Friday, December 31, 2010

Post 59

So I know... I'm crazy.
But I just really like odd numbers and I'd like to end 2010 on 59 not 58.
Odd? Why yes I am! Thank you!

And well, this video is pretty amazing.
My dear sweet brother Barret went back to NYC today and I miss him already. And last night we created a memory that I'll never forget.

So we watched the movie, Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky - a cinematically stunning french film about?     ha ha... I'll let you guess... Needless to say it was inspirational visually and musically- which brings me to the purpose behind this post.

In the film they use one of Stravinsky's Five Easy Pieces for Piano four hands as part of their soundtrack. And my brother and I, being Stravinsky enthusiasts, decided to try our four hands at it. Easy pieces? Unfortunately not so for me... my two hands found it a bit troublesome. And being the perfectionist that I am, I made my brother play it over and over again till we got it right (which never actually happened...). We decided to record it on his computer, but his computer also served as our sheet music (he found it on the internet) leaving us with a very funny video. So below is the end result of the 5 or 6 different attempts at the Andante of the Five Easy Pieces. Barret, being Mr. Funny Man, decided to speed it up and, well it had us in stitches all night. I hope you get a laugh out of it as well.
At any rate, just getting to sit down and play with my brother was the best gift of all! A memory I'll cherish forever.

So Happy New Years Eve. I hope your year has been full of as many wonderful memories as this one!

Five Easy Pieces - I. Andante from Barret Anspach on Vimeo.

Thursday, December 30, 2010


26 – Blessings, Lessons and Occurrences of 2010.

1. Jesus Christ. My Lord. My Savior. My Strength and Shield. My VERY GREAT REWARD. My all.
2. Learned the hard lesson of confidence through dancing the Fairy of Wit in The Sleeping Beauty
3. Began this blog, and through it met a new friend, Janet Richardson, who blesses my socks off!
4. Danced 2 shows of Vespers – a mighty prayer woman am I… on and off stage!
5. Dr. Patrick Donovan. The best naturopath who makes me laugh and takes great care of me.
6. Bible Study Fellowship. The most faithful leaders, challenging lessons, enriching groups and Spirit-led lectures. Need I say more?
7. John (the Gospel) – for helping me understand the depth and enormity of God’s love.
8. Opened my heart more fully to receiving and feeling God’s love for me. Thank you Captivating!
9. Kjirsten Davies. This woman’s poured herself and Christ’s love into me – the best mentor a girl could EVER ask for.
10. Came down with stomach flu the Monday of opening week for our All Balanchine Rep (missing dress rehearsal), but miraculously recovered to dance Serenade, Square Dance and The 4 Temperaments by the Saturday matinee show.
11. Packed up our family home of 23 years (almost single-handedly) in two weeks, while my parents remodeled our current home.
12. Saw my baby brother Barret graduate from Juilliard with a MM in Composition. I’m so proud!
13. Performed in the main Opera House at the Kennedy Center in Benjamin Millipied’s 3 Movements for Ballet Across America II and had my brother there to watch.
14. Danced one of the four “Russian Girls” in Serenade at 9,000 ft without collapsing – on tour to Vail, CO whilst very sick. Also busted out some “Cool” too.
15. New friendships with kindred spirits. Deeper friendships with co-workers.
16. Crossed off a “first.”
17. Saw the first piece an old summer program pal of mine, Aaron Thayer staged for Spectrum Dance Theater. A surreal experience to be sure!
18. Learned to see life as The Adventures of Jesus and Jessika – and in that order too.
19. I’ve come to embrace (and even be excited for…) the adventure, the unknown- not needing to know all, but finding myself content to just be.
20. In the last 3 months I’ve somehow managed to be in multiple forms of print… photos, reviews, calendars, and had my first article published in Dance Magazine's December issue. Baffled? Quite. Humbled? Absolutely!
21. My family. I am blessed beyond measure to have them in my life and to see how Christ is transforming each of them. So cool!
22. Living at home. Yes… this is a HUGE blessing. My parents are the best! I love them so much.
23. Conquered fears. Learned to ask and trust the Lord to work it out.
24. Got to perform Peacock on the last show of a very successful Nutcracker season.
25. Came to the realization that every person’s story is important because every person IS important, unique and special… and that includes me. This is hard for me to accept but helps me to see why I keep this blog. Why I write.
26. I turned 26.

And my prayer is that this coming year, this 26th year of my life, is just as full (if not more so) of miracles, blessings, challenges, lessons, praises and joy as this past one has been. So here’s to 2011 and all it may bring.
But here’s to GOD the Author of all. To Him ALONE be the glory, honor and praise!

Thank you to those of you who have been so encouraging this past year. It has been full. And I am blessed. I hope you’ve been too.

Happy (almost) New Year!

~just Jessika

Monday, December 20, 2010

Disoriented in December

Can someone please tell me what day it is? Someone? Anyone? No seriously...

I woke up this morning and had absolutely no clue what the date was, what day it was or what time it was. Apparently I'd left my cell phone (a.k.a. my alarm clock) at the theater the night before, since not a peep was heard, not even its disturbingly obnoxious beeping sound.

And on driving home this evening I realized that the same thing has happened yet again.
"Cell phone? Where areee youuuuu?" I guess it decided to stay home...
But home these days is not the place where I sleep, the address that's on all my paychecks- the place that's generally considered "home." Nope.

These days I live in the realm, the alternate universe of Nutcracker. My home: the theater, a.k.a. Marion Oliver McCaw Hall. In this place date, time, day, night... they don't exist. Much like the movie Groundhog Day, every day is Christmas Eve... and Clara's getting a new Nutcracker.
I measure time by half-hour calls and massage/physical therapist arrival times. And meals? Forget it! I've flat-out stopped trying to label them "breakfast", "lunch" or "dinner"... I mean can you really call it lunch when you're eating it at 4:30/5pm? And can you really call it dinner when it's a big bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats at 10:30/11pm?

In the morning I arrive at the theater, take class, put makeup on my dried-out/breaking-out face (this seems oxymoronic, and yet my face proves that it is possible), dance and then do it all over again for the evening show... Between shows I'll go out to get some food and fresh air, but by this time it's already dark out. Returning back to the Black Hole (my other name for the theater) I'll eat, and then mess around either studying, embroidering cards, or practicing a variation till the therapist arrives or it's just time to begin again. Monotonous? A little. But I like predictability and stability... and did I forget to mention all the dancing and performing I get to do? Yeah, I definitely love that part of it. And besides, I have 11 different parts that break up the monotony and keep me on my toes... (okay really bad pun, but I just had to...)

Living in Nutcracker land is okay with me during the month of December, but problems arise when I have to re-enter the real world.... when lunch is at noon and dinner's at 7pm; when I have to be at work by 10am but had a show that ended at 10pm the night before. Sleepless in Seattle? Sort of. Disoriented in December? Definitely!

Well, to get a glimpse of my life in Nutcracker land, watch this great little video the very talented Lindsay Thomas created for PNB's youtube channel. And to experience the magic, buy your tickets here. We still have a week of shows left (including the always hilarious "Nutty" Nutcracker show at 4pm on Christmas Eve) and guess who gets to close this run of Nutcracker as the Peacock? Me, that's who!

And to you all out there: May the Lord bless you with the gift of His peace, rest and joy as you celebrate His birth - the greatest gift of all!  Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Drum role please...

Well lots has happened in the last half a month, but I have a some big news I've waited 4 months to announce. That is till now. So...

Drum role please...

I, Jessika Christine Anspach am officially an authoress. I've been published!

Giddiness, excitement, pride and joy - I'm a dichotomous mix of proud parent and kid in a candy shop. But for the most part, I'm just really humbled and overwhelmed with a profound sense of gratitude for not only the opportunity to write and share my heart, but also for the encouragement, support and kind words so many have offered to me regarding this article. Words truly cannot express how blessed I've been.

So without further adieu...

Here is a link (although I strongly recommend purchasing a hard copy - it's really so much better with all the great photos and little tips from my other PNB cohorts) to my published article in the December issue of Dance Magazine appropriately titled "Surviving Nutcracker."

And that is what I aim to do, and why I must say "adieu." Tomorrow I get to be both the Ballerina Doll and the Peacock... it doesn't get much better than that! And on a Friday night too! Woo Hooo!!!!

Tune in for more very soon... there is oh so much to say, but a final must be taken before I can pass go and collect $200...
I hope you enjoy the article and I hope it inspires you to come to PNB's Nutcracker. You won't want to miss it!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

.5 post + The Epic Album

So this really isn't a post. It's more a promotion/plug. Shameless? Absolutely! There's no shame in supporting other artists... But as a random side note, if you have to add "shameless" before your plug doesn't that automatically make it a little shameful? If it's shameless why do you even need to say it's shameless? Just a thought... It's late I need to go to bed.

Shameless, shameful, or what have you, this plug is for the album I mentioned earlier in my Futile Devices post. And while "epic" is making the comeback that "rad" never managed (which, in my view as a child of the 80's, is just sad and unfortunate) it really is the perfect word, the only word I can think of to describe this album. Galactic. Apocalyptic. Mind-blowing. These too could work, but I think "epic" encompasses it all. Yep. I'm sticking with "epic." What word would you choose? Listen, buy and let me know.

P.S.  I promise to write an actual post on this album/concert in the near future. But for now this will have to do. As of now, my current favorites are "Futile Devices" and "Get Real, Get Right." But who am I kidding? They're all rad. Yes. I'm starting a revival... but me thinks this word lacks wings.

Monday, November 8, 2010

I need new feet...

Raise your hand if after reading the title of this post you're:
a) agreeing with me,
b) laughing, or
c) all of the above.

Ballerinas are known for having beautiful legs, but our feet, well, they generally leave something to be desired...
Unsightly? Deformed? Disfigured? Yes, yes and yes!
Well if you put all your body weight on your toes what do you think's gonna happen?
We shop the aisles of the drugstore that generally are only frequented by the geriatric. I just spent $40.00 at Wallgreens buying corn-pads, bandaids, Vaseline, Second Skin (this gel-like stuff that's used for skin burns) and masking tape - all items necessary to get me through the first weekend of the All Tharp Rep we're finishing up this coming weekend.
I'm a "waterbaby" in Twyla Tharp's Waterbaby Bagatelles, and the combination of boureéing my toes into oblivion during the finale and wearing the flesh-dyed pointe shoes (who's boxes are coincidentally hardened by the dye) created the perfect atmosphere for disaster: the box of my pointe shoe literally sliced the big 'ol callous I'd built up on my pinky toe leaving a thick flap of flesh and an enormous gaping wound.
I didn't just have a blister on my pinky toe... my pinky toe was a giant blister. If only I had a picture... it would be a nice post-halloween scare for you all.
It's therefore not a surprise that I, Jessika Anspach, am notorious at PNB for having the ugliest feet in the company (and for wearing my pointe shoes the longest, but that's for another post). Now that's saying a lot!
So are all my shoes closed-toed? Ha! I'm sure there are people who wish they were... Nope. I unabashedly wear my flip-flops or gladiator sandals in summer. I mean hopefully people are looking at my face and not my feet. And for the most I try not to care what other people think. For the most part...

But there are some days when I wish I had some new feet. And there are some days when I know I need new feet... but not in the way you're thinking. You see there's someone else who's a lot like me:
"In the first place she was a cripple with feet so crooked that they often caused her to limp and stumble as she went about her work.  She had also the very unsightly blemish of a crooked mouth which greatly disfigured both expression and speech and was sadly conscious that these ugly blemishes must be a cause of astonishment and offense to many who knew she was in the service of the great Shepherd." 
Her name is Much-Afraid. She is me. I am her. Her story is told in Hinds Feet on High Places, a story that I'll be working my way through this year as we both (Much-Afraid and I) make our journey toward the High Places, having our crooked mouths corrected and our crippled unsightly feet transformed to hinds feet.
You'll be hearing much more about Much-Afraid and me. And you'll be reading many more snippets of this book. Why? Because, well, it pierces my heart... it cuts right through the thick of it. It says what I cannot. And hopefully it speaks to you too.
And so the journey begins...
"The Lord God is my strength and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me walk upon mine high places." Habakkuk 3:19

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Futile Devices

It's been a long long time...

Funny. This is not only true of this blog, but also the opening line of the opening song in Sufjan Stevens' newest album, The Age of Adz (pronounced "odds").

There's so much to say, and on so many different topics - this album, this concert (I was blessed to see Sufjan at the Paramount Oct. 30th), this job; dreams that have awoken, lessons that are being learnt... There's so much to say. So much so that it almost overwhelms me. I told my mentor the other day that I felt like I was in the eye of a tornado with life swirling chaotically around me (also a somewhat ironic analogy since I just finished studying cyclonic storms in my Weather, Climate, Geography & Soils class... but I digress). It feels like so many things are up in the air, and I'm waiting to see where everything lands before I can move forward.
And yet I have peace.
For those of you who know me you understand what a miracle - how "of the Lord" this is. Shoot, if you're a Type A, natural born planner, a.k.a. control freak, you understand what a miracle this is.
Generally speaking, even the mere mention of chaos, lack of direction or movement makes my chest tighten and soul cringe as anxiety washes over me. This is my natural "old-self" reaction. But "the old has gone, the new has come"! Praise the Lord He is making me new.
I am new.
I am in the eye of the storm where all is calm amidst the dark whirling storm. I am full of peace. But I am tired. See, it does take energy to stand firm, to stay in the eye, to not get sucked into the cyclone. And that's okay - okay to be tired ("Old-self" would have been shaking her finger at me for not being superwoman). Because I have the Everlasting Arms to rest in... just like the little boy I saw at church today who was sleeping in his dad's arms during the service.

So I curl up in my Abba Father's arms and I rest. And I feel safe. Nothing else matters. This first song on Sufjan's album inspires these feelings in me - it's an invitation to rest, to trust, to peace.
It's been a long long time, and there is so much to say. There's a lot of storm to describe. But I've come to realize that at times, when it comes to describing my swirling life, "words are futile devices."

Enjoy "Futile Devices" by Sufjan Stevens via youtube. And buy his newest album here. Just do it.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Study Break

So right now I'm sitting up at my favorite local coffee shop - the Q.A. Uptown Espresso - attempting to defeat the beast that is my Weather, Climate, Vegetation and Soils homework. But it just won't die. Why won't it just die?!!!
The last couple days my eyes have felt like they're crossing from reading and then re-reading my textbook as I try and understand high- and low-pressure systems that are caused by the increase/decrease in temperature due to differing amounts of insolation received at Earth's surface. Wow. I'm even surprised I was able to articulate that much... Maybe one of these days I'll get it. Hopefully that day is today, considering I have to take the test tomorrow.
Maybe this study break needs to be over...

And while I'm complaining to you all about my overwhelming load of homework, the reality is this weekend I did manage to have a lot of fun, spending time with
a) non-dancer friends watching dance
b) dancer friends playing lazer tag.
So for now I thought I'd share with you a text a friend of mine sent me the other night after attending an inspiring show by Spectrum Dance Theater. Keep in mind that post show we went to a French restaurant for moules-frites. It was bad. Really bad. And the aioli, well... I just won't go there. But I'm stalling...
"You're the wet sweat to my dance, the perfect aioli to my fries and the beautiful ever blooming bud in my vase ;) love you Jess!"
Wow... what a friend! I am blessed. And now back to the books...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Because I don't have time to write...

Because I don't have time to write, because I'm trying to be a better (more consistent) blogger, and because you absolutely must watch this video this post will be quite short.
I really must get back to my homework-ing, but a Ballet Memphis dancer I met while at the Kennedy Center for the Ballet Across America II performances (our D.C. tour - a.k.a. Adventures in D.C. posts...) posted this video a couple days ago on her Facebook profile and it's given/inspired me to workout in that
a) it's made my face muscles hurt from smiling and given my abs a "laughing" workout... you know what I mean...
b) it makes me want to go for a jog in the rain - or at least splash in mud puddles... I think that could probably be arranged in the near future considering I do live in Seattle and we're entering the rainy season...

Hmmm... I wonder what it'll inspire in you... Watch and enjoy! And feel free to comment too!
And now back to studying...

Courtesy of TheTemperTraptv. Find it here on YouTube.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I'm Sorry

Really? Can it be? Has it almost been a month since I wrote a post?
Yes Jessika. Yes it has.
This is an epic failure on my part (okay maybe epic is a tad bit dramatic). Life has been crazy but when is it ever not crazy? And therefore all I can say is I'm sorry. But I feel like I'm constantly apologizing - to you (what must now be the non-existent readers of this almost non-existent blog), to my family and friends, and above all to the Lord.

I know I've probably said this before, but I feel like ever since January 1st, 2010, the car that is my life unbeknownst to me shifted up a gear and I've been running along side it trying to jump back in the driver's seat. Why am I not in my car? Don't ask me these things... it's a mental picture I'm painting. Run with me on this one... Yes, pun slightly intended.
I feel like any time off I have is devoted to the game of catch-up. And I hate that game almost as much as I hate that salty, tomatoey stuff that comes in the glass bottle. I wish I could somehow manage to maintain relationships - you know, keeping in touch with people on a regular basis. But much like Vitamin D, I seem to be deficient in this skill as well.
This past week I was on "vacation" and I found the ticker tape of my inner dialogue reading something like: "Okay... who haven't I talked to/seen in the past 3 months? Who do I need to have a) lunch b) coffee c) dinner with?" Needless to say the list filled up quite quickly. And while I fully admit I am a planner, this catch-up game gives me anxiety akin to the sensation you feel when you can't catch your breath. Stressed? Just a bit.
In moments of weariness, generally at the end of the day when I feel frayed around the edges, Stressika (my alter-ego) rears her hideous face, and flares of ill temper burn anyone within a 5ft radius - usually my dear sweet parents. I find that as Paul so aptly puts it:
"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do... For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do-this I keep on doing." Romans 7:15, 18-19.
Post Sika-flare (much like the Solar kind), I stand back in shock, disbelief and disgust at my behavior. "WHO was that?! Gross!!! That wasn't me... or at least the me I want to be." Again I find myself humbled, asking for forgiveness, apologizing once more. I'm sorry.
Can you relate? I don't think I'm alone in this. Relationships are hard. Life is hard. Life can be stressful. Disagreements, arguments and full scale fights are unfortunately all too common - a byproduct of stress and sin, and the cause of much heartache, strife and pain. And yet I was incredibly surprised to find that at my favorite drugstore when I was looking for a card to express my remorse to my parents there were only three "I'm sorry" greeting cards. Three. I counted. And one of them basically said something to the effect of "We both said things we regretted." We both? How would you know the other person regretted what they said? Seems not only a bit presumptuous, but also appears to be justifying the "regrettable words," lessening one's own responsibility. Some apology.
And why, out of the hundreds of greeting cards- some for birthdays, some for sympathy, some "just for fun"- could I only find 3 cards that were in the service of mending and restoring relationships? Maybe it's just me, but I think that's a pretty important task. Difficult to do, but vital to life. And definitely worthy of a card.

I love to give and to receive handwritten letters. I guess it's the old-fashioned romantic in me. But it's my inner artist and crafter that thrives on creating my own, most of which are either of the "thank you," "blank" or "personal stationary" nature. Maybe in this new line of stitched greeting cards - that I may or may not sell on Etsy (a.k.a. the inspiration) - I'll include "I'm sorry" cards too.
Here are some samples for you to view (and a little rhyming too... he he!)

So would you buy these? Yea or nay?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Commencements and Recurrences

Wait what? It's September 23rd? No... It can't be. Seriously?! Where did the time go?

It's hard to believe that tomorrow marks the opening of PNB's 2010-2011 (O-ten, O-eleven as I like to call it) season. I don't know about you but it feels like summer didn't happen... Like I somehow missed it.
Summer, where did you go? Oh that's right... you went to Vail, CO for the Vail International Dance Festival. You were chalk-full of learning new ballets and revisiting old ones. Some of these we won't be performing till March, and some you will see tomorrow if you're fortunate enough to catch our opening night. Maybe you even caught a glimpse of it tonight at dress rehearsal. If you did, you were lucky indeed!

Director's Choice is definitely a choice Rep. Think Grade A grass-fed fillet mignon. Yes, folks it's that good. (Not sure what the vegetarian equivalent would be... someone want to help me out here?)
And it too is full of chalk, wigs, foils, black dresses and bright unitards - just to name a few. Believe me the list could go on... You'll see some things old, and some things new; some borrowed costumes and a little bit of blue. And the "things new" I think you'll love. I sure do.
Much like Petite Mort, Sechs Tänze, the newest Jiri Kylian ballet added to PNB's repetoire, is set to the beautiful music of Mozart, and boy is it ever musical! The choreography matches the score perfectly, with its very precise, and intricate motions punctuating this piece. There are commas, question marks, ellipsis', and exclamation points in the form of backward soutenus, shoulder shrugs, awkward glances and pelvic thrusts. Watch it and you'll see what I mean. I don't want to ruin it for you, but just be prepared to LOL - yes, it's okay to do this at the ballet... no one will sneer and give you the stink eye. At least I hope not!
As I sat in the audience tonight watching my co-workers dance their hearts out in both Sechs Tänze and Petite Mort there were times when I had to remind myself to breathe. I was utterly enthralled and the little bunhead inside of me was screaming, "Ooooh! Someday I want to dance that!" And I hope someday I will. I wonder if your reaction will be the same.
But dance I did. Dance I do - in what I can only describe as a ballet that epitomizes the dancer's dance. It's 80's ballet and I love it. It's Jerome Robbins' Glass Pieces.
Set to the minimalist music of composer Philip Glass, you can't help but tap your foot, nod your head or "insert twitch of choice" to the pulsing beat of this music that propels this ballet forward - or should I say back to a time when sweatbands, spandex and step-aerobics were all the rage. And spandex you will see... well, I guess technically it's lycra, but you get the picture. Let's just say these costumes are utterly unforgiving. Designed to resemble a dancer's practice clothes, I don't know anyone these days who'd actually wear what we wear in the studio... But I suppose it could be worse. The first movement of this ballet is supposed to resemble Grand Central Station at rush hour. With a mob of dancers walking from wing to wing, unitard-clad soloists fearlessly leap and bound through the crowd, almost like those sidewalk prophets screaming amid the clamor of the busy NYC streets proclaiming the message of dance, the beauty of ballet.
The third movement belongs to the corps. It's energetic. It's exhilarating. It's heart pounding so hard you think you might throw-up. But let me tell you it's oh-so rewarding. So much so that you forget about the lycra. You forget about everything else and you let your body eat up that grey Marley floor. You feed off the energy of those around you and you dance. It's amazing.
But the second movement... All I can say is "Wowza!" This is the principal's movement. I wish I could tell you a little more about it, but to be honest I've only caught glimpses of it. You see I'm in the unending train of corps women that hypnotically chug along the back of the stage in silhouette. A mixture of walking, side-stepping, rocking and pliéing this part oddly requires quite a bit of concentration, and a flexible left calf. Mine has not been so amenable.
So with the commencement of a new season I find not only recurrences in ballet's we've previously performed (Petite Mort and Jardí Tancat), but also ice-baths. Yes. They've returned. And we still love to hate each other. But deep down, I think ice-baths and I are coming to have a mutual regard for each other. There exists an understanding between us: I commit to the relationship, and ice-baths let me dance. Not a bad trade off, considering the dancing we get to do in this Rep is pretty awesome.

Some water with my ice? Yes please!

Benik toe caps are an absolutely essential part of any ice-bath... that is unless you're icing your toes. Then, well, sucks for you.

This is the face of "Ouch!"
So I know you must be asking yourself, "Where can I buy tickets to see these amazing ballets?" Well right here! And if you're on the fence I hope this blog post has pushed you over. I mean all this pain I put myself through is for you. Okay, well not exactly but you get my drift... :)
Just come... I promise you won't regret it!