by Nichelle Strzepek from DanceAdvantage.net
I’m the worst when it comes to gift requests. Just ask my family members. When the holiday gift probe starts going out, I generally shrug. It’s not that I’m too modest to solicit presents. Maybe I just have a poor ‘want it’ reflex. I rarely have something in mind when pressed. My mom says I’ve always been that way.
I do covet a few things though. Often they’re dance-related. So, when Catherine asked me to share my Holiday Wishlist, it wasn’t too hard to come up with 6 things. Should Santa want to leave these under my tree this year, I wouldn’t complain!
History Without The Boring
I saw Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance when it came to Houston last Spring and it’s definitely one I want to have in my dance library. This documentary immediately pulls the viewer into the origin story of Joffrey Ballet.
Over 50 years old and frequently on the cutting edge of ballet, the Chicago dance company has continued to rise and move forward despite all kinds of obstacles. The documentary is extremely engaging – a great film to share with students or those new to the dance world, but equally compelling for the dance aficionado.
And, because of my early support and sharing of the film’s release, I appear in the credits! Seriously, why is this not on my shelf already?
Last year, Santa brought me Tina Tarnoff’s Great Dancers necklace, featuring Margot, Maya, Isadora, Anna & Martha in silhouette. The images are tiny reproductions of Tarnoff’s papercut series.
This year, I have my eye on her single pendant necklace depicting Sylvie Guillem in a marvelous back attitude. The classical tutu and antique-looking silver pendant base, is a romantic and lovely piece that’s sure to get compliments.
There are always a few dance calendars that become popular around the holidays but Lois Greenfield’s Breaking Bounds wall calendars never disappoint.
The dancers, rather than any particular dance form, are the hallmark of Greenfield’s images, which are always beautiful, powerful, and mesmerizing. Breaking Bounds 2013 is a calendar that would inspire me every day of the month.
Say ‘No’ To Black
I’ll admit my comfy dance wardrobe includes far too little color. Jo+Jax to the rescue!
Their Let’s Move sweatpants remind me of candy or those bright and bold Crayola markers I loved using as a kid. I love the mint color, though they come in a vibrant purple too. I’d feel way more cute dropping my Kindergartener off at school in these, than black, navy, or charcoal yoga pants.
I’d Be Laughing At Clouds
The quintessential American musical classic, Singin’ In The Rain, celebrated its 60th Anniversary this year in theatres, on television, and now on disc.
The Singin’ In The Rain: 60th Anniversary Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray/DVD Combo) includes 48 page hard cover production book with never-before-seen memos and photos, theatrical poster reproductions, documentaries and outtakes, and even an umbrella!
There’s also commentary by Debbie Reynolds, Donald O’Connor, Cyd Charisse, Kathleen Freeman, Stanley Donen, Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Baz Luhrmann, and Rudy Behlmer. Oh, if only Gene Kelly were still with us to offer his thoughts!
Snow in Texas
Ballet dancers and snow globes go together like peanut butter and chocolate. I know some serious collectors of these knickknacks. I’m not one of them, mainly because sparkly tutus don’t normally excite me that much.
The Dancer snow globe from CoolSnowGlobes is ballet bric-a-brac I can get behind though. Degas’ little chin-jutting, slightly hunched dancer has always been a favorite. Vermont artists, Liz and David, who develop a limited edition snow globe collection each year, craft this globe. There’s still no snow in sight, but that’s okay, it sparkles!
Crossed Off The List
I’ve already purchased a few of these delightful Nutcracker cards to give to some special dance friends this season, but I can’t resist including a link to their Etsy seller, The Artful Bumblebee. The artist, Deborah, is not a dancer but a fan of the art form. She beautifully captures the whimsy of The Nutcracker with an excellent eye for correct placement. I can’t wait to deliver season’s greetings with these sweet little cards but they can be ordered as posters, too, if you prefer!
Do you have any favorite dance gifts to share? Please leave a comment below!
Want to see what Catherine put on her list? Visit DanceAdvantage.net.
Dancers often have sore muscles–something I don’t need to tell you I’m sure–but each person has their own way of tending to them. There are many different types of massage options out there, ranging from an actual masseuse to hand-held massage devices made out of different types of material. Today we’re going to talk a bit about one in particular…
The Muscle Angels massager has three main parts–a handle, a rounded area with 290 “nubbin fingers” and a sculpted tip. There are multiple ways to use the massager, and the company’s website actually has videos that help walk you through some of the options, which is very helpful.
I used it to relax my feet, rolling the “nubbin fingers” under my arch, and I have to say it did feel terrific. The tip is great for working out knots, and I think overall the Muscle Angel would be a useful tool for dancers who enjoy self-massage.
It’s fairly compact (although it is not light), and would tuck inside a dance bag easily. The “nubbin fingers” reminded me of those slip-on shoes that have the massaging bumps on the bottom, which I think feel terrific.
I’m not a medical professional so I’ll stay away from endorsing any of the uses in terms of treating physical problems you may have, but I can tell you that as a relaxation tool it worked for me. (And I used it on my dog, who really liked it too!)
by Emily Kate Long
Being the daughter of a librarian has its advantages. My mother was head of collection development—in layman’s terms, the book buyer—at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana, for over twenty years before she retired last May. She is also a closet bunhead. I have her to thank for the bulk of my personal dance library: Jock Soto’s memoir, Stephen Manes’ Where Snowflakes Dance and Swear, Kavanaugh’s Nureyev biography, the anthology Reading Dance, Homans’ Apollo’s Angels, No Fixed Points by Reynolds and McCormick, and several volumes by Gretchen Ward Warren. She showers me with books faster than I can plow through them, and most of these treasures are at least the thickness and weight of a brick. As a result, I have become a literary grazer. This installment of Finding Balance is my “Recommended Reading List: Works for Enrichment and Escape.” Enjoy, and please comment with your personal favorites!
Where Snowflakes Dance and Swear: Inside the Land of Ballet by Stephen Manes was waiting in a package at my doorstep one January evening when I got home from rehearsal. Delight! Manes spent a season as a fly on the wall at Pacific Northwest Ballet. Reading inside details of the dance world from an outsider’s perspective is both amusing and informative. Manes is a thorough storyteller, examining each aspect of the ballet—organizational machine, community institution, and artistic creature. I wish there could be a new book every season.
I was less than halfway done with Manes’ stellar work when Mom brought me Jock Soto’s Every Step You Take. Of course I couldn’t help but peek inside. Anecdotes, reflections, and recipes fill this easy-to-read, yet profound, memoir. Now forty pages in, I’m having a hard time setting this one aside. It’s like sitting and having a conversation with a living legend.0
Today we are happy to share this interview with author Germaine Shames…
What is your background in dance?
Like the protagonist in my novel I began taking ballet classes at the age of four with a teacher whom, my parents liked to boast, had studied under Martha Graham. Like other young girls, I dreamed of becoming a prima ballerina.
But I was not like most girls. Shy, stubborn, I balked at following choreography and often found myself stranded alone on one side of the studio while the class, moving as one body, occupied the opposite side. And then suddenly, before I had mastered a single step, it was time for my first recital. A chorus line of us baby ballerinas was positioned center-stage as the towering velvet curtain slowly, slowly opened. One look at the audience and I froze, mouth wide-open, hands clamped to my cheeks.
My parents removed me from ballet class and enrolled me again thee years later—with similar results. There would be no more recitals.
Flash forward half a century…
I have ripened into, not a ballerina, but a writer with abiding creative and emotional ties to dance and dancers. My forthcoming ballet-themed novel You, Fascinating You will be released within days.
The protagonist of my novel, Margit Wolf, begins the account of her life, “They say ballet chooses the dancer.” Regrettably, I was not among the chosen. How I envy those of you who are!
How did you become a writer?0
by Catherine L. Tully
I’m fascinated by the lives of dancers. Even though I was one, I can never seem to get past the fact that each of us has such a distinctly different path–and a totally unique perspective on what it is like to live this life.
Because of that, I was excited to read Every Step You Take, a memoir written by Jock Soto (with Leslie Marshall). After all, this is a man that I grew up watching in the ballet world. Soto was a principal dancer with NYCB when he retired at the age of 40, and this book begins with the end of his career on stage. A peek inside the thoughts and fears that swirl around one’s head when the final performance looms, I thought it was a great opener.
Where, I thought, will this book go from here?0