Whispers the Paper Ballet Collaboration

A few weeks ago Oliver and I traveled to Lincoln, Nebraska to do a collaboration with Whispers the Paper Ballet. Nicole Battelle Van Hook is the artist behind the beautiful paper sculptures.  Check out her website to see more of her work.  

The photos we got are probably some of my favorite photos we've ever taken.  We shot in three locations around Lincoln and we had three different looks.  Below I'll show you some behind the scenes shots to see how Nicole and her assistant Alex Allison created the paper couture looks.  

The first day we shot the music sheet tutu at the Lincoln Teacher's fountain.  When we got there they started constructing the paper sculpture on me.  I wore trunks and a bandeau as the base and the paper was stapled and pinned on.  

Alex and Nicole stapled the paper tutu skirt to my briefs. 

Alex and Nicole stapled the paper tutu skirt to my briefs. 

The bodice was pinned to my bandeau.

The bodice was pinned to my bandeau.

Close up of the skirt.  

Close up of the skirt.  

We spent about three hours shooting.  Throughout the evening more paper was added to the skirt to change the shape.  The idea of shooting paper in the fountain was that the dress would change shape and that it would be a one time use of the sculpture. 

I think it's quite lovely!

I think it's quite lovely!

The next afternoon we went to the Nebraska state capital building.  This was the simplest of the pieces we did, but I think it's my favorite.  The look to me is a deconstructed swan.  I wore my own practice tutu and bandeau.  Nicole attached her signature handmade paper feathers.  She cuts each one free hand and then sprinkles glitter to make them sparkle.  This set was a mix of white and gold.  A combination I am fond of!

Nicole viewed me as a living sculpture and placed the feathers accordingly.

Nicole viewed me as a living sculpture and placed the feathers accordingly.

The feathers cascaded from my right shoulder down my left hip.  They were also attached to my shoes. 

The feathers cascaded from my right shoulder down my left hip.  They were also attached to my shoes. 

I love!

I love!

Later that evening we shot the last look.  The idea is that the ribbons from my pointe shoes wrapped up my body and became my outfit. This outfit was the most involved in terms of time spent creating the piece.  It took over an hour and a few tries, but in the end it turned out great!

The ribbon was wrapped around my trusty bandeau. 

The ribbon was wrapped around my trusty bandeau. 

It took a bit to figure out how to keep the ribbon from sliding.  A combination of duct tape, safety pins, and sewing me in did the trick! 

It took a bit to figure out how to keep the ribbon from sliding.  A combination of duct tape, safety pins, and sewing me in did the trick! 


The neck and hip piece were made from paper to give them the dramatic shape. 

The neck and hip piece were made from paper to give them the dramatic shape. 

We shot at the "Reverie" sculpture in front of the quilting museum. It was like the two pieces were made for each other. 

Just voguing 

Just voguing 

If you want to see more photos from this collaboration be sure to follow me, Ballet Zaida, and Nicole Battelle Van Hook on Instagram and Facebook.

Nicole Voris - Instagram: @NicoleVoris       Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nicolevorisofficial

Ballet Zaida - Instagram: @Ballet Zaida             Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/balletzaida

Nicole Battelle Van Hook - Instagram: @whispersthepaperballet Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/whispersfromthepaperballet


My top five underrated dance music videos

Stephen Jacobsen

My top five underrated dance music videos of all time. These are the videos made by artist not generally revered as especially talented dancers, but through their music videos exemplify everything that I love about dance. These are music videos not focused of technical dance skill, but the joy and spirit of dance. They remind me that it’s not about the steps being danced, or who’s dancing them, but why we dance in the first place. These are dancers in the truest sense, those who love to dance. There will be no Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, or Michael Jackson on this list, because they have received more than enough props for their works, as great as they may be.

5.  Around the World - Daft Punk -A piece so funky and fun, the video does not employ a slew of highly trained dancers, instead using talents from worlds such as synchronized swimming, relying on relentless musicality to build an amazing energy that sends shivers down my spine on every viewing. Especially when the group inhabits the lyrics literally, and pace around the stage - around, around, and around the world. Also, it’s directed by the genius Michel Gondry, known for his films The Science of Sleep and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

4. Praise You - Fatboy Slim -An impromptu performance on the sidewalk in front of a movie theater to the Fatboy Slim classic. A musical, well danced, knowingly spastic, and wonderfully realized expression of dance for the joy of dancing. The choreography might be closer to jazzercise than classical ballet, but in a world before flash mobs, this was a revolutionary idea that brought a little more magic into the world. Then when the cd skips, and the group is cheered to finish there performance... gets me every time.

3.  Chromeo - Come Alive-A group of mannequins ... come alive... in this amazing music video by the Canadian duo from Montreal. The dance is themed and spirited, and when one of the band members - as the videos security officer character- gets in on the action, it reminds us of something we forget far too often in the dance world, that dance can have a sense of humor.

2. Beirut - Elephant Gun-Genius timing with burst of modern dance, in a style that has since become a staple in the industry, is so effective its hard not to get teary eyed at the energy being displayed on screen. Beautiful, effective, and musical, an absolute joy of a music video that makes you love the song they’re selling.

1. Feist - 1234-Filled with - “How did they shoot that?” - moments, so creative I get jealous from my lack of involvement upon each viewing. The steps are so simple that they should have become a wedding dance floor staple, yet they somehow dissolve me into tears every time, especially when the groups of brightly color coordinated dancers go audibly cheering across the floor. Shot in one long take, using so much invention, that the drab wear house it was shot in becomes a hot bed of dance genius. Not a single Barishnikov in the bunch - at least from what the video shares - a perfect example of what this list is about. It’s not what steps are being stepped, or who’s stepping them, but why and when they’re being stepped. Probably my favorite music video of all time.

Some Of My Favourite Books

Jeanette Kakareka

I was always that kid that loved reading. Staying up at night until my eyes were bloodshot because I had to finish the next chapter of the Harry Potter book. My passion for being transported into a whole different reality and seeing life through someone else’s eyes has not wavered (also why I love ballet). Here is a list of some books that have stayed with me. I’ve read them all an uncountable amount of times. If you haven’t read them before, I wholeheartedly recommend them.

Anne of Green Gables - L.M. Montgomery

Anne of Green Gables - L.M. Montgomery

1. Anne of Green Gables - L.M. Montgomery

I’m not entirely sure why this is my absolute favourite, but I guess I’m a bit jealous of Anne’s beautifully naive look at her world. She has all sorts of reasons to be pessimistic or unhappy but she tries so hard to be good and see the beauty in life. My copy’s spine is creased to the point that it’s hard to read the title.

“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It's splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.” 

2. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

I am a deeply sentimental person. Also a deeply sarcastic person. That may seem contradictory, but I find I can satisfy these feelings by reading Jane Austen’s book over and over again.

“Till this moment I never knew myself.”

Mansfield Park - Jane Austen

Mansfield Park - Jane Austen

3. The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger

This is probably one of my favourite books more-so because it is also one of my favourite movies. (Yes, I watched the movie first.) I enjoy the unconventional timeline that happens in the book, and there are several quotes that have really stuck with me. But mostly, I love it for the love stories (not just with his wife).

“But don't you think that it's better to be extremely happy for a short while, even if you lose it, than to be just okay for your whole life?”

4. The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde

For me, this book is all about the humour. I find Oscar absolutely hilarious, but with pieces of truth hidden underneath it all. As his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray is extra special to me. One of my best friends and I just went to go and see a play of it at the St James Theatre in London, just before the 125th anniversary of the novel’s publication.

“Humanity takes itself too seriously. It is the world's original sin. If the cave-man had known how to laugh, History would have been different.”

Intermission time at the European Arts Company's performance of The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Intermission time at the European Arts Company's performance of The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Santa Fe Opera

Nicole Voris

I recently traveled to my home state of New Mexico for a weekend trip to visit my family.  If you have never visited I would highly recommend it.  The large skies, desert landscape,  mountain ranges, art, and "electromagnetism" will leave you with a different perspective of life and the world around you.  

The famous painter Georgia O'Keeffe once said, "When I got to New Mexico that was mine. As soon as I saw it that was my country. I’d never seen anything like it before, but it fitted to me exactly. It’s something that’s in the air, it’s different. The sky is different, the wind is different. I shouldn’t say too much about it because other people may be interested and I don’t want them interested.”

Georgia O'Keeffe, Black Mesa Landscape, New Mexico/Out Back of Marie's II, 1930, Oil on canvas mounted to board, 24 1/4 x 36 1/4 inches, Gift of the Burnett Foundation, ©Georgia O'Keeffe Museum

Georgia O'Keeffe, Black Mesa Landscape, New Mexico/Out Back of Marie's II, 1930, Oil on canvas mounted to board, 24 1/4 x 36 1/4 inches, Gift of the Burnett Foundation, ©Georgia O'Keeffe Museum

I agree with Ms. O'Keeffe, but will share a bit with you today.  There are so many beautiful places to visit in New Mexico, but this post will focus on my quick visit to Santa Fe. 

My mother, my aunt, my cousin, and I took an overnight trip up to Santa Fe to see the Opera. We made the two hour drive from our home early Saturday afternoon. Even the drive is beautiful.  

The Santa Fe Opera is different from any other opera I know of.  To begin with, they encourage getting to the opera three hours early to "tailgate" in the parking lot.  It isn't your typical football tailgate party though.  Think people in vintage cars, tables with white table clothes and candles, and wine and cheese.  It was so wonderful to have this beautiful spread and eat nestled amongst the mountains.

Once we finished our lovely dinner we headed into the theater.  Santa Fe Opera has one of the most beautiful and unique theaters I have ever been in.  While the stage and seats are covered, there are no walls and the theater is open to the outside and the beautiful air. 

The "lobby" of the theater.  Check out that sky!

The "lobby" of the theater.  Check out that sky!

My attempt at a panorama from my seat inside the theater

My attempt at a panorama from my seat inside the theater

It's a unique experience to watch live theater from this space.  You see the the sun set behind the performers and you can smell the fresh summer rain.  It adds new elements to  the performance and makes it feel more relatable and human. 

We saw the opera Rigoletto.  It was my first time seeing it and I really enjoyed it.  The cast and music was of course wonderful, but I was really impressed with the staging.  They used a rotating stage that created different vignettes for each scene.  

A friend of mine was one of the dancers in the production so we got to go backstage after the performance.  It helped make the already great night even better.  Look how beautiful the theater looks from the view of the stage door. 

After breakfast the next morning we headed home. It was a lovely evening and one of the highlights of my trip home. 

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My Happy Place - A Weekend in Lake Tahoe

Sasha De Sola

Lake Tahoe is one of my favorite places to visit. It’s only about three hours from San Francisco which makes it the perfect weekend escape. The lush forests, majestic mountain peaks, and crystal clear blue lake just have this magical quality about them. For me, there’s nothing like a little time in nature to clear your head.

One of my favorite hikes is Eagle Rock on the west side. It’s a super short and relatively easy hike, but it leads you to some incredible views of the lake. The Eagle Rock volcanic outcrop rises about 6,300 feet above sea level and it’s less than half a mile from the road to the top!

The view from the top … vertigo kicks in when I look straight down!! :-/

Another favorite spot of mine is Lone Eagle Grille in Incline Village, Nevada. Make a reservation at the restaurant for dinner, or walk out on the dock, order a glass of wine and watch the sunset over the lake.

    

It’s fun to see everyone enjoying themselves on the water… boating and jet skis galore! I only dipped my feet in the water this time but I’m determined to get out on the water next time around! Until next time…