Those difficult meals

Those difficult meals

I don’t mind nights when the kids have a lot of dance classes in a row.

I don’t mind, that is, until I remember I have to make a meal that I can take with us to the studio. Something I can make hours ahead of time that can be eaten cold out of the cooler (because I’m not a fan of the microwave). Something that won’t be mushy and will give the kids healthy energy to keep dancing.

We’re not vegetarians, though we don’t eat a ton of meat. I’m a big fan of expanding our vegan and vegetarian meal options, and as the kids get older they’re enjoying vegetables more.

We do, however, have some health things to pay attention to. My husband is sensitive to MSG, which means I’ve learned how to read labels and look for all the ingredients that act the same way in his body (monosodium glutamate, autolyzed yeast extract, yeast extract, gelatin, and Disodium guanylate and disodium 5′-guanylate (which usually come together) are all things that we know will bring on a migraine so they’re not allowed in the house.

We also avoid artificial colors and flavors and high fructose corn syrup, though I’m not quite as vigilant because that’s more of a choice than the MSG thing.

Oh, and we don’t eat pork or shellfish.

So now that you have all that information, you understand why people don’t usually cook for us ;)

But that’s beside the point. What is the point? That I’ve been creating a Pinterest Board of recipes that fill this need. Things my kids and I approve of that taste good out of a cooler.

(they also work well as meals to take to Disney when we time our fastpasses around a mealtime).

Feel free to follow my board and I’ll make sure I keep pinning new things I find. In the meantime, if you come across a perfect dinner that would work on this board, tell me on Facebook and I’ll give it a try! (I’m a huge fan of trying new recipes, so bring ’em on!)

Making a New Start

Making a New Start

It’s summer. Most of us are taking a breather from the chaos of dance schedules, though summer intensives and master classes keep us fresh.

It’s also a time when we may be preparing for a new experience in the coming year. Whether you’ve just moved to a new town (or part of town), are changing studios, or just have new teachers, it’s imperative that you do your best to make a good first impression.

That doesn’t mean being the perfect dancer. Obviously a new teacher wants to see what you know, but they don’t expect perfection right off the bat. What they will notice, though, is how receptive you are to feedback. If they see a teachable dancer, they’ll invest more energy into helping you improve.

It doesn’t matter how good you were at your last studio or in your previous class. You might have been the biggest fish in your pond. But you’ve started at a new pond, and it’s important to go in with a teachable spirit. Like it or not, the teacher will judge pretty quickly if you think you know everything before you walk in or if you’re there to learn. A prima donna will not get as much out of a class as someone who wants to learn everything the new teacher can give them.

One really important thing to keep in mind is that with every change, there’s going to be some overlap in your education, but there may also be some gaps. I’ve had numerous ballet teachers over the years, and though ballet has remained largely the same over the past decades (unlike, say, hip hop), every teacher approaches it differently and there is always new research into how the body works and how best to teach and avoid injury. Some classes I visited had different names for the same steps (e.g. degage/tendu jete), and last year I had to learn (and practice) the difference between coupe front and what I’d done growing up, sur le coup de pied. I could have continued to call them tendu jete instead of adapting, but I was there to learn and grow, not to show off. (I can guarantee my first ballet teacher would not have minded that I was trying new things and not just doing it the way she taught me without shifting).

Change isn’t easy. But if you go in recognizing that it will be a learning experience, you’ll come out stronger and better prepared for the next transition!

What’s your favorite part (or least-favorite part) of a new experience? When was the last time you trained under a different teacher? I’d love to hear your stories on Facebook or Instagram.

5 Awesome (free!) Locations for Dance Photos in St. Cloud and Kissimmee

5 Awesome (free!) Locations for Dance Photos in St. Cloud and Kissimmee

Sometimes we get amazing ideas in our heads for photo shoots, but we get stuck on where we can actually pull them off.

Here are a few of my favorite (FREE) places to take pictures around St. Cloud and Kissimmee.

In St. Cloud:

The St. Cloud Lakefront Park is lovely. It usually has a quiet hum of people unless there’s a big event going on, but it’s calm enough that you won’t have to worry about people photobombing you.

Historic downtown St. Cloud has some fascinating buildings, and there are a variety of painted murals scattered around the downtown area. They’d make fun urban backdrops for a photo shoot. Just walk down New York or Massachusetts Ave and look for something photo-worthy: it won’t take long!

Lake Runnymede Conservation Area on Rummel Rd. is  lovely for a woodsy shot.If the sun is out you’re going to have dappled light do deal with, which is distracting, but with off-camera flash or on an overcast day you should have beautiful opportunities.

at Lake Runnymede Conservation Area

In Kissimmee:

The Lakefront Park is almost always a possibility for a fun shoot. A bit busier than St. Cloud lakefront (though not as much as when Pokemon Go was at its peak!), it has some lovely spots.

Downtown Kissimmee has beautiful painted murals in several places. The soft colors aren’t distracting and make excellent backdrops.

What’s your go-to location for photo shoots? Have you gone to any of these? I’d love to get your thoughts on Facebook or Instagram!

Disney Dancing

Disney Dancing

We all know Disney has its own kind of magic. But as I started looking through the eyes of a dance photographer, I realized it’s a goldmine for dancing!

There are three ways to experience dance at the parks: Dancing in shows, Dance-like movement, and guest participation.

Dancing in shows

Festival of the Lion King (Animal Kingdom): This is the first one I think of when I think of dancing at Disney. The birds take the cake, but the whole team of dancers is absolutely amazing. My daughters are both dreaming of someday being dancers in this show.

Bongos (Disney Springs): Absolutely incredible salsa dancing with a live band. I had a blast watching these talented dancers!

The current schedule:
from Wednesday through Sunday
Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday: 6pm-10pm
Friday and Saturday: 6pm-11:30pm

Beauty and the Beast Show (Hollywood Studios): There is fantastic dancing all the way through this show, including a great kick line.

Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire (Magic Kingdom): This show in front of the Castle has some fantastic dancing in an assortment of styles, including some awesome tap dancing.

Dance-like movement

 

De-Vine (Animal Kingdom): This is a person on stilts covered in vine-like material. Her movement is very fluid and dance-like.

Chinese Acrobats (China Pavillion, Epcot’s World Showcase): This show changes every few months as they bring on different acrobats. Not technically dance, but it’s enough like it to count!

Indiana Jones Stuntshow Spectacular (Hollywood Studios): Stuntwork is almost a dance form in itself, but I was thinking specifically of the acrobats in the second scene. It’s fun choreography and is always my favorite part of the show.

Guest Participation Opportunities

Marketplace Fountain (Disney Springs): There’s a splash fountain next to Earl of Sandwich and Once Upon A Toy that has a dance party in the evenings (it’s not listed on their website so I can’t vouch for it being nightly, but whenever we’ve gone there it’s been happening).

Harambe Wildlife Parti (Animal Kingdom): This show feels like a fun celebration as much as a dance party. The music and joy is contagious!

Move It! Shake It! Dance and Play It! Street Party (Magic Kingdom): This parade/dance party is a really fun chance for everyone to slow down and use muscles we don’t always use spending the day at a theme park.

Anything I’m missing? What’s your favorite place to see or participate in the dancing? Join the conversation on Facebook or Instagram!