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Pilobolus Dance Company: charming audiences with their je ne sais quoi

You know that feeling you get when you dream you're flying? Well, that’s the feeling created by watching Pilobolus; watching them is like being in a dream world. I imagine the Paul Klee painting "Fish Magic" scene because only in this dream world would underwater skating and roly-poly people co-exist. Pilobolus Dance Company recently performed to a sold out show in Dallas at the AT&T Performing Arts Center's Winspear Opera House. They are known to morph into words, animals, flowers, cars…

Pilobolus is based in Washington Depot, Connecticut and was formed by six Dartmouth College students in 1971. Most of the original dancers are now the artistic directors and the company still remains small like they began with four men and two women. This modern dance troupe turned forty this year. They have appeared on the Tonight Show, Sesame Street, and CBS’s 60 Minutes and performed all over the world receiving numerous awards.
I love the fact that Pilobolus has worked with one of my favorite children’s writer and illustrator, Maurice Sendak. Also impressive and fitting for Pilobolus is their work with the writer for SpongeBob Square Pants, Steven Banks. The dance company has a flair for slapstick so it’s suitable that they worked with Banks who graduated from the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Clown College.

Their dance is a mix of athleticism and illusionism. They create art by defying gravity with gymnastics and weight sharing. They are strong…incredibly strong. I’ve always associated Pilobolus with Cirque de Soleil for the way they make you say wow, how did they do that? Everything they do is so filled with magic and wonderment that you can’t help but gasp and say ahh!
Watching them dance is like watching a curious child make a new discovery. I felt like I was in another world…a mysterious underwater or outer-space backdrop where everything is in slow motion. 
Their dancing is poetic; sometimes poetry can be hard to understand, and as with all art, everyone will take and see something in their own way. What I read into most of the dances were the stories were about LOVE…counting on someone you trust to be there for you, to pick you up, hold you, hug you, support you…
My favorite performance of the night was SpongeBob’s writer Banks Transformation, in which a woman is playfully transformed into a half-human/half-dog creature by a giant hand that molds her. Transformation has a puppet-like feel and is whimsically delightful to watch.
Gnomen took me to Africa with it's tribal like feel. It explored balance with four men showing amazing control. Pilobolus breaks the seriousness when you don’t expect it. The audience was tickled when some of the men performing Gnomen pretend to bang the head of their partner to emphasize the gong sound in the musical score by Paul Sullivan.  In the end they raise one man up to the heavens and the audience was led to willingly believe that he would really start floating up.
Duet was a gentle and slow spiral dance that left you feeling calm.  The medieval Norwegian songs also induced a bit of a trance while watching the dancers circle around.
Like many dance companies, Pilobolus gives back to their community and works with children and adults. They like to watch them use their untrained natural abilities to make organic shapes on their own. The company members are teaching creative thinking and how to be both a leader and a follower.
Artistic director of Pilobolus, Robby Barnett says this about making connections outside of the dance floor, “The more I do outside of dance, the more I have to bring to my interest in dance. It’s sort of like cross-training I guess.”

Très Ashley Gift Guide 2011


The holidays are here and it's time to go shopping. I've got some ideas for everyone on your list that I think you'll like. To me a personalized gift is the most thoughtful... something with a hand-embroidered initial or a photo... When in doubt, make it personal. Consider handmade gifts from or and always try to give something you know they would like. For the person who has everything, give the gift of an to a show, a destination or to try something they've always dreamed of. For men, can satisfy their dream to drive a race car or fly an airplane. There's personally in personal shopping. I’m sure you feel the same way I do…I absolutely love finding the perfect gift!     

For the Kids

Pirate checker board to keep things interesting in the game room. $225.00
Picture puzzle for those family get togethers, a puzzle gets everyone involved. $13.99

Bearded Beanie for baby to keep him warm like a lumberjack. $39.00   
Dimdi art is work done by an Italian artist who creates lovely watercolors of your favorite animals and pets. $25.00 
Lego Star Wars Visual Dictionary  It even comes with a lego guy, need I say more? $13.40

Hot Wheel Wall Tracks Starter Set My son will love creating tons of stunts on this wall tracks set and I love that we don't have to lose floor space because the tracks can be hung on the wall or on a door using 3M command strips that won't leave a mark. Brilliant! $37.97

Princess Glitter Gown What little girl doesn't love to play dress up? Neiman Marcus has many beautiful princess gowns to choose from. I like the princess pointed hat that goes with this Rapunzel looking gown. $68.00
For the Kitchen
Kitchen Magic Twisty Whisk in mint from Anthropologie will make your recipient's kitchen cheerful $8.00
All-Clad Slow Cooker with Ceramic Insert from William Sonoma is sure to make everyone's tummy happy and kitchen inviting $179.95

Dark Chocolate Balsamic is perfect drizzling on vanilla ice cream or cheese plates.  $14.95
Dean and Deluca wine club each month your gift recipient will receive two amazing wines
For Mom and Dad
Helen Ficalora jewelry is as fun to say as it is to wear. A perfect way to celebrate life's milestones with style.
Stripe and Field stationary will make mailboxes more colorful. $48.00 for a box set
Cell Phone Lenses that work with any camera phone. If you like the instagram app, you'll love these three small yet powerful lenses: the Fisheye, Telephoto, and Macro/Wide Angle Cell Phone Lenses. $49.00 for all three
Shearling-lined boots by L.L. Bean will keep your man's feet toasty warm this season. $154.00
The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier  is a book that looks at Gaultier’s fashion shows and examines his visionary reflection of society’s evolution over the past thirty-five years.
For Razzle Dazzle
Pinhole Press Wine Labels will help you bring in the new year with unique and personal style $8.99
The Homesick Texan cookbook is the book every cook wants this season. You don't have to be from Texas to appreciate the comfort of Texan home cooking. Think cheese enchiladas, coffee-chipotle oven brisket, chicken-fried steak, coconut tres leches cake...  $17.49
Kate Spade "Spike the Punch" sweater is sure to make you feel like the life of the party. $195.00
Partridge In A Pear Tree Ornament Michael Aram's six inch tall plated ornament is a treasure of a decoration $49.00  

For more ideas see last year's gift guide here and happy shopping!   

Scent of a Woman: Diane

Perfume has power; an alluring scent makes a lasting impression. A woman’s fragrance is like a DVF dress, it’s about the way you feel when you put it on…sexy, confident, and classic; and like a DVF dress, perfume should keep speaking even if no one is talking.
Women have been seducing men for hundreds of years with their scent. It has been said that Cleopatra conquered the Romans with her perfume. This is the power of fragrance. Christian Dior said, “Long after one has forgotten what a woman wore, the memory of her perfume lingers.” I’m sure King Solomon couldn’t remember what Cleopatra was wearing because he was hypnotized by her scent.
Diane von Furstenberg was in Dallas last Tuesday to launch her new fragrance Diane at Sephora in North Park. Watching Diane on Good Morning Texas I was tickled to hear her say, “Dallas has the most beautiful women in the world...Dallas is special.” 

Diane von Furstenberg’s new fragrance Diane has musky notes of patchouli, frangipani and violet flowers. It is seductive, mysterious and impossible to forget. Sephora describes it beautifully, “Built up like one of her dresses: it wraps up a woman’s body and stays with her all day long.” Her slogan for the fragrance is “Be the woman you want to be.”  
The beautiful ice sculpture bottle was inspired by the golden links of her sutra bracelets she wears. Carved into her bracelets are Diane’s mantras "love, laughter, freedom, harmony, truth, confidence and life.” I think you can sense the powerful aroma of her fragrance in her mantras.
Diane von Furstenberg, the Belgian-American designer was born the same year as my dad. Diane has said, “Beauty is perfect in its imperfections, so you just have to go with the imperfections.” I love the fact that the designer, who is sixty-four, has never had any plastic surgery and doesn’t plan to.
Diane has had a fascinating life! She married a prince in 1969. Her company was founded in 1972. She is most well known for her iconic wrap dress and her signature prints. All this time, Diane has been hobnobbing with the glamorous glitterati and has been photographed more than any designer.
Mario Testino who has photographed Diane told her to always smile big so she looks joyful in every shot and she truly does; she has a definite sense of self and exudes confidence.
Her fashion empire includes: clothing, shoes, bags, jewelry, luggage, tableware, bedding, and now fragrance. Diane is actually her second fragrance following Tatiana.
The DVF legacy is similar to Coco Chanel’s. They each invented their own feminine and modern style that has remained relevant for decades.
She likes the fact that her customers are so young; it makes her feel current. Her customers range in age from eighteen to eighty-eight.
I can’t help but think of Diane as I read Elaine Sciolino’s La Seduction. Even though she isn’t French, she has that obvious joie de vivre and a soft feminine power that only a woman can command. I believe Diane has the art of seduction down pretty well, in fact I can smell it!
If I were a celebrity, creating a fragrance would be first on my list of things I would do. There are very few designer fragrances I love. Sarah Jessica Parker’s Lovely and Stella McCartney’s Stella are two of my favorites. Fragrance is so personal; it envelopes you as a person but also takes on the environment you’re in. As Diane says, “fragrance is about addiction and memory.” Diane has that je ne sais quoi that you don’t forget.
I wore Diane to a local fashion show and dinner out with my girlfriends this past Friday. After leaving a crowded night spot, I could still smell Diane in my hair (not the smoke). I like a fragrance that can stay with you through the variable elements of life. I imagine Diane thought about this from her Studio 54 nights.
When sampling scents at a counter at Neiman Marcus recently, the salesclerk had me smell a few different perfumes. When I told her which scent I preferred, she replied, “Aww…I can tell you are a good girl!” There is a definite yin and yang in fragrances, contrasting flowers just like the many personalities we wear. I may be a good girl, but I might like for some people to catch a whiff of something mysterious that leads them to ponder whether I’m always good! With fragrance, I think we can all be like Chaka Khan’s “I’m Every Woman” because it simply depends on how we want to smell.