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.
LIVING IN VIVEY
As a fun way to celebrate the launch of our fall capsule collection, I decided to spice up my workout and share the experience with you all. Vivey is inspired by dancers and how they are effortlessly feminine… they have been doing the #Iwokeuplikethis look before hashtags existed. So in honor of my fellow dancers and ladies who inspire our collections, I invited my friends to join me and change-up their workouts this month with dance-moves instead of doing their usual gym run.
I was thinking along the lines of the new local Barre class, a little AKT action, Body by Simone, maybe some Physique 57… so I was a bit surprised when my friend Jihyun (and one of my models) said she saw a pole dancing studio near FIT, and she really wanted someone (aka-me) to go with her. Now, this wasn’t on the top of my list of dance workouts to try, but I’m not one to back-down from a challenge, so we signed up for their open-house event and recruited a few friends along the way. The studio (for all you nyc’ers) is Body & Pole at 115 W. 27th St, which offers great discounts on introductory packages, allowing you to see what fits best for you. http://bodyandpole.com/
I should mention that I had my doubts about going into a Pole Studio, but this experience completely erased all my stereotypes. The reception as you walk in the door is high energy, friendly and helpful, while the studios: pristine, well designed and spacious. Lets just say you walk in and you feel comfortable from the start. As a group of friends, we took two classes back to back. I guess we thought since these were intro 40-minute classes, it wouldn’t be too challenging. Ummmm, yea, we were wrong. Our shaky muscles and dripping sweat quickly humbled our level of fitness (we took conditioning for aerial and then vertical barre). If you think that conditioning for aerial is your typical localized workout, please be warned. You will stretch, squat, jump be pushed and you WILL sweat. This class alone is enough to give you the well-balanced workout you seek to spice up your routine. By the end of conditioning we were weary of what we’d gotten ourselves into, but went straight upstairs for the Vertical Ballet Barre class. This class uses the infamous “Pole” but more as a prop for balance as you go through a series of ballet style exercises. You’ll be on your toes and achieving your dancers dream calves in no time. Needless to say, my thighs were trembling throughout most of this class… so be ready for a serious workout.
Some thoughts from my brave girls who joined?
Caroline says that after finishing our graduate degree at FIT, this is the place she will hit to revive her interest and excitement for working out. “It was a full body workout for sure. I was definitely surprised to be feeling sore for several days afterwards…” and Jihyun left the class beaming with a smile and a “that was great!” Though as we were leaving the studio, she looks at me with her sweet innocent eyes and says, “but Celi, we didn’t actually do a pole class yet…” I brace myself, “what are you saying Jihyun, do we have to come back?” She knows me sooo well and says, “well, conditioning we can do anywhere… but… pole… well that’s unique.”
Ugh! I hate when my friends know how to hook me in.
So yes, we bought an intro to pole pass, meaning: this particular story will have to be continued…
the girls with vertical ballet barre teacher Allison. Celi (far left) is wearing the Vivey volume tank and Jihyun (on the right) is the volume tank in white.
Monday, June 30th
- FREE Bryant Park FitClub: Pilates 7:30am – 8:30am
Join Pilates on Fifth for an outdoor mat pilates class open to all skill and age levels!
- FREE HBO Summer Film Festival @ Bryant Park…Bring your picnic by 5pm / Movie starts at sundown!
A Soldier’s Story will be playing at sundown…
- FREE Outdoor Strength fitness class hosted by Brooklyn Strength @ Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 6 Promenade 7:30pm – 8:30pm
Tuesday, July 1st
- FREE Yoga @ Bryant Park 10am – 11am
Join YogaWorks instructor Anna Hughes-Dioguardi for a blend of spirit, calmness, sweat and music for a satisfying practice. Mats provided!
- FREE Opera @ Crotona Park Bronx 7pm
Mary-Jane Lee, soprano
Ginger Costa-Jackson, mezzo-soprano
Yunpeng Wang, baritone
Dan Saunders, pianist
Wednesday, July 2nd
- FREE Bryant Park FitClub: Boot Camp 6:30am – 7am
Join The Rise NYC for a Boot Camp with rotations through exercises like crunches, planks, and push-ups. No equipment required, just smiles!
- FREE Sunset Pilates hosted by Body In Balance Studio @ Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 5. Get your core to this intermediate class with your mat right before sunset!
Thursday, July 3rd
- FREE Yoga @ Bryant Park 6pm – 7pm
- FREE Yoga @ Prospect Park / Grand Army Plaza Entrance 7pm – 8pm
- FREE Opera @ Clove Lakes Park Staten Island 7pm
Mary-Jane Lee, soprano
Ginger Costa-Jackson, mezzo-soprano
Yunpeng Wang, baritone
Dan Saunders, pianist
Friday, July 4th
- FREE Booking Dance Festival Edinburgh @ Bryant Park 2pm – 4pm
A showcase prior to the dance festival at The Fringe in Edinburgh featuring eight dynamic dance companies from across the US, plus a special guest company from Martinique.
Saturday, July 5th
- FREE Modern Dance Class @ Bryant Park 10am – 11am
Led by dancers from the world-renowned Limon Dance Company – open to all levels!
Sunday, July 6th
- FREE Zumba @ Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 2 3:30pm – 4:30pm
Zumba with the Dodge YMCA fuses Latin and world music with aerobic interval training to sculpt the body and invigorate the soul! Fitness instructor Alma Bonilla’s classes are so much fun you’ll forget that you’re burning calories.