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!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Return of the Jedi?

Random. This title is random. I am random. But I am not a Jedi... And while "Return of the Jedi" was probably the best film in the Star Wars Trilogy, let's be honest here... this post is not about Star Wars and it's not even really a "return."

The fact of the matter is, I haven't posted anything here for far too long. Far too long.
And while there are plenty of things I could, should and will write about, tonight is not the night.
As the beautiful hymn says, "I am tired. I am weak. I am worn." I need the Lord to guide my feet and hold my hand. I'm feeling hard pressed on every side. But considering all that's happened within the last two weeks (things I promise to share with you in the days ahead) I have to say I'm not surprised at the weariness, or the attempts of the Enemy to discourage and derail me. He's crafty that one. What I am ashamed to admit is how often I allow him to succeed in getting me down.
But I'm reminded that the battle is fought and won. I must keep my eyes fixed on the Author and Perfecter of my faith, and with a heart of gratitude, joyfully praise Him for all the miracles and answered prayers He's allowed me to witness. I must let His joy be my strength, and I must claim the victory I have in Him, clinging to His promises to guide and direct me, provide for me and encourage me as I submit myself to Him.
I'm sorry if this sounds like a sermon, and I'm sorry if it's super vague and ambiguous. It is - vague and ambiguous. But it's just been one of those days, and I guess I'm just sharing with you what's on my heart. If anything my prayer is that it encourages you, especially if you're feeling, well, weary, tired, frustrated... alone. You're not alone.
For now that's all I've got. It's time for bed. Someone's texting me in 8.5 hours, reminding me of how I need to start my day - but that's for another post.
Till then, blessings to whomever still reads this.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

No Words...

So literally I have no words.

Speaking is kind of challenging right now because my throat is totally swollen - I'm having a hard time just swallowing my own spit. Oh and did I mention I'm speaking at the Body's Women's Ministry Leadership Dessert tomorrow night. It's like our big fall kick-off where our Senior Pastor commissions us for leadership this coming year.

And I may have Strep Throat.

Obviously the Enemy doesn't want me talking.

The "talk" is titled (only on the Word doc I wrote on my laptop) Feeding, Fasting and Fall. I'll definitely tell you more about it later, but right now I should probably try and get some sleep... I've been laying in bed the entire day eating Sugar-Free Lime jello, soup and drinking lots of Vitamin ZERO. Hopefully my excellent doctor can shed some light on this issue in the morn, but for now more sleep.

And yet as I write this I must confess that part of my "fasting" in this talk is mainly related to fasting from my computer... I know. This will be hard. This will be bad for my blog. But this is actually really good - for me and prioritizing my quite time and relationship with the Lord. So unfortunately you all have to suffer the consequences of my inability to keep the Lord in His rightful place - on the Throne of my life.

So for now that's all. Sorry to be so vague and brief, but it's time for bed. Just felt I should let you know that I'm still alive, albeit a bit sick, and will be back to give you more juicy bits of my life and the Lord's lessons once this fasting's over.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Meals for Myself

So as I've previously stated, I love to cook but hate cooking for myself.
But there are exceptions to this rule... glimmers of inspiration... moments of magic in the kitchen.
Usually these anomalies occur when I
a) have time to conceptualize and construct a yummy meal for myself
b) find a good recipe, good produce and a good location to cook.

A weekend trip out to my cabin by myself usually draws together the requirements above, culminating in something quite delectable, and reaffirming that yes indeed, I can cook. And more than that it reminds me that I do enjoy cooking and I'm not too bad at it either.

The last couple times I've been out there I've brought the oh-so amazing cookbook, How to Roast a Lamb: New Greek Classic Cooking by Michael Psilakis. I'm officially obsessed with this cookbook. Absolutely everything I've made out of it has turned out to be spectacular - and let me tell you for a cookbook that's pretty dang impressive. I think deep down I want to be Greek or well, at least from the Mediterranean region. Their food is just so fresh, yummy and makes my body feel good. Don't get me wrong, I love my sauerkraut, bratwurst and lefsa (tributes to my german and norwegian heritage) but there's just something about how the greeks use lamb, figs, fennel, olives, feta, and seafood... I'm making myself hungry just typing this.

The curious thing is this recipe I've now made for myself twice is, well a-typical for me in that its main ingredient is cauliflower - a flavorless vegetable I strongly dislike. But the way this one is prepared is pretty amazing, and quite simple.

The ingredients are cauliflower, spinach, shallots, capers, dried cherries, fresh sage, cinnamon and sea scallops. The recipe is designated as an appetizer for four, but I just divided it in half and had it as my entrée. Below are some photos of this meal I made for myself.

The main ingredients minus the scallops and cinnamon. The key for this recipe is to have all your prep work done because the cooking process goes quite quickly.

The cauliflower all chopped up and ready to be boiled. Once it's tender you quickly submerge it in ice-water to keep it from further cooking. You can do this ahead of time if you need to. Later you caramelize it in a hot skillet with olive oil dusting it with cinnamon, and adding 1/2 your chopped shallots and your cup of spinach. Cook it till your spinach begins to wilt, but no longer.

But before you caramelize the cauliflower you have to sear those scallops! The trick is to rinse and dry your scallops and make sure your cast iron skillet + olive oil are smoking hot (no, literally it should be slightly smoking). Then don't touch those puppies for a good 2 minutes to allow a nice crust to form on the bottom before you flip them. Once you flip 'em remove the skillet from the heat... they'll continue cooking but won't be overdone. No one likes a chewy scallop.

After caramelizing the cauliflower, shallots and spinach divide it onto your plate and in the same skillet add a bit of butter and a dribble of olive oil (the olive oil keeps the butter from burning) with your remaining shallots, dried cherries, capers and sliced sage leaf. Sauté those for a minute or two, but don't burn your shallots.
Add your scallops on top of the plated cauliflower and then drizzle your brown butter cherry-shallot mixture over all of that and...

Voila! You get this delicious meal to enjoy! Bon Appetite!

And boy was it tasty... can you say "cleaned my plate"? 

And for dessert? Some fresh mission figs with vanilla ice cream topped with a balsamic glaze. 

Now doesn't that look good?! God's so good to provide us with such amazing food/fruit to enjoy!

Well that's all folks... the kitchen in the cabin is pretty ghetto, but it's definitely produced some pretty wonderful meals. 
So for all of you singletons out there (or those who're just plain tired of cooking day in and day out) I hope this inspires you to make a yummy meal too... even if it's just for yourself. 

And if you want a cookbook that will never fail you, you can buy How to Roast a Lamb: New Greek Classic Cooking here.