Birthday dance

It’s my birthday! Midweek birthdays tend to be prosaic, so for fun I thought I’d share the tango clip from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (one of that movie’s redeeming scenes) and a piece I wrote years ago on salsa dancing. No, salsa is not tango, but for me as a wallflower, Pelagia’s tango captures the same exuberance I’ve loved about salsa.

What does it mean to Be Sexy?

Sexiness, to me, has always been about feeling comfortable in my own skin—about taking risks, and doing what both thrills and scares me. I’ve always admired people with passion for what they do, no matter what it is, because the joy they radiate in doing it is contagious. Their enthusiasm fuels my curiosity and inspires me to pursue what fascinates me.

Salsa has intrigued me ever since I took a Latin American music course at UCLA, but I’d never considered myself much of a dancer, mostly because I’d long felt too shy and embarrassed to try it. Self-consciousness would freeze me, and I’d cringe at the mere mention of parties and clubs. Eventually I got into the habit of saying I just wasn’t into dancing, but secretly, some part of me longed to feel the same ease and abandon I’d witnessed in great dancers. That part of me wanted to lose myself in the music and just dance for sheer joy, and somehow the rhythms of salsa crashed through those walls of reserve and fed right into that longing. I vowed then that someday I’d take salsa dance lessons.

I didn’t feel quite ready—and, in fact, didn’t have the chance—to realize that goal, though, until I found a job and moved to the Bay Area last summer. Several months before that, I’d returned from a two-year stint teaching English as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ukraine, an experience which, among other things, tested me dearly but also taught me a lot about myself. I found myself overcoming challenges that made me think, “If I can do that, maybe I can do this,” and with those experiences I think I acquired the strength and confidence that have allowed me to explore facets of life I’d previously thought I couldn’t handle. So when I read about the salsa classes Vera was giving at the College of San Mateo and Redwood Shores this fall, I signed up right away.

Vera’s salsa classes were the first I’d ever taken, as well as the first dance instruction I’d ever had. I came away from the first class exhilarated, and though I’m not a great dancer by any means, still I’ve enjoyed those moments when I can relax in my partner’s arms and follow the rhythm without worrying about every step. And I love the searing joy I feel at watching skilled salsa dancers who love the art form and just look like they’re having a great time. To me, the music and the dance seem infused with all the exuberance I feel for what makes life worth living, and I find that incredibly alluring. Nothing is sexier than the passion, the confidence and pure joy so rife in salsa.

(first published at

Date night solo

Things have been a little hectic lately, so when the San Francisco Ballet posted a Leap Day discount to its production of Romeo & Juliet, I pounced. Time to take myself out for another little date! I can hardly wait to see the corps perform Prokofiev’s “The Montagues and the Capulets” (Dance of the Knights)—the first time I heard that piece of music, I was basically stunned. Waves of music just rolled over me even in the nosebleed section of Davies Symphony Hall; the SF Symphony had performed it a few summers ago as part of their annual program of Russian classics, and I remember just being floored by its ominous power.

Before the show, I’m hoping to go check out Two Sisters Bar and Books in Hayes Valley. Always like to hit someplace new (and add a business card plus a description of the place into my current scrapbook). Two Sisters sounds cool and fun: a cozy cafe with books galore that you can read while you sip a drink and enjoy small bites like deviled eggs with lemon zest, fried capers, and black truffles. I can hardly wait.

First love

The San Francisco Ballet posted this letter—one of many—on their new Tumblr Letter to My First Love, in honor of their production of Onegin, based on Pushkin’s poem/novel. Initially the rakish Onegin spurns the young Tatiana, only to fall in love with her years later after she has blossomed (and married someone else!); this anonymous Tumblr submission pretty much describes her mature self in a nutshell.

I wonder if that sentiment of longing mingled with the maturity that comes from moving on and letting go could be anything like this French film Un Amour de Jeunesse (Goodbye First Love), which I haven’t yet seen but want to.

Letter to My First Love

In anticipation of its upcoming production of Onegin, the San Francisco Ballet has just created the Tumblr Letter to My First Love, featuring anonymous missives written to first crushes (along the lines of the lovelorn Tatiana’s letter to Onegin). The messages can be funny or earnest, addressed to a high school sweetheart or a personal passion—like ballet—or a celebrity. I like the short/sweet/funny ones, but some of the longer ones with a twist make bittersweet reads. (Want to participate? Submit your entry here.)



As for me, I would dedicate mine to my local TV weatherman, to whom I was entirely devoted at the age of 4.

If you were to write a letter to your first love, what would you say?

(via San Francisco Ballet)

Update: They ran my submission. :)

Dancing in the kitchen

While channel surfing the other day, I glimpsed San Francisco Ballet principal dancer Joan Boada’s appearance on Joanne Weir‘s Cooking Confidence show for PBS.

Gotta love a hot guy who cooks.

His and her respective blog posts about the experience reminded me of this tea towel sold on Etsy and recently repinned by FitSugar.

“Cooking is a lot like dancing,” Joan says on the ballet’s blog, Open Studio 455. “Both are creative, passionate pursuits in which there is always something new to learn.”

(Photos by Erik Tomasson/San Francisco Ballet and The Joy of Ex Foundation)