The Rite of Spring

Blog readers:

I am not often at a loss for words. I am now.

There is just no way to describe the awesome epicness of BalletMet and Columbus Symphony’s Rite of Spring. It is beyong adjectives. I was amazed, exhilarated, thrilled–I wanted to get up there and dance. James Kudelka’s choreography seems to me to be so close to what Nijinsky had done back in 1913 Paris. I’ve seen several of his works, and I think this is clearly his best effort yet.

Jean-Marie Zeitouni and the CSO were in top-notch, world-class form on all the pieces, but in Rite, they were glorious. Everything about it was perfect. The dancers, wearing dyed pointe shoes and mismatched costumes (that they pulled from the costume shop themselves) channeled the primitive, sometimes disturbing (as when the sacrifice occurs at the end) but always incredible emotions that permeate and pull this work forward to its conclusion. I have never had a more thrilling evening at the ballet, or the symphony.

If you live in Columbus, or anywhere near, you must come. Two more performances, one tomorrow evening and one Sunday matinee. DO. IT.

The performance also has Prelude to the Afternoon of the Faun (DeBussy), with choreography by Amedeo Amodio, and Rapsodie Espagnole (Ravel) with choreography by company dancer Jimmy Orrante. The costumes for this were fantastic, and the three men and three women who danced this piece brought the Spanish influences to life with their clear, crisp dancing and Spanish inspired costumes.

Seven Quick Takes Friday Vol. 13



OK, first a note.

My Traditional Catholic brethren: If you don’t start being at least marginally charitable to Pope Francis (like, I dunno, start calling him the pope, as opposed to “the current occupant of the Petrine ministry-and I didn’t make that up), until/if he does something incredibly egregious, I am going to a) stop reading your blogs and b) take a really, REALLY dim view of the Extraordinary Form of Mass, if this is how it makes you. End of note.


Now, onto happier things! Like, virginal sacrifices! Yes today is Rite of Spring day! The program showcases the artists of BalletMet and the 109 members of the Columbus Symphony (That’s like maybe 140 people on stage. Imagine that.) The program: Rhapsody Espagnole, Afternoon of a Faun, and the Rite. There are instruments like piccolo clarinet (which Tiff–the MA in Clarinet Performance, so the expert–says is an E-flat clarinet), a bass clarinet (I knew what that was) and lots of other fun instruments!


I will, of course, have a post about Da Rite, once we’re back. Bien sur! Who do you think I am!?!


To whet your whistle, here’s a costuming tidbit or two from BalletMet:

The dancers were allowed to select their own costume. The idea was that they looked sort of disjointed and a bit, well, ragged. So the costume department pulled about 250 pieces from their vast costume shop (which I’ve seen, it’s amazing) and let the dancers pick. Also, the pointe shoes are dyed great colors like royal blue, yellow, and scarlet!


Books: I started reading Game of Thrones, but probably won’t get into it until this weekend. Still reading Summa, and I found my box of Dear America books, so I’ve been delighting in them as well.


OK so knitting? I can do the knot. I can cast on. The knit stitch is defeating me. I think I understand it, in theory. I put the R needle behind the first strich on the left (like under the thread). I hold both needles in my L hand and put the yarn counterclockwise around the R hand needle, so the yarn is between the needles. And then I sort of lose it….help?


I want it to be warm. Like no more snow. No more frost. Weather is NOT cooperating!

Catholic Women’s Almanac No. 25

Outside my window::

It is cold and misty/drizzly. I WANT WARM. Rain is better than snow, but still, it’s depressing to have these cold temps.

I am wearing::

A red short-sleeved cashmere sweater with roses on the left neck; a gray layered skirt, gray socks, black boots.

I am reading::

Summa of a Summa; Death on a Friday Afternoon; Praying with the Dominicans. I re-read the Percy Jackson series over the weekend, so that was fun. 🙂

From the kitchen::

Aglio olio pasta before ballet class tonight–carbs! 🙂 I think a shrimp recipe tomorrow night, or possibly soup and sandwich, given the weather….

Listening to::

Renee Fleming, Dark Hope but about to change it to Jesus Christ Superstar. Yeah, I know. 🙂


Daily office going well, over all, as is spiritual reading. I’m also incorporating some of the Nashville Dominican’s prayers, like the Litany to St. Dominic.

Working out::

Returning to ballet class tonight, because I miss it! I may go again tomorrow night, or go to yoga class, or do circuits here at home. So many possibilities. 🙂 We’ll see how tonight’s class goes.

Around the house::

The spring closet clean-out continues, as does the organizing of the book room. And my kitchen table looks like a ream of paper exploded on it, so I need to deal with that too!

Plans for the week::

Not a whole lot other than my workout classes, and RITE OF SPRING on Friday! So massively excited. And of course Pope Francis’ inaugural Mass is tomorrow. 🙂


Peonies for St. Cecilia

Peonies for St. Cecilia

Seven Quick Takes Vol. 12



So last weekend was all about Nashville! If you haven’t read the Nashville posts, you can find them all conveniently listed here. (I realize that links here can be hard to see–they’re sort of a forest green. So trust me when I say, it’s there. 🙂 )


After the retreat, the sisters were lovely to send us a follow-up email with the group picture, a booklist, and some more spiritual direction tips. The first is “the heroic minute”–getting up right when the alarm goes off. (I think St. Josemaria is the one who named it thus.) Let me tell you, it’s indeed heroic. I like that snooze button waaaaay too much.


The book list was pretty awesome. I’ll share it with you in a later post, because it’s among my Nashville papers that I still haven’t organized. The Summa is on it, however, and I am making progress there–I’ve read about 100 pages. One of the things the sisters do every day is 15 minutes of spiritual reading, so I’ve adapted that habit for my “studious” spiritual reading–the stuff that requires my total focus and brain power. The Summa is definitely that.


So the other big thing this week: Pope Francis! I must say, I am really dismayed with how some Church traditionalists are getting on the guy for not wearing certain things (an amice? What the heck, folks). To me, he looks like John Paul II in his attire, and in his habits. But I have recently found out some didn’t like his approach to liturgy either. Sigh.

I’ve talked about this before, but it’s worth reiterating: Just because I attend an NO (Novus Ordo, the “English” Mass) that doesn’t mean I don’t like and want good liturgy. I do not like guitar Masses. I do not want puppets or dancing or any crazy vestments. God deservers proper, reverent worship. I believe that can happen in English. At my parish, we have chant. We have good preaching (Dominicans, bien sur!), we have devotion. You can have the NO and have it. So the EF (extraordinary form, the Latin Mass, the Tridentine Mass, whatever you want to call it) is not the only way to have reverence.

Are all parishes like this? Oh, my goodness, no. And I wish that would change. I think the new translation will be very helpful in restoring some lost reverence in these places.

Let us not criticize our brand new Pontiff because he doesn’t chant blessings, he doesn’t wear certain things, etc., etc. He seems very holy, devoted to prayer and Our Lady, and otherwise a solid man. I don’t know much about him; I imagine few lay people do. But let’s stop. the.freak.out. NOW.


So Rite of Spring is next week. Have I told you about this? Our symphony and ballet companies are joining forces to put on this tempestuous classic of dance and music. Since the riot at the 1913 premier, the original choreography is lost, and it’s rarely performed, especially with both complete symphony and ballet company together. We are so fortunate to see it here in Columbus! I have been waiting about a year for this, ever since it was announced last March.

If you aren’t familiar with the Rite of Spring: it’s the dinosaur segment from Fantasia.

(This is the final segment, not the beginning; I tried to find the beginning but YouTube was not obliging for what I wanted. The beginning, though, is recognizable from its very high, strange bassoon part.)


I’m re-reading the Percy Jackson series. “I kissed the poodle. You kiss the poodle.” I just crack up laughing. Great stuff, even if I am totally outside of the target age range. 🙂


I’m doing Camp NaNoWriMo in April! So excited. This time I think I’m planning a YA novel, with my dad’s mom’s as the inspiration for one of the main characters (don’t worry, Dad, it’s good!). I’m really excited about this one!

Dance Review: BalletMet Global Dance Stars Gala

BalletMet opened their 2012-2013 season last night with a gala of dance from companies all around the world, in tribute to the company’s departing Artistic Director, Gerard Charles. 

The evening, intended or not, broke itself nicely into themes. The first was Swans, in various guises. The evening opened with BalletMet’s dancers performing the waltz from Act I of Swan Lake (the hunting party scene), and dancers from Boston Ballet performed the White Swan pas de deux (from Act II of the same ballet). But the highlight of the “swan” theme was undisputedly Greta Hodgkinson of the National Ballet of Canada, performing The Dying Swan

Just seeing The Dying Swan was electric—this is one dance piece that has passed into legend (does anyone perform it any more) as ballerina Anna Pavlova’s piece de resistance. Her last words were “prepare my swan costume.” Unerringly choreographed by Michael Folkine, and set to the music of Saint-Saens, the dance is an elegant, breathtaking account of a swan’s final moments. Hodgkinson hardly seemed human in her stunning port des bras and delicate dancing. It was like watching an apparition dance. Simply stunning. 

The second theme: Love (as you would expect in a program consisting mostly of pas des deux!).  The most important thing I got from this section: Please, PLEASE David Nixon, come to us and put Cleopatra and Wuthering Heights on our company!! Both of these, set to the incomparable music of Claude-Michel Schonberg (Yes, THAT Claude-Michel Schonberg!) were brilliant. Martha Leebolt and Tobias Batley (who is also a very lovely tweeter!) perfectly portrayed sets of tempest-tossed lovers seperated by millenia—Mark Antony and Cleopatra (the excerpt shown was the famous “pearl drinking” episode and resulting seduction) and Heathcliff and Catherine. The Wuthering Heights excerpt was so perfect—it was the book in miniature, showcasing the back and forth, love/hate relationship between these two immortal characters. Two home runs for the creator of Dracula. (Please, please, BalletMet, I want to see these both very soon! )

Another ballet I want to see almost immediately? Stanton Welch’s Madame Butterfly, set on Houston Ballet. The scene—the meeting of Butterfly and Pinkerton. The dancers—superb. Simon Ball, dancing Pinkerton, was definitely younger than we see in the opera, and thus, more appealing (I think). He shows Butterfly what love can be, and she (A glorious Amy Fote) responds to it in ecstasy, her shyness fading as they come together. Inside the packed theater, it seemed like no one was breathing when this excerpt ended (Side note: Are the dancers a couple? Their kissing was real, not air kissing, like one normally sees, and in their bows they were truly affectionate with each other.) 

The New York City Ballet brought Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (one of the pas de deux), danced by Abi Staffoed. While technically proficient, I found the dancing lacking in emotional quotient, and I’m fairly sure this is a Balanchine thing, as opposed to the dancers, because in their second piece, Gershwin Preludes (choreographed by Tom Gold), they were much better. 

Boston Ballet dancers Adiarys Almedia and Nelson Madrigal danced the White Swan pas in the first half of the program. While technically proficient, I found the dancing to lack a certain emotional quality. I wonder if that is just the way it’s danced in Boston, because they certainly showed both incredible virtuosity and excellent emotion in their second half offering, the pas de deux from Petipa’s Don Quixote. Almedia dashed off 20+ fouettes and double and triple pirouettes without a (seeming) thought, and Madrigal tossed off tours l’air, barrel turns, and other feats of dance as easily as one would turn a page. The two of them were dynamite. 

The evening’s non-ballet offering was two pieces by tap dancer Marshall L. Davis, Jr. Both of them—“Shedding” and “Trying to Keep Up With Mr. Peterson” were danced with verve and aplomb, but I found the latter to be the more enjoyable to watch. 

BalletMet’s dancers closed the evening with a piece from Jazz Moves II– “Pulses, Chords, Passion.” All dancers were excellent, but I especially enjoyed Annie Mallonee and Jimmy Orrante’s pas de deux. Perhaps we’ll see them dance again in Dracula? (I would LOVE to see Mallonee dance either Mina or Lucy. I’ve seen her dance on of the brides before.) 

It was a night of unforgettable dance, and a perfect send-off for Gerard, and a place setter for the season. 

Dance excitement starts today!

So excited, because today BalletMet kicks off their new season with the Global Dance Stars Gala! This event features what it sounds like–dancers from companies all over the world to perform at the gorgeous Ohio Theater in a celebration of dance.

Northern Ballet of England’s “Cleopatra”

There will be dances I”ve never seen before, like some Balanchine (Agon!) and David Nixon’s new Cleopatra, which has music composed by Claude-Michel Schonberg (Yes, that Claude-Michele Schonberg, of Les Miz, Miss Saigon, Martin Guerre, etc.). Lots of Swan Lake, and all sorts of other goodies are in store. I am massively excited. New works for this year make me happy!

Report to come this evening. Before that I’m going to volunteer at the local health expo to get the word out about organ donation and to get more donors! 🙂

Expanding my culinary frontier

Over at my food blog, I talk about undertaking the #cookwithjulia project hosted by PBS, in honor of Julia Child’s 100th birthday tomorrow. Tonight’s entry in the contest: cucumbers baked in butter (if you REALLY want to up the fat ratio, add cream, as is suggested in one of the “finishing” entries in the book!). I cannot wait to taste this.

I’ve always loved to cook and have a fairly adventurous palate. Sadly, with transplant, there are things, like sushi, that I cannot eat. I am sad about that because I do love fish. But tonight I made bruschetta for the first time, and only my third Julia Child recipe ever. I am Master of My Kitchen. Or I will be, soon.

So to see these recipes, go here.

There is a lot of ADVENTURE this weekend! Saturday I’m volunteering at the local Health Fair to sign up organ donors; Saturday evening is the Global Gala of Ballet Stars! And then Sunday is our daylong retreat for my Lay Dominican chapter.

I know I’ve been a bit slow around here, but it’s summer, and that’s how it is. Coming up, though, are photos from my “Jane Austen hike” last Saturday. Jane, and Virginia Woolf, liked to take long walks to think about their stories and writing in general. I went to the local arboretum last Saturday, took pictures, jotted in my journal, and generally felt like a Very English Author. 🙂 So pictures to come.


BalletMet’s Global Dance Stars gala–coming up!

If you live anywhere near Columbus and love ballet like I do, you really want to be at this performance. 

BalletMet is kicking off their season with a “Global Gala of Dance Stars” from all over the world, and parts of the program have just been announced. Take a look at this: 


August 18, 2012 | Ohio Theatre

One Night Only! A dazzling array of internationally-acclaimed dance stars will take to the stage of the magnificent Ohio Theatre for this one night only event in a program of grand solos, pas de deux, pas de trios and more joined by the outstanding dancers of BalletMet.

Global Dancers – Global Dances

The dance works featured on BalletMet’s Global Dance Stars Galaare show stoppers of the classical and contemporary repertory. Among them are:

George Gershwin’s 3 Preludes

Choreographed by former New York City Ballet principal dancer Tom Gold, Gershwin’s 3 Preludeswill be performed by New York City Ballet/Tom Gold Dance soloists Abi Stafford and Jared Angle. The pair will also dance a pas de deuxfrom Balanchine’s Agon.


Former BalletMet Artistic Director David Nixon – the current Artistic Director of Northern Ballet of Leeds, England – will gift Columbus audiences with a glimpse of his Cleopatra, a very recent collaboration with Miss Saigonand Les Miserablescomposer Claude-Michel Schönberg. Dancing the work will be two of the company’s established stars – Martha Leeboltand Tobias Batley. A section from Nixon’s Wuthering Heightswill also be performed by the pair.

Madame Butterfly

Choreographed by Stanton Welch, the former BalletMet Artistic Associate and current Artistic Director of Houston Ballet, the pas de deuxfrom Madame Butterflywill be performed by Houston Ballet principal dancers Amy Foteand Simon Ball.

Bringing Noise

Broadway hoofer Marshall Davis, Jr., who appeared in Bring in Da Noise, Bring in Da Funk, and at BalletMet in the much-admired Simply Sammy, will bring his fiery footwork to the proceedings, performing two numbers.

Pulses, Chords, Passion

Also appearing on the Global Dance Stars Galais BalletMet’s own corps of extraordinary dancers performing Darrell Grand Moultrie’s sizzling Pulses, Chords, Passion, a work that received its world premiere during BalletMet’s 2011-2012 season as part of Jazz MovesColumbus, the company’s acclaimed collaboration with the Columbus Jazz Orchestra and WOSU Public Media.

National Ballet of Canada principal dancers Greta Hodgkinsonand Guillauame Cotewill dance the famous Black Swan pas de deuxfrom SwanLakeas well as Summerfrom James Kudelka’s The Four Seasons.