Monday, June 28, 2010

The Geography of Love (Part 1)

In working with Cross Connection recently, I have been exposed to many wonderful new things. Two of these are sources of inspiration for Louise Midjord's beautiful ballet, "A Map of Me (and You)." I will discuss the first of these today: 17th-century French author Madeleine de Scudéry's fictional map, Carte de Tendre (Map of Tenderness).

Of the "Carte de Tendre", Wikipedia says, "The Map of Tendre (Carte de Tendre) was a French map of an imaginary land called Tendre produced by several hands (including Catherine de Rambouillet). It appeared as an engraving (attributed to François Chauveau) in the first part of Madeleine de Scudéry's 1654-61 novel Clélie. It shows a geography entirely based around the theme of love according to the Précieuses of that era: the river of Inclination flows past the villages of "Billet Doux" (Love Letter), "Petits Soins" (Little Trinkets) and so forth."

The map represents the "stations" of love as if they were real places--a sort of "topographical allegory." The river Inclination divides the country; it is joined by two smaller rivers, Respect and Gratitude, before flowing into The Dangerous Sea. The map is meant to be read from bottom to top, and along the way plots the path of relationship. Three main cities--New Friendship, Tender Esteem, Tender Recognition--are marked on this map. The path from Nouvelle amitié to Tendre-sur-Reconnaissance represents the gradual increase of love; there are places to be avoided (the Lake of Indifference, the smaller towns of Betrayal and Indiscretion, etc.).

I understand how one could get inspired by the idea of love as a destination or a geography. I was so happy when I found out about this creation from Louise: it is beautiful, maybe sad at times, but the imagery behind the fictional cartography and the idea of relationships as journeys ring true in a gentle (and yes: "Tendre") sort of way. Though I have little personal experience in the area of relationships at this point in my life, I don't think much is needed to appreciate this wonderful creation: Love is sort of a universal subject, and whether it's experienced from afar (observing a couple in love; seeing people fall out of love) or from within, this map represents feelings and emotional "destinations" recognized by most of us.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Other people's secrets

Every Sunday morning, I get up, get a croissant and a [double-shot] latte, and log onto a website called PostSecret. People from all over the world mail postcards to the man who runs the site, and on these postcards they write a personal secret--some are sad; some are funny; but all of them are interesting to read. There's something oddly fascinating (for me, anyway) about reading something extremely personal about a complete stranger. Comforting, too, when I read someone else's secret and realize: It's not just me, then! Here are a few of my favorite recent secrets (all pictures from

Friday, June 25, 2010

Denmark's out [of the World Cup, that is] . . . but Cross Connection's in

After three weeks of helping out my lovely friends at Cross Connection Ballet Company, their Outside In program premieres tonight at Skuespilhuset. I've seen the whole evening's pieces, and I can tell you with only a hint of bias that it is an awesome, crazy, weird, fantastic, beautiful program of first-class performances and some amazing choreography. (Plus, there is an exhibit showing a sort of museum of each of the choreographers' projects, and I am proud to say I took a good chunk of the photographs. Watch out, Annie Leibowitz? Not exactly, but it is pretty fun seeing my memories on a big wall!)

So if you're in Copenhagen any time between this evening and Tuesday, come see us at Skuespilhuset. We're fun, and we don't bite (usually ;-D). Enjoy this teaser trailer, made by Royal Danish Ballet soloist/CCBC dancer/iMovie whiz kid Marcin Kupinski:

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Burning an Effigy of a Witch, or: How Denmark celebrates Midsummer

Last night, I joined some friends on Nyhavn for a traditional Danish celebration of Midsummer--Sankt Hans aften. Not having ever really celebrated Midsummer in any way before (it's not much of a holiday in America), my first Midsummer experience was one of the weirdest holidays I have ever witnessed, though admittedly a lot of fun. (Plus, my name means "the place where witches go to brew their potions." I had to see what this was all about.)

Wikipedia tells me this about Skt. Hans celebrations: In Denmark, the summer solstice celebration on June 23 is called Sankt Hans aften, or St. John's Eve. It was an official holiday until 1770, where the medieval wise men and women would gather special herbs that they needed for the rest of the year to cure people.

It has been celebrated since the times of the Vikings by visiting healing water wells and making a large bonfire to ward away evil spirits. Today the water well tradition is gone. Bonfires on the beach, speeches, picnics and songs are traditional. In the 1920s, a tradition of putting a witch made of straw and cloth (probably made by the elder women of the family) on the bonfire emerged as a remembrance of the church's witch burnings from 1540 to 1693. This burning sends the "witch" away to Bloksbjerg, the mountain 'Brocken' in the Harz region of Germany where the great witch gathering was thought to be held on this day.
A Midsummer hymn written by Holger Drachmann and P. E. Lange-Müller called "Vi elsker vort land..." ("We Love Our Country") is sung at every bonfire on this evening.

And there you have it: with drinks and snacks in hand, my friends and I enjoyed the wonderful people-watching on Nyhavn last night, and a little bonfire action. Because nothing says "summer" quite like burning a "witchified" scarecrow and sending it off to Germany . . .

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Copenhagen is ready for its closeup . . .

Audrey Hepburn famously said, "There are certain shades of limelight that can wreck a girl's complexion." That may be true, but the sunshine currently lighting up my newly-adopted fair city is quite flattering indeed . . .

Even when it rains, the Danes keep it light.

The sun means a perfect atmosphere for the ballet equivalent of a rock concert: Sommerballet at Ofelia Beach.

Cross Connection rehearsals in St. Ny. at Gamle Scene mean wonderful views of Kongens Nytorv.

Rent a boat in Christianshavn and have a "do-it-yourself" canal tour . . .

Or kick it old-school on land with a horse-and-carriage ride through Kongens Nytorv.

Old car, at the old theatre, illuminated by a fairly old light (aka, the sun).

Nyhavn is a fantastic location for seeing what sommerferie is all about. And that is: a beer; good friends; sunshine; and the wonderful holiday feeling of having absolutely nowhere to be, and nothing important to do :-)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Baby Ballerina Flashbacks

Thanks to one of my friends (and to the magic that is Facebook!), I have recently gotten some videos of a baby ballerina young me, dancing on my tippy toes in Miami. For my mother, then--a reader of this blog, and one of those strange human beings on planet Earth who inexplicably refuses to join the addictive cult that is Facebook--I share with the world here. (And like the posts say: No copyright infringement intended!)

Concerto Barocco, sweet sixteen and one of my first summers really away from home. Third movement second violin was my reason for being in July of 2005.

Raymonda Variations , 2006. (I kick in at around 4:54.) This was killer hard; I have vague recollections of fearing that last diagonal, but also of loving it.

Paging KDT: A Father's Day Post

Today is Father's Day, and so this post is a humble ode to my father. It's hard to adequately describe my dad; his Facebook posts and my stories about him have made him something of a small legend in the Royal Danish Ballet. Brilliant beyond belief, with a sense of humor that is perhaps more twisted than my own, I talk to my dad every day (often multiple times a day). I'm lucky to find myself, at 21 years old, having a unique father-daughter relationship where we're more like best friends than a dad and a daughter. I tell him everything, literally. Boy problems; work things; personal problems; where I went out; whatever. And miraculously, he listens and responds to my whining/jokes/hyperarticulate overthinker's musings on any and every subject. He emails me fun stuff to do in Copenhagen--things I don't even hear about, and I live here--and which bands I *have* to see at Roskilde, based solely on their weird names (prime example: Japandroids).

My dad has taught me innumerable life lessons, some of which I will share with you here. Beer is good. Budweiser and Stella Artois are barely beer. Talking Heads will always be awesome. P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves & Wooster can brighten the gloomiest of days. Bacon = ambrosia. Bullitt bikes rock, especially his, dubbed Steve McQueen. Steve McQueen rocks. Internationally prank-calling my fighting neighbors via Skype will occasionally calm them down. Never post Facebook pictures in which my curly hair makes me appear "perilously close to channeling Fran Lebowitz." [In short: Fear the Lebowitz.] Important updates about goulash are occasionally necessary, especially if one is going to Budapest. Tavi looks like a Muppet. Men have a proven mathematical equation to figure out how 'young' they can date: His Age/2 + 7 = Youngest Dateable Age. Baðherbergi = bathroom in Icelandic. Coffee is necessary to start, and thus get through, every day. In related news, cheap coffee beans produce coffee that tastes the same as the expensive stuff. If you go somewhere memorable, always take proof of purchase--like going to church and taking home a bulletin. Rafiqi's gyro stand on the Upper East Side of Manhattan is an excellent place to go for lunch. In Copenhagen, biking to IKEA from Kongens Nytorv is not as wonderful of an idea as it sounds. Going out and having a good time is totally allowed, especially in your 20s. The Sleep Talkin' Man might be a genius. It is okay for me to be single, and it is also okay for me to confess crushes; related: if I am home alone and choke, I can always give myself the Heimlich maneuver. If you're into graphs or displaying information or reading things with titles like The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, then Edward Tufte is your guy. Watch out where the huskies go, don't you eat that yellow snow. Videos and webcams of pretty much anything in Iceland are very cool. Gooby is a word. The Internet makes stalking, research, new virtual celebrities, finding out about weird events, and international communication possible; for these reasons, we love the information superhighway. "Overshare" is the new "TMI." The GMail Chat monkey emoticon is a wonderful way to end most online conversations, especially when typed with the Danish word for monkey: ABE!. [Furthermore, if you name the monkey 'Maria,' you can then say, 'Abe, Abe, Abe, Maria.'] United States one-dollar bills are excellent for making origami, specifically origami button-down shirts. Glee is like Cop Rock, but without the cops. Puns, especially when related to sheep, are fun. A healthy sense of humor (dark, droll, sarcastic, witty, punny, doesn't matter) is crucial to leading a happy life. And one more time: beer is good, especially with bacon.

A happy, happy Father's Day to my dad, the weirdest, coolest, most intelligent, funniest guy I am privileged to know :)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Vampires are so hot right now (and a little blog lovin')

In anticipation of Roskilde (and, hey, because it's Friday), I bring you a sampling of a band I'm very much looking forward to seeing: Vampire Weekend. I love them, and their witty, light music; and in my dreams, I'm going to meet and befriend them in line for the toilet/getting a beer/somewhere in the huge field of tents. Because this won't happen, I do what I can, which is to bring you this bit of joy, in the form of the absolutely fantastic video for "Holiday" off the band's latest album Contra:

[And if you'd like to give my blog some lovin'...
Follow my blog with bloglovin ]

Thursday, June 17, 2010


One of the perks of being a ballerina child in Copenhagen is this: Through the friends I've made in the theatre, I have met all sorts of artistic types outside the ballet world, singers, actors, musicians, etc. One of these is Anders Walter, artist behind the wildly popular Danish comic book series Solas.

I learned about Solas at the theatre when a poster and free promotional DVDs for the latest installment were left around the studios for us to sample one day. I went home and checked it out, and while I may not fully understand all of the words (though I am proud to say I can read a fair amount of Danish now!), I immediately loved the look of Solas. (And when I met Anders a couple of months later, while enjoying a night out with friends, I told him in my best Danish: "Solas er så, så flot!")

Solas: Opikayana is the first in the series. If my beginner's knowledge of self-taught Danish serves me well, here is the story (in a summary roughly translated from For 15 years, Solas was waiting for revenge. As a boy he had witnessed his family being slaughtered by the tyrannical ruler of the world, Nedal. Solas gets one final chance for revenge when his father's old soldiers, led by Niloc, decide to make one last assassination attempt against Nedal and his world empire. A letter sent to Niloc says that a group of resistance fighters have got hold of secret plans of Nedal's fortress. With the hope of finding a weak point in Nedal's stronghold, Niloc and Solas go off to fight in the darkest and most dangerous part of the occupied world. The mission is straightforward: To destroy the vital satellite system that controls Nedal's huge army of killer robots, and thus liberate the world. The latest book, Solas 2: Den Stille Angreb (The Silent Attack), continues their adventures.

What follows are some illustrations from the graphic novels, taken from Solas's Facebook page. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do :)

Skrevet & tegnet af Anders Walter
Rentegnet af Miwer & Anders Walter
Farvelagt af Kristian Funder

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Christiania: it's not 'going to pot'

I live in a neighborhood of Copenhagen called Christianshavn, a lovely little area just across Knippelsbro. It's got wonderful restaurants, a funky atmosphere, and of course: Christiania.

Wikipedia provides the following information about Christiania (also known as "Freetown Christiania"), saying it is "a self-proclaimed autonomous neighbourhood of about 850 residents, covering 34 hectares (85 acres) in the borough of Christianshavn . . . From an official point of view, Christiania is regarded as a large commune, but its relation to the authorities has a unique status in being regulated by a special law, the Christiania Law of 1989 which transfers parts of the supervision of the area from the municipality of Copenhagen to the state . . . has been a source of controversy since its creation in a squatted military area in 1971. Its cannabis trade was tolerated by authorities until 2004. Since then, measures for normalising the legal status of the community have led to conflicts, and negotiations are ongoing . . . the community is known as staden ('the town'), short for fristaden ('the freetown')." My point with this post is to prove two things. (1) There is more to Christiania than marijuana. (2) Despite its controversial status, it's actually quite a wonderful place to go for a walk, sit by the lakes, grab a coffee or beer with friends.

Admittedly, upon entering its gates, one must not expect the Upper East Side of New York. Actually, you might want to think more Lower East Side. Wear your Hunter boots or wellies, though, and you'll be just fine; while Christiania is a little bit more grungy than other parts of Copenhagen, it has lots of stuff to do and beautiful areas to just sit and enjoy the day (or night). There are shops with really cool handmade goods (one of my favorites sells iron- and metalworks, and has an area where you can see the workers crafting new things). Loppen hosts tons of concerts and performances, with monthly schedules posted on streets and DONG energy boxes and telephone poles everywhere. Vegetarian cafe Morgenstedet serves big portions of amazing organic food, and Cafe Månefiskeren (one of my personal favorites) is the perfect place to grab coffee on a Sunday morning--plus, they have unbelievable brunch (and I'm serious about my brunching). Spiseloppen is Christiania's 'fancy' restaurant. It's actually the ideal place to take one's parents. First, freak them out a little bit by saying, "Let's go to Christiania." Then enter the old, warehouse-esque building that houses Spiseloppen. And when you enter the place and they see it is, in fact, a pretty restaurant with delicious food, their nerves will be calmed and stomachs full. You'll be the favorite child for at least three days.

Here, then, are some pictures I've taken in Christiania. Enjoy, and if you're in Copenhagen, don't skip this "free state" just because of its too-cool-for-school reputation. Like most good things in life, there's more to Christiania than meets the eye.

The 'official' entrance to Christiania, on Prinsessegade in Christianshavn.

Christiania is full of art--on the walls bordering the free community; as entryways to a new area; placed sporadically around the town. Keep your eyes open while walking through...there's a ton of stuff worth seeing.

Yes, Christiania might be a little dirty, a little bit hippie hippie shake. But even the garbage is happy to see you.

About two blocks before the 'official' entrance on Prinsessegade, you can enter through a side path and see this mural. And then you can go to one of my favorite little cafes, Månefiskeren (which means Moonfisher; if you go, notice the wonderful crescent-shaped candleholders placed on each table, which I've contemplated ordering along with my latte on more than one occasion).

Upon leaving the free state of Christiania, you will see this sign. Think about that: For a couple of hours or so, you kind of left the EU. Pretty sweet. And all without having to confront any fear of flying.

Monday, June 14, 2010

An Inside Look at Outside In

For the past week, I have been sitting in on Cross Connection Ballet Company's rehearsals for their upcoming program, "Outside In," performing at Skuespilhuset June 25-29. It's been one of the most fun, enjoyable ways to spend my days, considering I get to be around friends and take pictures/video of new choreography all day long.

Here are two videos from two of the choreographers involved: Constantine Baecher and Tim Matiakis. Enjoy the sneak peeks, and if you're in Copenhagen this summer, definitely get a ticket for "Outside In"!

Constantine Baecher's video:

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Tim Matiakis's video:

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Friday, June 11, 2010


Last night, I met up with my friend Grace and went to lovely little Tivoli. Rumored to be Walt Disney's inspiration for Disneyland, this amusement park (for lack of a better description) is something of a national pride for Denmark. With Michelin-star restaurants, gardens, concert venues, rides, and an upcoming Tivoli Hotel, the place literally has it all. And even if you're not big on crazy, upside-down sorts of rollercoasters, it's a great place to go walk around and grab a beer with friends in the Scandinavian summertime. When I moved to this country last year, my dad and I went to Tivoli a couple of times (including his last night here); we got beer at the brewhouse, rode the Himmelskibet, saw Kaiser Chiefs at Fredagsrock, and just enjoyed ourselves some quality Tivoli Time.

I was going to see the Pantomime Theatre's premiere of La Ventana. I have a couple of friends in the Pantomime, including a few who recently arrived in Copenhagen from the good ol' USA for the Tivoli summer season. So last night, though it was raining and not-so-nice outside, I went to see a little outdoor ballet and to enjoy my first Tivoli date of the summer. The Pantomime had a fantastic premiere, Grace and I had a wonderful time (albeit under umbrellas and hoods) watching them, and we enjoyed a little premiere reception afterwards onstage, complete with a soundtrack of Disney songs provided by a marching band playing near the peacock stage. All in all, a great evening: A little rain won't ever stop me (or the Danes) from enjoying some Tivoli fun.

Welcome to Tivoli :)

The entrance to Tivoli is lined with lights, trees, and happy people entering and exiting the park. I know it well, and every time I walk in, I smile.

This was a new one to me: a Tivoli Truck! Painted on the side of the mini-car was this wonderful sign. I love the Tivoli Truck.

Before the performance, we grabbed a glass of wine at a karaoke bar, sort of in the back of the park. It's on a wonderful little lane full of these weird shop signs, and I love walking along looking at them hanging down lining the street.

The Peacock Theatre, where the Pantomime performs. When the performance starts, the peacock collapses down into the stage. And rumor has it they're getting a new one next year, so catch the original while you can :)