an hour and a half and I hadn’t tried on a single thing.

“Are you sure you don’t want to take a little peek at the catalog?” Marlena asked with a hint of hopelessness. Francie, ever the New Yorker, didn’t bother trying to hide her annoyance.

“Come on, come on, come on, Soph. We don’t have all day. Nothing is going to look right on the hanger. You gotta see it on to see how it hangs on your body.”

Okay, okay. I told Marlena I’d try the first two — the butt-present and the issue-laden ones. She looked ecstatic.

The dresses on display were all in size 10, so Marlena called her assistant, Ruiza, to accompany me into the dressing room. I felt weird undressing in front of her — especially when she motioned for me to remove my bra. She helped me into the butt one, then taped, tucked, tied, zipped and pinned me up. About twenty minutes later, I emerged.

“Wow, very very nice,” Marlena said, walking me toward the three-way mirror.

“Oooh, look at those gorgeous tiny arms,” Francie squealed, squeezing my shoulder.  “Hon, really, another ten or fifteen pounds and you could be a petite model.”

Oh geez. I laughed.  As I stood in front of the mirror, Francie walked around me gazing at the dress. Marlena patted at the skirt. It actually looked quite lovely. I was transformed. Imagine that, mousy me.

“You really do look beautiful, hon,” Francie said from behind, to my reflection in the mirror. Then Marlena turned me to my side, and I saw the blasted bow. It was pinker than it initially appeared, and strikingly different than the rest of the dress. I looked like a baboon in heat.

“I don’t know. I really don’t like the bow.”

“It can be altered,” Marlena and Francie said simultaneously. Yeah, but that would totally increase the price, I thought. But I didn’t dare say it, of course.

“I’ll try the other one.” I went back into the fitting room with Ruiza, underwent the process again with the cinch-waisted Giselle gown. Hmmm, could get used to someone dressing and primping me, I thought. Like Scarlet O’Hara. It was kind of nice, even if initially embarrassing.

After she finished, I headed to the three-way. Ooh, this one looked quite lovely. A little poofy and princessy, but also chic and sophisticated with a more grown-up elegance than had appeared from the hanger. The bow was sweet, much smaller than the other, the same color as the rest of the dress, and was a little off to the side, so not so obnoxious. It was beautiful; I could definitely do with this one. However, one ever so little necessity… had to figure out a way of finding out the price. Of course, there were no tags on anything. I hated it when stores did that.  But I guess I should’ve expected it with a place like this. I hated having to ask.

“That one’s a great deal,” Marlena said right then, as if reading my mind. “Quite a steal at only $5995.”

Yikes. I was hoping to pay a third of that, at most.

“That’s great,” Francie said, nodding at me. I thought I detected a wink as well. “Okay, Soph, off to a good start. We got one possibility. But before you get hooked, hon, let’s look at a couple more.” She turned back to Marlena. “The organza and lace might make it just a bit too frilly. What about something with a little less embellishment.”

“Sure,” Marlena smiled, a bit pityingly, I thought, as if she knew exactly what Francie was hinting at. She led us over to one of the first racks in the store — exactly where all of the silly, frilly, i.e., cheap, stuff was located.

I tried and tried. But nothing looked as good as the $5995. Just as I was about to leave to think over my too-expensive Giselle-before-Daddy-left dress, I remembered the catalog and, ever so stupidly, decided to take a peek.

And of course therein I saw it: the gown that simply stood so far above the rest it was pitiful. The satin-y fabric wrapped around the wearer’s body regally, like a protective sheath. And it had this really extraordinary lace framing device. There were two wide strands of intricately-patterned lace extending the length of the bodice. They originated at the waist, then rose up and above the top of the dress where they fanned out into two pleats flowering just over the top, highlighting the wearer’s chest, and framing her torso. At the waist, they met with several more lace lines that wound around from the back, and at the hip, all lace strands bunched up and overflowed into more pleats that formed sequins, which cascaded all the way down to the ballgown’s train.

The wearer of the gown was a true queen. And, bizarrely, here that wearer was the supermodel from the Vogue ad in the museum exhibit; the one Stephen had said looked like a “Holocaust victim.”

Only odd thing was the gown was rose-colored. I’d never thought of a wedding gown in any color other than white.

“Beautiful, isn’t it? That’s one of our Lacroixs,” Marlena said, over my shoulder.

“It’s gorgeous. But it’s red. It is a wedding dress, right?”

“Oh yes. The most popular color right now in Europe is red. Brides here are a little more conservative. But if you want to make a statement…”

“Do you have it?” I asked. I knew it was probably way too expensive but I really wanted to try it just for kicks.

“Yes…,” she said, her voice inflecting at the end. She looked hesitant.

“Can I try it?”

Marlena smiled weakly. “Sure. It’s just that, well, this one has a great deal more embellishments than… Of course you can, of course, dear.” She started to walk away; I followed.  “It’s in the back. It’ll take some time to get,” she called over her shoulder.

“Hey ready yet, Soph? I’m getting hungry,” Francie called out, posing in front of a mirror with a pearl-white veil draped over her face.

“I’m just going to try one more.”

“One more! I’m really really getting hungry here, Soph.” I hated it when Francie got pissy.

“It’ll just be a sec. Please?” I whined like the child Marlena’d just spent all afternoon trying to make me feel I wasn’t. Francie scowled at me, returning the veil to its mannequin. Just then Marlena returned with Ruiza, the two of them together carrying a veritable body bag.

“What’s in there?” Francie asked, annoyance metamorphosing into intrigue.

“Here it is,” Marlena chirped, as she, Ruiza, and yet another assistant all maneuvered it out of the bag. Once I saw it, I understood why this required a group effort. It was simply huge.  This time it took a full forty minutes to get into it, but not because there was a lot of taping and pinning on Ruiza’s part: believe it or not, unlike all the other floor models, this one was a size four. It took so long because there were so many pleats, sequins, ties, clasps, and buttons for poor Ruiza to figure out.

“Oh my god,” Francie shrieked when I walked out, “You look …”

“Yes, you do,” Marlena echoed, even though Francie hadn’t actually come up with an adjective. “It’s tight, but, wow, not all that much.”

“The color is gorgeous, Soph,” Francie said, brushing the train.

“You think it’s okay that it’s not white and all?” I asked.

“Shut up and look at yourself!” Francie whiplashed me toward the three-way.

When I looked in the mirror, I saw someone else. I was like royalty, someone very special, even beautiful. There’s no such thing as natural beauty, I thought. Designers are the makers of reality, and you just have to be skinny enough to squeeze into the alternate universe they’ve created for you. I had no idea what Christian Lacroix looked like, but I imagined him as this posh but avuncular man plucking at the lace, smoothing out the sides, telling me what a perfect fit it was, how beautiful and smart and charming I was; how I was the perfect wearer.

Suddenly I began hearing my mother’s voice. “Who do you think you are? Some movie star, some Arabian princess?” The same words she used when I’d received my letter from Yale and told her the cost of tuition, and my father went ballistic. A place for high-class people, deserving people, not me.

“Oh Sophier, you’re absolutely mesmerizing.” Thank goodness for Francie’s New York voice trumpeting over Mom’s. I was getting married now. I was a law school graduate. I was an adult. What was wrong with me? “So teeny tiny. Oh you’re so beautiful, darling. You look just like the model. It’s so so SO you!”

“Stephen says that model is a glorified Holocaust victim,” I couldn’t help but blurt out.

“UGH.” Francie screamed, throwing up her hands. “Fff…” she began, then saw my discomfort at her ‘free form expressions’ in Marlena’s presence and altered her tone, somewhat. “Then, my dear, you are a beautiful fucking glorified Holocaust victim,” Francie whispered to me, lips pursed tightly over teeth.

“I need to know the price of this one,” I found myself again blurting out, too needy now to care how poor I appeared. Marlena smiled, pityingly again. She had an answer that I really didn’t need to know.

Photo above of Christian Lacroix and model from Independent UK.

Posted in Body Image, Fashion, Literature / Books, New York, Swallow reviews / awards / mentions / events, The Blogging Life / The Writing Life | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Imagine Edward Gorey in Fur Coat and Sneakers, Nightly, at NYCB

I met this writer, A.N. Devers, at a party last week, and when she enthused about a piece she wrote recently for the Paris Review about a favorite writer of hers, the late Edward Gorey (in photo above, from Squidoo) and his fur coat collection, I made a mental note to find it on the web. I’d forgotten, but just remembered to look for it this morning. It’s a sweet piece about her attending a recent auction of his furs where she was determined to hold her own amongst the seriously seasoned bidders and, despite her comparably meager bank account, get herself a coat.

She also mentions that Gorey (who was best known as an illustrator) often attended New York City Ballet – decked out in fur coat and Converse sneakers. This was during the 70s, when, according to some quick internet research I did, he was well known at the ballet, was quite the eccentric, and knew Balanchine. He even wrote and illustrated a book about NYCB, The Lavender Leotard.

(top image from the Winger, bottom two from StoryCulture)

Actually, he wrote a couple books about the ballet.

He also created a poster:

(image from Chisholm online gallery)

He supposedly so loved NYCB he was there every night. He must have been quite the figure in those full-length furs and tennis shoes. Kind of sounds like something out of a Jonathan Ames novel. But this was all in the 70s. Sometimes I really feel like I’m in NYC in the wrong era

Anyway, just found all this interesting and thought I’d share. Is there anyone here who remembers him?

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SLSG’s Dance Highlights of 2010

Instead of trying to remember which were my favorite performances of the year, I’m just going back through my blog archives from January of this year and linking to the most memorable posts. More fun that way! A lot happened in a year…

January

Pacific Northwest Ballet made their debut at the Joyce; it was my first time seeing them live.

The Post‘s Page 6 announced that you know who and you know who are dating, and the ridiculous homewrecker attacks began.

Baryshnikov and Annie Liebovitz starred in a very cool Louis Vuitton ad.

February

I totally fell for New York City Ballet’s Sleeping Beauty.

…and Mark Sanchez :)

I found myself quoted in Colin Jarman’s book, Dancing With the Quotes.

I also fell for Sara Mearns’s Odette in Peter Martins’s Swan Lake.

On a personal note, my former judge, the esteemed Honorable Sylvia Pressler, passed away.

The Kings of Dance came to town.

Morphoses shocked the ballet world by announcing that Christopher Wheeldon was leaving the company.

March

My friend’s organization, Art for Change, held a benefit for Haiti after the earthquake.

Rasta Thomas’s Bad Boys of Dance announced that Danny Tidwell and SYTYCD’s Jacob Karr were joining the company.

Corella Ballet Castilla y Leon finally made their NYC debut!

I found myself actually getting press for liking Kate Gosselin – or for not hating Kate Gosselin rather – on Dancing With the Stars.

I fell for Keigwin + Company’s Runaway.

I was delighted to receive an email from NYCB ballerina Yvonne Borree’s aunt regarding of all things, my novel.

April

I had my first experience as a dance writer panelist! Thank you, Marc, from TenduTV!

Tiler Peck appeared on Dancing With the Stars in a Travis Wall routine, which everyone was so excited about. But it ended up amounting to not a whole lot…

Roberto Bolle danced a naked Giselle, in Italy of course.

May

New York City Ballet opened their spring season with premieres of Millepied’s Why Am I Not Where You Are and Ratmansky’s Namouna, both of which I liked, though Ratmansky’s had to grow a bit on me.

Baryshnikov returned to the stage.

I greatly enjoyed ABT’s new production, Lady of the Camellias, though most critics panned it.

June

ABT celebrated Alicia Alonso’s 90th birthday with three all-star Latin American casts (plus Natalia Osipova) dancing in Don Quixote.

Yvonne Borree gave her farewell performance at NYCB.

Bill T. Jones won a Tony for best choreographer for Fela!

Philip Neal gave his farewell performance at NYCB.

Natalia Osipova was mugged right outside of Lincoln Center.

Two of the greatest ballerinas in Europe – Osipova, and Alina Cojocaru – gave back to back Sleeping Beauty performances at ABT.

Albert Evans gave his farewell performance at NYCB.

Tap great Savion Glover made headlines by voicing his annoyance with Alastair Macaulay’s NY Times criticism of him – onstage, during a show.

Conductor Maurice Kaplow gave his farewell performance with NYCB.

Darci Kistler officially ended the era of the Balanchine-trained dancer with her farewell performance with NYCB.

July

Carlos Acosta announced his retirement from ballet and his foray into modern dance.

Alex Wong, probably the second greatest contestant ever on SYTYCD was injured and unable to finish the show.

My friend, Taylor Gordon, was profiled as a freelance ballet dancer in a New York Times article :)

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s beloved Denise Jefferson passed away.

Nilas Martins retired from NYCB oddly sans fanfare, sans criticism, sans a performance.

August

I interviewed tWitch about his role in the movie Step It Up. Fun fun interview!

I had a blast covering Ailey Camp.

I nearly fell over when Wendy Perron, esteemed E-I-C of Dance Magazine recommended Swallow on Twitter!

September

NYCB began their excellent “See the Music” series.

October

I loved Ashley Bouder’s Serenade.

Emerging Pictures’s awesomely exciting Ballet in Cinema series began with the Bolshoi’s Flames of Paris.

This cool new Lincoln Center-area street art sprouted up.

One of my favorite posts of the year, though it received no comments, was about Anne Fortier’s novel, Juliet. I jokingly daydreamed about it being made into a film, and which of my favorite ballet stars might take the lead.

November

ABT made an historic visit to Cuba and oh how I wished I could have gone with them.

I think I was the only person in the entire dance world to sympathize with Bristol Palin on Dancing With the Stars.

I had a blast covering New York So You Think You Can Dance auditions.

All of a sudden Black Swan was everywhere.

Nearly fell over again upon hearing Riccardo Cocchi and Yulia Zagoruychenko took the world Latin ballroom title – making them the first U.S. couple ever to do so.

December

My take on SugarPlumpGate.

Black Swan finally premiered which I didn’t love but was happy to have ballet brought back into the spotlight.

I was in awe of Alvin Ailey’s 50-dancer Revelations, staged in honor of the 50th anniversary of that dance. I also loved several other dances in their City Center season – Ailey’s Cry, Ronald K. Brown’s Dancing Spirit, and Geoffrey Holder’s The Prodigal Prince - just to name a few.

Robert Wilson / Roberto Bolle’s Perchance to Dream exhibit in Chelsea was a lot o’ frightening fun.

ABT’s new Nutcracker premiered, which I really enjoyed, almost as much as the Bolshoi’s.

Portman and Millepied revealed they are now engaged and expecting.

I had great fun, despite the crazy snowstorm, going down to Wall Street and covering Judith Jamison’s ringing of the closing bell at the NYSE.

Pretty busy year.

Happy New Year, everyone!

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Veronika Part in the January 2011 Marie Claire

Sorry, I couldn’t get this magazine photo to scan very well, but, suffice it to say, SLSG favorite Veronika Part is in the January 2011 issue of Marie Claire! She’s not talking about weight or Black Swan; she’s featured simply because she’s a muse for young designer Christian Cota. He says, “When I watch Veronika dance, I’m truly captivated by the way her body moves. It pushes me to explore my designs in a way that I haven’t before.”

Cota is Mexican born and studied painting in Paris and fashion at New York’s Parsons School of Design. He launched his eponymous label in 2007. The magazine piece defines his style as: “Light and airy feminine silhouettes in digitally enhanced fine-art prints.”

Sure is an exciting time for ballerinas right now!

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Black Swan-Inspired Fashion

I was flipping through Marie Claire and saw this spread on current fashions inspired by the Black Swan movie:

They also had a spread on fashions inspired by Burlesque, the new film starring Cher and Christina Aguilera:

And then as I kept flipping through the magazine, it seemed I kept spotting more and more Swan-looking garb:

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Roberto Bolle in Hercules Magazine

Here are a couple of pix of Roberto Bolle with Italian model Mariacarla Boscono in Hercules Magazine. See more from the spread here. Photos by Paola Kudacki.

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Roberto Bolle on the Intersection of Fashion and Ballet

Here’s an interview with Roberto Bolle backstage at Dolce & Gabbana’s 20th anniversary show in June. He talks about ballet and fashion, saying both have to do with the aesthetics of the body and movement, and that fashion is very important to Italy. I’ve never heard his voice before so this is fun! He struggles a bit with English and has more of an Italian accent than I expected. He seems really sweet.

Video via Global Internet Age.

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Larry Keigwin Will Stage Fashion’s Night Out, for Fashion Week, on Sept 7

Larry Keigwin, one of my favorite choreographers, will stage a show for fashion week, which is held this year at Lincoln Center. It’s called Fashion’s Night Out: The Show, and will be held at Lincoln Center on September 7th. Click below to read the whole press release.

Continue reading

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AHA, IRINA'S DRESS!

That I was talking about in my ABT gala post. Photo from here. Thank you to Fleegull, my Twitter friend, for the link!

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BALLET INSPIRED BRIDAL FASHION FROM MARTHA STEWART

Starring… some ABT dancers.
And here are some photos of the fashion shoot.

Via ABT’s Twitter feed.

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ROBERTO BOLLE AT FASHION WEEK IN MILAN

Speaking of Baz Luhrmann, Roberto Bolle, who has said recently that he’d like to work with the director, was spotted at opening ceremonies for Milan’s Fashion week, which kicked off yesterday. Via Treehugger. For more Fashion Week photos and vids, go here.

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ABT'S MAX & IRINA OUT ON FASHION'S NIGHT OUT

ABT’s Max Beloserkovsky and Irina Dvorovenko at Roberto Cavalli on Fashion’s Night out last Thursday night. Via Opera Chic. I love how Irina’s standing. I love the front foot, how she’s showing off her gorgeous instep. Irina could so be a model…

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THE SEPTEMBER ISSUE IS NOT THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA (BUT COULD USE MORE DANCERS!)

Over the weekend I went to see The September Issue, the documentary about Anna Wintour and Vogue, focusing on the mag’s — well, the fashion industry’s — most important issue of the year. I found it thoroughly entertaining, but not in the way I expected. I expected it to be a real-life Devil Wears Prada, but it wasn’t that at all. I remember from the book, Lauren  Weisberger’s main character constantly feeling like a horrid slob amongst all the fashionistas — or fashionista wannabes — who worked at the magazine, and I remember her even being ridiculed by everyone for wearing Ann Taylor, supposedly a cheap designer.

Of course Devil Wears Prada, the film, played up on all of that, having Meryl Streep lecture Anne Hathaway on her decidedly frumpy wardrobe and call her (a size 6) “fat.” But here, everyone who works at Vogue — particularly Wintour and other higher-ups like creative director Grace Coddington (who is really the emotional centerpiece of the film) are pretty mundanely dressed. They seem more like incredibly hard-working women who are far too busy to care much about how they look everyday at the office. No one wears much makeup, hair looks completely unstyled, Coddington munches on a rather bland-looking corner deli-bought salad while enthusing about the photo-shoots she’s designed and her romantic vision for the issue, talking about her past as a model and how she turned to the editorial side of things early on after a car accident ended her modeling career, and bemoaning the wasted money spent on photo spreads Wintour ended up not liking and axing entirely.

But my biggest surprise was how unattractive I found the models to be. And they weren’t — they were all really beautiful. But I think I’ve seen so much dance now that, as much as I used to admire models, I’m now almost horrified at their bad posture, their boney bodies, their completely uncoordinated frames, their sloppy-looking lines. During a shoot, this one model was playing around and she decided to do a kick — a battement — for the photographer and it was just about the worst kick I’ve ever seen. Her knee was bent awkwardly, her foot was doing nothing at all and gave her leg no line, and she almost fell over. The photographer seemed to think it was great though.

Made me think how much better dancers might be at making the clothes look good. I don’t know, maybe most dancers are too short or the fabric doesn’t drape as well over built musculature as it does over basically skin-covered bone.

This wasn’t the same model from the film — I can’t find a photo of her — but it’s taken from Italian Vogue. I mean the clothes look good — she’s pretty — but look at her lines underneath…

This in contrast to the New York City Ballet dancers, as photographed with this gorgeous flowing diaphanous fabric for NYCB’s Winter season calendar, which I just received in the mail today.

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(There’s another ballerina, to the left, in that first photo, but I’m still pretty amateur at scanning and couldn’t get her in.) Doesn’t say who took the photos but I assume it’s company photographer Paul Kolnik.

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