Stage and Studio: Sacre

Another memory for keeping: My second year in the company we brought back Nijinsky’s iconic le Sacre du Printemps or Rite of Spring. Years ago it was Robert Joffrey who took on the task of reviving this iconic ballet and what an honor it was to be a part of this continuing legacy. Scare is a visual and musical work of genius. The dancers create ever changing patterns of color and rhythm, accented with stomping and twirling. The music, Stravinsky, is matched to the measure requiring the dancers to memorize endless sets of counts (onetwothreefour, onetwothreefourfivesixseveneight, onetwo, onetwothreefourfive...)This is a ballet from another era. It tells stories from a time when humans were one with nature, dependent on the abundance or scarcity of season, and reverent of their traditions and gods. The ballet is abstract, told in a language of dance that seems foreign even to us dancers. And yet it is deeply emotional.

At the end of the ballet there is a famous scene of sacrifice. The "chosen one" who is fated to dance herself to death stands perfectly still in the middle of the stage while her female companions gather around her in circles. There is a rumbling of drums and in one breath, every woman falls flat on her chest, leaving the girl who will be sacrificed exposed. The fall is repeated five times. Each time we fall with more abandon. We become less aware of the ache in our elbows, the impact of the floor and the beads around our necks digging into our chests. With each fall we feel more connected to each other and to the lone woman in the center of the stage. When we make our way offstage, we huddle in the wings to watch our "chosen one" perform the final solo. We hold our breath through her shivers and backbends, and nearly 125 desperate jumps, until she falls to the ground, defeated.

We took this ballet on tour to 22 cities. I performed in the second act every single show. By the end I’m pretty sure both of my arms were sprained. But this moment in the ballet is, in my opinion, one of the most effective and beautiful of all the ballets. And I am so grateful to have been a part of it.

Photo curtesy of the Joffrey Ballet. Erica Edwards as the "Chosen One".

Photo curtesy of the Joffrey Ballet. Erica Edwards as the "Chosen One".

Stopping to Smile... this book, for opening my eyes. this hat, for being a project finished. this tea, for helping to ring in a new season. this bright envelope, for reminding me to send a letter soon. this bit of leather, for coming to the rescue when I finally lost my last hair elastic.


Since I was three years old I’ve gone to dance class every week. By age ten dance became my favorite and most time-consuming hobby. When I was thirteen, the possibility of a career in ballet began to formulate in my mind. My (now daily) dance lessons transitioned seamlessly from hobbies to steps towards a job in a professional company. At this point, my time to pursue other interests drastically diminished. I moved to Florida to attend a ballet conservatory and then to Chicago to continue intensive training. By age seventeen, to my amazement and joy, I held a contract with one of America’s distinguished ballet companies in my hands.

This journey, from loving something to getting paid to do that thing, is a rare and beautiful gift. But I have recently noticed the way this journey has affected my pursuit of other skills and hobbies. 

I have noticed that when I start to pursue a new interest, I often stop myself subconsciously. There is a little voice in my head that demands a future for my new hobby, often even before I begin. It asks me why my blog doesn’t generate income yet, or if I could sell my knits for a profit. The voice doesn’t condone doing things “for fun”. 

I think this voice is wrong. Because there’s room for so much in a life. And in mine I want to be more than a dancer, and more than whatever else I do for income someday. I want to be able to knit beautiful gifts for my friends, and someday play an instrument with my family’s band (yep we have a family band). I want to learn another culture’s language and express myself through writing and art. I want to read many books and run to calm my thoughts. I want to cook to nourish my family and I want to travel. And I want to learn for the joy of learning because the people who do this are my favorite kind of people. I want to value these things for the privileges that they are. To have time and freedom to learn and grow. 

What activities bring you guys joy? What do you do just for fun? I’d love to hear.

A Little Something

Feeling a bit slow and sniffly these days. This gorgeous weather has me sneezing like a professional. I think I've broken my own record of ten times in a row, on the bus...sorry people. I've been eating the local honey, and drinking the ginger tea, and turning in early like a champ. And I think my new little planter is helping in some way. Isn't she cute and cheerful? 

Things for Late-Summer Evenings in the Park

Over the weekend Hadrian and I made our way to the park near our apartment. I took my knitting and an old hoodie of Hadrian's to wear. We lay on a blanket in the grass and enjoyed the quiet and peace. We held hands on the way there and ran into a friend on the way back. The air was crisp with suggestion of fall, but the sun still generous in the late-summer golden hour. It was about as perfect as real life gets. In my make-believe life I might wear a pretty blue dress to honor the late-summer splendor. We might lounge on a thick cotton blanket and read some Mary Oliver. We might make a little music. I might bring a straw basket in which to stow things and a pretty necklace just because. 

Stopping to Smile... this pendant, because it belonged to my great grandmother and it's all shined up. this makeup, because I finally tried it out this week and it didn't disappoint. this load of laundry, for being finished early. this polish, for being just the ticket (see above). this light, for greeting me in the morning.


speaking of ballet

i need to make these asap

girls at library via joanna

unfinished business via erin

looking forward to taking chicago's water taxi this weekend


Stage and Studio: My Drunken Debut

My first production with Joffrey was Ronald Hynd's The Merry Widow. I was one of two trainees selected for participation and I was thrilled. I took technique class upstairs with the company and desperately tried to stay out of everyones' way. I observed longingly as the company members had their cool conversations and made their cool jokes and professionally danced their cool dances. They regarded me with pleasant indifference except for one time when one of the dancers chided me for snacking on edamame beans in the studio. Lucas, to this day I'm not sure whether or not you were legitimately upset with me...

Life was good for seventeen year old me. I loved The Merry Widow and The Merry Widow loved me back. I got to wear warm-ups during barre and get partnered by company men. I mean what more could a post-boarding-school-bun-head ask for?

And then, as if things could get even better, I was singled out for a featured role. Mr. Hynd pointed at me and said, “Ok I need you to be the drunk guest at the party, you know just a little tipsy…”

I froze. You see I had never been drunk in my life. I’d never even tasted alcohol. I was not merely underage, I was the straightest laced girl at the party. I was the girl who went to the party for puppy chow, and left as soon as things got “fun". I was also not particularly accustomed to being publicly funny. 

But I was up for the challenge. 

I went home and got pretend drunk in front of the mirror. I took mental notes when those around me appeared “a little tipsy”. I practiced holding a bottle and falling out of chairs. I did my homework and showed up to rehearsal warm, rehearsed, and ready to drink. 

Looking back now, I may have overdone it. I bumped into dancers and flirted shamelessly with other “guests”. I poured myself glass after glass after imaginary glass. For how much alcohol my character consumed it would have been more accurate to have made her throw up and black out somewhere in the wings. But I didn't know any better.

As silly as it sounds, I consider this drunken debut the first success of my career. The next year when I joined the company and received my first invitation to "go out", everyone was astounded to learn that I never drank. Apparently my performance made the best bad first impression I could have hoped for. 

Margot Fonteyn and artists of The Australian Ballet performing The Merry Widow in New York, 1976. Photo by Martha Swope.

Margot Fonteyn and artists of The Australian Ballet performing The Merry Widow in New York, 1976. Photo by Martha Swope.

My Chicago: Dirty Windows

Hadrian and I fell in love with our current apartment because of its many large windows. On the day we viewed the unit, snow was falling softly outside creating the illusion of being inside a snow globe. The windows, like all surfaces in the apartment, were covered in a fine layer of grime but we were assured that the whole place would be spick and span before we moved in. 

Six months have passed and no matter how much we scrub, "spick and span" eludes us. The groves in the radiator attract perpetual nests of dust; the paint on the bathroom windowsill becomes a bit more peel-y every time we shower; and those windows, our glorious windows cannot be cleaned from the outside. 

The vertically sliding panes make reaching out to scrub futile. I've considered buying a giant magnet, googled how to disassemble old-windows, and daydreamed about climbing out onto the foot-wide outer sill of our fourth-floor apartment. I've finally given up and begun the process of acceptance.

Our dirty windows possess a kind of twenties-in-the-big-city charm I suppose. (The windows in Friends are probably sooty.) Their south-east positioning lets light in all day long. The thin, old glass allows enough summer breeze to flow through to make our air-conditioner-less space bearable, and enough winter cold in to keep us engaged with nature. Through our dirty windows we can see the trees change with the seasons and hear the bus arrive every five minutes. We've become accustomed to bright lights at night and the frequent blast of music from passing cars. Our windows make me feel a part of this loud, mucky, wonderful city.

Sometimes living with dirty windows, and my consequent grumbling, puts the world into perspective. Considering the wide scope of hardships that come with life, I feel fortunate to have this one.

Stage and Studio: An Ode to Live Music

fingerprints on ivory.

sound so used to the dancer's ear that it blends into


until caught in a swell on the arm, at the curve of the spine, in the hushed vacuum between heartbeats.

until her muscles float,

hugged by twisting veins, sustained by an oxygen tide, buoyed by notes floating through air

and whatever it is between those notes that she

cannot see but feel.


until her heart wakes up and sees its reflection in melody,

hears its voice in movement,

feels a vibration that extends from toe to eyelash,

that shakes her cup of tears so that they spill over and



to settle in her throat.

sound turned to steam and sweat

hums from her skin.

Have you seen Chodakowska's fountain sculptures? They are stunning.

Plate It

Plate it. A suggestion. A nod to mindfulness and wellbeing and maybe even style.

It is so easy to slap some food on a fork and into your mouth, but it's almost as easy and far more satisfying to "plate it".

I've resolved to make (most of) the food that I eat not only healthful, not only home cooked, but also beautiful. It takes only a few more seconds to add a sprig of green or find the right-sized bowl. It takes only a moment of extra thought to place napkins and a candle on the table. Paying attention to these details turn what would be merely an act of feeding into a ritual. I find that sitting down to a beautiful plate of food completely changes my experience of it. I naturally fall silent before I eat, filled with pride and gratitude for the meal I've made. I eat more slowly and savor the taste. I finish satisfied and energized and a bit more ready for whatever comes next.