Friday, November 30, 2012

The Most Romantic Sunset Ever

Last week, Mr. Branflake and I drove down to Monterey to see our family. Instead of going the typical way, we took the scenic route along Highway 1. The timing couldn't have been more perfect. The winding road approached the ocean just as the sun began to set, leaving me with my head hanging out the window with the wind blowing through my hair as I took photo after photo.

This lighthouse totally captured my heart. There's something about lighthouses that move me.

At one point Mr. Branflake pulled the car over and said, "We need to pull over so you can get more pictures."

Swoon. Those are the sweetest words a blogger could ever hear.

Thank you, Mr. Branflake, for understanding my obsessive need to take photos. You truly know the way to my heart.

 So, I'm kind of dying to hear your most romantic sunset.
I'm totally obsessed with sunsets so I want to hear all about it!
ps... I'm over at Much Love, Illy talking about my favorite Christmas album. 
You'll never guess what it is!!!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

How Instagram Has Made Me a Better Artist. No, Really.

It's tempting to look at photos from Instagram and come to the conclusion that we're a bunch of sunset loving, animal obsessed, hashtag overload bathroom narcissists with a food addiction. Although some of that may be true (I have way too many sun photos), there's an artistic aspect of Instagram that completely surprised me. As odd as it sounds, Instagram has helped me become a more creative person.

Did I just type that? Yes. Yes I did. Not only did I just type that, I created a list of how Instagram has changed my creative life.

How Instagram Has Changed Me Artistically
~The challenge of capturing an entire scene in one photo accompanied by a short group of words forces me to edit, crop, and articulate what's in my heart in the most succinct yet expressive way possible. 

~ I have learned to value the importance of color. Changing the filters opens up a world of possibilities. In one click, Bam! The mood is changed, subtle things are now in the foreground, and negative space takes on a whole new meaning.

~It forces me to reconsider what's important in an image and what's not. 

~It's my chronological mood board that just doesn't say what I'm doing, it's telling the world how I'm feeling when I'm doing it. It's a weird way of prioritizing my feelings so I know what in my heart is speaking the loudest.

Am I over thinking Instagram? You betcha. But I'm a dancer and a writer- that's just what I do. And I've become a better artist because of it.

How has Instagram changed your life?
Follow me on Instagram.
Duh. You knew that link was coming.

Monday, November 26, 2012

You Asked, I Answered: Part III

In this post, we're talking about the scariest thing I've ever been through, my favorite costume, and how old I really am. (eeek!)
(view part I and part II)

Melissa Blake asked...
I'd love to know when you fell in love with dancing and the story behind your blog name?
I fell in love with dancing the first class I ever took. It was challenging and different and I loved it. My blog name is a play on my last name. 

Meri asked...
What is the scariest thing you've ever been through? (hope that's not too heavy of a question :) )
During the London Olympic Opening Ceremonies, my mother called me to let me know she had uterine cancer. I was in such shock, I texted Mr. Branflake, who was sitting next to me, and told him the news. Just uttering those words were too much. The next month was horrible. Not knowing how far it spread, how long she would live, and if they could get all the cancer out via surgery was the most terrifying feeling I'd experienced. 
She's okay now. Her chemo treatments are tough but she's tougher.

Blond Duck asked...
1) What made you want to be a dancer?
I was a soccer player growing up and my friend and I heard professional athletes took ballet to help coordination. After my first year of classes, I ditched the soccer and found myself dancing everyday.
2) What's your favorite costume you've ever worn?
Oh! That's a great one! The one from my most recent photo shoot with Susan Yee. It was crazy. The leo was a thong with leg cutouts so high it was the same height as my waist. My legs were bare and frigid and I was so self-conscious. BUT, the photos came out beautiful and I wouldn't have changed it for anything.
3) What made you want to transition from writing to dancing?
Well, I actually didn't start writing until last year. It's a new thing, one that has taken a life of its own.
4) Favorite song to dance to?
Vogue by Madonna. Madge has been with me through it all.

Yes, this is the costume I just described. Don't worry- I was wearing white booty shorts over the thong leo.
Photo by Susan Yee of En Pointe Photography. Click on the link for more teasers from the shoot.

Chic 'n Cheap Living asked...
What did you want to do when you were little? Would you be doing anything else if money, talent were irrelevant to the function?
I sort of answered that in the last post, but to more fully answer the question, when I was little I wanted to be a mother. That's always been the end goal.

Sarah asked...
Can I ask how old you are? I'm really only curious from the perspective of where you are in your dancing career...I've heard most dancers retire in their early thirties. I was just curious how much longer you thought you might dance. 
I'm 29. In the modern dance world, I have years left. In the ballet world, I'm basically done. But I'm not really a ballerina- I would classify myself as a modern dancer with ballet tendencies, so I feel like I have time left. Maybe ten if I really took care of my body.
Also, if you had a little girl (or boy) would you encourage them to dance? Did you ever want to quit dancing when you were younger?
I am going to be my children's first dance teacher. I am going to move and play with them from the start. I did want to quit when I was around 19. I was frustrated because I felt like I wasn't getting anywhere in the dance world. But then I started BYU and that all changed. I've never looked back.

Becky asked...
My daughter just went en pointe. Do you have any advice for anything. I've heard of the teabag to tan blisters trick, but what else do we need to know? She also wants to attend the BYU ballet camp next year. Did you attend those? She LOVES dance, but doesn't want it to take over her life (she's 14). What would you tell your 14-year-old self now? And how do you handle modesty as a dancer? Did you ever not dance because of a costume? Will you ever be in the Seattle area? If so, I'd love for her to meet a role model like you.
Becky! I have the longest answer ever for you and I tried to email you but it got sent back. Can you please contact me at dancingbranflake at gmail dot com? I do want to chat longer! 
About the modesty thing: Yes. I've turned down roles because of costumes. It wasn't easy, but it needed to be done.

Thanks for all the questions! 
We have one more to answer. It's a heavy question, so much so that I thought it deserved its own post. 
Yep. It's that intense.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Go Home, Word Verification. You Are Drunk!

I'm not telling you what to do if you have word verifications set up on your comments box, but you have to admit these are a little ridiculous. So, if you feel so inclined, bloggers everywhere would love it if you turned them off. Again, do whatever you want (I hate it when people tell me what to do) but, for the love, just see what I've been subjected to lately.

I'm not sure how to type in "handicapped sign." For real, I'm not.

 I personally like this one...

Did I miss something the day they taught how not to be a robot?
Like how to type in door handles? I did skip a lot of school my senior year...

So, if I've convinced you...

How to turn off word verification:
Go to 'settings.'
Click on 'posts and comments.'
Click on 'word verification.'
Choose 'no.'

Bam. Done.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Dancing Branflake Thanksgiving Dinner Party: Upholding a Tradition in More Ways Than One

 I'm a purest. I've used the same Thanksgiving recipes for the last eight years. My first Thanksgiving, I cooked for twenty people. It went off without a hitch and I haven't veered since.

Why mess with tradition? You get this meal once a year; it's something to look forward to.

So, yes, this is my third Dancing Branflake Thanksgiving Dinner Party on this blog. Not much has changed. Yet still... last night at eleven o'clock I realized I didn't have a post prepared and I actually got GIDDY at the thought of curating another Thanksgiving Dinner Party for you guys.

Just like in real life, there's something oh so special about sharing traditions with others.

The Decor
Classy, bold, and simple.
Just how Thanksgiving should be.
image from Martha Stewart Living

The Menu
All the favorites!
pie, potatoes, sauce, rolls, turkey, dressing

My Outfit
necklace, perfume, dress, clutch, bracelet, shoes

The Favor
I'd love to send my guests home with a box of these caramel lady apples via Martha Stewart.
A grown-up version of a childhood favorite.

How do you feel about tradition?
Too monotonous? Something to look forward to?
Do you have any traditions you'd like to share in the comments?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I went to Apple Hill and Discovered I'm Obsessed with Trees

My friends and I headed to the mountains on Veteran's Day and wandered around Apple Hill. The last time I showed you around Apple Hill, my camera battery died and I only had my cell phone to capture the beauty (not very well, I might add).

So this time I went all out with my SLR and tried to capture each moment as well as I could. Not an easy feat considering how much eye candy is on Apple Hill (seriously, you guys need to go if you're ever in Northern California). 

In the midst of gazing around at the endless vistas and beautiful vineyards, I realized trees took up the majority of my photos.

They say people photograph what they're scared to lose. Ironically enough, over two hundred trees were chopped down in my neighborhood last week due to an infection spreading across the river. It was traumatizing seeing all the beautiful cherry blossom trees I grew up with being placed in the heartless chopper.

Maybe that's why I couldn't stop taking tree photos at Apple Hill? I don't know. Either way, my love for trees has grown and it was obvious I'm a little more than obsessed with them now.


From one tree lover to another, I leave you with this quote:

"Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree." 
~Martin Luther 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

When the dancer was married to the lawyer...

photo of me by Susan Yee of En Pointe Photography

You hear that right! Mr. Branflake passed the California State Bar!!!!

For those not in the loop (or Facebook friends with me. Which you should be. For real.), he took the three day test back in July and found out his results on Friday, November 19th at 6 pm. The California Bar is the hardest in the Nation with a 50% passage rate. Even the smartest law students sometimes don't pass. Mr. Branflake has called it Black Friday for a reason.

It was a long four months.

We counted down the minutes.

Well, I was in class teaching. I have an arrhythmia and basically my heart was having major flutterings the entire time. A lot was riding on those results and you all know I'm not the most patient person (understatement of the century.) Have you ever heard of someone dying from nerves? That was me.

Cue dramatic music.

But all went well and now the dancer and her lawyer will begin a new chapter in their lives. And you all get to witness it (lucky you!)

Thank you for being on this journey with us!
Susan posted the above photo of me on Instagram and it was too good not to share. 
It's not at all related to Mr. Branflake passing the Bar, but a post without a photo is lame.
And I think it's pretty.
More pictures will be forthcoming!

Friday, November 16, 2012

You Asked, I Answered: Part II

Part II of me answering your questions. This time we're talking about the daily life of a dancer, how pointe is possible, and what I eat. (Oh, and a hardly ever seen wedding photo.)

Julie asked...
Love this idea! My question is: How did you make the leap (pun intended) into being a professional dancer? You've probably talked about this before, but I just started reading...I'm currently about to start working at a law firm, but I majored in dance in college, and miss being immersed in the dance world so much. Just would really love to hear about that journey, as you navigated it.
Dancing Branflake
Gosh, this question was really hard to answer and I have no clue why! I've been on the track to being a professional dancer since I started dancing. For some, it was a hobby; for me, it was a lifestyle choice. I was eleven when I knew I wanted to be in the dance world and I never lost my passion for it.

Kai Mercado asked...
What would you suggest to someone that used to dance, and is interested in getting back into it again?
Dancing Branflake
Find your local dance studio and see if they offer adult ballet classes. Or try your community college or university. Don't be intimidated- everyone else in there is in the same boat as you. Adult classes are fun and designed to help the dancers rekindle their love for dance.

Vintage Danielle asked...
If you weren't a dancer, would other profession would you consider?
Dancing Branflake
A writer, a big wig in a PR firm, or in the military. I have always wanted to serve my country and almost enlisted after high school.

Anonymous asked
Will you show us a wedding picture?
Dancing Branflake
Absolutely! We got married before digital was big, so we have no digital images of our wedding. So I took a picture of a picture. Hope that's okay!

Krysten @ Why Girls Are Weird asked...
What's a typical day like for you?
Dancing Branflake
I wake up early, blog, write my manuscript, shower, eat, and then get ready for classes. I'm in the studio by about 2 pm and come back home around 9 or 10 pm.

Erika @ ~TiptoeButterfly asked...
oh lala - this is a goodie - ur gonan be some good one's!!! - SINCE u asked - HOW in the world do you do pointe? - does it take awhile for ur feet to be able to withstand? - i must say it must be a DREAM come true to be a dancer and actually travel and get paid for what you LOVE to do! -- ps being a prof dancer - have you seen a lot of the eating disorders? - i watched a documentary on it once and it was astonishing (is it really that intense?)
Dancing Branflake
Pointe is crazy, it really is. But you do specific exercises from the beginning to help you prepare for being on your toes. The end of the shoe is hard and you can wear a little padding inside. If you have a strong core, it's not too hard, I promise!
Eating disorders are a problem. Even though not all dancers have a full blown eating disorder, how they view food tends to be a little messed up. I try to teach my students to have a more positive outlook on their bodies so they will be smarter in what they do to it.

Lauren asked...
Do you feel a lot of pressure to eat healthily and workout regularly? I've always wondered if it takes a certain kind of person to be in that sort of work or if you become a certain kind of person when you have that sort of job. Thanks!
Dancing Branflake
Hmm... to be honest, I feel a lot of pressure to be skinny. So if I'm feeling a bit puffy, I'll cut back on my food intake and increase the exercise.
I try to eat vegetables and wholesome foods, but often times I'll be so exhausted by the end of the day that dinner consists of a granola bar and bottle of water.  Speaking of, I drink a ton of water: no alcohol, no soda, no coffee, no fruit juices, and no sports drinks. I'm trying everyday to be healthier, but old habits and a fear of gaining weight dictate what I eat (and don't eat).

That said, I have been known to splurge. A lot. I love food, I just hate the aftermath, haha!

Up Next:
Part III gets way personal. Whoa.
I'm deleting my Dancing Branflake Facebook page. It just wasn't as personal as I hoped it would be. Feel free to add me as a friend on my personal Facebook page- it's where all my blogger friends are at, anyway. Oh yes... we talk blog shop, food, and things that make us laugh. I love it and I know you will, too.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Reason to Party

I'll be covering a charity event called A Reason to Party. It's a big fat party in Sacramento that supports the local arts. So basically, I'm dressing up to take pictures, watch a dance performance, and mingle with Sacramento artists. Good grief, life is good.

I have no clue what I'll be wearing, but in my mind my outfit will be something like this: a little whimsical, artsy, colorful, and textured- just like the life of an artist.
necklace, headband, dress, clutch, shoes

I didn't go last year and sorely regretted it- the who's who of Sacramento was there and I missed out. Don't be lame like I was- get your tickets and have a fun night on the town!

If you're interested in attending, here are the details. Click here for tickets and more info. Hope to see you there!

Help a sister out!
What would you wear to an arts charity event?
PS... are you following me on Instagram? You know I'll be Instragramming the heck out of it!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

When the Moon Fell

That is the title of the current manuscript I'm writing. I know it's premature to have a title before the story's done, but its helped focus my words as I pound through the plot and stay true to the essence of what it all means.

When the Moon Fell is also the title of the piece I just choreographed for CSUS' next performance. I am a guest choreographer and opening night is Wednesday. I couldn't be more excited for my dancers who are some of the most talented dancers I've ever choreographed on. It's a solo and the two dancers will be switching off nights.

Alyssa and Gem are the moon falling from the sky, barely hanging on to the night that keeps them there.

image via Free People Blog

I was interviewed by the newspaper to talk about my piece. Standing in front of the man's digital recorder, I basically rambled on about nothing, completely embarrassing myself in print. (This is why I'm a writer, people!)

Luckily, I was given a second chance when the choreographers were asked to write a quick explanation of their pieces to be displayed in the stage lobby .  Here's what I came up with.

The moon.
Smooth. Bright. Glossy.
Hanging like a pearl in the sky.
Few know her cracks; less have touched them.
They are there, although she hides them well.
They are obscured by her light, her undeniable presence.
Quiet in the morning, undeniable at night, she and her scars are always there.

How do you hide your scars?
If you're interested in seeing the show, let me know.
Performances run from Wednesday night to Sunday matinee in Solano 1010 at CSUS.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Recap (and a teaser)

Photo of me taken by Susan with her iPhone and posted on her Instagram profile

I just want to recap the last few weeks:

1. Yesterday my friend, Susan from En Pointe Photography, came into town and we had a spectacular photo shoot in an abandoned building (see above).

2. I danced in a major commercial that will air pretty soon.

3. I got to meet Sarah Jio at her book signing.

4. One of my former students made his Broadway debut with a starring role in A Christmas Story (You HAVE to go see it if you're in NYC. My former student, Zac, is Randy.)

5. Another former student from the conservatory I teach at made her debut this week as a Rockette.

6. I did a photoshoot with my talented friend, Tom Huynh.

7. I was featured on Glamour.

8. I found a $700 paycheck in my dance bag from months ago.

9. I found another $20 check in my red winter coat (what is with me?!)

10. I voted. I'm not telling who I voted for, but let's just say Mr. Branflake and I were completely split from Presidents to propositions.

I just wanted to say all this because I know how easy it is to gloss over the good things in life and focus on the negative. With Mr. Branflake still looking for a job (and students loans due soon, eeek!) and me and my injury, it's so easy to have pity parties at the drop of a hat. But I'll have none of that. My life is good. I am blessed. I have no right to ask for more.

Have a wonderful weekend, my friends.
Eat well, laugh lots, and Instagram the heck out of it.

The Lovely Fog

 Wednesday morning I woke early. I peeked through the blinds and smiled.


Yet another facet of nature I cannot get enough of.

Now, I'm aware of the horribleness of driving in fog. I grew up by a river in Northern California, after all. Yet when it rolls along the water and rests on the trees, I can't help but think of Mr. Rochester and the romantic eeriness of English countrysides. And I get giddy. Real giddy.

I used both my SLR and camera phone to try to capture the foggy beauty. Hiking up and down rocks and slippery grass and wet sand... what an adventure we had at 7 am!

Can you make out that fishing boat in the distance?
It was quite a sight to behold in person.

Along the levee.

Do you love fog as much as I?
By the way, my sweater was buy one get one free at H&M.
Jeans are Skinny Kicks by American Eagle.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

"Don't Delete Honest Emotion"

Do you recognize this person?!

It's me!!!

Yesterday I got a dm tweet from blogger and famous novelist, Sarah Jio, asking if she could feature yesterday's post about my smile on Glamour's health and fitness blog, Vitamin G. After squealing like a ten year old at a Justin Bieber concert, I politely replied, "Of course." (Okay, I included a few more exclamation marks than that. It's me, after all).

If you know these parts, you know Sarah Jio. If you don't, then go click on her name in that last sentence and see what everybody's talking about.

Back to my face and smile being plastered all over the world wide web...

Bloggers and revealing too much...
I'll be honest, I almost didn't publish that post about my smile. I re-read the draft and thought, "People are going to think I'm dumb. Or over-thinking it. Or just rambling senselessly." You know, I've been blogging for a while and still every post leaves the question: Too much?

Am I revealing too much? Do people care? Do I even care? Is this just PMS? Will people click on the link and roll their eyes at the self-inherent vanity that is in blogging?

Then I thought about a comment I received on Instagram. I posted a photo of me listening to Tori Amos' Playboy Mommy and made a remark how I was just being emo and would probably delete the photo in the morning (think drunken Instagrammer without the alcohol). 

Jenna from Design Sparrow left this poignant comment under my photo: "Don't delete honest emotion."

That short phrase was a lightning bolt to my soul and changed how I viewed the purpose of expression. 

Don't delete honest emotion.
The phrase begs a few questions: What is honest emotion and how often have I deleted my own? How often do bloggers feel they have to censor themselves for whatever reason? Granted, we all know some bloggers who are TMI (in a good and not so good way), but there's a difference between babbling people's dirty laundry and expressing what sometimes feels inexpressable. 

Sharing what you're feeling is more than cathartic, it's part of living a creative life. Denying yourself the opportunity to express is not only damaging to your soul, but also stops you from being you. And if you're not you, then you're just a second rate version of someone else and, in my experience, that's not worth it.

So, with love, I leave you with Jenna's words:

Don't delete honest emotion.

Have you ever felt a need to "delete honest emotion"? 
How do you overcome that? Or have you not?
PS... you can go to the article and leave a comment, 'like' it, or Tweet it.
You know, if you want to show a girl some love.

Monday, November 5, 2012

A few notes about my smile.

My dentist wants me to get braces. Apparently I have 'a substantial overbite' and need help. My response? Oh, heck no! I am not humble enough to do that. I have major props to people who are, but I can't. Just can't.

He's not the first dentist to tell me this. A year ago another one said I had 'quite an overbite' but it was okay because boys think it's cute.


My left front tooth sticks out. When I wear lipstick, it usually ends up on it. I never noticed how crooked it was until a guy named James was talking to me, looked at me funny, and said, "You're tooth sticks out."

Oh. Thanks.

That tooth that sticks out? It's dead. The root is completely dead. The dentist thinks it's because I hit it when I was younger. He told me it must have been a pretty hard blow to the mouth to cause it to die. I have no recollection of this.

I'm thinking I was abused and suppressed the memories. Just kidding. I would have remembered punching someone back.

The tooth not only sticks out, but the dead root makes it look discolored and I cringe whenever I see it in the mirror.

But I smile. All the time. I can't help it. I was designed to.

That's the lesson I learned about my smile: it may not be perfect, but life isn't either, yet I want to smile anyway.

Well, enough about me...
Tell me about your smile!
(And thank you for all your kind words from yesterday's post. Your support keeps this blog going!)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Black and White and Dance All Over: My Latest Photo Shoot

Last week I got a text from Tom, a dear friend and photographer.

Tom: "Hey. I have a new studio. When are you free?"

Me: "Anytime!"

A few days later, we headed to Downtown Sacramento and had a blast in his new studio. Here are a few shots.

PS... I love having talented friends who like to play..

Thanks, Tom!
Because Tom appreciates dance so much,  but he's willing to give dancers a discount. 
Pretty awesome guy, right?
(I don't know his regular rate as I've never paid him, but contact him for more details.)

Like Tom's Facebook Page 
(It's a new page, his old one got shut down by haters)