The lovely Yumelia Garcia is leaving Joffrey this month and shared a few thoughts about her time there with us at 4dancers. We wish her all the best! Take a look at some of her memorable moments through the years…
I can’t believe it, but I have made the decision to say good bye to The Joffrey Ballet. A place I never imagined I would be. Dancing for this company has been my own Cinderella story. As a little girl from Venezuela, I only dreamed of having the opportunity to dance professionally in the United States. I never imagined I would end up dancing for a world class company. I have lived out my dream better than I ever thought was possible.
I have many unforgettable memories with the roles I have danced and the friends I have made. I hold these memories close to my heart and will cherish them forever. My time at the Joffrey has played a pivotal role not only in my dancing career, but it has helped shape my path for the future. For that, I am forever grateful.
For dancers and dance audiences across the US and Europe, Nutcracker is an inextricable part of the Christmas season. In 2012, the Finnish National Ballet premiered Kenneth Greve’s new full-length The Snow Queen, which replaced Nutcracker as the company’s Christmas ballet for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons. Tuomas Kantelinen’s cinematic, magical score wraps up all the same tenderness, warmth, drama, and characterization that are so appealing in Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker. This disc contains a seventy-minute selection of music from the two-act ballet
Based on Hans Christian Andersen’s story of the same name, the ballet takes us from young Kerttu and Kai’s bedroom in Helsinki through the bustling market square. There are wild, glittering, blustery dances for the Snow Flakes, threateningly punctuated with percussion. Once Kai is carried off in the snowstorm, Kerttu’s search takes her through Sweden, Spain, Persia, and the Orient in an energetic series of pastiche “national” dances.
Kantelinen’s score is festive, illustrative, and emotional. The use of a particularly tender leitmotif that seems to represent the love between friends Kai and Kerttu winds its way through the music, showing up every now and then as if to comfort the listener that good will always triumph over evil. The whole CD is a real pleasure to listen to.
An interesting production note about the ballet is that though this score was designed specifically for Greve’s choreography, the ballet itself was not performed with live orchestral accompaniment. Instead, the stage was extended out over the pit and the cast danced to a recording.
Food. A topic that dancers focus on pretty heavily! Today dancer/instructor Emily Kate Long shares some of her personal favorites with readers, along with some thoughts on eating. We’d love to hear from you too, so please feel free to add your own “go-to” foods in the comments section! – Catherine
by Emily Kate Long
Dancers can be an interesting breed when it comes to what we put in our bodies. As elite athletes, our brains and bodies require a lot of fuel to get through long days of rehearsal and performance. Our busy schedules, however, often limit the amount of time and thought we can but into meal planning. And we all have our vices—I know a few dancers who would subsist on chocolate and kettle chips if they could! But, as the saying goes, garbage in, garbage out. Content, quantity, and timing are all things to consider when fueling up for the day or replenishing calories after a performance. Here are some inexpensive, easy, nutrition-packed dishes to power mind and body. In the words of the inimitable Julia Child, bon apetit!
If you’re not a morning person, it can be all too easy to grab your coffee and pointe shoes and run out the door. When I was in high school taking 8 a.m. ballet classes, a friend introduced me to Swiss oatmeal. Talk about an easy and nutritious breakfast. There are a lot of fancy recipes out there, but you basically take two parts yogurt to one part whole rolled oats, stir in a little dried or chopped fresh fruit, and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator. The yogurt “cooks” the oats and softens the dried fruit. Before serving you can add nuts, frozen berries, or honey (or a few dark chocolate chips!) for crunch and sweetness. What you get is an awesome shot of textures, flavors, complex carbs, and complete protein to start the day. It’s my first choice for a go-to power breakfast, and a batch will keep up to three or four days in the fridge.
For daytime fuel, it’s important to have energy-dense foods that aren’t bulky in your dance bag or your stomach. A lot of dancers rely on protein bars, which are great in moderation if you find ones like Barre, Kind, or Larabar, that are minimally processed. Hard-boiled eggs are another really good choice—a portable complete protein in convenient single serving. Cut-up fruit and vegetables with nut butter are also valuable fuel. As a bonus, the water content of fresh fruit and vegetables helps you stay hydrated.
I enjoy cooking as a way to unwind and get creative with culinary science experiments, but I don’t usually have time except on my day off. That’s when I cook a few meals’ worth of something and save the leftovers. Often, my base is homemade stock, a flavorful and wholesome staple I can use on its own or in recipes.
Stock is easy to make in big batches and can be super nutrient-dense, no matter what your level of skill in the kitchen. You need good-quality meat with bones, some water, and whatever vegetables you like. A whole or half chicken works well, or beef soup bones. High-quality meat can be pricey, but cuts of stew meat or soup bones are considerably more affordable, even if you’re looking for grass-fed or free-range.
As for equipment, all you need is a large pot. Throw in the bones, vegetables, and seasonings. I like to use celery, carrots, onion, and the tough stems of leafy greens, plus a ton of cracked black pepper and oregano and a little salt. Add enough water to fill the pot, bring everything to a boil, then lower the heat and let it simmer for at least an hour. The longer you wait, the better it tastes. Once it cools, take out the bones and you have a tasty base for soup, pasta, or whole grains that’s packed with vitamins, minerals, and important proteins. Refrigerate some for up to a week and freeze the rest for up to a few months.
Last (and maybe least, depending on your taste) I want to mention sardines as a power food for dancers. They’re inexpensive (under a dollar a serving, depending on where you live) and rich in omega-3s and protein. There’s also little concern about heavy metal toxicity from eating sardines, which can’t be said for other fatty fish like tuna and swordfish. The downside is that these little guys smell and taste pretty fishy. They’re definitely not a good choice to eat between rehearsals if you want your partner to come within ten feet of you!
These are my no-brainer superfoods. They work for me because they’re energy and nutrient-dense while still being inexpensive and convenient. I hope you give them a try. If you do, please share in the comments section, or add your own favorites.
Assistant Editor Emily Kate Long began her dance education in South Bend, Indiana, with Kimmary Williams and Jacob Rice, and graduated in 2007 from Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School’s Schenley Program. She has spent summers studying at Ballet Chicago, Pittsburgh Youth Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School, Miami City Ballet, and Saratoga Summer Dance Intensive/Vail Valley Dance Intensive, where she served as Program Assistant. Ms Long attended Milwaukee Ballet School’s Summer Intensive on scholarship before being invited to join Milwaukee Ballet II in 2007.
Ms Long has been a member of Ballet Quad Cities since 2009. She has danced featured roles in Deanna Carter’s Ash to Glass and Dracula, participated in the company’s 2010 tour to New York City, and most recently performed principal roles in Courtney Lyon’s Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, and Cinderella. She is also on the faculty of Ballet Quad Cities School of Dance, where she teaches ballet, pointe, and repertoire classes.0
by Nel Shelby
We’re always excited to work with the magical Ballet Hispanico. Their work is so fluid, beautiful and moving. For this project, we filmed interviews with Eduardo Vilaro and AnaMaria Correa and filmed the company’s dance performance for young students. Then we edited together what we feel captures their dance education outreach and what makes it unique.
Ashli Bickford, one of our fantastic videographer and editors, was assigned to edit our video footage:
“It was so easy to put this dance video together, because the material I was working with was amazing! Not only is Ballet Hispanico such a high-quality dance company, but the students at their performance were so engaged and having a great time.
Eduardo and AnaMaria did an incredible job coming onstage between the dances and telling the students more about them in a fun and engaging way. Filming the performance, we could really feel and see the students learning more about Spanish culture and heritage and enjoying the excitement of dance!”
Contributor Nel Shelby, Founder and Principal of Nel Shelby Productions, is deeply dedicated to the preservation and promotion of dance through documentation of live performances, fully edited marketing reels, live-stream capture, and documentaries and films that encapsulate the essence of nonprofit organizations.
Her New York City-based video production company has grown to encompass a diverse list of dance clients including American Ballet Theater II, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, Gallim Dance, Gotham Arts, Kate Weare and Company, Keigwin + Company, Monica Bill Barnes Company, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Shen Wei Dance Arts, Wendy Whelan and many more. She has filmed performances at venues throughout the greater New York area including The Joyce Theater, New York Live Arts, Lincoln Center, Symphony Space, St. Mark’s Church and Judson Church, to name a few.
For nearly a decade, Nel has served as Festival Videographer for the internationally celebrated Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in the Berkshires. Each season at the Pillow, Nel’s responsibilities include documenting aspects of festival culture in addition to its 20 mainstage dance performances, filming and overseeing documentation of more than 100 free performances and events, managing two dance videography interns and an apprentice, and educating students about the technical and philosophical aspects of filming dance.
She also serves as Resident Videographer at the Vail International Dance Festival where she spent her first summer creating five short dance documentary films about the festival in addition to documenting its events and performances. Her longer-form, half-hour documentary on Vail’s festival, The Altitude of Dance, debuted on Rocky Mountain PBS in May 2013.
She has created four short films for Wendy Whelan’s Restless Creature, and she collaborated with Adam Barruch Dance to create a short film titled “Folie a Deux,” which was selected and screened at the Dance on Camera Festival in New York City and the San Francisco Dance Film Festival. She is making a dance documentary featuring Nejla Y. Yatkin, called Where Women Don’t Dance.
Nel has a long personal history with movement – she has a B.A. in dance and is a certified Pilates instructor. She continues to train with world-renowned Master Teachers Romana Krysnowska and Sari Pace, original students of Joseph Pilates. In addition to her dance degree, Nel holds a B.S. in broadcast video. She often collaborates with her wonderful husband, dance photographer (and fellow 4dancers contributor) Christopher Duggan on creative projects with dancers in New York City and beyond. They live with their beautiful daughter Gracie and son Jack in Manhattan.
by Catherine L. Tully
Dancing means sweating, and sweating means thirst. Us dancers tend to be a thirsty bunch, but ingesting extra calories from what we drink is something most of us would like to avoid. And while there’s nothing wrong with the occasional milkshake or cranberry juice, reaching for low or no-calorie drinks is usually a pretty good idea.
I’ve compiled a short list of my favorites here for you to check out, but please do feel free to share yours in the comments section below!
My go-to favorite is LaCroix sparkling water. I love the orange flavor, but there are many other varieties you can try, including lime, coconut, berry and lemon. This tasty drink isn’t sweet, but has some flavor (and it’s natural!). Drink from the can or over ice for a delicious drink option that has zero calories.
It’s also yummy when mixed with fruit juices, but that does add some calories to the mix.
Cucumber water is another favorite of mine. Simple to make and refreshing to drink, this no-calorie winner is one of the best picks for a cool drink on a hot day. Its silky texture is unique and you can add lemon or other fruit to the water to mix the taste up a bit.
Here’s a primer on how to make it (not like it’s that hard). Simply store it in your fridge and pour when you want some. Easy! It’s also extremely inexpensive since cucumbers cost next to nothing at the grocery store.
Herbal teas offer another no-calorie option for those looking for a flavorful beverage. I’ve recently gotten into Teavana tea, since they offer really cool combinations, such as the strawberry lemonade flavor pictured here. You can brew them hot in the winter and make iced tea in the summer. Win/win!
Of course, standard bag varieties are also a great choice. Another one I drink often is Bengal Spice, which has a little bit of a kick to it. The “spice” comes from a mixture of cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and cloves. Nice!
What are your favorite drinks? Let us know!