Yes, I admit it. For those of you who know me well and to those who may not know me at all:
I’m a bit of a smarty-pants.
I’m completely aware of my ailment and I really do take steps to improve on this know-it-all attitude. So when I’m proven wrong – I mean, like terribly wrong – I am happy to admit my mistake and rejoice that I am overcoming my condition. In this case I’m referring to my experience at Company XIV’s show called “Rococo Rouge” (and since I’ve studied, worked, performed in various dance forms my whole life, I’m a particularly hard critic and smart-ass when it comes to dance-based performances).
My tango student and theatre buddy Edward insisted that I go see this show, describing it as a great variety show that includes dance, burlesque, trapeze, circus, singing, live music… he gets so excited telling me about it that I’m cringing on the inside, “ugh, I don’t like variety shows, it always means that they try to stick too many things together and the overall product ends up mediocre.” Besides, this is someone I go to see Macbeth, Pina Bausch and Alan Cumming with… not variety shows. So ok, here we go, are you ready Edward? I was wrong !
This is truly a well crafted show of very talented (I should say multi-talented) dancers, singers and one gifted director/choreographer Austin McCormick. I am not a theatre critic, but imagine a show that opens with a high caliber baroque opera scene and slides into a rendition of Iggy’s ‘Fancy’ like it’s the natural and sensical progression of the show. This melding of time periods and styles happens throughout the evening and it’s never jarring… you just think, “yes of course you would do a french version of ‘Royals’ and then Britney Spears and then “Drunken Love.” Obviously…
It does help that the singers are impressive and the fact they are also very strong technical dancers and the choreography challenging and elaborate… well: the 10,000 hours theory to becoming an expert at just one skill be damned. There’s a ballerina on pointe who also does the Lyra, an actress|dancer who performs on the Cyr wheel, a pole dancer… you get the idea. It is actually a REAL variety show, as was intended.
A few of my favorites: the costumes are fantastically divine and deserve mention. Clearly custom-made and a lot of thought and care went into their development. The crooning voice of Katrina Cunningham will make you find new appreciation for the overplayed “Drunken Love” and las but not least, I love that they finished the show with a cancan. Not an overly choreographed cancan like many would be tempted to do today, but one where legs are flying and it’s a frolicking wild good time. So much so that a dancer fell on her bumm, got up laughed it off and kept running with the group. I just saw a real cancan for the first time. I don’t even know if it’s historically accurate and I don’t even care, because this company made me believe it was the real thing.
Well played, players. Looking forward to your Nutcracker.
If you’re in the city by mid-November, you should get tickets to this show, enjoy great drinks and have a merry intro to your holiday season: http://companyxiv.com/
Our second stop on the dance fitness tour took us back to the basics. It’s fun to see the rest of the nation is becoming obsessed with barre, so we had to resume our place. There are many derivatives of the Barre Method, but the goal is always the same: we want the long toned lines that we associate with dancers. And because we love a chance to hang with our own brand model, Shay Kostabi, starting with her class at FlyBarre in Flatiron was a no-brainer. My friend Pasha, who is a dancer in his own right, agreed to pay our girl a visit. When he asked what FlyBarre was, I realize now I may have been a little too vague in my description:
“You know… like a series of conditioning exercises based on ballet barre…” He thought about it, nodded, and in we went for the FlyBarre experience.
When I kept getting evil glares from him between our sweating and low level grunting… I guess I deserved it. To his credit, he totally rocked it and Shay made us laugh through the work and grunting.
PEOPLE: ballet dancers have amazingly toned bodies because they work HARD! I know they make it look soft and easy but all the dancers I know are some of the toughest, strongest and most disciplined/diligent athletes I’ve ever seen. If you don’t like concentrated and highly intense toning exercises that feel like they will never end, then this is probably not for you. If you like to feel a serious burn… go sign up.
Some notes on the Flybarre Flatiron Studio itself:
Coming from a grimey dance studio background, I was impressed with how polished and cool this space is kept. The reception is very professional, the slate maze-like hallways setup a serious and intense environment. They supply you with towels, water, great bathrooms, lockers; all you could ever expect from a quality studio. Added bonus: right as you finish class theres a clean-up crew that comes in on your heels and leaves the studio wiped down and spotless for the next group. Impressive!
The work is intense but the teachers are inspiring and keep the energy up even when you think you don’t have another leg-lift left in you to give. Shay was invested in our working hard and getting value, which I hear is common for the team here. You know you will work hard, probably suffer a bit, but the hour goes by fast and after it’s over your quickly laughing and enjoying yourself again. Well, until the next day at least…
West Coast Swing has a lot of NY COOL…
Years ago I saw a video that inspired me for a tango choreography I was building. Yes, it’s pretty typical to pick inspiration from others. What was special was that I’d never seen this dance before. At that time I promised myself I would learn West Coast Swing someday (I was living in Buenos Aires and there were no lessons, I checked).
So when I received the “You Should be Dancing” newsletter about their beginner West Coast workshop, I signed up without checking my calendar. The teacher, Ricardo Torres, was warm and adapted his teachings to the group of students who showed. He was very clear about the steps and kept it simple, allowing us to get through a lot in one day.
What can I say about this dance? First, I really don’t understand why more New Yorkers aren’t doing this. Why has this not blown up yet? It is the epitome of ‘cool’ in social dance.. the movements are smooth and subtle but you can play when you want, the music is diverse and jumps from pop, R&B to classic rock. So you’re actually dancing to some of the music you probably listen to. Seriously NY!! Get into this. I was feeling the movement, the steps, the vibe… but the best part? When I was able to not look down at my feet anymore and look up at my partner, I noticed he had a huge smile on his face, and remembered —
Oh yeeeah... this is what social dance is all about: Enjoying the music, enjoying the stranger in front of you and sharing a smile.
Thanks for the reminder West Coast. We so often forget how simple joy can be.
If you want to check out any of the great classes at this NY studio, sign up for their newsletter at http://www.youshouldbedancing.net/index.aspx
For the video that inspired me just get to about 0:52.. you’ll see what I’m talking about.
We all know you’re going to be eating all kinds of great summer party foods this weekend…if you haven’t already. Even though we’ve been detoxing and clearing out the old energies all last month with healthy foods and new habits, there’s no reason why we can’t enjoy a little patriotic celebrating among friends.
Just make sure to balance it out with some quick but intense workouts to enjoy the festivities guilt free. If you feel like you don’t even have time for a trip to the gym or your usual spin class, here’s a no excuse 5 minute plan:
- 1 minute of alternating walking lunges (add 10lb weights for a challenge)
- 30 seconds jumping jacks
- 30 seconds push-ups
- 30 seconds burpees
- 30 seconds squats
- 1 minute alternating lunges
- 30 seconds tricep dips
- 30 seconds plank
Do all these exercises without rest between them and then let me know if 5 minutes isn’t enough to get a workout in! Then go enjoy all your 4th of July weekend favorites!
Maybe it’s the summer heat that creeps up on you and slows you down, maybe it’s our detox theme that has made us look at some of our eating and lifestyle habits… but there’s something to the art of slowing down when possible. I know we are all on the go and in a rush to get our work done and to have a resemblance of a social life, but recently on a work trip I found an easy way to slow down and it paid off.
I was recently in Italy for the first time in my life and I decided that I would allow myself to sit and enjoy the food. All diets and guilt trips out the window. A trip passing through Florence by myself doesn’t happen everyday and I felt I had to really take advantage and enjoy. The irony is, I thought that I would return home having gained at least 5 pounds. I mean I really let myself go at it, baked goods for breakfast, pasta for lunch, pizza for dinner…I didn’t hold back. And since I usually try to be gluten-free, you can understand my surprise when I got on the scale and the numbers were the same. I didn’t even do all that much walking or exercising while I was there, so what was the big difference.
Upon reflection, I realized that the big difference was that I allowed myself the ‘luxury’ of sitting down and taking my time to enjoy each meal. I savored every bite and enjoyed each sinful platter, knowing this was a special treat. Often I didn’t even finish a full plate of pasta because the sitting and taking my time with it made me realize I was full before the plate was empty.
Ok, so I’m not saying go out and eat pizza and be merry, but there’s something to be said for taking your time when you eat, allowing yourself to savor and maybe surprising yourself when you realize you don’t have to finish the whole plate in order to be satisfied. Of course I got back to my hectic NY life and immediately wanted to stress eat through every pizza corner place I passed. The point is, I realized that I can have those highly desired foods if I take the time to sit, breathe and truly allow myself to enjoy every single bite until I feel full. Thinking of being on a sidewalk café on the streets of Florence also helps create the mood. 😉