little moments of happiness ♥

Moments in life that uplift and bring joy…

Old town charm in Santa Barbara

Strolling through Santa Barbara

Strolling through Santa Barbara

Take a stroll with the gang! We had a day off in Santa Barbara where the seaside and pretty architecture overshadows the slight chill of the weather. This is the cutest place. The building style here reminds me of the streets of Florence except instead of observing statues by Michelangelo and eating gelato I am sipping Starbucks and buying discounted makeup from M.A.C.

Staying right on the water front, my day off was spent exploring the shops with fellow dancers and treating myself to a bit of beauty salon time. In the evening we were all treated to the most delicious dinner at a divine Italian restaurant. Hosted by the lovely and generous Lew and Genevieve Geyser who indulged us in a most wonderful evening. I can honestly say that it was the tastiest and most mouth-watering steak I have tasted in my entire life.

Today was spent rehearsing pieces for our mixed bill coming up in Minneapolis and New York. After over a week of travelling and performing ‘Giselle’ it was very beneficial to have a little refresher on the pieces we will be performing soon.

Speaking of Minneapolis and New York, I have been privy to recent pictures of those areas and the snow is fresh fallen and I can feel the winter chill through the images. Brrrrrr.

Looking forward to our one and only performance of ‘Giselle’ here in Santa Barbara tomorrow night. It’s always exciting stepping onto a new stage and finding your way round a new theatre. It may sound strange but every theatre seems to have it’s own unique personality matching its history. ‘If these walls could talk.’ 😉 Time to get a good nights sleep before tomorrow’s performance. Goodnight!

Tonia 🙂

Dancing in the Sunshine!

Tonia Looker :)

Tonia Looker- thanks to Alayna Ng for taking this photo 🙂

Just over a week. That is all that remains of our Tower Tutus on Tour season. Travelling through the mountainous South Island feels like being permanently in a picture perfect postcard. Everything is just so glorious. Hot sunshine and cool seawater have turned everyone into beach loving, relaxed and happy travellers. This cheerfulness has unquestionably carried through to the stage. What a seriously cool job this is! Despite constantly changing performing environments, shows have consistently gone smoothly, very occasional slips and falls aside.

As I edit my most recent photos one thought keeps jumping to the foreground. That is to say, they really speak for themselves. NZ is a beauty so unique and wonderful in itself that there is not much to say than to simply be thankful for this opportunity to see it!

We have been lucky enough to have a very obliging bus driver who goes by the nickname of Fish. Happily detouring at our request to see more of the South Island in between venues. A big thanks to Fish! Without whom we would miss out on animal farms, “the best Fish and Chips ever in Greymouth”, seaside swimming stops and walking trails. What a legend!

Next post- behind the scenes preparation for the show! Makeup, costume and warmups!!

Tonia 🙂 – for more photo fun I am a frequent instragrammer- toniaroselooker

Alpha Mail!

A mixture of incense, fresh hot chips, coffee and dewy grass accents the smell of the fresh, morning air. Dogs can be spotted, like a ‘Where’s Wally’, one after the other, camouflaged in plain sight around caravans and stalls. Everyone’s smiling, calm and ready to take on the day. Can you guess from the descriptions where we might be?

If you guessed, at a Gypsy Fair in Whakatane then you would be correct. What better way to kick off our bus trip to Taupo than in the company of travelling gypsies?

Usually dancers need rest and recovery time between shows. Resting, to us means doing as many outdoor activities as possible in a day off before being inside the theatre again. Thus the gypsy fair enticed us to its field of fun and games for the morning. We found the most adorable puppy I have laid eyes on and it was so difficult not to take him as a stowaway on the bus as we moved from the fair to a strawberry farm a little way down the road.

So now a gypsy fair and a visit to Julians Berry Farm & Café had been ticked off our checklist. Happy tummies full of fresh berry smoothies we then made the final leg of the trip to Taupo stopping at Huka Falls along the way.

Destination reached, maybe it’s time to put our feet up and rest a little? Well yes, but not without involving the alpha company and crew in a barbeque followed by creating our own firework display after sunset on the waterfront.

As we near the middle of our tour, a full day off in Taupo has been greatly welcomed. The sun has shined endlessly throughout the day and our thirst for physio has been quenched with the arrival of Inge, our personal life saver.

Thank you to all those responses to The Secret Life of Pointe Shoes blog concept! I will be posting more on that soon.

Tonia 🙂

A day in tour life

THE ROLLING, GREEN HILLS. Winding through farm land and passing along the ocean shore in our Tutus on Tour bus that has rapidly become our home away from home! A passing nod from farm animals we go by along our route from venue to venue. This characteristic of Tutus on Tour turns into a routine.

Waking at 9:30 am on a standard morning on tour my feet find the floor and I totter over to the kettle. Coffee brewing, I have a moment to dress for the day and repack my suitcase, making sure nothing is left behind. Savouring the first sips of strong, hot coffee I have just enough time to enjoy a little breakfast before hopping on the bus at 10:00 am.

Decisions are made. Where would we like to stop for lunch before arriving at the new venue? For how long would we like to stop, etc. It is a perfect picture of calm before we prepare for the evenings show. Sleeping dancers, heads bobbing with the motion of the bus, Ipod headphones creating the soundtrack of their trip. Others read or sew new pointe shoes readying themselves for the next show.

Stopping at around 1:30 pm for lunch we find what always turns out to be, a cute little country café, providing hungry dancers with good food, great service and a chance for us to explore the area we have arrived in.

Back on the bus at 2:30 pm we head to our new venue for the evening. With ballet class on stage at 4:00 pm, we commence our individual warm-ups for the days dancing.

As class ends, we have just a little time to rehearse and place each piece for the evenings show. We now reach my favourite routine of the day! The final touches before a performance. Make-up, hair and costume time!

After the show we quickly pack up our belongings and hop back on the bus on a post show buzz, leaving our wonderful technical crew packing out the theatre until late into the evening. Once back at the hotel/motel it’s time to unwind from the evening performance. A cup of peppermint tea and a light supper, a shower and a bit of a post show stretch to keep my muscles healthy. Goodnight, sleep tight and in the morning, the same happens over again. It’s a wonderful, adventure filled life meeting wonderful people in every town we stop by. Below are just a few photos of those wonderful people. Next stop Tauranga!

Tonia 🙂

Amongst the Crowd

Sometimes an idea can come to you in the most unlikely moments.

Last night we performed in Thames. With different casts performing I got the rare opportunity to watch Peter and the Wolf from the audience. Sitting on the shiny, wooden floor ahead of the front row amidst a sea of animated, excited children, I must say, their excitement was infectious. The dancers had their own little mosh pit of theatre goers, keen to absorb our every move and it felt so humbling to be able to create such an atmosphere.

Image by Tonia Looker

Back to how my idea came about and what it is. I was able to speak with a few of the aspiring, young ballerinas from the audience after the show. There is one topic I noted that conversation centered around. Pointe shoes. From mothers with dancing daughters, young dancers in training and interested viewers, pointe shoes were the talk of the town. How many shoes do we go through a week? What do we do to our shoes to make our arches bend? How can I strengthen my feet? What do you use to sew ribbons? All of these questions and more, I believe, deserve an answer. So now, my idea. The Secret Life of Pointe Shoes. Not a take on our fabulous TV3 program but instead, a series of pictures and descriptions detailing what different dancers do to their shoes. Let me know if this is an idea worth posting about!

For daily pictures check out my instagram- toniaroselooker

Thanks so much for reading!!

Tonia 🙂

Getting to the POINTE! On the road!!

Our journey began, trundling along in a bus. Destination- Carterton. Tutus on Tour tradition holding fast, we stopped by the Carterton town sign for a company photo, geared up to create new memories.

Carterton Events Centre! A newly spruced up little theatre and it’s looking absolutely lovely. Dancer bodies stretched out in the hot, sunlit courtyard near the stage, tour was off to a shining start.

With only 2 and half hours to complete class and fit in some spacing rehearsals for the evening show plus other rehearsals of different casts for upcoming shows, it was straight to business. With eight little mirrors to share between 16 dancers and a costume rack acting as a privacy screen between the males and females, Paul Simon’s- Grace Land hummed through my speakers as we all huddled around free mirror space to get ready.

What I enjoyed about this venue was the intimacy of the audience to the stage. You could hear every gasp, whisper and giggle. We were not only performing to the audience, but with them. A close-knit community sharing in the whole experience. Maybe they could hear our huffing and puffing from the stage too.

Now, we head on through Auckland, different casts making their debut! I must admit, I am a little nervous about my upcoming Flower Festival debut. It’s a piece that I have always longed to learn and now I am so excited to have the opportunity to perform it. I know many other dancers are also experiencing similar nervous/excited feelings about their upcoming debuts in other roles. Those famous Fouette turns from Don Quixote coda are spinning round our rehearsals, one of the most challenging movements to master.

As each show draws to a close I can’t wait to get out on stage again! Looking forward to taking on the challenges and delights of this tour.

 Tonia 🙂

Dancing through 2012

If I had to sum up the year so far in a word I would say- adventure. This year has been an adventure into the unknown in so many ways. Dance, as always, is a huge part of my life and I have had the opportunity to be involved in some really exciting works. Here are just a few snap shots of the year of dance so far!

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Leaps and Sounds performance