Friday, November 4, 2011

The Bestest Brother in the World!

Look at this little guy... Isn't he cute?

It's hard to believe today, Friday November 4th, 2011 this little guy is a quarter of a century old! The big two-five!!!! And while he may have outgrown the Mickey ears and red MC Hammer pants, he does still work a bow-tie from time to time.

So who is this cutie-pa-tootie?

 Well he's my little brother William Barret Anspach. Or Bear-Bear, as we (the family) like to call him.
And seriously guys, I couldn't have asked for a sweeter, kinder, smarter or more wonderful brother in the whole wide world! I am SO proud of him!
I mean whose little brother at around 7 or 8 goes up to his mom and says "Mom, can you buy me a book so I can teach myself Chinese?" Mine did! Our dad brought him some sort of transformer toys from Hong Kong, but he couldn't read the instructions so he thought he'd just teach himself Chinese... you know... easy peasy lemon squeezy, right? Ha! Mind you he was already in a Spanish Immersion program at school, and in his spare time created this entire imaginary world complete with it's own language too.
But his creativity didn't just stop there... Yeah, no. He also composes music. And by "composes music" I mean he went to The Juilliard School in NYC receiving his Masters of Music in Composition composes music (it's not some tune he recorded on his Cassio keyboard...). And he did all that schooling (B.A. & M.M.) in 5 years!!! Sick. As a performing artist (not a creative one) it baffles me how he just creates these beautiful pieces of music. I mean they come out of his own head!!! It's crazy!!! How does he do it? I could never do that!!!

And did I mention that he can not only rock out a sock monkey hat and a beard but a sweet 'stache too?!!! Pretty impressive eh?

Like I said, I'm so proud of my little brother... He'd be the last person in the world to flaunt all of his accomplishments... in fact I'm sure this blog post will make him blush to a bright red. But that's what big sisters are here for... to brag about their amazing little brothers! Especially on their birthday!

So yeah, I'm blessed. Blessed by my little brother, who's not so little anymore. I'm so thankful that he is one of my best friends. He balances out my serious side with his goofiness. And I'm so grateful that it doesn't matter what we do... As long as we're together we're guaranteed a great time.

Happy Birthday Bear-Bear!!!! May the Lord bless your socks off this year! And thanks for being the bestest brother a girl could ask for... Thanks for being my brother (not that you actually have a choice in it... haha!!!)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Enduring Duos

Love Stories... Those great enduring duos: Princess Aurora and her Prince (I know he has a name, but does anyone know it?). Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. Romeo and Juliet. Peanut Butter and Jelly... I know. PB & J are inanimate objects, incapable of offering or experiencing love, but you can't tell me that their union isn't a magnificent one that's stood the test of time!
But I've forgotten one that's worth mentioning... and in my opinion it's way better than PB & J!

Balanchine and Stravinsky
A perfect marriage between dance and music. A romance that has been immortalized through 39 ballets, 22 of which, in 1972 were performed as a part of the New York City Ballet Stravinsky Festival (In all there were actually 31 ballets performed in this 8-day festival but the other 9 by other choreographers...)The mere thought of dancing 22 Balanchine-Stravinsky ballets makes my heart sing and my head hurt... I can't imagine the kind of counting that must have gone on... I mean it's bad enough having to manage one Stravinsky piece but 22?!!!
Confusion. Chaos. Migraine.
Well I've been blessed to dance in a few of these 31- namely Symphony in 3 Movements, Rubies and Agon. Other than the common denominators of composer, choreographer and pink tights and pointe shoes, these ballets couldn't be more different. Symphony in 3 Movements is an homage to WWII with its formations and patterns resembling armies advancing or planes circling. Rubies is a sexy, light-hearted little number set to Stravinsky's jazzy Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra. And Agon... In my opinion the cherry on top of this Balanchine-Stravinsky sundae is really best described by Balanchine himself: "See the music, hear the dance." And literally with minimal costumes (black leos and pink tights) and sets (a blue backdrop) that's all you see... You see the music danced.

Well, I'm happy to say that this Friday night I get to add a fourth Balanchine-Stravinksy jewel to my collection: the Divertimento from "Le Baiser de la Feé." And once again this sweet ballet hardly resembles the previous three already "in my bag", so to speak.
Dressed in a sweet little tutu with a golden bodice and and off-the-shoulder puffy sleeve, you'd think I'd be dancing to Mozart or Haydn not to the music of the man who composed The (riot-inducing) Rite of Spring! And yet the score for Baiser is strangely melodic. Don't get me wrong. It's still Stravinsky with its wonderful rhythms and crazy counts (a 6, an 11, three (two?) 10's and a 7... yikes!). But that's the fun of it... You exercise both your body and your mind. And you get to have fun with it too! There's a playfulness to Balanchine's musicality that in one sense is reminiscent to Rubies... just watch the principle woman execute her solo. It seems like her feet are flirting with the floor as she piques about... The same goes for the demis and corps as we punctuate the music with speedy and precise footwork in the first movement... And boy is it ever pufffy!
But what I love most about dancing Baiser, more than the musicality, more than the mental and physical challenge it presents, is that it feels like home. We had our first onstage rehearsal for this Rep Tuesday night and my soul felt like it was singing as I danced the first movement. And I was reminded once again that this is why I do what I do. This is why I dance!

So needless to say I'm quite excited. Not just because I get to add another Balanchine-Stravinsky jewel to my resumé... but because for the first time I get to premiere this new piece to PNB's repertoire in a demi-soloist role. It's a first for PNB and a first for me too!
I'm excited. I'm humbled. And I'm so grateful!

And this is just one love story - okay I guess two: between Balanchine and Stravinsky, and Jessika and ballet. There's a whole evening full of them! So if you haven't bought your tickets yet, what are you waiting for? DO IT! You can get them here. But you'd better hurry... "And they lived happily ever after" is just right around the corner.