Become a Fan of Ballet in 3 Easy Steps

Become a Fan of Ballet in 3 Easy Steps

People who have followed along for a while (or, especially, who follow me on Instagram) know that I’m obsessed with ballet (particularly classical ballet – the kind with the tutus and pointe shoes and stories about princesses and swans and all that good stuff). This is a new obsession for me, developed only over the last couple of years, which means I’m still on the learning curve, and I’m still in super-excited-new-learner mode. It’s magical.

I’m almost as obsessed with ballet as my husband is with baseball, and I’m noticing a lot of parallels. I’m coming to know the famous “players” and which “teams” they play for (the dancers and their companies). I know the standard “plays” (the groupings you always see and what they’re called – like the duet “pas de deux”, or the solo, known as a “variation”), and I’m getting to know the technical names of the movements and what exactly makes one dancer’s execution of a tricky move more spectacular than another’s. I’m also learning who the all-time greats are and why. Basically, I’m learning how to watch and talk about ballet, just like someone learns how to watch and talk about baseball.

So maybe you’re here because you’re like me and love all things artsy and want to expand the kinds of arts you love and understand and follow. Or maybe you have a budding ballet star in your family and you want to be knowledgeable about what they’re learning about and loving. Or perhaps you already love going to the ballet, you just want to dive deeper into why you love it (and sound smarter when you talk about it). All amazing reasons to dive into the world of ballet. So let’s get started…

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Where to actually start if you want to start listening to classical music

Where to actually start if you want to start listening to classical music

One of the most common questions people ask me is this: “I want to get into listening to classical music. Where do I start?”

I’ve covered this topic in a general manner in the past (like here), but sometimes it’s most helpful to get actual, concrete advice for starting a smart hobby. Classical music is incredibly vast – that’s what makes it seem intimidating to people who are new to it. It can seem like there are so many composers, and each composer wrote so many pieces… where would someone even begin listening?

I’m going to let you in on a secret. Yes, there are tons and tons and tons of classical music composers, both living and dead. TONS. And yes, the particularly prolific dead ones wrote hundred and hundreds of pieces of music. But here’s the secret. If you wanted to learn about, say, The Beatles, you wouldn’t start with the deep cuts, right? You’d start with the greatest hits collection. 

To get into listening to classical music, you start with the greatest hits…

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The Art of Reading Plays and Training Your Brain

The Art of Reading Plays and Training Your Brain

Did you have to read Romeo and Juliet in high school? Of course you did. We all did. Maybe you also read Macbeth or Hamlet. Perhaps if you had a really great high school English teacher, you might even have taken on one of Shakespeare’s comedies, like Twelfth Night, or A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Do you remember studying that play as a positive or a negative experience? Do you remember it at all?

I was one of the rare souls blessed to have an incredible high school English teacher (well, I had him twice and he was phenomenal… the other years were… unfortunate). In his class, I delighted in reading plays. He was so methodical in teaching them – making sure we actually understood every innuendo, every double entendre, every instance of foreshadowing, metaphor, and symbolism. Those classes were very formative for me, not only because I developed a love of literature through his teaching, but because I came to understand how learning slower and more deeply results in a way different type of knowledge than quick memorization. 

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Why Musical Theatre Can Make You Feel Seen, Even as an Adult

Why Musical Theatre Can Make You Feel Seen, Even as an Adult

As many of you know, I spent a couple years working at a big corporation. When I first started there, I had a classic “new MBA”-type job – lots of spreadsheets, lots of research, and lots of time in a cubicle with my headphones on. I loved the job, especially coming off the crush of doing my law degree and MBA concurrently. I adored those long hours drinking office coffee, trying to not be terrible at Excel, and generally enjoying the fact that I didn’t have 400 pages of cases to brief at a time.

But what I really, truly loved about that time was the musical Hamilton…

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Modern Dance Might Crack Your Heart Open

Modern Dance Might Crack Your Heart Open

The last year I was training to be an opera singer (when I was just making the transition to *real* professional, whatever that means, and realized “oh god, this is NOT for me”), I spent part of a summer in Salzburg, Austria. When I first arrived home from my time there, I had incredibly mixed feelings about the trip. On the one hand, it had turned out to be the end of my opera career. On the other hand, it’s where I had my heart broken open by modern dance.

First the story about the opera training. I was always that person with a big natural voice (as in, loud enough to sing over an orchestra), technical ability, drive, and musicality… but absolutely zero self-confidence in what I was doing and how I believed I should be doing it. When you have what people call a “promising” voice, everyone has an opinion about it. And the opinions are so difficult to field when you can’t actually tell if what you’re doing is right, when your whole self-worth is wrapped up in whether people think your singing is good, and when you so desperately want to be successful…

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