Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Mean Reds

So, I know that this blog makes me sound like I live on some area of Cloud Nine all the time: I speak of saunas, ballerina dancing, zombies, good music, nights of general frivolity; only unicorns would make this portrait more magical. (I have a thing for unicorns. And peanuts, but that's another matter entirely.) But truth be told, there are days when I am not so full of rainbows and sprinkles. Or rainbow sprinkles. I definitely have the occasional case of the "mean reds"--to steal from Truman Capote, via the incomparable Holly Golightly--and days where I feel, to use the nonsensical vernacular, quite simply...meh. Sometimes my rock solid sarcasm fades, my general mood is a distinct shade of Scandinavian grey; whether it's for professional or personal reasons, there are some days where yes: even I doubt the existence of unicorns, and lose my taste for peanuts.

Before moving to this land of Vikings and infinite shades of grey and fun, and before meeting the wonderful people I work with, I would have just dealt with these feelings. Wallowed, perhaps, but dealt. However I've found that dealing with the mean reds is good, but dealing with them by keeping to one's self is highly unproductive. Distraction and diversions are necessary, at least for me. In my time in Copenhagen, I've discovered some excellent ways to revive my spirits and restore my faith in myself, humanity, and of course unicorns. With the occasional photographic insert, and without further ado, here is what this ballerina child does to overcome the blues (or the reds):

(1) Skype/GMail Chat/Facebook with family, at least once a day. I'm blessed to have four younger, super-talented siblings who are just as weird and wacky as their oldest sister (that'd be moi). And luckily for me, my parents are some of the coolest old folks ever invented. With brothers who routinely make me laugh until I think I might pee a little, and a sister who has a tendency to spout hilarious non sequiturs (and occasionally confuse Mother Teresa with Mother Nature), I've found that conversations with my younger SuperSibs are a wonderful way to get my mind off of just about anything. And as we get older--and geographically further apart--it's nice to see we're actually growing closer. And with my parents...well. I can always count on my mother to email me necessary pop culture updates from the States, as well as the occasional link to some fabulous piece of clothing/shoes/accessory; plus she always seems to know when I need an inspirational quote or a laugh. I tell my dad absolutely everything (he's something of a legend at the Royal Danish Ballet now, thanks to his Facebook profile), and in the same way I have a thing for imaginary horses with horns, he has a thing for bacon. Needless to say, my family's numero uno when it comes to getting me out of a funk. Cliche? Perhaps. But I lucked out with the whole genetics thing.

(2) Read a book. Look, I don't consider myself to be "cool." I have big hair; I once stored books in my oven because I use it so infrequently/live on takeout due to lacking of kitchen skills; I get my shoelaces caught in my bike pedals; I watch bad television; I clean my apartment while blasting Ike & Tina Turner songs; I snort when I laugh. So naturally, I'm a bookworm who enjoys getting lost in a good novel on a regular basis. (I'm currently reading Sarah Vowell's The Partly Cloudy Patriot, and it's awesomely witty...perfect for a rainy Sunday like today.)

(3) Go out with friends, even if you're feeling a little bit homebodyish. You might end up being pleasantly surprised. Perfect example: Last night. Before our performance, I was feeling a little 'le blabla.' (This is a new feeling, discovered when I spent Christmas in Paris with friends. We found a cafe called Le BlaBla, and since then have defined the phrase as a mood.) My friend Cecilie asked if I wanted to go out, and even though I had planned to spend Saturday night on my couch--undoubtedly engaging in time lord-watching activities (this will be explained later), and not much else--I decided to give it a go, at least for a little while. And I was so glad I did: I ended up hearing fantastic music at a Stengade party at Vega and had a wonderful night out with Cecilie and two other girlfriends, which ended with the obligatory shawarma stop before going home. I regained my "muchness" for a couple of hours. Plus we saw the following display, which completely made me smile:

(4) Talk about it. I used to be the queen of Bottling It Up, Sweeping It Under the Carpet, etc. I rarely cried (except in movies; I cry, inexplicably, at some point in most films I see). I applied a thick layer of sarcasm to the situation. The sarcastic streak remains, but since moving here, I've realized that if you keep everything inside, eventually you'll end up like a shaken bottle of Coke. Once you open it, soda goes everywhere. So not to sound like a Hallmark card, but I highly recommend the occasional vent-fest to your friends. Go out for a glass of wine, and spill the beans. With peanuts involved. You'll go home feeling better.

(5) I believe in brunch. Like Bruce Wayne believed in Harvey Dent, I believe in brunch. There is nothing not to like about mankind's greatest culinary invention. It's got a hybrid name, is often served in buffet form, is best enjoyed in the company of good friends, is generally experienced on a day off from work, and occasionally--if it's fancified--involves champagne. I can't find anything wrong with this situation.

(6) Dr. Who, the David Tennant years. Sometimes, I can't deal with people. You know the feeling when you don't want to talk to anyone, and you're a little bit homesick, and you feel very unattractive or single or bloated, and the only thing you can tolerate involves no communication with the outside world, a big blanket, maybe some Dumle candy, and your favorite guilty pleasure TV show? There are days when I need to go home and put on pajamas right after work and eat dinner. And then I need to curl up in the awesome pink blanket my mom knit me, get out a bag of the aforementioned Dumles and a pitcher of "rød" juice, and (because I have no TV) YouTube full episodes of the awesome BBC science fiction series Dr. Who. If you don't know Dr. Who, know two things: (1) It is a series about a 'time lord'; (2) It is a series with episode titles like "The Planet of the Ood" and "Fires of Pompeii." Enough said.

(7) Cry. Sometimes, none of the above will do the trick. Going out won't help; you're not in the mood to read; time lords aren't real; it's nighttime on a weekday so you can't do brunch; your siblings and parents suddenly have lives and are unavailable; you don't want to talk to anyone; whatever. And the only thing that will work is a full-on, splotchy, snotty, good old-fashioned cry. The kind that leaves your eyes puffy, and then you sleep like a baby. So just do it. Cry in the shower (that's wonderful), into your pillow, curled up in bed with the one stuffed animal you've kept since your baptism...just do it.

(8) Remember that at the end of the day, you have it pretty good. There are truly crappy days. And then there are the days where I indulge in my melodramatic side, and exaggerate events to the point where even I realize I'm being ridiculous. Those sorts of mean reds are quickly cured when I remember: I have a fairly lovely life. My family's far away and sometimes--yes I will admit it--I get a little homesick; but thanks to the wonders of the information superhighway that is the Internet, I can contact them whenever I want. I'm lucky enough to have made a second family of sorts through the wonderful friends I've made this year. At 21 years old, I support myself doing what I love in a city I love. I have my health (poor eyesight aside), and all of my hair, teeth, and limbs. Sometimes I get to guest blog about friends' promotions with The Ballet Bag, like I did here. At the end of the day, my life is not so bad. Plus, I get paid to do stuff like this onstage:

That's a pretty sweet deal if you ask me.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Guest-Blogging with The Ballet Bag

I was very flattered and very excited when the ladies from The Ballet Bag asked me to "guest blog" about the men's premiere of their M/K Danseur Noble program. So I wrote a little something about Royal Danish Ballet's dashing men in tights, and if you'd like to read what I had to say about their performance, please click here.

And then when you're done, keep noodling around The Ballet Bag, because it's a fantastic website, and the ladies who run it are super cool :)

And THEN when you're done noodling--assuming you are in Copenhagen--please please please come check out both the M/K Danseur Noble and Ballerina programs, running through June 5 at the Operaen. Seats are (inexplicably) widely available, and both are really cool, beautiful ways to spend an evening on Christianshavn.

Finally, to everybody in the Royal Danish Ballet: As we end the season next weekend, I'd like to thank you guys for one of the most fantastic years of my life. What a long, strange trip it's been...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ballerinas Rock

In this case? Literally. I have some super-cool friends in the theatre, and one of these is fellow blogger/fabulous person Cecilie Lassen. Through her blog, she met the guys from the bangin' Danish band The Floor is Made Of Lava. Cecilie befriended the band and is now one of the hot ladies in their new music video for their second single, "Leave Me Now (Leave Me Tomorrow)." I love the song, and I love that Cecilie's rockin' out in the video, so please enjoy: Danish rock n' roll, with some Danish ballerina. [FYI: She enters at around 1:05, and later on takes the mike. And yes, a little air guitar is involved.]

Monday, May 24, 2010

A peek inside the theatre...and a crushed dream

A long weekend (which, amazingly, isn't over yet!) has been filled with all of the following: sunshine; ballerina dancing; a friend's huge party at the Hotel Skt. Petri; beer and hot dogs consumed while sitting on milk crates at my favorite nighttime place, Mesteren og Lærlingen; sauna time, Lagkagehuset time, sleeping time; three pairs of pointe shoes sewn; and multiple loads of laundry done. On this holiday Monday, I've decided to take a virtual photographic tour of some of my favorite little-seen places in the theatre.

I'll start by reiterating: I love working at the "old theatre." Our dressing rooms--one for every two people--are like our second homes; we spend so much of our time where we work that switching dressing rooms could be considered a big move. (I know I have a lot of crap in mine; pictures of family everywhere, pointe shoes, all of my leotards and tights and warmups, sneakers, towels, multiple packages of American drugs (Tylenol/Advil/Emergen-C/etc), sewing kits, hair supplies, candy, toiletries, four jars of imported peanut name it, it's probably in my dressing room.) We can do everything there: eat in the Kantine; do laundry in the machines on each floor; sleep on the cots in our dressing rooms; sauna; shower; have everyday clothes altered or mended by the wardrobe department; pick up a seemingly endless supply of free pointe shoes/ballet slippers/toe tape/Stitch Kits/Hot Stuff glue/ribbons/elastic/toe pads/2nd Skin; get our hair cut by the hairdressers (appointment necessary, and nothing fancy, but still); work out in the gym; get massages and physical therapy; and obviously ballerina dance. I feel really privileged to work in a place with so many luxuries and awesome facilities; a lot of dancers don't get so much. Here, then, are pictures of some of the backstage rooms I love so much.

The hairdressers. I love this place. We have some fabulous Swedish ladies who will make our hair all pretty--no easy feat with my mane--and who make me laugh.

There are mildly creepy styrofoam heads all up in the hairdressers. Some for the ballet (I wore a lovely, Emma-esque wig for En Skærsommernatsdrøm), and some (like pictured above) for the new My Fair Lady production.

THE SAUNA. One of my favorite places in the building. I talk about it often, and I feel like people don't believe me when I say, "We have a sauna at work." Photographic evidence: We have a sauna at work!

The casting board as it is right now; this is where they post cast lists for the pieces we perform. Updated fairly often, it's an experience of visual overload. Sometimes I can't deal with it. Too many papers. I show up at 10am and go from there.

Outside the ladies' wardrobe department, racks and racks of ballerina costumes. Most of these are for next season's Swan Lake.

The wardrobe department is a magical room, with fabric and needles and dress forms galore. Organized chaos reigns supreme. I love it.

And now, for an image of a dream forever crushed...*WARNING: The following image may not be appropriate for all audiences. It may cause nausea or extreme disgust; if you have a strong aversion to feet, or anything remotely gross, please stop reading here.*

Yes, it's sad but true: My dreams of being a foot model are forever crushed. These are my feet, at the end of a long season. They don't look much better at the beginning of the season, but they've achieved a particularly impressive state of "gnarliness" by this point. People are always curious about dancers' feet--morbid wonderment, I can only assume--so here you go. (I've learned to always wear slip-ons when I go back home and am introduced to my parents' friends; for invariably at some point, my mother will say, "She's a ballerina, you should look at her feet, they're GROSS!" At which point I am expected to remove my shoes and, like something out of Ripley's Believe it or Not, expose the monstrosities that are my feet.) No, the bumps don't hurt, and neither does the bruised toenail. No, I don't get many blisters; I do get corns frequently, and they are miniscule points of highly concentrated pain which I am reduced to bandaging up or (if I'm feeling very brave) digging out with the aid of sterilized tools. (Note: This isn't recommended; please if you're reading people really should go see a podiatrist to have it done, but I don't have the patience to take a day off from work to do so. My method works for me, with no side effects of infection, but this doesn't mean I advocate it.) I risk remaining eternally single by posting this photograph, but that's a risk I'm willing to take.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Leading up to the Last Dance

The lack of posts this week has been a result of extreme business leading up to the premiere of our final program of the season this past Thursday. But that has come and gone--wonderfully, and filled with lots of amazing ballerina/danseur noble dancing and tulle and hairspray and fake eyelashes, all of that--and now the countdown begins. We have just five shows left and then my first season with the Royal Danish Ballet will be over. And on this Saturday morning, I'd like to indulge in a waking moment of nostalgia. The season feels like it has gone by in approximately two seconds, and yet at the same time I feel as though I have been here in Copenhagen for years. These past ten months have been full of big changes for me, both professionally and personally, and I am so happy to say I feel I can go on summer holiday knowing I have made some positive strides forward in both areas. I have met a second family in the form of new friends, I have found a company atmosphere where I feel I can make improvements in my dancing, and I have moved to a city that I have absolutely fallen in love with. I consider myself pretty lucky on a daily basis, and not many people can say that :) So tusind tak--to Copenhagen, Royal Danish Ballet, and my family and new second family, for giving me one helluva year.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Signs of the Times

I love Copenhagen for many reasons, but one of my favorite aspects of this wonderful little big city has to be the creative signs everywhere. There are posters, graffiti, public displays of art, store names, and many more examples of the unique charm that is to be found in Danish advertising (and Danish bathroom graffiti artists). I find awesome nuggets of charm and amusement on a near-daily basis; it is the frequency with which I discover these that has turned me into one of those people who lugs her camera with her everywhere she goes. Here, from The Vault that is my camera, are some of my favorite CPH moments of truth:

I fondly remember sitting on the toilet at the library, looking up on the wall, and seeing this bathroom art. When I posted this picture on Facebook, my friend replied: "I am totally writing this somewhere in New York." I don't advocate defacing public property, but since this made my trip to the loo better, I concluded that (1) surely it had done the same for others; and (2) as a result only improved the library's bathroom.

This was taped to the side of a building, and I couldn't help but admire its literal, very direct interpretation of a popular English phrase (at least where I come from).

This might be my favorite CPH "sign of the times" ever. Because if I ever find time to meet a boy, and if said imaginary boy and I ever have children, I sure hope one day they can frolic and play on a giant cigarette butt.

Another bathroom shot--this time, at a bar while out with friends. I enjoy two things about this photo: (1) that the first person quoted Shakespeare on the wall of a bathroom; and (2) that another person responded by writing "muligvis"--in Danish, "probably."

Seriously, someone other than me needs to collect the bathroom art in Copenhagen. This was also captured from a toilet seat. What do I like about this? It's sassy, and snarky, and needs to be said sometimes.

One of my favorite ads ever. This was for the CPH.DOX documentary film festival, and the fabulous old man and equally wonderful slogan were everywhere. And thus I found my daily slice of joy all over the place for a couple of weeks.

In America, the ads and posters for the amazing movie Up were cute. But they upped the adorability factor considerably in Copenhagen with this. Your move, USA.

Fun fact: Danes take their beer very seriously. I don't remember why the Carlsberg horses were brought from the factory to Kongens Nytorv to partake in this display (a holiday beer release; a company anniversary; a random Tuesday), but I do remember that seeing big horses advertising a beer--and one far superior to Budweiser at that--made me smile.

This is a recent burst of Danish creativity. Apparently, it's an ad for Sprite, though I'm not sure what selling one's mother has to do with carbonated beverages. (The ads say something like: "You rarely need your mother, but you can always use a Sprite.")

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sunday Sneak Peek

After a long couple of weeks rehearsing heavily for our last program, it's finally here: We premiere this week :) The girls ("kvinder") on Thursday; the boys ("mænd") on Friday. We end with a double-performance day on June 5, so please catch this program at the Operaen on Christianshavn while you can.

It's an interesting premise to end a long, wonderful season (my first; I cannot believe it's over already!). Normally, programs are pretty mixed. Take one look at this season's rep, and you won't really see anything that is totally dominated by one sex or the other. Now we have one program, with two "parts" (six shows each), giving people the option: Would you like to see girls or boys this evening? Personally, I'm curious as to who will sell more tickets...haha :) But seriously, the focus on "Ballerina" on one night and "Danseur Noble" on another piques my interest. Having been able to watch only glimpses of the boys rehearsing onstage, it has been interesting for me as a dancer to see the already-apparent differences between the ladies and the men highlighted even more than usual. There are a few moments in both programs when "the other sex" joins in the fun, but for the most part the evenings offer a chance to see the girls show of their individual technique, and the boys theirs. Not much partnering. Not many chances to see a leading ballerino sweep a leading ballerina off her tiptoes. (In our girls' program, there are six boys in Serenade, two in The Cage, one in Eid♀lon, and none in either Den døende svane or Five Brahms Waltzes in the Manner of Isadora Duncan. And in the boys' program? Just one girl, in Eid♂lon. No ladies in any of the other pieces: Bournonville variationer; A Suite of Dances; Les Gentilhommes; or The Unsung.) This program has also made the rehearsal process a completely different experience. I have gone several days without seeing guy friends at work because all of my rehearsals are all women. It has been interesting to see how this affects the way things run. Turns out, rehearsals have been a bit chattier and involve way more debate, but end up being slightly more efficient. I mean, the girls are professional. We chat, but always about the choreography... :)

Here, courtesy of David Amzallag's awesome Royal Danish Ballet blog, are some pictures of the upcoming end to Royal Danish Ballet's season. If you're in Copenhagen between May 20 and June 5, I can highly recommend both as wonderful ways to spend an evening.

Two good friends of mine, Alban Lendorf and Alba Nadal, rehearse Kim Brandstrup's Eid♀lon. (And yes, if you're wondering, I think the similarity of their names is fun. Except when I confuse a text message to either, since they're back to back in my phone book. Then it's annoying.)

Hilary Gusweiler as the Waltz Girl and Kristoffer Sakurai as Waltz Boy in George Balanchine's Serenade. I love love love this ballet. (Fun note: Hilary will dance Waltz Girl with Ulrik Birkkjær; while Kristoffer will return to the stage--after an injury--with Susanne Grinder.)

Fellow Yankee newbie, soloist Jodie Thomas, makes an absolutely fantastic "Novice" (new bug) in Jerome Robbins's The Cage. Plus she totally rocks the black wig :)

Soloist (and the guy who introduced me to this awesome video) Sebastian Kloborg performs José Limón's The Unsung. A tribute to Native American tribal leaders, this ballet features no music. And the bits I've been able to sneak into the wings and see look really cool--I'm very excited to watch the whole piece at Thursday's general rehearsal!

So there you have a bit of what's to come this week at the Operaen. Happy Sunday to all, and here's hoping the sun eventually makes an appearance...surely it's springtime beneath the clouds and infinite shades of grey in the sky...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A night out with ballerinas and zombies

Yes, you read correctly. Zombies. Allow me to explain.

After work yesterday, two of my girlfriends and I went to a friend's new apartment in Frederiksberg for a super-hyggeligt dinner. We celebrated several things: his new digs; my new digs (coming in August!); the free Thursday; having successfully made it to the last program of a long season; life in general. It was so nice to sit and talk and enjoy delicious food, champagne, and dessert with three really good friends.

Post-dinner festivities ended up on Strøget. I don't usually go out on the "walking street," but we found a bar with live Irish music and what seemed like a generally festive atmosphere, and big comfy chairs, and warm(!) peanuts, so we sat for a couple of drinks. Along our way to this location, and inside the bar itself, we had noticed people walking around with what appeared to be blood and bits of other people's guts on their faces. Turns out last night was the Copenhagen Zombie Bar Crawl. And people took advantage of an opportunity to do two things: (1) dress as zombies; (2) drink at multiple locations. The ones we met weren't scary at all, and were quite happy to have me snap their photograph. Here are two shining examples of what nightlife in Copenhagen can occasionally bring:

Don't worry. He was cool. And my friend walked away unscathed. (Also, we were curious about his makeup, and turns out he got it professionally done. He took Zombie Bar Crawl seriously.)

This guy was particularly happy to be photographed. And as well he should have been: He went all out with the blood.

And so, I had a wonderful Wednesday evening in Copenhagen, filled with friends, food, bubbly drinks, sweet treats, and the walking dead. It's back to work tomorrow, which means back to my favorite ballet ever, Serenade. And to end this post on a not-so-bloody note, I include another photograph of Serenade rehearsal, courtesy of David Amzallag :)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

One last war, and playing with tulle

Tonight, I go to war (in Othello, that is) one last time. It's always fun to be a part of the last performance of a program--the energy is a little bit different, heightened maybe, knowing you won't be performing the piece again for the foreseeable future. Also, people sometimes bring candy, so that's a plus... :) Also also, last night we had Danish pop star Medina in our audience. Just a fun fact.

After tonight, we have no performances until our final M/K program, beginning May 20. (See my earlier post for links to the program and ticket information.) We'll be rehearsing at the Operaen until then, Serenading and being bugs and working on a world premiere. It's long days ahead, but luckily for me, I love this program, and have a random Thursday free this week.

Speaking of Serenade, RDB photographer David Amzallag snapped this shot of me in yesterday's "photo" rehearsal--which means we were in costume and makeup, with lighting, the whole shebang. Going from piano rehearsals to running the piece with the orchestra makes a world of difference, especially with music like Serenade. Personally, the music is especially crucial to me; I have always loved musical dancers and finding different ways to phrase movements. So enjoy the photograph; and yes, I do find as many moments as I can to play with the skirt :)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Husk din mor!

Or, "Remember your mom!" Happy happy Mother's Day to my wonderful, fabulous, funny, brilliant, charming Momma T--I miss you, a big fat kys og knus across the pond today and every day :)

You put up with years and years of this, and for that I am eternally grateful and forever apologetic :)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Gaga for Gaga...still

This video--quite popular in the ballerina world right now (at least, the ballerina world on Facebook...)--combines a lot of my favorite things. Ballerina dancing; Lady Gaga; a choreographer with an oddly-spelled version of a common name (Jaered); platinum blonde wigs; general ridiculousness...enjoy :)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Blue tulle, with a side order of man-eating bug...

We had our first "kost/mask/foto" (aka "costume/makeup/photo") run of the final program of the season today, at the Operaen in Christianshavn. This last program is interesting (to me, at least) because it's the M/K Program, running May 20-June 5 at the Operaen. Which means Male/Female. Which means that during the 12 performance run, 6 of the shows feature all- or mostly-male ballets; and the other 6 all- or mostly-female.

For me, this is a heavy program. Of the five ballets on the bill for the ladies, I'm in three: George Balanchine's Serenade; Jerome Robbins' The Cage; and Kim Brandstrup's world premiere Eleidon. While I cannot offer you a preview of the latter, I can offer sneak peeks of the former, thanks to photographer David Amzallag and my fellow corps member Birgitta :)

Without further ado, then, some lovely photographs snapped during Serenade rehearsal by David Amzallag:

Moi, between entrances in our main studio, Malersal.

Just before we "peel off" in succession...I love this moment.

The iconic Serenade pose, apparently inspired when Balanchine saw one of his students shielding her eyes from the sun's glare. Here, up-and-coming corps member (and all around lovely, wonderful person) Hilary Gusweiler (in the beige practice skirt) enters as the Waltz Girl.

Exiting the stage as the Waltz Boy (in this case, new principal Ulrik Birkkjær, not pictured) enters. This is a really nice moment for me--you're leaving the stage, walking into this blue light wearing a blue confection of tulle, with your hair in a French twist, and the music is beautiful, and also you know you've got maybe two minutes offstage to breathe once you hit the wings.

And now for something completely different (but equally enjoyable)...The Cage, in which we portray man-eating, praying mantis sort of bugs. My big, wild hair is a pro (for once!) in this ballet, and I. Love. It. Tak to Birgitta for snapping these post-runthrough goofing around shots in our dressing room today:

This isn't even all of my hair. The hairdressers didn't want to deal with all of it, so they didn't pull the ponytail fully through the elastic.

The detail on these costumes is amazing--kudos to our wardrobe department. We were individually fitted for the front piping and back "spine" work, so that each of those features would fit each person's individual body shape. (Example: So the piping would cover our, well, nipples.)

And now, after a long day at work, I'm having a girls' night in with some of my fellow ballerinas. Takeout and Twilight are in my very near future; I very much look forward to the former, and eagerly await an opportunity to mock the latter :) Happy fredag, København!

PS--Happy Birthday to Tchaikovsky! And a big fat tillykke to Google for promoting ballerina dancing through its logo today :)

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Here's your chance to see photographs of a few Royal Danish Ballet dancers...naked. Opening on May 14th as part of the Copenhagen Photo Festival, The Naked Diary Photo Project is a collaboration between two friends of mine--photographer Noam Griegst and my fellow ballerina child/blogger/art director Cecilie Lassen. It will be fun to see my friends and colleagues performing normal daily activities in their birthday suits, and if you want a chance to see some rockin' bods as snapped by one of Denmark's top fashion photographers, well here's your golden opportunity :)

For more information on this exhibit, check out:

(And no, Mom and Dad, I am not one of the naked ballerinas ;-P)


For my last four performances of Othello, courtesy of U.S. soldiers stationed in Afghanistan...this dancer salutes your skills :)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Likes and Dislikes

I've recently been inspired to renew my interest in the "little things" in life. Because it is precisely these little things which make the big thing of life so wonderful (or, on certain days, not-so-wonderful). Here, then, are simple likes and dislikes. And yes, this post was inspired by my recent re-viewing of one of my all-time favorite movies, Amelie :)

I like to cut up six-pack plastic rings before throwing them out, even though I know now that it doesn't make much of a difference for the fish.

I dislike seeing said six-pack rings littering the streets of Copenhagen. (I pick these up, snip them apart with my always-handy sewing scissors, and throw them out. Yes, I've been stared at as though I have multiple heads.)

I like stirring sugar into my latte less than is necessary for it to fully mix in with the coffee. Because then, at the end of the latte, there is a sugar mixture which is almost too sweet to stomach...but just sweet enough. And when the drink is gone, I like removing the lid and scooping out the leftover foam. (I drink coffee like a five-year-old.)

I dislike when my coffee is served at any temperature below "searing hot." This is why I frequent Lagkagehuset over Holm bakery.

When the sun is out, I like to walk across Knippelsbro while listening to my iPod, close my eyes, and feel the springtime on my face. I look idiotic, perhaps, but it is such a nice sensation.

I dislike coming home to hear my cantankerous neighbors fighting in slurred Danish, stopping the fight when their dog begins to howl--at which point the lovely couple howls along with their pet.

I like to buy myself flowers from the stands in Israel Plads on Sundays. Cherry blossoms are my favorite, followed closely by daisies, sunflowers, and orchids.

I dislike when the flowers die mere days later. I feel like I cannot keep anything (other than myself) alive for very long. Though at the beginning of the season I did have an orchid which lasted three months...

On free weekday nights like this evening, I like to put on my biggest sweater--it reaches my knees--and fuzzy knee socks, curl up in bed right after eating dinner, and watch a happy sort of movie while eating Dumle candies and drinking "red," a flavor of blended juice sold in Denmark.

I dislike when the Dumle wrappers pile up and the movie ends, because by that point I am quite cozy and do not want to get up to throw the wrappers away. But I have to. I cannot sleep in a bed of red plastic.

When I go out with friends, I like to collect the free postcards offered at most cafes and bars. I have a collection of over 200 now. (I also like taking pictures of lost shoes while out. There are more lonely shoes in Copenhagen than you'd think. See previous post for photographic evidence.)

I dislike forgetting to bring my own plastic bag to the grocery store. Buying them there costs 3 kroner, and I have quite a stash at home, so the whole situation is mildly frustrating and costs me money (albeit not much, but still).

To combat my neighbors' noise, I like to play very old music at a fairly loud level. Not rock and roll, but go back a little further. I feel the contrast will maybe send them a message: Yes, I can play your game; but I will do it with style.

I dislike the nights where I cannot sleep because I am homesick or upset or feeling like a 21-year-old single American girl in Denmark. These nights are few and far between, but they are annoying. Plus I wake up tired for work, and my profession is not so easy to begin with, being quite physical in nature and all.

I like finding surprising new places to go out to dinner or brunch or for drinks. (A few of my favorites, for their atmosphere and music and decor, are Mesteren & Lærlingen, Cafe Din Nye Ven, Cafe Intime, The Living Room, Dalle Valle, Sofie kælderen, Christianshavn Beboerhus, Månefiskeren, Dag H, Pastis, I'll stop here but needless to say, Copenhagen has many excellent places for day or night...)

I dislike going to a place that makes me uncomfortable. Most trendy, hip nightclubs and other places where "cool people" go give me that sort of feeling. (I went to a place called TS Bar once. It has no listed address, and you must either be on the list or a guest of someone on the list--I was one of the latter, obviously--in order to get in. Outside the basement-level entry is a sign reading "Shhh..." and inside was very dark and overpriced. The quiet sign put me off straight away, and the prices put the nail in the coffin. I much prefer good food, drinks, and old music in a relaxed atmosphere. No lists, and no high heels.)

I like my new Danish friends. A lot :)

I dislike missing my family. A lot :(

Finally, I love my newly adopted little-big city of Copenhagen. I love what I do, and I really love the people I've met in the last ten months. So a big fat tusind tak to all involved, and a happy free Tuesday evening to moi :)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

48 Hours

I figured today I'd give a glimpse into my daily life--not that I'm especially fascinating, but it's something to write about, and yesterday and today offer good examples of both my free day and work day schedules.

Yesterday was Friday, and in Denmark, something called "Stor Bededag," which basically means Big Pray Day/a day off from work. Basically, from what I know, in the days of yore Danes had "pray days" sprinkled liberally throughout the calendar year. Then, a German guy came into office and decided it would be efficient to combine the pray days into one Big Pray Day...and there you have the explanation for yesterday being a "free day" for me :) Most of the shops were closed, and I elected to catch up on some much-needed sleep, rising at the semi-decent hour of 11:30am. I futzed around on the Internet, changed out of my pajamas at noon, and made a trip to Lagkagehuset for a pastry and a latte. After I was done eating and stumbling through a Danish newspaper, I went to work to do some laundry and sauna. (Yes, we have washers and dryers at the theatre; and yes, we have a wonderful lovely sauna.) I came back home at around 2, Skyped with family, noodled about the Internet some more, ate dinner and watched my favorite movie ever, Amelie. I fell asleep reading British Elle at 10pm. It's official: I do indeed live the most exciting life ever.

Today was a work day for the ballerinas (and ballerinos) of Royal Danish Ballet, despite most other government-sponsored jobs having the day off. (Here in Denmark, May 1 aka May Day is a big excuse to find a park in Copenhagen, start drinking beer well before afternoon hours, and basically do that all day. General frivolity seems to be the description of May Day celebrations.) At any rate, I got to the theatre at 9 to change and warmup and get coffee from the Kantine. There is a small group of us who get to work at pretty much the same time every day, and we've dubbed ourselves "The Breakfast Club." So I sat and chatted with TBC, others arrived, and at 10 we had (optional) morning class with our boss, Nikolaj Hubbe. (Daily class is technically optional, though my personal physical makeup requires that I take every morning. Plus, I enjoy ballerina class.) At 11:30, we had rehearsal for Serenade--the Holy Grail of Balanchine ballets, in my humble opinion--for an hour. I. Love. That. Ballet. 12:30 meant lunchtime today. (On performance days, lunch is shortened to 35 minutes and starts at 12:30; non-performance days, we have a leisurely 45 minutes though break starts an hour later.) At precisely 1:05, I had a 55 minute rehearsal for the Kim Brandstrup world premiere, debuting in our final program starting May 20. To end my rehearsal day, I trekked up to the studio known as Siberia for an hour's work on Jerome Robbins' fabulously weird The Cage.

After my last rehearsal, a couple of girlfriends and I took advantage of that awesome sauna. Then I showered, did a little grocery shopping before the stores closed at 5, and now I am home, blogging and Tweeting and Facebooking and all sorts of virtual communicating. Since I have a performance of Othello at 8 tonight, I will take a nap--or at least lie down and do absolutely nothing!--for about an hour. (Fun fact: Ballet dancers, at least at RDB, are big fans of naptime. Never call your friends between the hours of 4 and 6 on performance day. It's naptime.) I'll head over to Skuespilhuset to be there around 7, and get my greasepaint on and pigtails ready to soldier forth at 8. Othello is quite short, clocking in at 45 minutes, and we have tomorrow off, so following the performance a bunch of people from our little group hope to go out and celebrate May Day for a bit...take advantage of a few hours of blissful normalcy.

So there you have it. 48 hours in the life of a ballerina child. It's not exactly Page Six-worthy stuff, but it's a daily life I rather enjoy :)