Posts Categorized: Life

ballet + Copenhagen + denmark + In My Next Life + Life / Friday, 15 Feb 2013

In my next life: Ballerina

photography by Amanda Thomsen
I’m super pleased to introduce a new monthly column to Lars and it’s been a long time in coming. Let me explain. Growing up I felt like I was meant to be a ballet dancer. My mom was a dancer, my aunt was a dancer, and clearly I was also supposed to be one as well. The problem is that my ballet teacher didn’t agree. I was “too chubby” to audition for the Nutcracker at the age of 8. Now, it may seem harsh, but in all honesty, I was tubby and most likely awkward because I was definitely shy and turned bright red when anyone spoke to me. Not a great combo for a graceful dancer. My mom instantly took me out of ballet and enrolled me in tennis and cello and I continue to play to this day. Ultimately, she didn’t want me to grow up in a world where weight and appearance was a factor that dictated her life and I’m very glad she directed me in another direction. I’m also very happy with how my childhood and adolescence played out so though I still would have loved to have been a dancer (and with the right body type), I’m satisfied with the talents and skills I’ve been able to develop. No harm done!

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some jobs that I wouldn’t like to try in my next life. Enter new column. This whole internet thing has exposed me to jobs that I never knew existed. Paper floral designer? Color expert? Cupcake maker? Come on, these are dream jobs! In fact, I was going to label this column “Dream Jobs”, but thought that they’re someone’s reality so “In my next life” it is. Every month I’ll feature a different person who inspires me in their chosen profession. First up? Christina Michanek.
Christina Michanek is a soloist at the Royal Danish Ballet. She’s also a good friend of mine and my former landlord. Ha! Paul and I lived on the top floor of her house that she and her husband were renovating. You would think that friendship + landlord could be a recipe for disaster, but these two are the best. I’m their biggest fan. You won’t find two more kind and hardworking people. Part of the reason I was so sad to leave Denmark was because we wouldn’t be by them (and their adorable 2 year old). 
Christina generously invited my mom and me to attend a dress rehearsal of a brand new show at the Ballet in September at the Opera House, The Golden Cockerel (or Den Gyldne Hane), an opera by Rimsky-Korsakov that was turned into a ballet with original choreography by Alexei Ratmansky. She said that the sets and costumes reminded her of me and my jaw just about dropped when I saw them. They’re bright and bold and colorful (see below). They’re the original designs from Ballet Russes. I invited Amanda Thomsen, the awesome photographer with whom I shared a studio in Copenhagen, to come along and document the day. She takes us through from the practice, getting ready and finally the dress rehearsal with her beautiful photos.
Mom and I had a ball watching The Golden Cockerel. Though the story is over-the-top (like all operas), I loved the dancing and original choreography. There was an exotic spin on traditional ballet. I also loved the costumes. It was definitely a feast for the eyes. I tend to like dress rehearsals better than the real thing because you get to hear the banter between the director, maestro, and dancers. It’s a bit more entertaining when you add in the real life drama.
With that in mind, Christina was kind enough to answer a few questions.
Did you always want to be a dancer? 
Before I knew ballet and ballet dancers even existed I wanted to be a librarian. The library was such a magical place for me. It was like a church for stories. And I dreamed of being this superlibrarian who could tell people as soon as I saw them what they should get! 

How did you get into dancing? 
An American missionary who was dancing at Ballet West in Utah, Candice Taylor, made a little dance for all the young girls in my church congregation for a Christmas activity. Ever since she danced for us I was hooked!

Were there people along the way in your field who you admired or helped you shape the decision to be a dancer?
In the school it was my friend Ulrik Birkjær (now principal the company) who was my ‘source’ or his ambition and ballet interest just made him the one I could ask ballet questions and he inspired me to aspire higher. Still does. Apprentice years and early dancer years it was Adam Lüders, Caroline Cavallo, Sorella Englund and Nikolaj Hübbe.
What’s your favorite part about your job?
The feeling of moving in space led by my own musicality. The drama we get to enjoy! I’m a drama junkie! I’ll do a death scene any day any time. The theater magic of costumes, stage light and a live orchestra. 
Is there anything you could do without?
I could do without the judging, elbowing, never good enough chase for perfection. And that it takes forever to get in shape and four days to get out of it…that’s almost evil. 

How do you juggle being a wife/mother with your job?
I make sure to leave work at work and don’t bring it home. And if I need to take a nap before a show I do it in the living room preferably in the beanbag on the floor so it’s easy for my son to play on and around me. FaceTime helps a lot too then we can blow kisses to each other and sing songs and play games. It was a great help when I went on tour recently. 

What’s one of the most memorable moments of your career?
Some of my favorite moments… Watching a colleague on their 40th jubilee and seeing old pictures and video and sensing their love for their work and how much they are loved for sharing their talent. 
First Sylph rehearsal is a special memory too. As soon as Nikolaj [Hübbe, the director of the ballet] had left the studio I let out a little scream and involuntary leap of joy and then I got a little embarrassed cause he could probably hear me. 
Romeo and Juliet balcony pas de deux with Ulrik in Japan. I stole a moment to just soak in the stage, the music, the moment and save it in my heart and mind and it made me shiver with delight. 
Watching Nikolaj dance Apollo in a small proconsul theater, sitting in the wing so fascinated that I almost was on stage! I’m pretty sure he didn’t mind at all. 
I have a lot of favorite moments. 

I loved watching Christina dance. She is pure passion and love for the art. I’m also very lucky to call her my friend. She is beauty, kindness, and integrity. Thank you, Christina, for being letting us follow you around.
Stay tuned for next month’s In My Next Life.

Do you have a dream job? What is it? 
Thank you to Det Kongelige Teater for allowing us to take up some space in the practice room and letting us wander around backstage.

Photography by Amanda Thomsen

Life + This week / Friday, 18 Jan 2013

This week

In my daydreams of moving back to America, sub-freezing temperatures didn’t really factor in, but, of course, this is the “worst winter we’ve had in a long time”, says everyone all the time. That’s what Denmark told me when I got there, too, so I’m starting to sense a pattern here…

Our new home is nestled against the beautiful Wasatch Mountains in Provo, Utah and for all of you who think that Utah is in the midwest, it might help to clarify that the Wasatch Mountains are the Western most part of the Rocky Mountains.* Denmark is probably the topographical opposite of Utah and more of the equivalent of Iowa so we’re a bit overwhelmed by the grandness of it all. One day I was on a road trip in DK and someone pointed out the “highest point” in all of Denmark. I honestly, did not know where they were pointing. It looked like a sledding hill.

Anywhoo, enough about the weather, this week we settled in a bit more into our new place, spent an hour and a half at the Social Security Administration and are now eating from silverware and not plastic spoons and forks. Here’s to the weekend!

photo from my Instagram feed @houselarsbuilt

*I worked together with a friend from Utah at Anthropologie in Rockville, Maryland for 3 hours a week for a year a few years back. Our manager called her “Midwest” in his Southern drawl. I guess 3 hours a week doesn’t buy respect.

DIY + Life + Projects + Review / Thursday, 10 Jan 2013

Top 3 of 2012

I’ve been going through my pictures of the last year to make a synopsis in the next few days and I’ve noted two things: 1) If you didn’t know me in person it appears that I only make pretty things and go on trips (I wish!) 2) I’m getting better at what I do. And I don’t mean that in a “I’m the best in the whole wide world” way, but sometimes I’d cringe at what I was putting out there into the universe with my work because things didn’t work out as perfectly as I had imagined, but looking back though some were inevitably lame, I’m overall pleased with my oeuvre. I can see how I’m more mindful of a successful DIY from concept to styling to photography. Mind you, I worked super hard last year in coming up with my DIY concepts and execution so I guess it was a natural product of time and hard work. I got to work with some really stellar photographers (who I miss dearly!) and I got to make projects for some really great magazines and websites.

Based on page analytics, these three projects were the most visited on The House That Lars Built. I’m always so surprised at what is more successful over another project. What were some of your favorites? Would you have guessed these ones?

1. Friendship bracelet chevron rug won be almost double
2. Heart attack package beat #3 by almost double again
3. Kissing bridal clothespin

Friends of Lars + In the Know + Life / Tuesday, 8 Jan 2013

“Life elevated”

Whoa! It’s been awhile, friends. Thanks for your patience as we’ve been in a rather constant succession of change and/or moving and/or holidays since way before leaving Copenhagen. LIFE HAS BEEN NUTS! But, I’m sure I’m not the only one. Life is always nuts, am I right? I am totally embarrassed to say that I’m WAY behind on some deadlines and, clearly, blogging. Clients, you know who you are. Forgive me! I’m not normally so delinquent. It’ll be worth it, I promise!

So, we’ve moved into our new place in Provo, UT and we love it! Three of our Copenhagen apartment could fit into this monstrosity (really, it’s pretty normal size). AND, we have a washer, dryer, dishwasher, carpet…needless to say, I’ve been doing laundry just for the fun of it. Because I can! And because we haven’t had those conveniences in awhile so it’s still novel to me. Please remind me in 2 years that laundry is fun if I forget that 1st world detail.

This picture above is my sister as we took our last walk by the beach in San Clemente, CA before we packed our car to move up here. Our timing was funny. She’s been living in UT for the past 7 years and recently decided to move back home at the same time we moved up here. So, as we unpacked our small belongings in our new place, we then packed up her abundance of treasures to set back to CA. Boo hoo. We had so many plans together. We were going to make creative mischief! Alas, plans change and as Walt Disney says, “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we are curious, and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” I’m excited for her in her new choice. I’m really excited about our new change too. There have been a number of what I believe are signs that make us feel like this is right.

“Life elevated”. That’s what the Utah license plate claims. And we can totally feel it on with the cracked, dry hands and constant headaches. BUT, I’m also certain that 2013 will be a year of “life elevated”. Raising the bar. Choosing to make it a good year. How about it?! Let’s make it a good year! I have some great things planned for the year and lots of announcements to make so stay tuned!

Also, UT readers…I’m thinking of doing a meet-up of sorts. Maybe a workshop or clothes exchange or something…what do you think?

picture by me taken from my iphone on Instagram. Follow @houselarsbuilt

Danish design giveaway + Design + Life + My Scandinavian Christmas + Projects / Monday, 24 Dec 2012

24 Days of Scandinavian Christmas finale & giveaway winner announced!

Well, happy Christmas Eve! I hope you are all spending it with loved ones. To end this wonderful series of My Scandinavian Christmas, I thought I’d recap all the wonderful projects that all the guest bloggers contributed. Thank you thank you thank you to everyone who participated. I’m so grateful for your creativity and time! Also, a big thank you to everyone who participated in the Danish Design Giveaways. I wish I could give something to everyone, but for now the (random) winner of the Royal Copenhagen, Ferm Living, Lucky Boy Sunday, and Herb Lester products is………Jenny from Museum Diary. Congrats!
We kicked off the series with Maiju from My Second Life’s Christmas treeDay 2 was given to Mette from Bureau of Betterment and a bird mobile she made based on a childhood toy.
Swede Hilda Grahnat showed us how to make Swedish orange pomanders on day 3 while Pinja from Pinjacolada decorated her Christmas tree with Finnish himmeli for day 4.
Tina Fussell or Traveling Mama, made a traditional edible Christmas tree for day 5 and Annika Backstrom made an ingenious gingerbread playhouse for her nieces and nephews for day 6.
For day 7 Eva Jorgensen of Sycamore Street Press designed an exclusive “god jul” Christmas ornament to download and Mette from Ungt Blod showed us winter in the Danish countryside for day 8.
Photographer Camilla Jørvad gave us a glimpse to her winter in Western Denmark for day 9 while Rilla showed how she displays her Finnish himmeli for day 10.
Julia of Vintage Hausfrau described her experience of picking out a tree and decorating it with vintage ornaments for day 11 and Gina of Willowday made ice lanterns for day 12.
Heidi of Wool Rocks displayed her Norwegian knitted Christmas ornaments for day 13 and Charlotte Schmidt Olsen made a beautiful paper bird for day 14.
I showed how to make oversized holly and ivy out of balloons for day 15 and Sarah Goldschadt (author of Craft-a-day) made an owlies Christmas tree for day 16
The most awesome nativity set from Dos Family for day 17 and Danish nisser from Elise from Eliseenvoyage for day 18
Photographer Tine Hvolby dressed up her daughter as an angel for day 19 and Elaina of Fog and Cedar described a lovely walk to find materials to make an advent candle for day 20.
Jennifer Hagler of A Merry Mishap made the ultra delicious æbleskiver (Danish pancakes) for day 21 and Lina Anoff showed us her friend’s childhood discovering a gingerbread house for day 22.

I finished off the series with my family’s Scandinavian-inspired decorations around our house for day 23.

With that, I’m off! Merry Christmas! I’m taking the next couple of weeks off. Next time you’ll hear from me will be from our new place in Utah!