As we all know, Paris is the true city of love and it holds a romantic candle over all the lovers and dreamers of the world.
Fine food, wine and flowers are commodities that stroke the embers of French passion. But true love also sparks in gritty garret rooftops and back alleys as witnessed in Damsels of the Night, Citie Ballet’s final production of the season.
Playing this Saturday at the Timms Centre for the Arts, this tale was inspired by Jean Anouilh’s story of cats on Paris rooftops. Prima ballerina Margot Fonteyn first danced Les Demoiselles de la Nuit in its premiere production in 1948.
In true ballet tradition, Les Demoiselles was a tragedy of star-crossed lovers where a Parisian violinist and the white cat he loves plunge to their deaths.
However, Citie artistic director Francoise Chevennement has brought out the mischief in his dancers by adapting and transforming Damsels into a frothy comedy.
Still using the original score by stage and film composer Jean Françaix, Chevennement brought on board ballet mistress Laurence Menotti and librettist Katherine Koller to spin the confection in a completely different direction while still evoking moonlit nights.
In this updated adaptation, Leon (Jason Vaz) is a poverty-stricken clarinettist obsessed with a beautiful White Cat (Danica Smith) he sees from his rooftop. He brings her food and tries to tame the alley cat. And while the White Cat wants to be pampered, she still demands the freedom to roam.
Leon is so enamoured with the White Cat, he fails to notice Mimi (Lauren O’Kell), an equally poor seamstress hopelessly in love with him. She brings Leon food, sews his clothing and tussles with the cat for his affections.
But cue the orchestra. In the background is a villainess. The Queen of Cats creates conflict by luring the White Cat back into the wild ways of the alley.
Despite the fizzy plotline, Damsels is a technically complex dance that demands a strong emotive flair from its principals. For instance, O’Kell as Mimi dances four solos with a combination of pirouettes, jetés, bourées and a lot of quick and fast pointe work.
Classically trained in the Royal Academy dance style, O’Kell, a Grade 12 student at Bellerose High, is more than up to the physical challenges.
“Technically I’ve been able to do the steps, but what’s been difficult is getting the emotional attachment to the ballet and connecting with other members. I have to pretend to love Leon and hate the cat. The acting is definitely a challenge for me,” says O’Kell as the production’s ingénue. She is enrolled in the summer intensive at Boston Ballet and hopes to be accepted into the winter program.
For the St. Albert dancer, Damsels is a bittersweet ballet in part because it is her last one with Citie. Yet the partner work performed with Jason Vaz may be some of the season’s strongest.
“This is our last show together so we’re trying to show off what we’re doing.”
O’Kell also has a duelling scene with Art of Dance teacher, Danica Smith’s White Cat. In a delicious tongue-in-cheek moment, Chevennement has incorporated Duetto buffo di due gatti, a famed ditty borrowed from a Gioachino Rossetti opera.
“They do a mirror dance where they make fun of each other,” explains Chevennement.
He is lush with praise of his principals and adds there were a few events that cut into rehearsal times. A dance of this calibre usually takes about 360 hours to rehearse. Unfortunately with Damsels there was only slightly more than 250 hours of rehearsal time.
Yet Chevennement predicts a rousing performance from the principals. Of O’Kell’s Mimi he says, “She has beautiful technique and since this is her last ballet with us, I wanted to challenge her a bit more.”
As the White Cat, Smith’s character embodies the feline stylization of the cat world.
“Danica is one of the company’s most mature dancers. She is really good with acting. To perform a cat is challenging for a dancer, and you need a good character dancer.”
Chevennement wraps it up by saying the dance is full of serenity and joy, comedy and laughter.
“It’s a love story but it’s a fun ballet. It’s appropriate for kids and when we did a preview for an audience the other night, they were getting all pumped up.”
I stumbled upon a site that was talking about front porch stairs and these statements and questions appealed to my bad conscience: “What if porch steps weren’t taken for granted? Most porch steps are built for function rather than beauty. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
What if your steps were designed to complement your home and add both interest and curb appeal?
Porch stairs can be built to make a statement, to make a small porch appear larger, and make accessibility easier and visually appealing.” www.front-porch-ideas-and-more.com
They are so right… So finally I got the inspiration I needed to do something about my own front porch.
Here are the “shocking” before pictures:
One of the tips from the site was – Make them as wide as possible. It will make a small porch seem larger, a large porch more grand, and will so often enhance the look of any home.
Having followed this advice, I have to agree… I love the outcome!
Later this summer I will provide my new front porch stairs with a dark stain, but for the moment I’m enjoying the natural and clean look…
I’ve been living in my house for five years, and lately I’ve been thinking it’s time to switch things up,,, With a very limited budget I took the challenge and the opportunity to lighten things up a bit.
So here is the before version….
And here is the lighter, brighter after version:
And guess who loves the new look:
These last days have been great and sunny, a pretaste of the summer season coming up! And it made me consider if I was ready for the summer exposing of my skin? Are you ready? I mean, there is a great difference in keeping your skin clothed and away from rayon’s and then putting on the bikini and fully enjoying the summer sun…
If you and your family enjoy an active lifestyle, then that means you should always be prepared. Keeping everyone happy will keep you on your toes – so when you’re prepared to be in the sun, there’s no need to worry.
That’s why I’ve gotten into the habit of always carry Aloe Sunscreen Spray with me in my handbag. It has 30 SPF protection and aloe vera to protect your skin from the aging and damaging effects of the sun, plus the added benefits of extra water resistance to allow you to splash and swim without worry. Just a quick push of a button to spray it on and you’ll be ready to go. Healthy summer skin has never been easier!
The convenient spray-on formula is very appealing to me and my use, and the fact that Aloe Sunscreen Spray Is very water resistant and gives full-spectrum UCA & UVB protection, are ad on purposes.
When I get out of the sun, I need my Aloe Vera Gelly. Historically, a major use of aloe vera was to aid in soothing minor skin irritations. Many households kept a live aloe, or “burn plant” for first-aid use. Essentially identical to the aloe vera’s inner leaf, our 100% stabilized aloe vera gel lubricates sensitive tissue safely. Specially prepared for topical application to moisturize, soothe and condition, Aloe Vera Gelly is a thick, translucent gel containing humectants and moisturizers. Readily absorbed by the skin, it soothes without staining clothes.
Aloe Vera Gelly provides temporary relief from minor skin irritations. It can also be used on the skin prior to ultrasonic treatment, or after electrolysis. Hairdressers use the Gelly around the hairline to protect the skin before perming and colouring.
From my bathroom cabinet to my first-aid kit, and from the kitchen to the campsite – Aloe Vera Gelly is my ideal companion for skin that needs a little extra care.
The Aloe Vera Gelly soothes the skin quickly, and does not stain any clothing.
The soothing properties of aloe vera are ideally suited to care for my lips as well. Aloe, jojoba and beeswax combine to create the finest all-season lip product on the market today. Aloe Lips soothes, smoothes and moisturizes chapped and dry lips. It is great for year-round use, but especially when you are enjoying the outdoors. The compact size makes it convenient to keep on hand and the moisturizing Aloe-based formula is my forever companion.
The last product I’m going to write about in this article is called Aloe First, so I should probably written about it first. Aloe First is an excellent addition to any first aid kit. This exclusive skin soothing formula is an excellent first step for soothing minor skin irritations. Formulated in a base of stabilized Aloe Vera Gel, Aloe First contains Bee Propolis, Allantoin and eleven exclusive plant extracts:
- Bee Propolis increases the natural skin-soothing and cleansing properties of the Aloe Vera Gel.
- Allantoin is a beneficial ingredient found in many plants, including aloe.
- Eleven carefully selected plant extracts, also known for their beneficial properties, complete this powerful formula.
The combination of aloe and herbs provide a naturally soothing, pH-balanced spray that is easy to apply to even sensitive skin. Aloe First is designed to soothe the skin after minor cuts, scrapes, burns, and sunburn.
Other uses for Aloe First include spraying on hair to help ward off the elements. It is even used in some hair salons as a pre-perm solution, as it helps combat the drying effects of perming solutions. Aloe First is especially soothing after waxing.
For me the Aloe First has become an important product to meet the summer challenge on my skin, and to avoid burning discomfort. Together with the Aloe Vera Gelly, Aloe Sunscreen Spray and Aloe lips I’m fully equipped to enjoy life outdoors any day!
If you want to know more of these products, you can click here.