New York To-Do Listicle 2

Leaving later this morning to spend Labor Day weekend in New York City with my family. Haven’t been to NYC in almost four months, the longest it’s been since I moved back to DC last winter. Obviously couldn’t sleep until I’d made a list of things to do:

  1. Order a Black Tap milkshake. If you haven’t seen these on social media yet, you must not be on any social media. Beth just moved next to the SoHo location, which means she’s also near Dominique Ansel Bakery
  2. Visit the Statue of Liberty. I’ve been to New York at least a dozen times now, but have yet to see this iconic symbol of the American dream. We’re planning on taking a ferry and possibly climbing up to the crown. When I was in the fourth grade, I read the entire Dear America series, including the diary of Zipporah, a Russian Jewish immigrant who found hope in viewing Lady Liberty from her ship… Before her family was subjected to humiliating physical exams on Ellis Island and, later, her friend burned to death in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. (The epistolary form truly can convince kids to read anything.) I’ve wanted to see the Statue ever since.
  3. See the Roof Garden Commission at the Met. Of all the items on my previous NYC to-do list that I didn’t get to accomplish, this is the most important, in my mind.
  4. Participate in Sleep No More. This immersive theater experience features scenes from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, which take place over four floors of a Manhattan warehouse transformed into a 1920’s hotel. Audience members wear masks and can “choose their own adventure,” exploring the different rooms and possibly even interacting with the characters. Every detail of the 1920’s-themed sets is immaculately designed. I’m especially looking forward to finding the room that is supposedly dressed up as a candy shop–complete with actual candy! Also, I had to stop at the library today to brush up on Macbeth, since I haven’t come across the play since high school!
  5. Visit the World Trade Center Transportation Hub. This new WTC subway station looks like an architectural wonder in photos. There’s a good chance we’ll also visit One World Observatory, since my parents really enjoy seeing cities from obscene heights.
  6. Order bubble tea at Meet U. This new bubble tea place in Chinatown has those Insta-worthy cups shaped like light bulbs, as well as knotted bendy straws. Presentation is everything.
  7. Shop. With my family, not to mention Labor Day sales, I imagine we’ll do a fair amount of shopping. Fairly certain I won’t need anything to wear this fall other than this cape, but half of the shopping in New York is for the experience. I at least want to stop in the Club Monaco on 5th, which has a Strand bookstore attached.
  8. Attend The Upright Citizens Brigade‘s ASSSSCAT 3000. I’ve seen shows by this improv troupe (featuring tons of famous comedians, including Amy Poehler) on tour twice and would love to see the full cast on their home turf. The show is free on Sunday nights (and really cheap every other night)!
  9. Find tickets for the Museum of Ice Cream. This pop-up museum dedicated to what I love most in life sold out immediately and ends next weekend. But where there’s a will, there’s a way. (Currently combing through Craigslist for reasonably priced tickets.)
  10. Win the Hamilton lottery. “I am not throwing away my shot.”
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View of Manhattan skyline from Smorgasburg in Brooklyn

Rubies

IMG_8288Last Saturday, I spent the day in Raleigh with my sister. We met up for a matinee performance of Carolina Ballet’s Rubies. The show was the company’s season opener and featured short pieces by George Balanchine, one of the greatest choreographers of the 20th century. Carolina Ballet’s artistic director, Robert Weiss, was once a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, invited to join by Balanchine himself. And having the opportunity to watch Balanchine’s original choreography and vision being represented in the present day was such a treat.

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The show opened with Raymonda Variations. The music by Glazunov was charming, and the costumes were gorgeous. Unfortunately, the majority of the actual variations were not as impressive. I’ve always felt that Carolina Ballet seems more like a dance school, rather than a professional company. Some of its principals and soloists are amazing, but the rest almost look like amateurs, in comparison. I blame my feelings on growing up in Columbus, watching Balletmet, where each dancer is undeniably athletic, confident, and expressive. Back in Raleigh, most of the Raymonda solos, which require extra conviction due to Balanchine’s difficult choreography, turned out characterless and lackluster, and a few were even awkward. It was the pleasant group numbers by the corps that saved the beginning of the show.
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The next piece was The Steadfast Tin Soldier, an adorable pas de deux, based on the the Hans Christian Andersen story and accompanied by Bizet’s delightful music. The two toys danced together, fell in love, and made cute, weird attempts to hug each other (weird because their limbs were too stiff… Because they were toys). They were a joy to watch, so when the wind finally blew the doll into the fire, the entire audience felt for the tin solider.
rondo-620x465Rondo alla Zingarese, an excerpt from Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet, featured by far the best music: the fourth movement of Brahms’s Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor, nicknamed “Gypsy Rondo.” I love how the music combines the fiery passion and energy of folk with the intricacies and elegance of classical. So much emotion packed into one short work!

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I don’t think the dancers were quite able to keep up with the music’s dynamic spirit. But it was still fun to watch Balanchine’s choreography and the flirtatious courtship between the gypsies.

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À la Françaix, a rarity that shows Balanchine’s scarcely seen humorous side, is a modern-day (for the time) parody of La Sylphide, in which a girl is jilted by her fiancé when he mysteriously meets a fairy. Yes, it’s as random as it sounds.

1379791_616943308357838_1484174746_nThis piece was less about the steps and more about the personality, and the dancers did an admirable job of exaggerating their French characters. Françaix’s Serenade provided the perfectly whimsical and ethereal accompaniment.

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The show ended with the title piece Rubies, taken from Balanchine’s plotless Jewels. The curtain rose above all of the dancers standing in a line, their shiny, red costumes complete with sparkling, red  gems. Under the lighting, the dancers glowed like fire, and the audience couldn’t help collectively letting out ooh’s and ah’s. That first sight really was breathtaking.
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Though Stravinsky was Russian, his music in this work contained much more American influences. Balanchine’s choreography here was also very American, as he incorporated jazz rhythms and abstract movement. It subtly glorified the human body’s capabilities and was absolutely luxurious to watch.rubies

The dancers’ faces were generally stoic, but the audience could still sense their enthusiasm for the dance, probably more so than in all of the previous pieces combined. Rubies was undoubtedly the highlight of the show.IMG_3066

There was a food truck outside the theater, so obviously we had to stop by. Beth is going to love this candid picture of herself on the internet!

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Asian-style vegetarian dumplings. Yum!

IMG_0300Afterwards, we did some shopping before getting dinner at Brio, where I ordered my two favorite salads: Caprese and the Brio chopped salad. Basically, it was an all-around fabulous day!