A new telling of an age-old story

By Ruth Davis

One of the works being presented during Up Close on Hope this November is by award-winning choreographer Ty Parmenter, who is also a company dancer. This will be the fourth piece he has created for our Up Close on Hope series.
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This work is most unique – a collaboration between Ty and local storyteller Valerie Tutson. Valerie has been entertaining and performing in schools for more than 25 years and is the founder of the Rhode Island Black Storytellers Association and the Funda Fest, a local storytelling festival. The choreography is set to Valerie’s rendition of an African folk tale of How We Got the Stars.

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Ty said, “This collaboration began when Misha asked me if I’d be interested in working with text.” He continued, “I had been thinking about using narrative in my work, and thought it would be a great opportunity to work with a storyteller. Previously I had created a work using dialogue from an old movie and poem my sister had written, so I was all ears to hear what Valerie and I could do together.”

Valerie was thrilled to be working on this project with Ty. “I usually work alone, so I was excited about the opportunity to work with another artist. And this is great.”

Ty and Valerie met to listen to her recording of the story. She said, “I saw Ty’s brain go clickity-clickity-click.” She added, “I can’t wait to see what Ty is going to do with it, whether he’ll have a direct response to the story or an interpretation.”

Ty was also thrilled. He said, “It’s a beautiful story with lovely underlying themes about lightness and darkness, and there’s a wonderful line where Valerie says there’s always light on the other side.” Ty added, “Valerie’s recording is stunning – she has a phenomenal way of speaking.”

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When asked about the process of creating a ballet set to text, Ty said, “Overall, the beginning process of choreographing to music or text is very much the same. I’m discovering that in the later stages of creating, the text wants you to be more intentional.” He continued, “With music, there are demands but with text, there’s only one way to interpret those words. On the other hand, as a choreographer, I try not to rely solely on the narrative, but to let the audience bring their own sensibilities to what they’re seeing.” Ty added, “This balancing act is quite a challenge, that’s what’s great about it.”

Explaining how the piece has been unfolding, Ty said that in the early stages of rehearsal, he didn’t play the story for the dancers.  “I told them what they’re in for, that there would be no music.” Gradually, he started to introduce the words and elements of the text on top of the dancing so that the dancers could find their own connections.

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The four dancers in the piece will perform to the recording with the exception of a special night when Valerie will perform the story live. Ty added, ‘It will be great for the dancers to perform to the recording, but also it will be great when Valerie is there live – her presence will add a whole other element.  Who knows, she may not perform the story exactly the way she recorded it.”

See Ty Parmenter’s new work at Up Close on Hope, Nov. 4-6 and 11-12, 2016. Ruth Davis manages Public Relations for FBP.

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In the Spotlight: Boyko Dossev

Boyko Dossev, who has previously choreographed for FBP, is joining the resident company as a dancer and choreographer this season. We sat down with Boyko to learn a bit about his background, artistic philosophy, and more…

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Hello Boyko!  Let’s start at the beginning. Can you tell us a little about your training?

I completed my training at the National Ballet School in Sofia, Bulgaria.  I was very fortunate to be taught by an artist that was the embodiment of the Renaissance man. As a dancer, he was the prince. As a teacher, he is the living encyclopedia of ballet. My training is based on the Vaganova method, but in my dancing, I have been influenced by the French method as well.  This is largely because at the age of 17, I left Bulgaria to dance in France. After that, I danced in Germany as well.

You’re quite the globetrotter!  What was your transition into your professional career like?

My transition into the professional career was quite a shock to me. I was 17, completed two years of training in just one year at school and was getting ready to join Le Jeune Ballet de France in Paris, France. This company was one of the most prestigious ballet companies for young dancers in the world at the time and I was very fortunate to be chosen to join it. The shock came on multiple levels. First it was cultural. Moving and adjusting to Paris was not simple. Although it is the most beautiful city in the world, I had difficulties integrating there. Then came the professional shock. This was the first time that I had to really fight for my roles and not just expect them because I was hard working and talented. Also, coming from a Vaganova school, where everything is much slower, it was really hard to adjust to the fast and bravura French technique. Nevertheless, this experience was important because I was exposed to new , style, dance, and choreography and it was when I started to grow as an artist.

It sounds like you’ve learned how to adapt to new settings quite well. So what has it been like coming from Boston Ballet to our much smaller company at FBP?

There are no small stages and no small companies. Yes, when talking about the physical size there are differences, but these are differences based on resources and not integrity, quality, innovation, or abilities. The audience is the same. The work is the same. Our goal is always to be the best we can be and to enrich our audience and our communities. These days, the competition is stronger than ever. Everywhere there are great dancers and great companies- doesn’t matter the size. What I love about FBP, though, is that as a smaller company it has the potential to grow big. It has the energy and the artistic integrity to further develop the art and dance scenes in Rhode Island and to become an influential, innovative art institution not only in New England, but in the States as well.

And we are so happy to have dancers like you to bring all of your artistic influence to Providence and help us grow. How has dancing in all of these different environments affected you as an artist?

Yes, I am very fortunate to be influenced by so many cultures. As a child I grew up in Mozambique, Africa. That’s where everything started for me as a dancer and a choreographer. Later on, the Russian, French, German, and American cultures played a big role in my formation. Living in places like Paris, Dresden, Hamburg, Boston and D.C helped me see how small the world has become, especially the ballet world. I feel so fortunate and very grateful for this gift. One thing that I want to say here though, is that even gifts come at a certain price. The price I need to pay for this incredible gift is that I am far from all my close friends and that I miss them all very much.

Boyko with Giovanni Di Palma in “Phaedra” by Stela Korljan

Boyko with Giovanni Di Palma in Dresden, 2000. “Phaedra” Ballet by Stela Korljan

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“Over Again” choreography by Boyko Dossev, performed in Greece.

The sacrifices we make for ballet! Certain works that speak to us make it all worthwhile, though.  Can you recall any moments like this in your career so far?

Although I consider all my roles and experiences in ballet a highlight I think the true one is always the next one. Despite this, I feel very fortunate to have worked closely with John Neumeier, who has become my mentor as a leader and a choreographer. 

Dossev with Hélène Bouchet in John Neumeier's "Sylvia." Taken at International Ballet Competition in Varna where Dossev won Gold.

Dossev with Hélène Bouchet in John Neumeier’s “Sylvia”at the International Ballet Competition in Varna where Dossev won Gold in 2002.

Speaking of choreography…you’ve choreographed for FBP before and you will be creating a new ballet for our Chatterbox Series this season. What is your process like?

For me everything starts with the music. I think that the music is the base on which we can build upon. Use it as a guideline, reference, and an important medium through which we can communicate more than what the movement sometimes can. I also love the creative process and working with the dancers to explore new possibilities and true collaboration. I believe strongly in work that is based on partnership. I like to challenge my dancers and I like when they challenge me. It is only when we have a partnership and we become open to ideas that WE can truly innovate. 

What a lovely and logical approach! Let’s talk education. You have a degree in Communications from Northeastern. Juggling a professional ballet career with schoolwork is extremely demanding. Why was this so important to you?

I think there are two main reasons. The first is that my studies there opened a new perspective on how I see the world around me, our art form and particularly its future. I feel, in the ballet world we are still stuck in the past century when it comes to organizational culture, communication, and structure.Ballet needs to evolve, we need to evolve with it as well. The second reason this degree was so important to me is because I found something else that I’m very passionate about, something that inspires me to be a better human being, leader, dancer, teacher, and choreographer: this is the art of communication, and it is also what we do as dancers.

Boyko with Kathleen Breen Combes at Northeastern graduation earlier this year

Boyko with Boston Ballet principal dancer Kathleen Breen Combes at Northeastern graduation earlier this year

Very true.  So when you’re not dancing, what are you doing?

When I’m not dancing, I’m teaching and choreographing. Also, I love spending time reading, listening to music, being with family and friends and making my dreams come true. There are so many things to do and so little time!

Thank you so much, Boyko!

Catch one of FBP’s newest dancers, Boyko Dossev, onstage this fall.  Tickets and more information here.

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A word with Elyse Borne

The FBP company is preparing for its first Up Close on Hope program of the season, which will feature Allegro Brillante, one of the most popular works by George Balanchine, one of the single most influential figures in the history of ballet. Elyse Borne, former soloist with New York City Ballet and current répétiteur for the George Balanchine Trust, is responsible for staging the ballet for FBP. Company Dancer Kirsten Evans caught up with Elyse to get insights into Allegro, Balanchine, and more…

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Elyse Borne, New York City Ballet

Hello!  Let’s just dive in: What makes Allegro Brillante different from other Balanchine ballets? Why is it special?

Allegro is not exactly different but incorporates the speed, clarity, technical difficulty, musicality, and neoclassical style so closely identified with Balanchine.

Your schedule is so busy!  You’re always traveling somewhere new to set another ballet.  Where else have you staged Allegro in the past?

I have actually staged Allegro for FBP before! I’ve also done it in San Francisco, Vancouver, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Singapore etc…..

That’s right, this wasn’t your first visit to Providence. What was your experience like working with the dancers of FBP this time around?

I had a great time with your dancers. They learned the choreography at breakneck speed and expressed a real interest in executing the ballet correctly.

If you could describe Allegro Brillante in 3 words, what would they be?

I would describe Allegro as fun, gut-buster, and energized!

What is your favorite part of the staging process?

I love walking into a studio where no one knows the steps and seeing it all come to life in just a few hours.

After retiring from NYCB, you were ballet mistress at Miami City Ballet for eight years and then San Fransisco Ballet for six.  You’ve been in the ballet world for your entire career, but now staging ballets, you have such a unique job.  How did you become a répétiteur?

I always had a propensity for learning quickly so this was a natural inclination. I gained a lot of knowledge being a ballet mistress and still face challenges with relish when I have to learn a ballet I’ve never staged. I feel honored and privileged to be allowed to stage Balanchine and Robbins.

What is it about the Balanchine style that you enjoy so much?

I think I must have grown up with Balanchine style in my blood. It is so natural for me. Dancing at NYCB was a dream come true.

Elyse Borne rehearses Apollo with George Balanchine.

Elyse Borne rehearses Apollo with George Balanchine.

You premiered in The Nutcracker with Mikhail Baryshnikov. What was that like? Do you have any favorite memories of working with Mr. Balanchine or at NYCB?

My scariest and favorite experience at NYCB was doing the Sugar Plum Fairy with Baryshnikov. Alone everyday for 5 days in a studio with the 2 of them, Balanchine and Misha. Awestruck and nervous and excited all at once. My memories go on and on. I think I will have to write a book! I was so lucky to work with such a genius.

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Elyse Borne and Mikhail Baryshnikov in George Balahchine’s Nutcracker

…and WE would love to read your book.  Thank you, Elyse!

Up Close on Hope runs Nov. 4-6 and 11-12 at the FBP Black Box Theatre.

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Elyse Borne with the FBP company

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Why do you love FBP?

We asked FBP Summer Dance Intensive student Morgan Ruffalo to tell us why she loves FBP. Here’s what she told us:

Why did you choose to study at Festival Ballet Providence?

Last year I participated in FBP’s Summer Dance Intensive and loved every moment! I knew for sure that I wanted to return the following summer. I am extremely grateful and incredibly fortunate to receive a scholarship from FBP, which has afforded me the opportunity to return for this summer’s senior intensive program.

I chose to study at Festival Ballet Providence because I knew it offered me a well-rounded dance education with rigorous quality training in a wide variety of dance classes such as ballet, variations, partnering, modern, jazz, contemporary, and more. FBP’s SDI is unique to my area because it has an atmosphere of professionalism. The teachers at FBP teach with wisdom from experience as they are current or former professional dancers. In addition to regular classes we have field trips, artist talks, and guest teachers each week.

What makes FBP’s SDI unique in our area?

I chose FBP’s SDI because I knew it would greatly improve my dance technique in even a short amount of time. At FBP, I feel like I have the resources I need to be able to grow to the best dancer I can be.

What does being on a scholarship mean to you?

I am honored to have a scholarship. I am thankful that I am still given the opportunity to dance despite circumstances of financial hardship. I am so grateful to be dancing at FBP with a scholarship because I know that I am supported by my teachers and dance family.

What does dance mean to you?

Dance is a way for me to express myself to others. I always feel a sense of control and serenity in my mind and body when I dance. Even if I am dancing specifically choreographed steps, I still have a feeling of freedom and a sense of individuality. I aspire to be a professional ballerina, as well as a choreographer and dance teacher later in my career.  Attending classes at FBP, taking advice from the teachers, and hearing about their dance careers have fueled my passion for dance, which continues to grow each day.

Generous donors who make a tax deductible contribution to the Christine Hennessey Scholarship Fund provides funding for need-based scholarships for students like Morgan. Please donate now to support this worthy program.

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For Balanchine, Apollo was a “turning point”

In her book Balanchine Variations, former dance critic Nancy Goldner gives insight into the legacy and staying power of Apollo, which FBP will perform in Up Close on Hope, Program 1.

Balanchine made Apollo in 1928, under the inspiration of Stravinsky’s score and under the auspices of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. He was all of twenty-four years old. As his oldest surviving ballet, and by general consensus one of his great ballets, Apollo has a biographical fascination. It offers a rare glimpse of his achievements as a young man…The official chronology of his work, which was compiled with his participation, cited 1920 as the beginning of Balanchine’s choreographies. He was prolific from the get-go: Apollo was his eighty-fourth ballet, although many of these works were small, occasional pieces or divertissements for operas.

[Balanchine] never called Apollo a great ballet or his first great ballet, but he did famously call it a “turning point” in his life. He wrote this in 1947 in an essay for the magazine Dance Index, in which he paid homage to Stravinsky as a composer for dance. He wrote, “In its discipline and restraint, in its sustained one-ness of tone and feeling, the score was a revelation. It seemed to tell me that I could dare not use everything, and I, too, could eliminate.” He added, “It was in studying Apollo that I came first to understand how gestures, like tones in music and shades in painting, have certain family relations…Since this work, I have developed my choreography inside the framework such relations suggest.”

Balanchine’s comments about Apollo all point to the business of artistic mastery, of shaping and controlling one’s material. It so happens that this is also the theme of the ballet. Apollo traces the god’s life from birth to his ascension of Mount Parnassus. Throughout the ballet Apollo is testing the limits and capabilities of his body. Once he learns to walk (in the first scene), he wants to figure out how forcefully he can swing his arms and legs, how much flexibility is in his back—see how his torso contracts and arches in his first solos—how far he can lean backward without falling down. He experiments even with his hands—clenching them into fists, then opening them. (Balanchine got these open-and-close, on-and-off sequences from the neon lights he saw flashing in Piccadilly Circus—or so the story goes.) He wants to know what makes the lute tick from top to bottom. He cradles it seemingly in endless positions. He looks at it from afar, close up. With a rambunctious windup, he strikes the lute’s strings as though it were a banjo. Later on he makes a sound so soft, he must place his ear against the strings to hear it.

When Apollo dances with the three Muses he sports with them as though they were parts of a mobile, first partitioning the trio into groups of two and one, then shaping all three into picturesque poses. He partners them two at a time, one by one, in the air, into the ground.

Later on, he appraises them form a critic’s point of view: each of the muses dances a variation for him, a sort of audition in which they display their artistic wares. The first two, Calliope (goddess of poetry) and Polyhymnia (goddess of mime), goof up, and Apollo dismisses them—rather rudely, I would say. Terpsichore pleases the god and gets to dance a duet with him. Polyhymia’s mistake is obvious. She must be silent, and so dances her jaunty variation with a finger pressed to her lips. At the very end, though, she flings her arms toward the audience and opens her mouth—wide! She covers her mouth in shame and runs off like a naughty schoolgirl. Calliope’s problem is harder to read. My understanding is that she keeps running out of ideas. She starts with big ones; that is, she clutches her bosom as though digging deep inside herself, and then declaims with stentorian arm movements. These grand (grandiose?) beginnings end with whimpers, her body sagging. So Apollo sends her packing too.

Because Apollo is not a literal narrative, it’s not wise to look for specific reasons why Terpsichore’s solo is the “best.” But it’s worth noting that hers is the most three-dimensional of the lot. If there is one salient characteristic of her solo, it’s that she keeps revolving around herself, showing her body to the audience from all possible angles. She offers full disclosure…Naturally, Apollo brings Terpsichore back for a pas de deux, after he does a variation of his own. What I particularly love about his solo is its encoded homage to ballet technique. Accompanied by grand chords from Stravinsky, Apollo thrusts his arms skyward, as if holding up the world in the raised palms of his hands. But its not his arms that give him Herculean strength; its his legs locked tightly in fifth position. Fifth position, of course, is the cornerstone of ballet; it’s the beginning and the end.

The pas de deux for Apollo and Terpsichore also refers to the source of life, by way of Michelangelo’s fresco. But the grandeur of the encounter quickly gives way to less godly moods—playfulness, tenderness, friendly competition. These moods come and go with the breezes of a spring day, and they characterize the rest of Apollo.

At its premiere the ballet ran into trouble with the critics. The authenticity of the ballet’s classicism was naturally a main bone of contention. Music critics thought the music a rehash of old material. Dance people were horrified by Balanchine’s so-called distortion of classical principles. It’s easy to find the sinning elements in the choreography—the occasional turned in leg, the flat-footed shuffles, the novel ways of partnering, the inclusion of acrobatics. (My god! Was that Terpsichore doing the splits?) None of this stuff was new, but now it was applied to noble subject matter.

By all accounts making Apollo was a happy experience for Balanchine and Stravinsky, and, more importantly, the memory of it stuck. The two continued to work on ballets together, culminating with Agon in 1957, and the professional relationship flowered into a friendship that lasted until Stravinsky’s death in 1971.

Nancy Goldner’s book Balanchine Variations, chronicles the life and career of George Balanchine through the lens of several prolific works of his choreography that changed the face of ballet as we know it today.

Vilia Putrius and Mindaugas Bauzys in Apollo. Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust. Photo by Gene Schiavone.

Vilia Putrius and Mindaugas Bauzys in Apollo. Choreography by George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust. Photo by Gene Schiavone.

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Andrea Dawn Shelley: “For Saskia”

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Saskia van Uylenburgh, the Wife of the Artist, 1638. Rembrandt (1606-1669)

When I think of the Baroque period, I think… opulence. The architecture, music and art, so very extravagant and rich in every way. There is much to be absorbed. This is where my mind went when I spoke with Misha over the phone and he offered that he would like his guest choreographers to choose a Bach Violin Sonata as the music for our new works. He then went on to tell me that all Bach selections would be played ‘live’ and my particular two choices, by a violist. The plot thickened and I chose to focus my energies towards not only the frenetic and complex Bach score but, Rembrandt. Rembrandt, a prolific artist of the Baroque period whose work in many ways contrasted the Baroque style. I specifically found myself gravitating towards his self portraits that use dark and dismal color, yet are rich with detail and emotion. The more I began my relationship with Rembrandt and these portraits, the furthermore I wanted to learn about his personal life.

As we know, art often imitates life and is inspired by our personal experiences. I began to read about Rembrandt’s wife, Saskia and learned of their personal tribulations. They had the misfortune of loosing three of their children as infants. Only one of their children, Titus lived into adulthood to the age of 26. Saskia was to never know that her child Titus survived beyond two months of age, as she perished soon after his birth of tuberculosis. Rembrandt survived them all. Is this a disenchantment with the miracle of life that I see when I look into his vacant expression in his self portraits? This is the story I began to weave and my focus shifted.

Saskia.

The physical and emotional burdens this young mother and wife must have experienced are truly incomprehensible. “For Saskia” tells a narrative about her physical burdens and emotional torment. Her grief, hopelessness, confusion, distress and heartache. Through the dancers artistry, Bach’s recapitulating sonatas and our “pied piper” casting her magic spell of forthcoming death with each stroke of her bow… they collaboratively convey a tale of despair through frenetic movement and music.

Andrea Dawn Shelley (bio) is co-founding director of iMEE Dance Company. Her work “For Saskia” can be seen in Up Close on Hope, Program 1, Nov. 13-22. Details & Tickets…

David DuBois (left), Jaime DeRocker (aloft), and Alex Lantz in rehearsal for Shelley's "For Sasika"

David DuBois (left), Jaime DeRocker (aloft), and Alex Lantz in rehearsal for Shelley’s “For Saskia”

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One Year

Last week, we gathered together Juliana, Juliet, and Miles – the three youngest members of the FBP Family – to make a poster for our week-long Diaper Drive for Project Undercover, which starts today. It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since the three babies arrived back-to-back (almost exactly 10 days apart), and we asked our mothers to reflect on a year they (and we) will never forget.

L to R: Dancers Ty and Marissa Parmenter with Miles, Dancer Ruth Whitney with Juliet, Ballet Mistress Leticia Guerrero with Juliana

L to R: Dancers Ty and Marissa Parmenter with Miles, Dancer Ruth Whitney with Juliet, Ballet Mistress Leticia Guerrero with Juliana

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Juliet “Taught me how to love in a whole new way”

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It is amazing to think that one year ago yesterday, Juliet came into this world.  She has taught me how to love in a whole new way and opened my heart to a depth of empathy I will always be humbled and grateful for.  I am also so grateful that I have been a part of Festival Ballet with Misha as a director as he has welcomed the babies into the world of FBP.

Juliet is constantly dancing, often making her own guitar or drum music to dance to, when her dad isn’t around to play the horn or bass for her to practice her plies and sautes to.  The company dancers have been so supportive and understanding, helping during breaks and inviting Juliet and the other babies to join them when there is free space in the studio.  Juliet may never want to dance seriously, but it has been such a pleasure for her in this first year to be around music and movement, her face simply lights up and she has to move to. It is something magical and primal and what a wonderful early childhood gift!

It has also been so special having Miles and Juliana sharing these early experiences.  They clearly enjoy playing around each other and as a mom it is so nice having other babies and moms to share this journey with.  I am so excited for them to continue to grow together and am so truly grateful to be a part of this past year’s Festival Ballet Babies : )

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Leticia Guerrero

With Juliana, “Our prayers were heard”

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After 14 years a new life comes to our family. Having Gabriana, (my first true love) and watching her grow into a amazing “señorita” made this desire stronger. The idea of having a second child had been brewing for some time, I kept putting it off to fulfill my dancing career. Also knowing that the love of a sibling is irreplaceable. Tony and I made our new task.  It was not an easy one….frustration, fear, prayers, and many tears. Until the right time came.

We are Blessed indeed. The right time came and we finally told Gabriana we were expecting a baby. Our prayers were heard . We were so happy…so many tears of joy filled our lifes. Finally Juliana arrives. What a joy when Gabriana, Tony, her Godmother (Doctor Cavanaugh, who also delivered the baby) and I watch her for the first time.

We had that feeling of knowing her already for a long time. It has been a year of many changes for many, including my coworkers. It would have been quite difficult to do it all without the support of Festival Ballet members. I was allowed to work while breast feeding and taking breaks to change diapers. My family is so grateful. We thank you for the support. I am privileged to say that work is like a family.

I honestly thought the second time around would be easier. I was so wrong. It’s another first time. Having a newborn and a teenager full of activities was definitely challenging. Preparing Ballet lessons family lunches and dinners, getting baby ready to go to work….ahhhh no wonder my clothes sometimes did not match. I must say I’ve had great support from many including my parents Deysi and Fernando, Tony’s Family, my aunt Milagros, and my great friends Sandra and Betza.  So many had helped…

Leticia's daughters Gabriana and Juliana

Leticia’s daughters Gabriana and Juliana

Juliana can feed herself, making art sculptures out of food,  walk around the house pretending to clean, and helps me redecorate on a daily basis.  The laundry basket is her favorite hang out place, especially when it magically turns and swings. She has three hide out places, under her crib, behind the curtain in Mami’s room, and in her sister’s room. And yes….she made up the hide and seek game ‘again.’ Our dogs Lola and Oscar have become her monkey see, monkey do. She wants a treat as well. “Juju” as some of us call her, is a great help in the kitchen. She takes all  the pots and pans out so I can easily choose. Juliana also helps me keep my weight down by taking my lunch out of my bag and hiding it inside any box she can find.

She is a very happy, smily, very curious girl that steals hearts, the remote control and car keys. She makes our day better just by smiling.

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Marissa Parmenter

“A year of overwhelming joy, unwavering fatigue, emotional self-doubt and the most extraordinary love…our first year with Miles.”

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Any parent out there will understand when I say that this year has been the most wonderful and most challenging of my life. Miles will be turning one year old and I am bursting with gratitude that he has entered our life, thrown it upside down, and filled it with blissful chaos. It has been one surprise after another as Ty and I have navigated our new roles as parents and as Miles’ personality unfolds daily.

Ty has taken to fatherhood like it was a role he was always destined to play. He is Miles’ constant entertainer, co-care giver, and nap buddy. I always knew Ty would be a fabulous father but what I didn’t know was what an incredible husband he would be to me as a new mother. As a generally confident, self sufficient woman, this past year has at times brought me to my knees. Often 12-hour work days, then up all night with Miles, managing daycare schedules, work schedules, a new house, performing etc. fatigue has never hit me like it has this year. I have had to lean on Ty more than ever and he was there ready to support me even before I leaned in. Miles and I are so lucky.

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Life as a dancer is completely different now. I used to be at the studio 30 minutes prior to class to prepare my body for the day, but that time just doesn’t exist in my schedule anymore. I am often coming into class 5 minutes late (if I even make it all) and I am lucky if I don’t get pulled away before class finishes. I don’t have time to think about each step, or role, or musical phrasing like I used to; now I dance much more intuitively. Survival mode. I find that as a teacher and coach my new point of view as a parent is helping me to explore an entirely new way to connect with my students.

I miss Miles every moment of the day that we are not together. Although we have our routine – Miles is at daycare twice a week, with my mom twice a week (such a blessing) and in the studio with us one morning and one afternoon a week – it is constantly up for negotiation. I often second-guess my choice to work as much as I do, to send him to daycare so young, to bring him with us to work. He is my priority and as much as I want him to grow up with the example of parents’ that love what they do for a living, I don’t ever want him to feel like I wasn’t there when I should have been. Sometimes I am proud of how we handle our days and sometimes I am convinced I am doing everything wrong…and then Miles smiles and everything feels better.

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We have been blessed to work in a place where Miles is not just welcomed but loved. Misha, the dancers, the staff, and my students have been so amazing with Miles. They are patient and understanding when he is crawling through the studio while they are dancing and they are loving and helpful if we need someone to watch him while we rehearse. I could never have expected such gracious friends for Miles to grow up around. He is enjoying the most special childhood because of them.

Becoming Miles’s mother has been the greatest gift. He teaches me and guides me daily on our adventures together. I am so honored to be loved by that little face; when he reaches out his arms to me and wants to snuggle; there is no place I would rather be. I am grateful every time Miles’ calls for mommy at 3am or needs a diaper change just as we are leaving the house, and for every time I am rushing to pick him up on time at day care or kissing him after returning late from a performance. I will continue to work as hard as I can for Miles and make loving my family my number one priority. Happy Birthday Miles! Mommy loves you!

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A HUGE shout-out to the moms and dad for sharing their thoughts with us, and for getting their baby’s feet covered in paint so we could make this adorable poster for the diaper drive. THANK YOU!

Most importantly: Please help us help less fortunate babies by donating unopened packages of diapers, underwear, and socks to our Project Undercover diaper drive at our location on Hope Street. We are open M-F 9am-8:30pm and Saturday 8:30am-4pm.

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Also thanks to Kirsten Evans for painting lettering on the poster (believe it or not, the babies did not want to do the letters) and Ty Parmenter for photographing the adorable event.

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