Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Slide Show

When I started sorting through photos for this post, I had a flashback to some time in the late 60s. I was a young child, sitting on the floor in a living room in the D.C. area, watching a slide show of another family's vacation. Ktch, ktch, ktch. The slide projector moved from one image to another. I got sleepier and sleepier and sleepier.

If your eyes are glazing over as you read this, you have my permission to get up, take a walk, take a nap, check Facebook, sip a Coke, or whatever! If you choose to stay with me, welcome aboard!

Almost a week has passed since I last wrote and what a week it's been. Last Thursday night, Ballerina and I got tickets to ABT's performance of Swan Lake with Paloma Herrera, Ballerina's favorite dancer. The entire evening was perfect. The sets and costumes were beyond amazing. The orchestra fine tuned. And the dancing. Oh, the dancing. It was exquisite!!!

After the performance, Ballerina and I caught up with Blaine Hoven, an ABT corps member who trained at Mobile Ballet. He did a superb job as Benno, the Prince's best friend. His mom would have been so proud!!! Not only did he perform well, he was gracious and kind to an aspiring dancer.

Fast forward to Saturday when we played tourist. Our first stop - the Staten Island Ferry.

We rode it from Battery Park to Staten Island, raced through the terminal and got right back on the next ferry for the return trip. We had great views of the Manhattan skyline, Lady Liberty, and garbage barges.

The girls loved having their Lady crowns! They wore them throughout the weekend and brought smiles to lots of folks (and several cute comments)!

When we got off the ferry, we took the subway back to the Brooklyn Bridge stop for a trek across the bridge. What a massive structure. We helped the enterprising salesman who had something cold to drink at the halfway point!

When we got to the other side, we took the DUMBO exit (down under Manhattan Bridge overpass) and walked down to Grimaldi's for some of their famous pizza. The hour-long wait in line was well worth it. Hand-made, homemade, baked in a coal oven.

We topped it off at Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory down by the pier. Apparently the pier is THE place to go for wedding photos. Saw three wedding parties there. Our girls sure looked cute against the skyline, even without their wedding attire!

Time for popcorn now. The next show begins in a couple of days!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Walk On

Yesterday a couple of the moms and I WALKED to the World Trade Center site. We hadn't planned it in advance, so my shoe selection wasn't the best. Let's just say that I'm lovin' Blister Band-Aids today. Fifteen Three or four miles later, we saw this.

Still so much to be done. Work goes on 24/7.

Although my feet hurt from the walk, I'm glad we went that way rather than by subway. We got to see NYU, pretty neighborhoods, interesting shops and restaurants. Stopped for tea. Found a mini-Chinatown as we crossed Canal. NJ friend bought a "Gucci" bag from a basement room. Quite exciting!

We then took the subway uptown, transferred to another going downtown, then walked some more, searching for another pointe shoe store. Ballerina's affection for Freeds is waning. Looks like we need Suffolk Solos again. The trip was a blur, like this subway photo.

We got back just in time for NJ friend's afternoon yogurt before picking up the girls from ABT. Another good day . . .

Monday, June 22, 2009

Weekend in the City

Rain, rain, rain. If it keeps raining, I'm placing an order for gopher wood!

Despite the rain, Ballerina and I had a great weekend. We walked to the local pizza place on Friday after class, then down to the East River.

When we got back, Ballerina was ready for dessert so we went in search of cupcakes. The place we went last week was closed, but we found Crumbs and got some for us and to share. Yum! The cappuccino cupcake was best.

We slept in a little on Saturday morning, then headed out shopping. We walked a couple of miles, until the rain got too heavy, then took a cab on down to Saks. Ballerina still had some birthday money to spend and chose a tote bag at the Juicy store. Also got a happy for Sketcher at the Disney store.

We ventured on down to the garment district in search of some large fasteners for the bag. Walked past Radio City Music Hall and thought of California Nephew who loves Aretha!

We found the fasteners and realized that it was about 3:30 pm and we hadn't had lunch. So we walked over to Macy's (you know, the one with 9 floors and a basement!)and ate in the cellar cafe. Good salads. Shopped a little more, without buying, then took the subway home and ate dinner with Ballerina 2 and her mom. We found a diner around the corner with good food at a reasonable price. I had some homemade chicken noodle soup to help cure my cold. The waiter suggested lemons for the soup. It was excellent. Got a bowl to go for later!

Ballerina and I slept in even later on Sunday then went to the Frick, an amazing collection of the finest art displayed in the Frick house. The home itself is a work of art. To think that one individual could amass that kind of collection is astounding! It has been augmented since Mr. Frick's death, but the majority of the works are pieces he acquired. We saw the art of Vermeer, Turner, Renoir, Rembrandt, Whistler, Bellini, Goya, El Greco, Van Dyck, and many others, as well as Renaissance bronzes and Limoges enamels. The exterior shot and the art piece are from the Frick website. Ballerina is standing near the side garden.

On Sunday evening we attended Redeemer, a PCA church with multiple sites around the city. The jazz worship band was excellent. What a joy to worship with fellow believers!

Thanks to all of you who have emailed me about the blog. We appreciate your support and continued prayers.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Week 1

The first week of the intensive is almost over and what a week it's been! Ballerina had her placement class on Monday. Kinda like auditioning all over again — only this time, everyone in the room was an amazing dancer! Ballerina and Ballerina 2 both were placed in the highest level for their age group. Woohoo!! Exciting and challenging.

Here they are on the first day of class, standing in line, waiting to enter the building. Butterflies in the tummy, I'm sure.

At the lunch break, Ballerina and I walked down to Union Square Park for lunch with Ballerina 2 and another dancer whom we met at last summer's intensive in Tuscaloosa. Sweet girl with a really great mom!

At this intensive, they don't allow parents in the building. Good thing I'm the one here, not Writer. He would be vexed at not getting to do a sweep of the building every morning! Doesn't meet his security standards. But, I take comfort in the fact that a Gestapo-trained very diligent guard sits at his post the entire time she's in the building, denying entrance to anyone who remotely resembles a parent. So, this is all I've seen of the studio so far.

I have seen everything west of Broadway over to 6th Avenue. I've walked and walked and walked and walked. Hauled and toted and walked.

Ballerina's dance bag must weigh at least 25 pounds. She carries 2 pairs of pointe shoes, 2 pairs of ballet flats, character shoes, character skirt, jazz shoes, jazz pants, lunch box, water bottles, leg warmers, jacket or wrap, bun supplies, extra leotards and tights, pilates mat, and a ton of other stuff. Big difference in tossing in the back of my SUV, hopping out in front of the studio, and carrying it 100 yards! But we're so delighted to be here that we're not complaining — really!

Some of you have asked what a typical day is like for her. After breakfast, we walk about 4 blocks to the subway, ride the subway, walk about 7 or 8 blocks to the studio, then wait in line until the studio opens at 8:30. Conditioning class begins at 9:00. She then has a technique class followed by a pointe class. Lunch is 1:00-2:00. After lunch, she has two more classes — repertory, character, modern, jazz, choreography, among others. Classes end at 5:15. We then walk back to the subway, ride, and walk to the apartment. Dinner. Shower. Devotions. Bed.

She's tired, but tired from doing what she loves. What a blessing to be here!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Birthday and Ballet

Ballerina celebrated her 14th birthday on Sunday. What a glorious day!

The morning began with her favorite hot pink roses and presents. We then walked down to Dunkin Donuts for an extra healthy start. I'm pretty sure if you have to walk to the donut shop and back, it cancels out the calories.

Months ago, Ballerina asked to go to Chinatown for her birthday. I was happy to oblige. We stopped at Union Square Station first to make sure we knew exactly how to get to ABT from the subway on the all-important placement day. That accomplished, we rode on down to Canal Street and bargained our way through Chinatown. Ballerina scored on several items.

Lunch was at a Chinese restaurant where I was one of four non-Chinese in the room and one of six who didn't speak the language (Ballerina & Ballerina 2 included)! Ballerina was finally in the majority, a rare experience for her. The girls were a little surprised that we were expected to share a table with complete strangers, but they warmed up to the idea and happily ate their chicken fried rice (their own, not the strangers'!).

We shopped a little longer, then headed back to the apartment to get ready for the big surprise. Ballerina received tickets to New York City Ballet's benefit performance, Dancer's Choice.

The highlight of the evening for us was watching Katie Morgan dance the pas de deux from The Sleeping Beauty. Her performance was breathtaking and her costume was exquisite. We've known Katie since she was in middle school and it was exciting to see her perform with NYCB. Katie knew it was Ballerina's birthday and gave her a signed pair of pointe shoes which will be treasured (for the non-ballet fans . . . that's the equivalent of getting an autographed baseball from a pro ball player).

Ballerina declared it the best birthday ever!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Bagels and Ballet

We've had two fabulous days. Yesterday we started the morning at the bagel shop. Nothing like fresh bagels, toasted with cream cheese.

After a quick stop back at the apartment, we headed to the subway where we got our Metro passes — unlimited riding for a month. Ballerina had a pointe fitting at the Freed store in Queens, so we made our way on the 6 and the V. Really easy to find the place, thanks to the good directions on the phone. We even had entertainment while underground.

For the uninitiated, finding the right pointe shoe is like searching for lost treasure. You know it's there, but locating it is a test of perseverance. Like a street shoe, the length and width have to be correct. The pointe shoe also has to have the correct profile, vamp, taper, and shank strength. The shoes are handmade from satin, canvas, paper, and glue. Being handmade, no two are exactly alike and each maker has his or her own signature shape. Some shoes have their maker's mark stamped into the sole.

When we got there, another ballet friend from home was finishing her fitting. Squeals and hugs all around.

The fitter at Freed was so attentive and exacting. Ballerina's feet were examined and measured. She tried on at least a dozen pairs of shoes — different sizes, different styles, different makers. She had Goldilocks' success — she found some that were just right.

Back to the subway, across town to Hell's Kitchen where the Yumiko shop is located. I had promised Ballerina a Yumiko leotard for her birthday. She and Ballerina 2 had lots of fun trying on different styles and colors. Both came away happy.

Lunch was at Chipolte. Inexpensive and spicy!

We walked through Times Square, did a little shopping, then returned to the apartment where I made dinner. After dinner we walked around the neighborhood. Found a great little bakery and each got a cupcake. Mom 2 and I got angel food, Ballerina had vanilla and Ballerina 2 had red velvet. Yummy!

We crashed last night and slept late this morning. We planned to go the Union Square farmer's market and on the Staten Island Ferry. An email changed all that -- tickets to ABT's Giselle. What a treat! Maria Riccetto was even better than the last time we saw her.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Great Adventure

A few months ago, Ballerina auditioned for American Ballet Theatre's summer intensive program. You probably heard her shriek where you live when the acceptance letter arrived!

Her joy increased when she found out that Ballerina 2 got the same letter. Ballerina and Ballerina 2 were in the orphanage together in China. Our families traveled at the same time to adopt our daughters. Although we've known Ballerina 2 for 13 years, we hadn't seen her in years (we moved away from the city where they live when our daughter was about 2 years old). I recognized her at the audition (from Christmas card photos), called her mom, and our families reconnected.

We decided to share an apartment for the six-week program. Yesterday we all arrived in NYC. Here's the gorgeous apartment where we're staying. The adventure has begun!