Boston Ballet’s The Nutcracker

Everybody has their own holiday traditions to make the season merry.  Many of you might be in all-Christmas-music-all-the-time mode.  My seasonal music is a bit different…

I’ve always loved The Nutcracker.  I remember seeing it as a child– the first ballet this then young ballerina ever saw!  I remember having a cassette tape as a child (okay, NOW I’m dating myself!) which told the story as stated in an accompanying picture book.  In that version, which I can still hear parts of in my head, called the young protagonist Marie.  You may know her as Clara.

The Nutcracker tells the story of young Clara’s Christmas gift, a nutcracker, as he battles the mouse king, and as a prince takes her to the land of sweets.  It’s a dreamlike ballet of colors, sounds, and lovely dancing.

Thanks to my friend Elissa of Style-Wire, I got the opportunity to see Boston Ballet’s production this season.  This particular production is under the artistic direction of Mikko Nissinen.  I saw Boston Ballet’s Nutcracker last year under his artistic direction, and was pleasantly surprised that this year’s held some more surprises for me!  The sets and costumes are even lovelier than I remember.  They definitely make modifications and improvements each year.  The production is full of comedic moments like the adorable toy bear and the arrival of the mice– as the clock tolls the stage is like to focus on each mouse comically posing making me laugh every time!

L to R: obsessed with chandeliers like these at the Boston Opera House | beautiful backdrop before the show begins! | Elissa & I snuck a quick selfie before the show.  Stole this photo from her!

obsessed with chandeliers like these at the Boston Opera House | beautiful backdrop before the show begins! | Elissa & I snuck a quick selfie before the show. Stole this photo from her!

Boston Ballet's The Nutracker promotional photo by Rosalie O'Connor

Boston Ballet’s The Nutracker promotional photo by Rosalie O’Connor

The Boston Opera House is gorgeous too!

The Boston Opera House is gorgeous too!  This is maybe my favorite photo I’ve ever taken.

I highly recommend you see this production at the beautiful Boston Opera House!  After two years in a row, I’m committed to going back year after year knowing there are more surprises and Christmas magic around the corner!

For tickets, and more information, visit!

What’s your favorite holiday tradition?

[Full disclosure: my ticket was complimentary, but all opinions are my own!]

Not Getting Married Today

Life has been so crazy lately that I really haven’t had time to write anything personal.  My brother graduated last weekend, which caused me to miss a post, so the Amazing Race finale recap went up late.  I’m hoping this weekend’s festivities don’t cause any other delays!  (This is your warning in case they do.)

One of my best and oldest friends is getting married this weekend.  Because I keep saying that, I’ve had the below song stuck in my head for at least two weeks.  They have absolutely nothing to do with each other, just that it’s wedding-related.



I’m completely in love with the musical Company.  My relationship with this show started out super rocky.  I was first introduced to it in college.  My then-boyfriend was playing David in his college’s production.  I was not wild about this.  My then-boyfriend had to be married in this play!  I was jealous.  Because being 20 is super hard.  I went to the show in a kind of begrudging manner.  He assured me that the show displays marriage in a negative light, which I thought was even worse, as at the time, I thought we’d marry one day.  What I found in Company is a truly unique social commentary.  I do not think it necessarily casts a shadow on marriage, but I do think it deals with some deeper emotional aspects of the human experience.

Stephen Sondheim, who provided the music and lyrics for the show, said, “Broadway theater has been for many years supported by upper-middle-class people with upper-middle-class problems. These people really want to escape that world when they go to the theatre, and then here we are with Company talking about how we’re going to bring it right back in their faces.”

The 5 married couples in Company present the main character, Robert, with a shiny surface view of marriage, that he is occasionally envious of.  However, scratch that surface and see 10 individuals each struggling with their own issues and coexisting as a couple.  Oh, and spoiler alert: Amy and Paul do indeed get married after all this.  This hilarious exploration of Amy’s pre-wedding mind is just the kind of dichotomy Company loves to highlight.

Even in the relationship-happiness fog of my very early 20’s, I loved the subtle sadness of this show.  Company is profoundly beautiful, and the musical numbers are to die for!  The Broadway revival starring Neil Patrick Harris and Stephen Colbert is available on Hulu.  It also features the beautiful Christina Hendricks as one of the three girlfriends Robert (Harris) has throughout the show.  The version of (Not) Getting Married Today above is from this revival, and I cannot recommend watching it highly enough!

Again, this has absolutely nothing to do with the wedding of the lovely couple I’m about to attend.  Tomorrow is for Stacie!

Have a lovely long weekend, everyone!


Amazing Race Recap: Bullying Bulls

I’ve now watched their original season plus Unfinished Business, and my love for Jet and Cord has reached its peak. I was totally Team Cowboys going into Sunday’s episode.

The teams left Zurich for Seville, Spain. Since last week was a non-elimination leg, the last place team, Jennifer and Caroline, have to complete a Speed Bump along this leg. They seem to actually have a skill set in Spain, one of them having lived there in college and speaking enough Spanish to get around.


Paying homage to The Barber of Seville, (and a song that instantly brings me back to the intro scene of Mrs. Doubtfire,) one teammate had to shave a balloon covered in shaving cream with a straight razor within 60 seconds. If the balloon popped or they could not remove all of the shaving cream within the allotted time, they’d have to start over. A man belted out songs from the aforementioned opera during the Roadblock, just to help improve concentration.

Speed Bump:

Jennifer & Caroline’s Speed Bump was to deliver six hams to a shop in Seville. While this slowed them down a bit, the Cowboys were having trouble with directions and were slowed down as well…

Detour: Spanish Steps or Running with the Ballz

Both detours were visual joys for me! In Running with the Ballz, teams slide themselves into these adorable, cartoon-y, inflatable bull bumper balls. What happened next was not so adorable…

Picture 1 As “bulls” the teams had to run through alleys looking for posters with the motto, “A matador never thinks about his own death.” While looking for these words, other bumper bulls play human bumper cars at full force. They sent racers flying, rolling, and one (Rachel) whining! It was quite hilarious. The Brenchels, Afghanimals, Cowboys, and Dave & Connor chose this Roadblock.

In Spanish Steps, the teams had to learn and perform a flamenco dance. Jennifer and Caroline chose this, and the Cowboys were U-Turned by the Afghanimals and had to complete it too.

These outfits totally work for them! …who knew this did it for me?

Well, that U-Turn sealed the fate of my beloved Cowboys.   I’m officially bad luck, because I declared my allegiance to Jet & Cord right before the episode in which they were eliminated. I’m so bummed at the results:

  1. Dave and Connor
  2. Brendon and Rachel
  3. Leo and Jamal
  4. Caroline and Jennifer
  5. Jet and Cord

I just though that Jet and Cord really deserved the win. They’re the least drama-filled team I’ve ever seen on the race while still being exciting and endearing. “Can I ride your horse?” Cord asks as they make it to the mat in Seville.

This horse was great.  It bowed!

This horse was great. It bowed!

I’ll miss these guys a lot for comments like that, and this, their final sound bite:

“Oh my gravy, I’ve been around the world three times!”

Foreign Friday: Dance Academy

Foreign Friday is back! This time, something from far away, but in a language that is familiar! Dance Academy is an Australia teen drama that I watched entirely over the weekend when I was sick.


Because it’s a teen drama, a guy can date two best friends one after the other and the girls can still be best friends. The first part of this can definitely happen, but I can tell you from experience, do not count on the latter! Because it’s a teen drama, I don’t think I made it through a single episode without crying. Sometimes a lot. But! This is a dance show. There is so much ballet and beautiful dancing. As a former dancer, I’m obsessed.

It takes place in Sydney with students are accepted to the National Academy of Dance. Here, they will train for three years in hopes of earning a contract with the National Ballet Company.

Here are the character break-downs:


Tara is the star of the show and often the lead of productions. I have a love-hate relationship with her. At times, I think she’s far too plain and ordinary to get everything she does. At other times, I think she’s quite lovely. Even though she is pretty more times than not, I still don’t see her as the ultimate dancer the show portrays her as. She came in a naïve girl and by the second series she’s already had 3 boyfriends and more special treatment than any other dancer. Still, I cheer her on. She’s believes in love, the magic of dance, and her dreams.


Kat is charismatic as they come. Her mother is a famous ballerina and her father is a famous choreographer. Kat is more about fun than a commitment to hard work. She doesn’t take ballet seriously, which gets her kicked out of the academy, but she misses it when it’s gone. Once she realizes that dance is a fundamental part of her life, she gets herself back into the academy, but a year behind her classmates. Kat looks to find a place for herself knowing her friends will be finishing before her. With each shadow she finds cast upon herself, Kat’s talents come shining through. She is Tara’s best friend.


Sam comes into the academy without the support of his father, who wants him to be a doctor instead of a dancer. Sammy struggles through first year as Tara does. He struggles further second year when his father withdraws financial support. More interesting struggles come to Sammy relationship wise. He goes from a girlfriend he truly cares about, to questioning his sexuality, to overcompensating, to a boyfriend. I’m not sure if Sammy considers himself to be gay or not, but I love this about him. It’s not something we see in TV often. Sammy is the glue that holds the group together.


Abigail goes from completely unlikeable to my favorite character by the second series. Abigail is the original mean girl, until Grace comes in to take over the role. (More on her later.) Abigail is conniving, ruthless, and will do absolutely anything to get ahead, including sabotage. Eventually, she lets her walls down and lets Sammy and friends break through her tough exterior. Abigail is more dedicated to ballet than anything. She’s criticized initially for not being intelligent, but the show reveals that she’s extraordinarily talented. Her vulnerabilities win out in the end, and I see Abby as the most deserving dancer in the group.


Christian is a scholarship kid who’s using his place in the academy to prove he’s useful to society after getting in trouble with the law. He deals with abandonment issues from his father leaving, and with his mother recently deceased he is always lost. He is withdrawn, and runs away from everything. He does grow, and keeps coming back to dance. Christian is naturally gifted, excels at hip hop, and finds passion for giving kids the opportunity to dance.


Self-proclaimed “Benster” comes in second series as a first year bumped up to second year because of his level of talent. He is constantly upbeat and trying to make others around him happy. We learn that this is because of a past struggle with leukemia. He is often manipulated because of this happy-go-lucky attitude, but his heart is as big as can be.


The goddaughter of Miss Raine, principal of the academy, Grace comes in second year. As bad as Abigail ever was, Grace is worse. Grace is a master manipulator. Unlike Abigail, Grace’s motives are not to get ahead. She already is ahead. She dances perfectly, effortlessly. She steals spotlights because she can: because she’s bored. She’s never had a proper home and is clearly emotionally damaged. That’s why she acts like a sociopath most of the time. We see shades of Grace’s humanity here and there. Eventually, Grace realizes she doesn’t like the person she is and sets out to remedy that. She’s adorable, so I’m glad she gets likeable(ish).


Originally joining in the second series, Ollie was a third year with the most potential and briefly, Sammy’s boyfriend. After he does not get a contract with the company, Ollie repeats third year. He takes make detours exploring many dreams. Even though his other dreams start to pan out, we see what he still wants more than anything is a contract with the company.


I really, really enjoyed this show! If you’re into dramas or dance, you will too! All three series (because remember, it’s Australian) are on Netflix. It should take you a while to get through these 60+ episodes, unless you have three days to lay in bed like I did!

Bingeworthy: Bunheads


My friend Chelsea says that Gilmore Girls isn’t a show, it’s a lifestyle, and I have to agree. My vast TV on DVD collection does not include Gilmore Girls, sadly. I vaguely remember it being on Netflix for a while, but it disappeared long ago. Chelsea recommended Bunheads to me, “it’s not Gilmore Girls, but it’ll do.” As a former ballerina, there’s a lot about Bunheads that appeals to me on a level Gilmore Girls did not. Chels was a ballerina too, so I’m not sure where this doesn’t connect with her… but again, she’s living that Gilmore Girls lifestyle and it’s hard to stack up to that!

Bunheads, like Gilmore Girls, was created by Amy Sherman-Palladino. You’ll find a lot of the similar fast-paced and witty dialogue and the same small town setting filled with crazy characters. Watching the first episode, you might find yourself thinking it’s too Gilmore-esque. This is worsened by the fact that many of the same actors are used. Kelly Bishop, the fabulous Emily Gilmore, plays Fanny Flowers, owner of the dance studio. An actor who I only know by his Gilmore Girls character’s name, Kirk, plays hipster coffee-shop owner Bash. Lisa Weil, or Paris Geller from the Gilmore world, shows up as Milly later too. Eventually, though, the show finds its own rhythm and for this former ballerina, the dance numbers really set it apart and make it something special.

Broadway sensation Sutton Foster stars as Michelle, a former ballerina-turned-Vegas-showgirl. Michelle had such potential, but followed whims to a life of depressing Vegas numbers. She has a kind of stalker, Hubble, who sees her show in Vegas over and over again, and one night asks her to marry him. Sick of her life, she agrees and follows Hubble to Paradise, the small California town. She finds out he lives with his mother, Fanny, who runs a dance studio. When he suddenly dies, Michelle and Fanny are left to forge a relationship and a business in the studio.

The storylines also revolve around four ballet students: Sasha, Boo, Ginny, and Mel. Their family and relationship experiences cause them to grow throughout the series. Sasha’s storyline in particular gets most air time in the first and only season. This complicated girl is the studio’s star pupil, but a rebel.

If you’re a Gilmore fan, you’ll like this show. If you’re a dance fan, you’ll like this show. I’m super sad that there’s only one season, but I think these 18 episodes are definitely worth a watch!

Bunheads is available on Hulu through certain cable providers.
It is also available on Comcast Xfinity’s app through April 1.

Check out this dance clip that I could watch over and over again, featuring the fabulous Sasha!

Amazing Race Recap: Can’t Make Fish Bite

You know, the more I watch this season, the more I remember how much I like this show.  It may have been Meghan and Joey that got me started, but I Hulu marathoned this thing for weeks with or without Team Youtube.  Anyway, on to Sunday’s episode!

Last week’s leg was non-elimination, so Brenchel will have to complete a Speed Bump since they were last.  All teams leave from Batu Caves to fly to Colombo, Sri Lanka.  There is one direct flight which gets in around midnight.  All teams aside from Luke & Margie and Brenchel make it on to this flight.  Brenchel takes a risk on a flight that connects in Singapore; the connection time is about a half hour and they have to switch airlines.  Luke & Margie do not take this risk, and standby for seats on the flight the rest of the teams are on.

Brenchel make their connection, and actually land a bit before the rest of the teams.  Luke & Margie do not get seats on the flight with everyone else and end up having to take a morning flight, 10 hours behind everyone.

The first stop in Sri Lanka is a Buddhist temple, where all teams on the first two flights meet up to wait for the opening at 5:45 AM.  In getting blessed by Monks, the teams got a nice opportunity to slow down and take in the experience.  A scenic train ride later, it’s time for the…

Detour: Fishing Pole or Spin Control

In Fishing Pole, teams wade out into the sea and jump up onto Sri Lankan fishing stilts.  Each team member must catch a fish to move on.  In Spin Control, they dress up and perform a traditional dance with balancing and spinning plate-like structures.  Now, this girl loves to dance, but I’d have to go fishing.  Just sitting there vs. spinning plates?  No contest.

Picture 4

Flight Time and Big Easy are spinning pros, and excel at Spin Control.  They’re also apparently the only team that knows how to count music.  I can’t believe the way the blondes completed this task, aren’t they singers?

Jessica and Jon decide to ditch fishing are try out the dance.  They manage to catch up to the pack at the…

Road Block

Ever see “Made in Sri Lanka” on a tag in your clothes?  The road block takes place in a clothing factory, where one team member must machine sew a shirt to the manager’s specifications.  Even though sewing machines scare me, I’d have to do this one.  I’d obviously have to do the Road Blocks that involve no muscle, but beyond that, I’m pretty confident I could piece the pattern together.

Big Easy has a lot of trouble here.  Flight Time brings out a basketball and entertains the crowd, reinvigorating him!  Even though the Globetrotters finished after Brenchel, they paid their bus to bring them directly to the Colombo Rowing Club, this leg’s Pitstop