Friends are always befuddled by my sister and my own dietary restrictions — I am dairy-free and my sister can’t tolerate gluten. We’ve become accustomed to the dumbfounded looks and people exclaiming, “Then what do you eat?” My other favorite response to learning about my dairy allergy is, “Do you eat meat?” — the direct correlation between dairy and meat isn’t clear to me. But to answer the question, yes I eat meat. I also eat any and all vegetables, a variety of fruits, nuts, grains like quinoa, rice, buckwheat, and an abundance of other delectables.
From cooking and baking within these dietary guidelines, I’ve found that my creativity in the kitchen has grown tenfold — I can equate this to dancing and how we are often our most creative when we are given limitations to work around. I’ve also discovered, especially here in Denver, that I’m not alone in my quest for delicious and healthy gluten-free, dairy-free cuisine. There is a plethora of restaurants in the area that boast a menu of allergy friendly options and I’ve meet a handful of individuals who are happy to share their alternative food epiphanies and recipes. So, now I’d like to pay it forward and share a recipe that recently came across my gluten and dairy-free radar.
This recipe, which lives on Celiac-Disease.com, will satisfy your sweet tooth without sending you to the dentist. I use sunflower butter — one of my newest culinary obsessions because it has more protein and less fat than nut butters, but still has that nutty bite. However, feel free to experiment — so long as your allergies permit it — with peanut, almond, cashew, hazelnut, or walnut butter.
Gluten & Dairy-Free Sunflower Butter Muffins
Grab these items…
- 1/2 c. sunflower butter or nut butter of your choice
- 2 tbsp. Earth Balance spread at room temp
- 2/3 c. light brown sugar
- 2 eggs plus 1 egg white (add an extra egg white for high altitudes)
- 1 tsp. gluten-free vanilla
- 1 c. all-purpose gluten-free flour (I use Bod’s Red Mill)
- 1 tsp. gluten-free baking powder (use 1/2 tsp. for high altitudes)
- 4 tbsp. almond milk
- 1/2 c. carob chips (I get these at Whole Foods)
Make some magic…
1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a regular muffin tin with muffin papers (the batter makes about a dozen muffins).
2. Beat sunflower butter, Earth Balance spread, and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl with the paddle attachment of your mixer rather than the whisk. Beat in eggs, mixing well with each new egg. Then beat in vanilla.
3. Mix together dry ingredients then add to wet mixture. Mix well. Add in almond milk. Finally, stir in carob chips — don’t use your electric mixer for this. Spoon batter into muffin tins, 1/2 to 2/3 full.
4. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes (for high altitudes lean towards less time so as not to dry out your muffins), until tops are puffed and lightly browned and springy to touch. Let cool in pan 5 minutes before removing.
5. Enjoy with a dab of Earth Balance spread!
Jiri Kylian’s Indigo Rose was a refreshing and invigorating start to the evening. A thin wire descended diagonally across the stage, which was illuminated with crisp, white light. Four male dancers entered in turn, each one performing a speedy and energetic solo. These solos evolved into a quartet that paired spirited releases of the head, chest, and upper body with multiple, sharp directional changes. The dancers’ movements gave an impression of escape and abandon—two themes that reflect Kylian’s aim for Indigo Rose to celebrate youthful vitality.
An elegant, delicate, and nuanced pas de deux section followed—quintessential Kylian that incorporated innovative, weight-sharing techniques. Then, an enormous triangle of white fabric sailed across the suddenly darkened stage. Streams of light beamed onto the fabric, and the dancers’ silhouettes moved through absurd, illogical, and sometimes crude scenarios. The dancers became still, the lights dimmed, and Indigo Rose drew to a close as moving images of the dancers’ faces were projected onto raised screen.
I was especially pleased that Indigo Rose intentionally incorporated humor. Silliness befits a dance work that strives to give some representation of youths and youthfulness. And, further, it is a welcome relief when a concert dance audience laughs. This rarely happens, so it’s remarkable that Kylilan’s work inspired peals of laughter multiple times throughout the dance.
Crystal Pite’s Ten Duets on the Theme of Rescue was the second piece performed, and by far the most stunning. A semicircle of tall, standing lamps warmed an otherwise dark and shadowy stage on which various pairs of dancers moved through intimate, poignant duets. Most of these duets were intricate partnering sequences seamlessly executed by quietly meditative dancers. When not engaged in a duet, the dancers sometimes arranged and rearranged the lamps’ positions.
One moment of this piece was particularly remarkable. In it, a dancer stage right was trying to run offstage, his straight arms pressed against either side of his forward-tilting torso. Though he moved vigorously, he did not travel, each of his steps landing in just about the same place from which it began.
Eventually, he began to move toward stage right, all the while continuing the restrained motion. As he exited, a female dancer entered from stage left. With her left arm extended straight behind her, her left hand fully outstretched, and her fingers splayed, she lunged forward across the stage, her steps heavy and labored. Making slow but deliberate progress, she continued her journey as another male dancer entered behind her, running just as the first running dancer had. These overlapping movement vignettes created a visual effect that was both heart-wrenching and witty, perhaps because I ascribed so many dramatic and romantic meanings to the section.
Pite’s work finished with a simple, bittersweet image—two dancers, hands linked and heads bowed, guiding one another toward the upstage left corner.
Before Saturday at the Irvine Barclay Theater, the last time I had seen Rachel Meyer and Darren Devaney dance together was five years ago, during a rehearsal for my piece at San Francisco Conservatory of Dance. We were all summer students there, and I had applied and been accepted for their Choreographic Residency, which paired student choreographers with other dancers in the program. I’m unsure which of the Summer Intensive gods had smiled upon me to assign such wonderful dancers to my work, but Rachel and Darren were both impeccable technicians and instantaneous learners, with two of the most pleasant personalities I’ve encountered in a studio.
Choreographer Alex Ketley mentored the whole process, but he, unfortunately, never got to see our work. No one did. In a sour twist of fate, Rachel swung herself into our next rehearsal on a pair of crutches with a cast entombing one leg, bringing the whole shebang to a screeching halt. It happens. The Intensive continued. Our lives all continued. I used the material from our beginnings for my Senior Choreography project at my college, and it later moved to the Inside/Out Stage at Jacob’s Pillow, launching my professional choreographic career. I saw Darren again out East a couple times–the dance world is tiny, and we have mutual friends. Rachel recovered, of course, and three or four years later she surfaced on a poster for Ballet British Columbia. So when the company came through, I marked my calendar.
The first two works on Saturday’s program demonstrated the spectrum, from forboding to funny, that contemporary ballet tends traverse to in tone; they also introduced the company as a skillful group in which Rachel and Darren, perhaps thanks to my own bias, still stood out. Jacopo Godani’s A.U.R.A. (Anarchist Unit Related to Art) was dark and industrial: harsh lights in rows overheard shone onto lines of dancers performing counterpointally and in unison. 48nord’s dissonant score left room for rhythms to be layered on top of it–the dancing and the lighting were equally musical, and came together with the sound to form a collaborative score, a complete audio-visual experience. The effect was geometric, with all of the underlying natural beauty that mathematics intrinsically possesses. The costumes, also by Godani, were minimal and uniform for both men and women. Dancers wore royal blue briefs with spiderweb-y strips of fabric running the length of their torsos and arms; stylistically splayed fingers completed the image with the costumes of several broken, fraying wires, or of each arm a vector exploding into fifths.
Playwrights are continually looking for the perfect setting to display the emotions we experience throughout our every day lives. Eric Robertson has set out to do exactly this, and in so doing, found a most unusual, yet incredible location—the gym.
In his program notes for his new comedy, Gym Shorts: The Show, Robertson speaks of the unavoidable presence of the gym in all of our lives. In his words, “Maybe you don’t think about the gym at all. But you’ll still pass 5 or 6 of ‘em on your way to work, or see ads every 5 minutes on TV!” By using this common setting in five short plays, Robertson addresses heavy hitting issues such as love, divorce, infidelity, and sexuality.
With a talented cast of ten men and one woman, Robertson has ingeniously crafted a comedy that is much more than meets the eye. Comedy without substance can fall flat. So, Robertson set out to make plays that are funny, yet poignant, full of witty banter and real emotions. By looking at the macho relationships of men in the setting of the gym, we are invited to laugh at our own lives.
In The Spot, one gym partner confronts the other for betraying his trust by working out with a new gym buddy while he was injured. In The Toughest Thing, Shane makes a most shocking “coming out announcement” to his personal trainer and gym owner. The Solo Flex uncovers a huge secret, as one gym rat’s obsession with workout videos is accidently discovered by his buddy. In Resistance Training, Craig learns his personal trainer will be replaced by a new one, turning his world upside down—he rebels and lashes out as he fights to discover if it is possible to accept another trainer into his life while remaining true to his first. The last play, The Cool Down, deals with seventeen-year-old Brad’s first time working out with an experienced partner. Shame, guilt, excitement, and a slew of emotions are unearthed making me think about my first time at the gym.
Each of Robertson’s vignettes is crafted well enough to be stand alone plays, but he has found a gentle arc that connects them all. Robertson’s unique and comedic mastery combine to make a piece that can be as meaningful or as silly as the beholder would have. These Gym Shorts definitely don’t stink.
I jokingly like to refer to this time of my year as “Doodle Season.” For two years now, I’ve helped out with this awesome project called National Doodle Day where actors/celebrities/artists doodle little drawings on note cards. From May 9 -19, all of the drawings are auctioned off on eBay to raise money for research into a disease called Neurofibromatosis (NF). This year, we were lucky enough to get some dancers in on the action with the awesome Allison DeBona (“Breaking Pointe”) and 2 “Bunheads” cast members, Bailey Buntain and Matisse Love!
I love being a part of this project not only because it raises a lot of money for NF research, but also because of the creative aspect. It’s always fun to see what everyone comes up with for their drawings when they’re really given no parameters. A doodler can draw whatever they’d like using pencil, charcoal, paint, crayons, markers, etc to complete their creation. In addition to the awesome dance-inspired doodles, this year I’m loving the drawings from Sarah Paulson, Jorge Garcia, Piper Anderson-Klotz, Scott Adsit, and so many more.
Also, who doesn’t want some more fun art for their house?
As a fairly new Denver resident and a lover of all arts, I’ve made it a priority to delve into the local arts scene, hoping to unearth the city’s many talents and artistic treasures. This translates to frequent excursions to local galleries, theaters, collaborations, and music venues.
One band I’ve come to adore for both its artistic ingenuity and immense talent is Paper Bird—a Denver gem I collaborated with back in the fall for Wonderbound’s (formerly Ballet Nouveau Colorado) production of Carry On. So, it was a no-brainer when it came to whether or not I would attend their CD release party at the Oriental Theater back in March to celebrate the creation of their newest album, Rooms. I expected a great night of music from Paper Bird, but what I hadn’t bargained for was discovering a new musical obsession—one from West of the Rockies, an eclectic LA band called He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister.
With an edgy, indie sound, rock-star worthy attire, and a catchy name, the charisma of the entire ensemble was palpable. But, as a dancer and rhythm-driven individual, I found myself particularly drawn to the band’s percussionist, Lauren Brown.
I’ve seen many drummers that can rock—the lead singer and ferocious drummer of rock-a-billy band Cowboy Mouth, Fred LeBlanc, comes to mind. But, I’m specific in labeling Brown as a percussionist and not merely a drummer. Standing high atop her instrument, Brown towers over her fellow musicians, pounding out a song’s rhythm with both her drumsticks and her tap shoes.
“I’ve been a dancer for a large part of my life,” says Brown.
Starting with modern dance when she was about four or five, Brown picked up tap, jazz, and ballet a few years later, and it wasn’t long before dance had become an integral part of her life. By high school, she began to focus more on tap dancing and developed a “great love” for the style of movement.
Formally trained in dance, Brown was mostly a self-taught drummer—it’s something she picked up only two years ago, which is surprising given her ease and skill with a pair of drumsticks. With the help of a few friends, she learned the basics, but discovering out how to tap dance and drum simultaneously took a more trial and error approach.
“I mostly had to figure it out for myself,” she explains. “Nobody really knew how to [drum while tap dancing], including myself.”
Though she had to carve out her own technique, Brown was able to hone her special craft because of the many similarities she found between the two disciplines. “They are tremendously connected,” she says, having approached learning the drums the same way she approaches learning new choreography. “I break it down into individual physical sequences, then put it all together. The phrase begins with the tap of the foot and ends with the beat of the drum. It’s all one dance move.” She adds, “Also keeping time is keeping time. You have to pay attention to the rhythm in a very similar way.”
If you ever fancied the notion to run away and join the circus, 7 Fingers would be the cool option to consider. The Montreal based circus troupe, established in 2002, fuses aerial arts, acrobatics, music, street art, video, song, and even sketching to create a playful, urban version of big top entertainment that was humorously impressive. They debuted their hit show Traces at the Los Angeles Music Center April 26th and the evening proved to be a lighthearted display of a new kind of performance…one that had the audience hooting, hollering, and on their feet.
It was a crowd-pleaser, no doubt, and one that affirms the growing prevalence and popularity of circus arts in the theatrical sphere. I suspect this is the direction more and more theater productions are going to head in the coming years. Performers best get themselves to some circus classes if they want to stay ahead of the curve.
The show was a perfect example of how being a “triple threat” – singer, dancer, and actor – isn’t enough anymore. One should also try to have sufficient expertise in other skills such as aerial work, acrobatics, and even skateboarding. The limits of stage craft are being broken down in every direction and Traces is a testimony to this cultural change and the demand for it from the public.
It’s the same demand that’s cropping up in dance studios all over Los Angeles. Aerial work and circus training is appearing more and more on dance academy syllabi and artists’ resumes. On the one hand, it’s thrilling that this fusion of theater, dance, and circus is growing, but on the other, this new demand puts a new level of pressure on performers to learn even more skills, some that may not be completely conducive to the others. Where is the line between fusion and a frank bastardization of different art forms? Right now the circus arts are literally walking a tightrope between their big top roots and the “legitimate theater,” and it’s rather unclear which way they’re going to fall.
It was strange to see tattered wings and an industrial style set on the elegant Dorothy Chandler Pavilion stage. Right away the show seemed out of place in it’s environment. It felt like the kind of show one would normally see in a small indie theater, on the hip side of town. Still the theater was packed – another sign that the circus has perhaps outgrown it’s tent. Yet again, I was impressed with the Music Center’s choice to bring in a more diverse program of shows to their repertoire.
Traces, directed and choreographed by Shana Carroll and Gypsy Snider, is performed by eight men and one woman. As a result, lone woman Valérie Benoît-Charbonneau perhaps did the most in the show, and spent a good deal of time being thrown through the air. The troupe began the performance with each artist introducing themselves. They threw a hanging microphone around the stage, each then giving their name, hometown, and a few choice adjectives like “flirtatious,” “clumsy,” or “romantic.” Like the seven dwarves, these adjectives became a way to identify each performer.
The audience was given the chance to get to know them on a first name basis and see their different personalities emerge throughout the show. As a result, we rooted for them. We wanted them to succeed in their gravity-defying feats, cheering for them even when a mistake was made. We were made to really like them and this culminated in a moment near the end where the troupe played out a farce on the American Idol style of being asked to vote for your favorite performer by texting in numbers.
While we’re still getting snippets of winter here in Colorado, my mind and stomach are already focused on the summer months — I’m daydreaming about long, sunny bike rides, grilling out, strolling along Sloan’s Lake, brunching outdoors, and a variety of other summer treats. So, in the spirit of warm weather and light summertime meals, I’m sharing one of my favorite dishes — it’s easy to fix, refreshing on the palate, and won’t leave you feeling full and lethargic in the summer heat.
What you’ll need…
- 3 to 4 fresh tilapia fillets (I prefer to get wild-caught fillets vs. farm-raised)
- cloves of fresh garlic, minced
- Mexican spice blend (you can also make your own blend with chilli powder, cayenne pepper, salt, paprika, onion powder, and cumin)
- soft corn tortillas (yes, corn over flour — trust me on this)
- shredded cabbage (I like to use green, but purple works too)
- cilantro, minced
- limes, sliced
- goat cheese crumbles
- Roma tomatoes, diced
- guacamole (see recipe below)
How it’s done…
In a small bowl, combine spices, minced garlic, and Tequila. Rinse off the tilapia fillets with water and then pat dry with paper towels. Salt and pepper as you like. Layer a baking dish with foil — this will help with the clean up — place the fillets in the dish and coat with the spice mixture. Set in fridge and let marinate
When ready, set the oven to broil and broil the fish until the fillets are flaky — keep an eye on the fish as this can vary from oven to oven, but generally it takes about 10 to 15 minutes. When the fish is cooked through, lower the heat on the oven and place the corn tortillas on a baking sheet. Bake the tortillas for a few minutes to warm them and make them malleable. Flake the fish with a fork.
Now you’re ready to build your tacos. I usually layer them with the cabbage, tomatoes, fish, goat cheese, cilantro, and then guacamole. Top it all off with a squeeze of lime juice. But there is no set formula.
Spring is the season when the least mystical of New Yorkers find themselves praying for some kind of natural and personal resurrection, rolling the boulder away to emerge from the cave of winter. Last week, there was no need to look further than the Joyce Theater, where the Stephen Petronio Company was fully committed to the concept of miracle-making, in the timely premiere of LIKE LAZARUS DID. Inspired by the text of early American slave songs, Petronio collaborated with the composer Son Lux, who in turn crafted a hip, electronic score drawing on diverse spiritual resources. The result was a dance work in which the lyrics and music, singers and musicians, drew nearly as much focus as the choreography. Creating such a diverse spectacle for the eye and ear was to Petronio’s advantage as the interest of his choreography ebbed and flowed.
Should I look among the living
Should I look among the dead
If I’m searching for you?
So read the prayer card offered up to the audience upon ushering into the house. The opening image of the pre-show figured embodied this question with a nicely juxtaposed visual: a “live set” of dislocated body parts, created by the visual artist Janine Antoni, floated above the orchestra right seats while Petronio himself was lying supine in a suit, perpendicular to the artwork. Living, check. Dead, check. Where else to search? Enter The Young People’s Chorus of New York City singing in a processional led by Son Lux on guitar, with C. J. Camerieri and Rob Moose on brass and strings; delighting all with the sweet voices of youth and vigor as they spirited through the audience.
Once the chorus settled in the balcony, the first dance consisted of three trios working in canon, arms leading the body in and out, forward and back, twisting and unfurling. Dancers clothed simply in burial whites, advanced and receded in a seemingly perpetual cycle of replacement, setting up a concept of renewal. The grace of this opening wave and the subtlety of the dancers’ performances eventually crashed on the sands of biblical struggle as the groups dispersed and one man emerged, costume changed to black.
My father’s son
In a clear tussle with the lyrics, this solo tumbled into a quick men’s section that brought a plague of intense activity, full of sharp kicks and jumps. Interestingly, the dancers remained closed off from one another, swarming the stage while eschewing eye contact, preferring instead to dance simultaneous solos in close proximity.