Thursday, November 6, 2014

Obsessed: AOL On's City.Ballet

Have you seen the series of shorts about New York City Ballet dancers on AOL On, called City.Ballet? They're free, no more than a few minutes long, and give a fascinating glimpse into the lives of professional ballet dancers. Executive produced by Sarah Jessica Parker, City.Ballet covers everything from injuries and choreography to ballet masters and retirement. I binge-watched Season 1 last year and now that Season 2 is on, I'm hooked. I especially loved the episode that followed dancers in their "off time"; I often forget that dancers have interests other than dance!

My obsession also probably stems from the fact that I studied classical ballet for 14 years. That's 14 years of my mom (or dad) shipping me back and forth from school to ballet to home nearly every evening for technique, then pointe, then company classes and a gym bag I hauled around full of things like moleskin, surgical tape, seamed tights with a hole in the foot (so you can prep your feet before pointe), and Mirella leotards. And while I knew there was no way in hell I'd ever be a soloist at Pacific Northwest Ballet (flat feet, limited flexibility, thunder thighs, etc.), ballet was still a huge part of my life - because I loved it. Usually, when I know I'm not totally great at something, I bow out in order to make a graceful exit and give up. But not with ballet. I was totally committed. I only quit when I turned 17 because my two musical instruments (piano and violin) and a myriad of AP courses in high school took over. But that didn't mean that I stopped dreaming about ballet nearly every single day. I still have dreams where I'm in that Tacoma City Ballet studio overlooking the Puget Sound, warming up before a company class.

Today, I still long for my ballet-filled days by following Instagram accounts like The Ballerina Project and searching for tickets to see the Royal Ballet at the Royal Opera House (Jodi managed to get fourth row tickets for us to see Sleeping Beauty together on my birthday a few years ago and I cried when the curtain went up!). Since moving to London, I've taken one class, at London Russian Ballet School. Though marked as a "beginner" class, it was actually really difficult! I think the center floor combinations would have been a struggle to learn even when I was at my "prime" as a teen. I've been meaning to try a class at Central School of Ballet, as a few of my friends have been (with no ballet experience whatsoever) and really enjoyed it.

What about you? Was ballet part of your life when you were growing up? Or any other form of dance? I'd love to learn contemporary dance now too, I think.



  1. Thanks for linking to this! I just watched the first season and it's fascinating. I love learning about the passion and dedication of ballet dancers--it inspires me to try to imitate them in my own life in some ways. I just wish the show showed us more of the actual dancing...

    (Sorry if this double-posts!)

    1. Forgot to add--did you read the New Yorker's profile of Misty Copeland this September? It's here:

      My favorite part is the discussion of how "the essence of ballet is the practice of it."

    2. I hadn't read that article, Marjorie - thanks for the link! I started reading her autobiography this summer but didn't get to finish it ... she has such an interesting life story.

      I totally agree about wanting to see more of the actual dancing in City.Ballet. I understand if they didn't want to film too much of the performances, but I would have been happy just to see them in class! I suppose they need to keep "non-ballet types" interested too, so wanted to have a good balance between the dancing and interviews.


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