Stories and Perspectives

Wendy Whelan ~ An Iconic Final Bow

This past weekend Wendy Whelan, one of the most iconic dancers in recent Ballet history took her final bow.

Wendy Whelan will forever be considered an icon in Ballet history.  This is partly due to the fact that Ms. Whelan’s career spanned three decades; nearly unheard of in an art form that takes such an athletic toll on the body.  Her status is also due to Wendy’s iconic presence as a Principal dancer with the New York City Ballet – one of the world’s most prestigious companies.
As The New York Times art critic Alastair Macaulay wrote in his recent review of Ms. Whelan’s final performance:

“I’ve noted before that the finest ballets since 2000 have been created for City Ballet. It’s no accident that Ms. Whelan originated roles in most of them: notably Mr. Wheeldon’s “Polyphonia” and Mr. Ratmansky’s “Russian Seasons” and “Concerto DSCH.” Has any dancer in history been involved in more world premieres? It’s easy to imagine the stimulus of collaborating with her. (From the only time I’ve met her, I recall that big smile and how quickly she made me laugh.) And though she has certainly brought refined technique to the process, you can’t help thinking that what must most inspire choreographers has been her spirit, her mind and her sheer will.”
Alastair Macaulay’s review in The New York Times, 10/20/14
For me, however, Wendy Whelan’s iconic status lies more than in her monumental career as a Principal dancer.  For me, Ms. Whelan is an ideal role model for aspiring dancers everywhere. Though she may be leaving the stage, her legacy of humble kindness will remain.  And in today’s culture, it is critically important for aspiring dancers to have a role model with character traits they [...]

An Interview with Maria Tallchief

We have officially started taping interviews for the launch of our Podcast!
Over the course of the last few days, we’ve been busily taping multiple interviews for our soon-to-be-launched Podcast.

My VERY FIRST interview was with a renowned Principal Dancer, Tiit Helimets who dances with the San Fransisco Ballet. Going into the interview,  I felt nervous, a bit giddy and ultimately so excited that my dream was actually coming to fruition. I have been planning an interview style Ballet Podcast for quite some time.  My goal was to interview professionals or those associated with the professional world of Ballet ~ sharing their journey in dance, their remarkable stories and their words of inspiration.

In preparation for the interview, I watched countless videos of this remarkable dancer –  which left me feeling star-struck and even more nervous, afraid that my mediocrity and non-danceness would shine through, making me sound like a bumbling idiot.

After all, I had never done a Skype video call before, had zero “radio personality” and was completely unsure what to expect.

What I experienced was an extremely warm, friendly and engaging “real” person.  The famous dancer faded away. Instead, a man with a compelling story wound up sitting before me.  He told me of his hard work, of his struggles and of his successes.  He spoke of what makes him proud (attending college), and what makes his day happy (having dinner with his wife and daughter).  He was a relatable person….a friend…so much more than just a dance icon.

Since that first interview, everyone I have had the honor to speak with is equally inspiring, equally engaging and has equal the history, sage advice and truth to their journey.   There have been no egos, just [...]

Crazed is My New Normal….

I recently watched and became completely HOOKED on the Netflix series “Orange is the New Black”.

For those of you who have not seen this series – I highly recommend!   Orange Is the New Black is based upon the real life of Piper Chapman, an Ivy League graduate from Connecticut living in New York City. Piper is sentenced to 15 months in a women’s federal prison for transporting drug money for an international drug smuggler who is Piper’s ex-lover.  This all occurred during a post-college experimental phase in Piper’s life.  The offense occurred ten years prior to the start of the first episode.  In those years, Piper moved on to a quiet law-abiding life, complete with a great apartment and fiancée ~ living among New York’s upper middle class.  The episodes track her experiences in prison and at some point in time; Piper realizes that this “new life” has become her “new normal”.

After watching the series ~ it struck me that my life is in a strange way a little bit like Piper’s journey.  As the parent of a passion-driven ballerina ~ Crazed IS my New Normal.

For starters – we live in a sweet little town on the St. Croix River; the birthplace of Minnesota with its Main Street filled with “old timey” shops and restaurants.  Our quaint neighborhood has a quiet “village” feel ~ porches on the front of every house, sidewalks, green spaces ~ not to mention an elementary school, pub, yoga studio, bank and other shops and resources within a few blocks of each house.   We chose this town and this neighborhood for the reasons just stated.  In fact, we moved 30 miles AWAY from the “big city” to provide this experience for our kids.

Guess [...]

The Blurred Lines of Ballet….

And so it goes.
I am guilty of the “shiny object syndrome”.  I am very attracted to that next best thing….especially when it comes to anything that involves my children’s education or my children’s activities.

I have decided that my new mantra regarding these things….. (right now regarding my daughter’s path in Ballet) is this:

“keep in mind, you are training for a marathon not a race”.

In other words, “Big Picture” thinking….don’t get distracted by the many shiny objects immediately before us.   (My problem, not hers)

The biggest problem with this mantra is that the “Big Picture” has become quite blurry.  It is hard to keep the “Big Picture” in focus when I don’t really know what it is supposed to look like.  

All along I have assumed that my daughter’s passion for ballet would provide her with a positive and healthy “after school activity”.  I hoped that combined with her strong academics, Ballet would help to get  her into colleges she may not have been able to get into otherwise….even Ivy League colleges…..helping her move out of the Midwest. (My hope and dream….not necessarily hers)

Since this summer, however, it has become clear that the “Big Picture” needs to include the possiblilty of making Ballet her career first… second.  I really don’t have any idea if this is the path; but for the first time ever, I am left with this as one of the many paths she very likely may try.  

Back to my marathon mantra…..I do know that I would love to keep an attitude of “pacing” her training, so she is not pushed too hard, too quickly and become injured or burnt out.  On the other hand, I do not want to incorrectly [...]

The Journey in all things Ballet ~

The journey of a Ballerina is long and filled with years of sweat, perseverance and an unbelievable razor-like focus each and every day.
The journey of the Ballerina’s mother is even longer…..filled with years of driving, waiting, hoping, praying and yes paying, with an unbelievable patience of Job each and every day.

I am on this journey… name is Kimberly and I am the mother of a aspiring Ballerina.

This Blog charts my journey.

My personal journey in the world of Ballet started long before I was a mother.  As a little girl, like so many little girls, I dreamed of becoming a professional Ballerina, dancing on the stage for all the world to see.  I loved all things Ballet; the tights, the leotards, the silk ribbons, the leg warmers, the smell of the studio, the rosin…all of it.

I truly believed I would always be a part of that world……until the day my strict Spanish Ballet teacher Ms D. dashed my dreams forever.  On this day she called my mother into the studio and explained to her, as I stood innocently at the barre, that ~ “while Kimberly shows promise and a love for Ballet, she will never make it as a Ballerina….she is just too petite and little”.

Those words changed my dream forever.

In high school I decided that although I would never “be” a Ballerina, I still loved all things Ballet and took classes after school for many years…..just for fun.  Even though I would never become a Ballerina, I still loved all things Ballet.

Fast forward to today – I am ironically encompassed in the world of Ballet again.  I am now the mother of a 14 year old budding Ballerina.  And while I am still enchanted [...]