On Tap for Today

A fun loving, inspired living blog


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Today: An interview with Emily Mistretta of the Boston Ballet.

I’ve always enjoyed the idea of ballet.  I live for essie ballet slippers polish, ballet trends in fashion, and the movie Center Stage.  I have an extensive collection of legwarmers (perfect for going to and from yoga).  The last time I actually wore ballet slippers, though, I looked something like this.

That’s somewhat of a lie, but I refuse to post my middle school aged ballet photo.  Needless to say, my appreciation has been from a far, and my behind the scenes knowledge of what it takes to be a ballerina is limited, at best– so when I had the chance to interview Emily Mistretta, a member of the Boston Ballet’s Corps de Ballet, I leaped (somewhat gracefully) at the opportunity.  I am so grateful to Emily for taking the time to share her experience and insight.

[Photo courtesy of Emily and The Boston Ballet]

What does a typical day in the life of a Boston Ballet ballerina look like?  Does this change as you approach performances? 
EM: A typical day during rehearsal schedule starts with a class at 9:45 followed by a six hour rehearsal day until 6:30. The schedule varies depending on how many rehearsals you have, but it usually tends to be a pretty full day of dancing.   Our rehearsals demand all different kinds of ballet movement.  It is not atypical to transition back and forth from classical to modern or jazzy ballet rehearsals through the course of the day. For example, my day could start off with something classical, like Nutcracker, followed right by the the jazzy Rolling Stones piece “Rooster”. Then right back to another traditional ballet such as Sleeping Beauty. All before lunch.  As we get closer to performances, we start to focus more on the particular upcoming piece.  We change to a theater schedule about a week or two before showtime, which starts later in the day and goes later into the night. This way we get our minds and bodies ready for the performance schedule.
Is your fitness routine focused primarily in the studio, or do you cross train?  If so, what are some of you favorite ways to work out?
EM: Because what we do is so physically demanding, the majority of my fitness gained while working in the studio.  However, you don’t always get the cardio you need from working in rehearsals, so I like to cross train as well.  It’s always good to do your own abdominal work and keep a strong core by doing Pilates or Gyrotonics, but I also like getting in the pool.  Swimming is great and I also like to hold on to the edge of the pool and do a series of my barre exercises in the water.  It is incredibly difficult with the resistance of the water, but you also feel so great and supported.  I love a good yoga class as well, though I like to use it more as release then as an intense workout.  
What are some of your favorite foods for fueling your routine? 
EM: I recently discovered the joy of juicing,  it’s fantastic!  In the morning I like to make juices with fresh fruit and vegetables, like apples, beets, kale, carrots and ginger.  It’s a great way to get  my body all the great vitamins and nutrients that it so often craves.  I usually compliment the juice with something more substantial, such as an egg and a piece of toast. This usually keeps me from wilting by the time our 2:30pm lunch break rolls around.  Smoothies are a great snack to have during the day, when I need a quick boost during our short breaks that won’t bog me down. I like all different kinds and I always add some protein powder to keep up my energy.  
Do you consider dancers to be athletes (for the record– I certainly do!)?  Why or why not?
EM: I absolutely consider ballet dancers to be athletes!  I think it should be considered an Olympic sport!  But one of the most beautiful things about ballet is that while it is physically demanding as a sport, it is even more challenging as an art.  On top of the athleticism you have to be creative, beautiful, and painlessly graceful. It is wonderfully hard!
 
What do you love most about what you do?  What brought you to the Ballet?  Have you always wanted to dance?
EM: What I love most about ballet is that as a dancer and an audience member you have the rare opportunity to witness life through artistic expression.  There are moments you have on stage where your body is filled with adrenaline, energy is shooting through every part of you.  You are not dwelling on the past and you haven’t taken the next step into the future, you and your body are only consumed in the present.  Time slows and you are nothing but living in the bliss of the moment, experiencing each second as it comes to you..  I think you can give that to the audience so that they are along with you experiencing the present themselves and both sides are communally witnessing and enjoying life together.  I’m not quite sure I knew what that feeling was when I was a kid, I just knew that I felt it.  I liked the feeling of dancing and moving around as fast as I possibly could, which is probably why I usually tend to enjoy things that are a quick tempo!  As a child I knew I wanted to do whatever that was that made me feel so alive and if that meant dancing then I was going to dance!
Do you have any thoughts about the recent fitness trends involving “ballet-inspired” workouts? 
EM: Ballet technique creates phenomenal muscle structure.  When I look around at all my coworkers, guys and girls alike, it is so obvious!  Everyone is so beautifully toned and shaped!  Ballet technique, if done correctly (a never ending quest), has this way of creating incredibly strong muscles in a very linear and non bulky way.  I’ve personally never tried ballet tone classes, but I certainly would recommend any class that incorporates ballet technique.
 
What is your best tip for staying healthy and balanced during performance season?
EM: My best tip for staying healthy during performance season would be to listen to your body.  Give it the nutrients and proteins it craves, and stay routinely active. This will prevent fatigue and decrease risk of injury.  A dancer is generally most fatigued after a performance, so rest is extremely important. Stay on track with your health maintenance, including massages and physical therapy. Listening to and understanding your body will allow you to safely push it’s limits and increase it’s dancing potential! 
I am so looking forward to seeing Emily and her fellow dancers perform at the Boston Ballet’s Fall Programnext week.  In the meantime, I may need to dust off those ballet shoes…Also On Tap for Today:

Did you dance as a child?  Best/worst costume?


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Today: Old kids on the dock.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]Some people know my friend Elizabeth (we Elizabeths like to stick together) as my drinking buddy.  She’s been present 2 out of the 3 times I’ve been over-served in the past decade.  As she wisely put it yesterday, her gremlin speaks to my gremlin.  We have a way of getting into trouble together.  Which is why I enjoy her company so.  She’s not just my drinking buddy, she’s my thinking buddy, too.   We met at a conference in January, as I sat awkwardly at a lunch table, waiting for the keynote speech to start.  She recommended the vegetarian soup, and then asked if I wanted to grab tea.  We went to a music therapy workshop and giggled while the instructor sang about joy being all around us.  I think that song helped us to skip over being strangers.  The introvert in me is ever grateful for her friendliness.  Elizabeth is kind, generous, and compassionate.  We can talk hippie talk and hockey talk.  What more could a girl ask for?

We’re both running from one thing to the next lately, so I am so glad we were able to sneak in a little chat on the dock at the Esplanade last night.  Just two grown-up kids, talking about retirement accounts and bridesmaids dresses, and soaking up the view.  Life is good.

Also On Tap for Today:

 

What’s your favorite hometown view?


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Today: Freshly showered.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]I am as grateful as I am lucky, which is to say, very.  All of my lovely bridesmaids were in town this weekend, along with family and friends, to host the most wonderful bridal shower.  In short: I laughed, I cried (only a tiny, tiny bit… and they were happy tears), I got nail caviar.  I am still overwhelmed by everyone’s generosity.  I really am so grateful, and so lucky.

Nick and I started the weekend at CrossFit Southie, where I was able to increase my PR by 10lbs for the power snatch.  After a few really helpful coaching cues, I have improved significantly on that Olympic lift.  That’s one of the best things: if you work hard, you’ll continue improve and grow stronger.  After sweating like a beast, I had less than an hour to transform into a beauty.  Thank goodness for mascara.  And antiperspirant.

I traded my new lightweight training tank (a gift from my friends at Reebok) for this cute eyelet sundress (what good is a selfie without a photobomb from a random stuffed French bulldog?).  Side note 1: Stuffed animals totally creep me out.  But this one is a Frenchie.  And the proceeds benefitted a charity I love.  Side note 2: I am a natural frowner.  Those mouth corners seem to go down, even when I’m smiling.  And smizing.

Kristine picked me up just before one o’clock for a manicures, pedicures, Prosecco and lots of catching up at Bliss.  It was the perfect way to spend an afternoon.  It’s hard to believe it’s been a whole seven years since she traded Boston for New Jersey.  I miss living downstairs from her, and being able to see her at the drop of a hat (what a weird expression).  If I thought I could trick everyone into coming back home, I’d get married more often.  Sort of.

After plenty of pampering, we grabbed a bite to eat and did some browsing on Newbury Street before heading to my sister’s apartment.  Andrea, Katie, Meg, Kristine and Colleen had dangerously strong cosmopolitans, snacks, and plenty of Michael Jackson waiting, as well as some fun little surprises.  We enjoyed a lovely dinner and lots of laughs.  Pink prosecco?  Yes, please.  This little lady loves bubbles.

The next morning we headed home for the most lovely shower.  From the centerpieces (straight from my parents’ garden) to delicious food and incomparable company, it was just the perfect day.  I was spoiled rotten.

I’ve said it before, and I know I will say it again.  I am the luckiest.

Also On Tap for Today:

Are your dearest friends nearby, or far away?


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Today: Take your vitamins.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]My body celebrated the second day of summer by coming down with a cold.  Quite rude, if you ask me.  With the weather being so hazy, hot and humid I would much rather be up at the pool than zonked out on the sofa.

After a few days of sniffling and wondering if I had accidentally swallowed a knife, I am starting to feel better.  I wonder though, can I blame this cold for the fact that I attempted to meet my girlfriends at the wrong restaurant on Friday night?  I was quite proud of myself for being early and snagging the best table in the house, until I realized my error.  The waiter thought I had been stood up and insisted that my soda water was on the house.  It was rather mortifying.

Clearly my body (and my brain) could use a time out.  And perhaps, some vitamins.  I know there are those who are anti-vitamins and supplements.  In an ideal world, I’d get everything my body needs from my diet.  While I am not a doctor, a scientist, an astronaut, nor an RD, I do know this for sure:

  1. My diet is far from perfect.
  2. Vitamins will only work if I, um, actually take them.

And I often forget to take them.  Kelly reminded me to take yesterday’s multivitamin and vegetarian DHA (sort of like fish oil, minus the fish), but I am not certain that nooding around on Twitter is the most reliable system for ensuring I take them daily.

So I started thinking about my daily routine.  What’s one thing I never, ever forget to do?  Load up on the mascara.  I also find that planning out my week each Sunday, whether it’s meetings, meals or workouts, really helps.  You know those pill holder things that old people the most experienced members of our society use?

I now own a sweet purple one.  I filled the week’s worth of soft gels this morning (which reminded me of that pebble game, Mancala, that we used to spend hours playing at the beach), and tucked the container into my makeup bag, right next to the mascara.

I think I am on to something.  Maybe.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s one thing you never forget to do?


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Today: A real Do-It-Yourselfer.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]I was flipping through Allure last week and spotted this Sonia Kashuk for Target ad.

My imagination was captured.  I dug through my bathroom draw (contents: moisturizer, nail polish, more moisturizer, more nail polish) and got to work.

After removing my old polish, cleaning, filing and buffing nails, I applied two coats of Revlon Dreamer (pale blue).  Per usual, my impatience got the better of me and I moved on to step 2 (applying those half moon stencil sticker things) too early.  After reapplying two more coats of Dreamer to my pointer finger, I made sure to wait twice as long this time.

Once I was sure the blue polish was dry, I carefully applied the French polish guides.  I recommend doing your non-dominant hand first (which I didn’t do, naturally).  Next came two coats of Nicole by OPI The Next CEO (shimmery gold) above the polish guides, allowing plenty of time for the gold polish to dry.

The guides come off easily, leaving a nice crisp line of gold above the blue polish.  I finished up with two coats of top coat and carefully flipped through the rest Allure while my nails dried.

Could a professional have done better?  You better believe it.

Is it fun to do it yourself every now and then, regardless?  Yes, ma’am.

Also On Tap for Today:

What is your favorite DIY project?  Favorite nail polish color?


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Today: Everything’s coming up roses.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]And daffodils.  And tulips.  And azaleas.  And flowers I can neither spell nor pronounce.

After getting caught in a stampede at last year’s flower show, I was very thankful when my dad suggested we go early in the day to this year’s Boston Flower and Garden Show.  My dad is quite the gardener, so it was fun to see what appealed to him, and take mental notes for a time when Nick and I have a yard of our own.  A few of my favorites this year included the rosemary border that lined the brick walkway above.  Imagine how lovely coming home would smell?  I also really liked these city-friendly succulent jars.  The moss and dirt add really nice color and texture, and I imagine this is something I could pull together with relative ease.  Unless my hand got stuck in there, or something.  That would likely happen to someone like me.

This back deck scene captured my imagination.  I think these knitted poufs would be perfect for the pool deck.  Unfortunately, shared space doesn’t lend itself to personal decor or furnishings. Heck, I doubt I could leave my towel unattended up there without being reported to the condo association.

I loved and all water features, especially a turquoise urn that we spotted.

I made a fountain (inspired by Swan Lake, no less) in my 12th grade art independent study.  The fountain part was surprisingly easy, as they sell easy to install kits online.  Or maybe it was from a catalogue.  I am not sure if the internet existed back then.  Regardless, the fountain part was easy, but putting my swans back together after one of the art teachers randomly re-fired them in the kiln, blowing them to bits, was quite difficult.  This same teacher once painted on one of my sculptures.  She was a weird bird.

Speaking of weird birds, these guys weren’t the only things making music at the Seaport World Trade Center.  In the middle of the flower show, a gorgeous exhibit featured Spanish guitar music and a really spectacular carpet of vibrant flowers and plants.

A few other highlights included a child’s garden, complete with the coolest fort I have ever seen, plus a display of handmade hats.

There was something interesting at every turn, I’d be stumped if I had to pick a favorite.

Just kidding.  My favorite was this stone with an inlaid glass mosaic.

I thought this was just gorgeous.

I’ll have to jump back to this post if and when we ever leave the city.  With so much to see and be inspired by, the Flower Show would be a great way to trick someone into moving to the suburbs.  Myself included.  In the meantime, I am quite happy with my vases of cut flowers.  And the crocuses along the Broadway bridge.

Also On Tap for Today:

Do you have a favorite flower?  Do you have a green thumb like my dad?


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Today: An (early) Irish blessing.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]While it’s not quite St. Patrick’s Day,  it’s never too early (or too late) to be blessed. 

These lovely photos were taken by my brother. 

A very happy St. Patrick’s Day to you and yours.

Also On Tap for Today:

Do you have a favorite blessing, or prayer, or parable, or proverb or…. um, sentence?