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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

Style + This Girl + valentine's day / Wednesday, 6 Feb 2013

This girl

Getting ready for Valentine’s day.

This girl  |  pampers  |  dines

See more This Girl

holiday + Life + My Scandinavian Christmas + Projects + Scandinavia / Wednesday, 12 Dec 2012

My Scandinavian Christmas day 12

Day 12 of My Scandinavian Christmas is with Gina of Willowday based out of Stockholm, Sweden. Gina has some of the most clever DIYs and I’m so glad she’s with us today.

It’s an honor to be a part of the Brittany’s My Scandinavian Christmas. Contributing from Sweden, I thought instantly of lights and candles. These play a prominent roll in Swedish holiday decoration from the hanging paper stars in windows to Advent Candelabras and candles; right down to the Candle Crown worn by Lucia, which she wears ceremoniously as she brings in the sun at dawn on December 13 for the holiday of St. Lucia. 

Candles and lights are not restrained to the indoors. During my first Swedish Christmas, before we sat down to enjoy our Christmas Eve feast, several snow ball lanterns were built outdoors, just outside the dining room window for the final ambiance. Today, in my home, we make Ice Lanterns. I’m happy to share them with you here, today. These are both a fantastic outdoor project with kids or to made conveniently in the comfort of your home and stored until the party. For an Ice Lantern tutorial, click here. Thank you Brittany for this Swedish-Danish Christmas interlude here with you. 

Thank you, Gina, for participating! Check out her blog, Willowday here.

Finland + holiday + Life + My Scandinavian Christmas + Projects + Scandinavia / Monday, 10 Dec 2012

My Scandinavian Christmas day 10

Day 10 of My Scandinavian Christmas. Isn’t this so fun?! I’m loving all the projects. Today we have Rilla of Kotipalapeli, a lovely Finnish blog. She’s got great taste and everytime I’m on her blog I think, “how wonderfully Finnish”.
Himmeli mobile
Himmeli is usually made ​​of straw and hangs as a ceiling decoration. The word “himmeli” comes from the Germanic ​​word “Himmel”, or sky. Himmel is also known in Central Europe, Finland, the way they learned Sweden. This stream of air moving quietly Mobile, has been appointed olkikruunuksi places.

There was a book published this fall called Himmeli by Eija Koski. The description of the book asks, “Who says that only a himmeli Christmas and cabin on the table? Not at least for Koski Eija for suspending Himmel white room, kitchen, children’s room, the bathroom, cottage and kesäkammariin. Tiesitkös otherwise, what Himmel is a black home?

Himmeli in recent years has found its way into Finnish homes again. as well Goat straw and other manufactured traditional but trendy just because the craft. Christmas bazaars and the market can be found in a wide range of Himmel, Himmel as when making. The sky is the limit.

Thank you Rilla for participating! Make sure to check out her blog.

holiday + Life + My Scandinavian Christmas + Projects + Scandinavia / Sunday, 9 Dec 2012

My Scandinavian Christmas Day 9

Welcome to Day 9 of My Scandinavian Christmas with Camilla Jørvad. Camilla is a wonderful wedding photographer who I have had the pleasure to get to know since I met the fine ladies of the brand spankin new, We Do Weddings, a new network of wedding professionals here in Denmark. Camilla lives in a beautiful part of Western Denmark.
I am among the few who love the Danish winter. I do not get depressed about the dark grey days that seem to go on and on. Three words that describe my holiday season is: history, ‘hygge’ and gift wrapping. 
I love candlelight, getting the fire going in our fireplace, slippers, tea… and cuddling up in the sofa with a gardening book or in front of the computer and Pinterest dreaming of the work that needs to be done in my garden next spring. Living in the country and in an old farmhouse that has been in my husband’s family for generations, I love emphasizing the history of our home. I decorate our house for christmas using vintage items from older generations of our family or newer decorations with a distinct vintage feel to them. I love using darker colors such as black and dark green in my christmas ornaments or earth tones like golden metals and hemp string. My favourite thing to decorate each year is a twisted branch from a willow in our garden. It hangs from our ceiling and is perfect for lots of tiny glass hearts and ornaments. In the wintertime we also always have a basket in our livingroom with extra woollen blankets and soft wool shoes for guests, as the floorboards here are so beautiful we can’t bear to destroy them in order to insulate the floor. We have a really old ceramic oven that was used for cooking up until just a few decades ago, that I now use for candles, it brings it back to life.

All my christmas stuff is stored safely in lovely boxes and put in a huge wooden chest at the foot of our stair case. Every year the last day of November it is like Christmas Eve going in to open all those beautiful boxes again. 
While in Uni I worked weekends and holidays in a local lifestyle boutique. The lady I worked for is loved by her customers just as much for her gift wrapping as for the beautiful things she has in her store. Customers are happy to wait the 10 minutes it often takes her to put all her love and creativity into the wrapping and decoration of each purchase. She is quite the perfectionist so she was a hard teacher but eventually I learned her methods and now several years after I can still please my family by creating packages that are gifts in themselves. 

She had a special technique that makes ugly tape obsolete, that means you never have to turn the package while putting the decorative ribbon around it, and that makes it unnecessary to hold the ribbon in place while tying the bow. I like to wrap my presents using natural recycled paper (think it makes them look old and cosy + its friendly to the environment) I always use a ribbon or string with a bit of a colour pop so it doesn’t look to ‘brown’ or boring and always finish with some sort of decorative item. This year I’ve bought some vintage-y copper hearts and stars to tie on to each package, but last year I just used small pieces of greenery from the garden. Especially the holly lasts quite long without withering. For children’s gifts I usually find something more colorful to attach to it, like for example a little elf or a tiny straw buck.

My gift wrapping mentor always used to say: “a gift should be wrapped so thoughtfully that the recepient can’t wait to open it, but that he or she also can’t bear to because it looks so beautiful it will be a shame to ruin it” 🙂
Have fun with your own gift wrapping, and a Merry Christmas from Aeroe Island 🙂

Thank you so much Camilla! And make sure to check out her lovely photography