Category Archives: travel

So It Was National Dance Day

Rather ironically, I celebrated by mostly not dancing.
Well, there was some dancing, in the morning, before I headed for Mom’s. And my friends carried me down the hall to the door when I left.

Pilobolus Summer Workshop was beyond words—or, well, beyond words that I can find when I’m happily exhausted because I spent the week dancing and creating feeling and spent Friday night singing and drinking and dancing and talking and talking and talking…

Went to bed at 7 AM on Saturday. Woke up at 10:50 AM. My body didn’t feel tired, but I could tell my brain was tired.

Anyway, I’m rolling all this stuff around in my head. You leave Pilobolus’ workshop ready to work, but in need of some time to think.

Anyway, instead of writing, today I’ve been taking pictures. Here’s a few from today and a couple from the week for your enjoyment or what have you.

Me, standing in front of a closed windier in my childhood bedroom.

I realized tonight that this room no longer really belongs me, and I no longer really belong to it. ATM though it’s hard to explain what that means. Also, I kind of can’t believe this is my body. That is not hard to explain.

A late ray of sun slanting down through the variegated leaves of a small tree, with a house in soft focus behind.

“Glory be to G-d for dappled things…” —Gerard Manley Hopkins

Students from Pilobolus' Summer Workshop Week 2, 2017.

This is us: the surprisingly-cohesive little commune that was Week 2 in 2017.

Asher sitting down with garden plants in the background.

There was a lovely cool breeze this evening. I sat on the bench near the house and drank it in and was glad to be alive and to be tired.

Asher lying on the floor of the dorms at the workshop with other students in the background.

This was a rough moment: knowing we were all about to part ways. Hard to describe how much you can come to love a group of people when you’ve just spent a week learning to trust them to hold you, guide you, and lift you high into the air.

A woven basket hangs on the outside wall of a garage flanked by mature plantings.

This basket has been hanging on the garage for a long time. I’ve photographed it before, in fact. The light was so beautiful that i couldn’t resist.

My Car Is Horrible Right Now; Brief Notes on Modern; Also, I Made A Thing

At the moment, my car smells like the inside of someone’s dance bag.

In fact, it smells like the inside of a dance bag belonging to someone who shoves his sopping-wet warm-ups into said bag after class and then forgets about them and goes home and the next day is like wtf did I do with my warmp-ups and then finds them when he goes to get his shoes out in ballet class the next day and shoves them back in his bag and forgets about them again until he finally remembers to bring the freaking bag in so he can wash them, which might take like an entire week[1, 3]. Ewww.

  1. I can neither confirm nor deny that this has actually happened to me[2].
  2. Possibly more than once.
  3. For the record, this problem is pretty specific to commuting by automobile, since taking public transit or riding a bike rather prevents leaving your dance bag in the car all week, doesn’t it? Though I did once leave legwarmers in my bike’s trunk bag ._. Good times, good times.

So I’m planning on going after my car with some carpet foam tonight. Possibly also mowing the lawn (completely unrelated, but still something I should probably do), but we’ll see.

Anyway, fairly good day in Modern today.

I am still madly in love with floorwork.

Perhaps I always will be? The lights (which are on sensors) clicked off about a quarter of the way through our floorwork combination, and we were just like, “Ahhhh.”


TFW the lights go out during floorwork. (Credit: Paul Holloway from Birmingham, UK – C&W kittens, via Wikimedia Commons)

Modern dance naptime, you guys. For real. It’s as refreshing as a nap without all that annoying napping.

Meanwhile, I’m back to being able to withstand light pressure on the outside of my right foot, so it’s now possible to safety-release into various rolls from an upright position. It’s still iffy about turns, but TB (who has been in class with us a few times now—yay!) suggested a different way of taping it that might help, so I’m going to try that tomorrow and Thursday.

I’m also continuing to work on knowing where UP is, which is remarkably hard (TB finds this unsurprising about me; I suspect it’s part of the “ridiculously hypermobile dancer” package).

I’m also also continuing to work on not being so freaking terrible at scheduling myself. As such, I created a dance-specific calendar, and because I figured, “Why not?” I’ve posted it as a page. That way D can find it easily and figure out where in hell I’ve gone, which can be a problem when you’re married to a dancer who won’t stand still for 5 minutes.

Turns out that it loads desperately slowly (read: about the same level of urgency as an unhurried sloth), but whatevs. It’s a start. I thought about making a separate calendar page for intensives, but that seems excessive. Instead, I made two separate calendars with joint output. The intensives show up in a red font; everything else shows up in blue.


A visual representation of a visual representation of a conceptual representation of … anyway, it’s a calendar.


Because I’m crazy awesome. Or something like that.

That said, it turns out that I’ve YET AGAIN double-booked myself on so many levels it isn’t even funny, so now I’m trying to finagle my way out of the Cultural Dance workshop I can’t take because I’m in Lexington during half of it. That sort of forces me to take our AD’s masterclass, though, which I’ve been semi-dreading because, like, he’s our AD and therefore inherently terrifying.

In other news, I guess it’s time to Order All The Dance Belts before I jet off to Lexington and then Connecticut. I have three that I like well enough; I would really like to have five so I never, ever have to worry about whether or not they’ll dry on time.

I need to make up my mind whether to order another pair of Yumikos or to order some M. Stevens tights, also, mainly because there’s some lead time involved in acquiring another pair of Yumikos.

Though, come to think of it, my Very Own Personal Yumiko Rep is about to jet off to a tropical paradise for an intensive because he is, in fact, awesome (no, really; last year he got invited to dance at Jacob’s Pillow), so that might sort that for me. I’ll have to find out when he comes back from Ballet Paradise.

Long-Necked Wading Birds of Southwestern Florida

Florida’s Gulf Coast is home to numerous bird species, and the southwestern tip of the state is no exception.

An excursion by boat through the mangroves at the edge of the everglades reveals many species of long-necked wading birds.

For example:


The Roseate Spoonbill, a year-round resident that, like the pink flamingo, takes its color from small crustaceans in its diet.


The great white egret, an elegant shoreline bird that often appears as a solitary, ghostly figure in the marsh.


And whatever the hell this thing is.

The final specimen in today’s brief collection of wading birds may be the Lesser Dancing Nincompoop, a migratory fowl often found in non-linear disarray.

The Lesser Dancing Nincompoop spends most of its time in the American Southern Northern Eastern Midwest, but regularly ranges as far north as Chicago, Illinois, as far west as Nevada, and as far south as southwestern Florida.

Interestingly, though it is a non-native species introduced from the southern New England coastal corridor, it has not proven invasive. It has adapted reasonably well to life in the interior, though ornithologists suspect that its migratory habits reflect a yearning for salt water, open skies, and critical dietary elements like really good bagels and legit New York-style pizza.

Ornithologists also suspect that, like the Spoonbill and the flamingo, its color may be dietary in origin, and that it derives its pasty hue from the exoskeleton of one of its preferred prey species, the Lesser North American Baguette (a distant relative of the European variety endemic to France).

PS: These shots were all taken on a really cool 2-hour Everglades Eco-Tours boat tour this morning. We had a great time and learned a lot 🙂

Monday Class: Vaganova Vacation Edition 

Last time I came to Marco Island, I didn’t have a real driver’s license, so I couldn’t just dash off to ballet class in Naples by myself.  

This time, I do have one, so I decided check out the local options and find a place to take class — and then DD and Mom decided to come with me anyway so so they could go shopping 😀

This morning’s class at Naples Ballet was quite good. Mr. C, who teaches a Vaganova programme, focused on some of the same things BW went over on Thursday and explained some of the bits that I have still not mastered. It helps to do the same steps with different teachers, as each can illuminate something you didn’t catch in another’s class. 

We did a lovely combination with an Arabesque turn, which was good, because I don’t think I’ve done one of those since … July? Also grand jeté, Bournonville jeté, entrelacé, and saut de chat. 

We also did turns from second, which was fun. We do those very rarely at home. 

Also a lot of correcting of my arms, which are generally the part of me that needs the most work.

It wasn’t my best class ever, but wasn’t my worst ever, either, so I felt pretty satisfied. I’ll be going back definitely for Friday class and possibly for Wednesday class. 

After, we ate lunch and then went swimming without first waiting an hour(1). Mom and I swam in the Gulf for a while, then joined Denis in the pool until a thunderstorm chased us out. 

  1. Presumably, that’s what angered Poseidon and/or Zeus, hence the storm that I’m now watching from my veranda.

I love the way rainstorms over open water obscure the horizon until it disappears. The world feels at once intimate and limitless, as if another world might lie just beyond the point at which things blend. 

From the balcony/a million drops of rain/obscure the land’s end.

The Most Terrifying Arabesque 

More Terrible Places In Chicago

Dear People of the Internet,

I know many of you probably travel, and that many of you might even travel to Chicago.

In the interest of making your lives easier, here are a few more places that you should never, ever visit, because they are absolutely horrible.

Hotel Allegro, 171 W Randolph Street, 60601.

First, this place is right in the beating heart of the downtown theater district. Who wants to stay there, right? It’s busy, busy, busy all the time, with all those bright lights and taxis and every form of public transit known to man running day and night. Who wants to stay in the middle of that? Amirite?

Worse, it’s like three blocks from the Joffrey — so if you’re a dancer, you’re basically obligated to go*. Vacation is supposed to be about relaxing and eating too much pizza and pastry, not hoofing it to ballet class and letting them whip your sorry butt into shape for an hour and a half.

Moreover, really comfy beds make it likely that you’ll sleep in and miss the 9 AM Ballet Basics class, so then you’ll have to do some other, harder class, which you will regret even more.

Room at the Allegro

Comfy. Modern. Oh, and they remembered our extra pillows.

To top it all off, the Allegro offers loaner bikes, so if you really, really want to ruin your relaxing vacation by being all healthified, you can totally do that without even having to break into the mysterious world of the Citibike.

To offset the calories you’ll burn on the bike, the Allegro also offers a nightly reception in the lobby with wine, sangria, and sometimes guests. Guests like tarantulas and box turtles from the Field museum. Who wants to have drinks with giant, hairy spiders?**

Courteous, efficient staff ensure success for the Allegro’s evil master plan to seduce you and all your friends into returning for another trip and handing over all your money. So if you know what’s good for you, you’ll stay far, far away. Like, maybe at the Budget Motel in Gary, IN. Assuming it’s still there.

The Allegro is also full of these cozy little niches -- perfect for convincing you to feel comfortable and at home...

The Allegro is also full of these cozy little niches — perfect for producing a false sense of security…

312 Chicago, 136 N LaSalle Street, Chicago, 60602.

To begin with, 312 Chicago pretends to be in another postal code entirely, but in fact it shares a building with the Allegro, so LIAR LIAR PANTS ON FIRE. Who cares if your doors are on another street entirely, 312 Chicago? We see what you’re trying to do!

Second, your smooth, professional serving staff is entirely too knowledgeable and courteous. How will people ever learn to make up their own minds if you keep suggesting perfect wine pairings and delicious desserts?

And the barkeeps! What are you thinking, letting them walk around making really amazing pomegranate cosmopolitans? I’ll have you know that I drank three of those and became quite chatty and sociable, which is entirely out of character for my superior, unsociable self. Come on, 312 Chicago, you’re messing up my mojo, here.

I should probably also mention the food. It’s not fair to raise people’s expectations like that, 312: delightful foccacia; perfectly-seared steaks; melt-in-your mouth fingerling potatoes; Caesar salad with just the right anchovy kick. Needless to say, last night’s Foreman-grilled sirloin and nuked potatoes were pretty disappointing after all that.

And now, here I am writing comments to a restaurant, like it can hear me and respond. You see what this place has done to me?

Avoid at all costs, especially if you like your bank account balance and your waistline***.

Ronny’s Original Chicago Steakhouse, 100 W. Randolph Street, Chicago, 60601.

Ronny's Original Chicago Steakhouse: don't get sucked in.

Ronny’s Original Chicago Steakhouse: don’t get sucked in.

Two words here, guys: epic portions.

Must ... keep ... eating.

Must … keep … eating.

Three more words: rock-bottom prices.

While Ronny’s isn’t going to hit you too hard in the wallet, if you value that svelte dancer’s physique for which you have toiled so many long hours under the grinding tutelage of your sadistic ballet instructors, STAY. AWAY.

Because Ronny’s is all about value, and by “value,” I mean, “Putting enough food on a tray to feed an entire rugby team.”

For $8, my Ronny’s breakfast included some 8″ of Polish sausage (yeah, yeah, go ahead with the 8″ Sausage jokes, Internet), a pile of crisp and delicious home fries (billed as “hash browns,” because LIARS) that probably weighed a pound, two enormous eggs skillfully cooked over-easy, two gigantic slices of Texas toast, and a little slice of watermelon.

Now, that would be a perfectly reasonable meal if I was planning to spend the next 6 hours in the studio and not eat anything else — but for a mere mortal on a normal day, it seems like a bit much, doesn’t it? Like maybe the good folks at Ronny’s were hoping I’d die of a coronary (or maybe of a ruptured stomach) right there, right then?

They topped it off with a diet Coke large enough to refresh a racehorse. That much caffeine on top of that much food could kill a lesser person. Fortunately, I’m a cyclist and a dancer, so I know how to cram huge portions of food down my gullet (even so, I was not able to finish all of my potatoes).

I’m not sure whether Ronny’s is trying to kill us or maybe just put every other restaurant in Chicago out of business. Either way, given the portion sizes, delicious greasy-spoon style food, and prompt service, I’m pretty sure they just might succeed … if we let them.

In Conclusion

Chicago is a dangerous place, y’all. Chicago wants to take all your money while simultaneously making you super fit and eleven pounds heavier per day. Chicago wants to whisper its siren song into your ear and convince you that you love her like you love your own mother. Be strong! Don’t listen! Stop up your ears and visit some other place, like maybe Peoria, for example. Chicago will suck you into her warm and worldly embrace and feast on your soul … so you should probably just stay away.

But if you don’t, and you meet me in any one of these places … well, you know. My responsibilities as the Warning Klaxon of the Internet weigh heavy on my shoulders, and sometimes I have to go back more than once to find out whether or not a given threat has been neutralized.

Remember, people, I’m doing you a favor here.

So, You’re welcome.

And mum’s the word.

*I, however, did not make it to class this time because of an unexpected wedding-related engagement. I will go to Chicago many more times; my friends will only be getting married once, and they wanted to see us during the time we were going to do class. There are, in this world, a few valid excuses.

I practiced combinations in my room to make up for it.

**Yeah, so I totally do. These guys came with a curator from the Field Museum — I guess you could say they were on a Field trip? There were also some fascinating preserved specimens. You know, if you like that kind of thing 😉

***To be fair, I have no idea what 312’s prices look like. We were there for a wedding dinner. I have a feeling they’re probably fairly reasonable, all things considered. That said, Denis and I are used to blowing most of our entertainment budget on fine dining, which has really warped my sense of what “fair” restaurant prices look like. If you’re on a shoestring college budget, for example, 312 is probably a “once-a-year, when the parents are in town” kind of place.

ChiTown Weekend

Quick disclaimer:

If it were up to me, we might very well relocate to Chicago*. As such, my opinions on the city in question are probably less than objective.


Here we are at the Hotel Allegro. Our room is fairly nice. The decor is rather in the style that Denis calls “Early Gay Bar,” which works for us, and we’re both enjoying the very strange and presumably retro light fixture above our bed, which looks like one of those little pincushions with a flat top and chenille balls all over the sides rendered in glass and upended on the ceiling.

That said, the marbled mirror tiles on the wall at the foot of the bed are a bit much. Likewise, the carpet. Wow. Um.

The bed itself, however, is rather delightfully comfortable.

Today’s plan is to hit up the Shedd and then either do class at the Joffrey or catch a play based on Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books. I’m leaning towards the former because it doesn’t involve an hour-long transit trip (two hours on the train is a long time on a really short vacation, y’all!) and also because ballet.

Right now, though, we’re on the hunt for breakfast.

Anyway, more to come. That’s it for now.

*We’d have to bring our friends Kelly and Jim with us, and my Mom-in-Law, Phyllis — but then we could all live together like some kind of giant hippie co-op, I guess? …Only with better hygiene. And doors. And not so much of that free-love thing.

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