“To Travel is to Live”

Every time I land in Europe I feel this sense of “all bets are off” and “the rules don’t apply” – there is something so alluring and almost dangerous to me. Perhaps it is because it is the furthest thing from my “normal” in terms of culture and all the accents are so exotic (they always say we want what we can’t have right?), or maybe it is because I secretly feel like I’m on my own ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ adventure. The picturesque landscape and historical buildings are the perfect setting to do some soul searching.

A good friend of mine and Greek Ballet goddess Miss Georgia described Mallorca to me as a cross between Miami and the Greek Islands and she was so accurate in this description, however I’d like to also throw Bali into the mix. I’m sad to say but I knew my mini break to Spain in between the wedding festivities in the UK would most certainly be the last time I would be feeling those summer vibes.

The tone for my day was set with a gorgeous breakfast on my hotel terrace overlooking the water and colorful flowers covering every inch of the walls. The exquisite color of the water is one of the many treasures of the Mediterranean – it almost doesn’t look real. Fresh fruit, pastries and my own personalized omelette was on the menu. According to my mood I flip flopped between the beach and the pool which is my favorite holiday combo. I sipped on many a pinà colada, napped, swam and read two fantastic books that I highly recommend – “Marriage Vacation” which is featured on the tv show ‘Younger’ and “Rich China Girl” which is the sequel to “Crazy Rich Asians” – all I can say is it better be a movie as well!

Judging by the languages I was hearing, I can safely say that I was the only Aussie in Mallorca. Guests around the pool had deep tans I could not compete with and many were smoking – this must be the only country I don’t get really annoyed at this and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it almost looks sexy. These people know how to REALLY relax and I tried to feed off the energy around me and really unwind after a crazy summer.

A romantic rainy day was the fate of my second day. Luckily it wasn’t torrential and I still managed to lay out under an umbrella for several hours. I decided to go really authentic and take a long lunch which included Spanish Tapas and moèt with strawberries. A luxurious hot stone massage was to follow – a bit of rain certainly didn’t stop Shannon Atkins from indulging in true vacation style!

My evenings involved walking along the beach front in both directions, making a conscious effort to soak up the feeling of the sand beneath my feet. I truly believe sand and salt water are so healing! The weather was perfection with just a slight, balmy breeze in the air. I simply went with my gut instinct when it came to dinner and chose the place that drew me in – I was never disappointed. Between a Greek salad, homemade lasagne and a baguette I was reminded that the freshest, most delicious food comes from Europe.

On my final day I took off on my own day trip to the other side of the island to visit Playa de Muro. I knew this would be my final beach day for quite some time and I couldn’t have scripted it better if it was a movie.

Seeing the ease at which one can jet off to Europe made me think I should have considered London instead of Nyc for my big move. Living in England would have been the perfect way to also explore Europe…just saying that makes me feel like I’m cheating on New York.

This trip was also a good reminder to me to continue to live life to the fullest – take the trip, eat the cake, buy the bag or something like that they say? It really helps to put things in perspective and remind us that there is so much else going outside of our own little bubbles of life. None of us know how long we are here for and it is important to maximize each day doing things that light your heart and soul on fire!

Now it’s back to the UK to greet the Aussie Royalty for the fairytale wedding of the year in Wales!

“At this point…I’d welcome the snow”

It’s hard to believe that summer is coming to an end- it feels like it was only just beginning and I remember my first rosé on top of the Bryant Park Grill so clearly. The reality really set in when I was walking to work today with my pumpkin spice latte in hand, and I saw a small pile of orange and brown leaves beneath a tree outside the studio. Despite the fact that the temperatures are still through the roof and I spent Labor Day by the pool at the Empire Hotel rooftop, the overall vibe in the city is that the fall is coming…

I had an amazing summer that involved a great mix of work, play and of course travel. Starting in my own backyard I managed to see several Broadway shows including “Pretty Woman” and “Head over Heels” most recently. I also spent many a day enjoying the rooftop pools that Nyc has to offer with my new favorite being “The Williamsburg Hotel” which has spectacular views of the city skyline and a gorgeous cabana area. Indulging in solo Central Park dates where I can read a good book and relax under a tree watching the people go by is also a favorite activity of mine during the months where it is warm enough to be outside. Visiting Nyc during the summer when I lived in Australia was always one of my favorite vacations so reliving my “tourist” days is always fun.

I am so thankful that Dance has taken me all over the USA and this summer was no exception. Each and every summer since I have lived in the states I have felt like I have been “on tour” and this one was no exception- if it is possible I seem to cram more and more in! Starting at one of my all time favorites in Iowa to teach at a summer intensive and set choreography (this feels like a lifetime ago) I experienced my first ever tornado warning! I then headed to the mountains of Tennessee to Judge and teach master classes for Platinum National Dance Competition. It was then onto the bright lights of Vegas where I was honored to choreograph the “Dance Force” opening number for the Starpower Battle of the Stars. It was so inspiring to work with the amazing talent from the West Coast and given that my schedule mostly involved night rehearsals, I was lucky enough to spend some much needed time relaxing by the Planet Hollywood hotel pool or exploring the amazing hotels along the strip. The Bellagio had a beautiful spring flower display.

It was then onto Australia with two of my best friends from the US – this was a very special trip given I had never really taken anyone home with me. I was able to finally let my worlds collide! This trip was simply magical. We taught and choreographed at studios all over the country including some of the schools that my alumni and past faculty now own. I was so inspired by witnessing my friends teach that I know I am now a better educator. Kristen you were right – collaboration is key!! From the gorgeous harbour of Sydney with it’s stunning bridge and opera house, to the glorious beaches of the Sunshine and Gold Coast, I believe that my friends got a real feel for Aussie life. They saw Kangaroos and koalas at Taronga Park Zoo, tried Vegemite (surprise surprise they don’t like it) and naturally an Aussie BBQ was squeezed into the schedule. My friends and family went above and beyond to ensure that this trip was special. I am one lucky girl!

We also went to Bali and ticked off a major Bucket List item for me by staying at the W Hotel in Seminyak! The three of us had been going non stop all year and it was nice to enjoy some “real” vacation time together!

Things didn’t slow down at all after that trip with the summer intensives still rolling in – Broadway Dance Center, Academy of Dance and drama in Connecticut, AIM in Long Island, an in-house Swag & Technique workshop at Epic Dance Center with my boo Jona Biddle. I went to Arkansas to teach at Rock City which is without a doubt a highlight of my year with my Little Rock Dance family, and then went to Massachusetts for the first time to attend the “Dance United” festival. What a gorgeous place Boston is and we were lucky enough to snag tickets to the preview of “Moulin Rouge” – look out Broadway this is one sexy show!

If your not already working up a sweat reading this I have commenced choreography season here in New York – the US learn all of their routines for the upcoming competition season in the fall when classes commence which is a completely different system to what I was used to in Australia. Even though we did more routines you could space them out! So last week I taught 22 routines at my Dance homes “New York Performing Arts Center” and “Breaking Ground Center” – the studios that I have worked at since I moved here. It might sound like a crazy, busy summer and you might be breaking into a sweat reading this, but my heart is full and I’m very content. I still need to pinch myself that so many people welcomed this Aussie into their lives over here in the US – I feel very blessed.

I am ready to enjoy the fall in nyc which has become my favorite season – for me nothing tops boots, sweaters and a good pumpkin patch. Although I will gladly welcome the routine of a schedule the adventure isn’t quite over yet as I head to a wedding for one of my best friends in the UK tomorrow!