The MiNAPRESS Column

Where To Train. U.S. or U.K.? An Actor’s Dilemma.

Posted in acting, actors, arts, careers, drama, film, journalism, performing arts, stage, theatre, tv by MiNA on June 6, 2019
Mina Rios. Current as of May 2019

Mina Rios, Freelance Journalist, Sonoma, CA, U.S.A

Guest blog by Mina Rios  –  Originally published in May 2019 on U.K. blog page:


Georgia Tuohey

Georgia Tuohey, Singer, Actress, Writer, London, U.K.  Instagram   @georgiatuoblogTwitter@georgiamtuohey


Mesmerised by the young protégée’s powerful stage performance, the audience wept as he took his last breath. Praise every actor yearns for following an acting achievement. Such a capacity as an actor requires an abundance of natural talent, ambition, classical training, and a bit of luck. Typically, a serious aspiring stage actor pursues the best possible training available within their means. More often than not, the aspiring look to the U.S. and the U.K. for superior drama training. To choose between the two, knowing what distinguishes British drama training from training in the United States is important. While acquiring this information, it’s essential to note that current research on drama training is paramount, as the industry has evolved tremendously over the years and yesterday’s news does not necessarily apply today.

In the U.K. (and parts of Europe), classical acting techniques by actors/theorists Konstantin Stanislavski and Michel Saint-Denis are prevalent. British drama denotes action driven stage acting, style, and technique; and is associated with some of the finest actors of our time including the late Sir Laurence Olivier and Sir John Gielgud.

For a time, between the 1930s and 50s, Method Acting the emotion-driven technique developed for screen acting, fathered by Lee Strasberg and inspired by Konstantin Stanislavski’s techniques, was the primary acting methodology taught in American drama institutions. Still widely taught today, but not exclusively, in Method Acting, actors use remembered emotions to find their character’s truth, enabling the actor to “live” the character; often times incorporating improvisation. Some actors have even been known to remain in-character through the duration of a film or stage performance.

A variety of different acting techniques have emerged over the years, several of which are variations on Stanislavski’s System. Many drama programs and institutions teach multiple drama methodologies to provide actors with options in case one technique isn’t working for them. In fact, some drama students over recent years have conveyed certain frustrations with Method Acting – they say they find it limiting. Other popular acting techniques embraced by drama professionals and institutions worldwide include Stella Adler’s Method, Meisner Technique, The Chekhov Technique, Practical Aesthetics, and Theater Games – all of which are described briefly for further reference, at the close of this piece.

British drama does have its distinctions of course. Actors are primed for the stage with emphasis on control, precision, and memorisation of all lines – allowing the actor to bring the scripted character to life – thus eliminating any possibility for improvisation; a common liberty used in Method Acting. Drama programs in the U.K. also impart supplemental training skills in areas such as accents, singing, movement – i.e. period dance, stage combat, and more.

To remain competitive and meet public demand on a global scale, drama programs everywhere have integrated screen acting into their curriculum; a change that has unified more institutions as opposed to differentiating them.

Course work at leading University drama programs such as Juilliard in New York, Tisch School of the Arts at NYU, and Yale School of Drama in Connecticut, have become far more comprehensive than decades prior, drawing a closer parallel to U.K. drama training in such areas as voice, speech, movement, mask, clown, script analysis, theatre history, and other areas.

Admission into reputable drama institutions no matter where they are in the world (the U.S., U.K., or elsewhere) is highly competitive. Among the most prestigious U.K. based drama institutions are The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), The Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts (LAMDA), Guildhall School of Music & Drama, and Oxford School of Drama.

Some false generalisations by industry professionals over the years, infer that drama conservatories don’t exist in America when they actually do. There are simply fewer American conservatories in comparison to the U.K. and other countries abroad. Drama training programs in the U.S. are predominantly affiliated with 4-year colleges/universities. The idea is that the four year college degree provides graduates with leverage when seeking employment outside of their declared specialisation (acting); hence the reason two years of course work is spent on required general education.

A little known fact is – the early 1960s was a pivotal time for American theatre. The art form was becoming increasingly important to audiences. Theatre productions expanded from nightly engagements to performance seasons, opening doors for actors versed in international theatre repertory, ultimately leading up to the availability of conservatory training in acting within the U.S. 

A.C.T.’s founding artistic director, William Ball (left), and

Photo by Ganslen Studios; courtesy San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.

American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) founded in 1965, is a leading drama institution located in San Francisco’s theatre district. A.C.T. was the first American theatre to win a Tony Award for the quality of its training program and its productions. A.C.T. was also the first independent theatre in the nation to win academic accreditation and the authority to grant a master of fine arts degree in acting.

Geary Theater circa 1980

The Geary Theater, 1980, San Francisco; courtesy of the American Conservatory Theater.

While more than half of the world’s most sought after drama schools are located in the U.S. and the U.K., several outstanding programs can be found sprinkled around other parts of the world. No matter where you choose to train among the institutions mentioned in this piece or any overlooked, yet comparable, the investment in training is sure to provide you with the necessary wherewithal to help you advance your career. What you should find out in advance is – what kind of networking opportunities does the institution provide with industry professionals? Further to that, ask whether mentoring is available to help you market your personal brand, as this is an area drama schools are gradually working on to improve. Best of luck! Break a leg.  

A.C.T.'s Geary Theater following the renovation in 1996

Backstage at the Geary Theater, 1996, San Francisco; courtesy of the American Conservatory Theater.




Acting Techniques

Stella Adler’s Method based on Stanislavski and Strasberg techniques; emphasising imagination in addition to emotional recall. The Stella Adler Studio of Acting has a 45-year partnership with N.Y.U.

The Sanford Meisner Technique based on Strasberg and Adler’s methods; emphasise that the actor “live truthfully under given imaginary circumstances.”

The Chekhov Technique – pioneered by Anton Chekhov’s nephew and star student of Stanislavski – Michael Chekhov – is a psychophysical approach to acting, focusing on mind, body, and a conscious awareness of the senses. Students of the technique include Clint Eastwood, Anthony Hopkins, Helen Hunt, and Jack Nicholson.

Practical Aesthetics is an action-based acting method developed by playwright David Mamet and actor William H. Macy; inspired by Aristotle, the Stanislavski System, and Meisner Technique, the method entails having the actor commit his will to the pursuit of an action based on the other actor.

Viola Spolin developed the Theater Games approach, focusing on directorial and improvisational exercises for the actor. It is considered to be a major contributor to the improvisational theatre movement in the U.S.


Leading Drama Institutions in the U.K.

Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London: Graduates: Ewan McGregor, Joseph Fiennes, Daniel Craig, Rhys Ifans, and Orlando Bloom.

London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts (LAMDA) – among the world’s oldest drama schools; Graduates: Donald Sutherland, John Lithgow, Brian Cox, Chris O’Dowd, and Benedict Cumberbatch.

Oxford School of Drama in Woodstock Graduates: Catherine McCormack, Will Adamsdale, Claire Foy, and Anna Galvin.

Royal Academy of Dramatic Art RADA). Graduates: Peter O’Toole, Joan Collins, Anthony Hopkins, Ralph Fiennes, Vivien Leigh, Clive Owen, and Tom Wilkinson.

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (Formerly Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama) – Alumni: Alan Cumming, David Tennant, and Sheena Easton.

The Bristol Old Vic Theatre School – founded by Laurence Olivier in 1946: Alumni: Olivia Colman, Sir Daniel Day-Lewis, Greta Scacchi, Naomie Harris, Jeremy Irons, Sir Patrick Stewart, Mark Strong, Miranda Richardson, and Gene Wilder.


Leading Drama institutions in the United States & Canada

American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) in San Francisco – Alumni: Denzel Washington, Annette Bening, Winona Ryder, Nicolas Cage, Benjamin Bratt, and Elizabeth Banks.

Juilliard in New York – Alumni: Adam Driver, Mandy Patinkin, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Robin Williams, Jessica Chastain, Laura Linney, Viola Davis, and Kelsey Grammer.

Tisch School of the Arts at NYU – Alumni: Alec Baldwin, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Michael C. Hall, Jeremy Piven, Oliver Stone, and Martin Scorsese.

Yale School of Drama in Connecticut. Alumni: Meryl Streep, Sigourney Weaver, Paul Newman, Angela Bassett, Henry Winkler, John Turturro, Patricia Clarkson, Frances McDormand, and Paul Giamatti.

The National Theatre School of Canada in Montreal. Teaches the classical Michel Saint-Denis Technique. Teachings include exploration, writing, studio presentations, imagination, improvisation, “the mask,” and audition preparation.


Leading Drama institutions in Australia

National Institute of Dramatic Art in Kensington. Graduates: Mel Gibson, Cate Blanchett, Judy Davis, Baz Luhrmann, Hugo Weaving, and Sam Worthington.

Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts – Alumni includes: Hugh Jackman, and Frances O’Connor.


More Leading Drama Institutions Worldwide

Finland: Sibelius Academy in Helsinki.

France: The CNSAD (Conservatoire national supérieur d’art dramatique) in Paris. Considered one of the most selective schools and foremost in the world.

Austria: University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna.

South Africa: University of Cape Town – Alumni: Embeth Davidtz, Richard E. Grant.


Useful Drama Resources


Popcorn & Ballet. Tutu Good to Miss.

Posted in ballet, dance, film, journalism by MiNA on December 31, 2017
Pacific Sun 12.27.17 Issue

12.27.17 Issue. Ballet in Cinema | Stage on Screen article by Mina Rios – page 12.

Ballet in Cinema | Stage on Screen by Mina Rios is now available on Marin County newspaper stands through Jan. 2, 2018.

The article discusses both the ballet in cinema phenomenon as well as the 2017/2018 Bolshoi Ballet and Royal Ballet seasons scheduled live via satellite – in cinemas across the world.  (Link to article)

Due to space limitations in the printed article, certain quotes, facts, and photography did not appear in the 12.27.17 published piece. As such, the supplemental content can be viewed here. Read on….


Provided courtesy of the Bolshoi Ballet. “Romeo and Juliet” photo by Damir Yusupov.

Bolshoi. Romeo and Juliet.

Provided courtesy of the Bolshoi Ballet. “Romeo and Juliet” photo by Damir Yusupov.









The Bolshoi Ballet

Executive Director of the Lark Theater in Larkspur, Ellie Mednick confirms that Bolshoi Ballet in cinema attendance averages about 50 people. Though a fairly modest number for a 236 capacity theater – particularly when most operas sell out and live theater generates a three quarters full audience, comparatively – over the last three Bolshoi seasons, ballet attendance has increased. On an even brighter note, local ballet-students benefit with free tickets to help fill seats.


Provided courtesy of the Bolshoi Ballet. “Lady of the Camellias” photo by Elena Fetisova.

Bolshoi_CAMELLIAS_photo_by_Damir Yusupov

Provided courtesy of the Bolshoi Ballet. “Lady of the Camellias” photo by Damir Yusupov.









2018 Bolshoi Ballet performances at the Lark Theater

January 21 & 23: Romeo & Juliet

February 4: The Lady of the Camellias

March 4 & 6: The Flames of Paris

April 8 & 10: Giselle

June 10 & 12: Coppelia

Lark Theater, 549 Magnolia Ave., Larkspur; 415/924-5111;


The Royal Ballet

CEO of Trafalgar Releasing, Marc Allenby shares, “We regularly screen in over 60 countries. There is a dedicated core audience who buy into seeing the full season, in part motivated by the breadth of work and the curatorial balance provided by the Royal Ballet. In this current season the forthcoming Swan Lake will appeal to a wider audience and will perform on a par with the more commercial opera and theater shows in cinema. We have great respect for all organisations working in the ‘event cinema’ space and collectively are really pushing the boundaries in a virgin industry. Trafalgar Releasing are ambitious and committed to this space and expect to see more growth in 2018, we have just started setting up our US team to help develop the good work we have done here over the last 5 or so years and are exploring similar plans in other markets. As a distributor, Trafalgar Releasing is set up so we can be involved in a multitude of ways on a release… from financing, producing, marketing, physical distribution, cinema sales and box office reconciliation. We work very much in partnership with the team in Covent Garden to pool our expertise to achieve the best results.”

Head of Marketing and Enterprises at the Royal Ballet, Jeff Coventry shares, “We are currently in our second season working with Trafalgar Releasing and are very happy with how things are progressing. Generally speaking, opera and ballet are equally popular, but this does fluctuate depending on the production. Revenue is an important but secondary objective, bringing a new revenue stream to the organisation over the past five years. Cinema sales are growing both nationally and internationally.”

2018 Royal Ballet performances at the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center

February 28: The Winter’s Tale

March 27: Bernstein program from Wayne McGregor, Liam Scarlett and Christopher Wheeldon

May 3: Manon

June 12: Swan Lake

Rafael Film Center, 1118 Fourth St., San Rafael; 415/454-1222;

The Bay Area on the move. Let’s dance.

Posted in journalism by MiNA on April 26, 2017

BayAreaDance Week graphic        Dancers Group-logo

Greetings dance enthusiasts… Let it be known that we’re amidst the 19th Annual Bay Area Dance Week initiative from April 21-30, 2017. The founding organization of the annual event is Dancers’ Group – a thriving San Francisco based non-profit established in 1998.  Much like the grassroots movement that formed National Dance Week in 1981, Dancers’ Group serves as a vital resource for the Bay Area dance community — helping to facilitate collaborative and innovative programs and services to maximize visibility efforts.

For the remainder of the week, Bay Area Dance Week event highlights happening now through April 30th include the following:

Bay Area Dance Week  FREE DANCE EVENTS now through April 30

BayAreaDance Week2017program

Smuin Contemporary American Ballet – Thursday April 27, 11am 

Come see Smuin dancers up close in an open studio rehearsal in honor of Bay Area Dance Week! Observe our 16 dancers during a typical day in the studio, working in conjunction with our ballet master and various choreographers to perfect the Company’s new works for the stage. Don’t miss this behind-the-scenes look at our upcoming program Dance Series 02; featuring a world premiere by acclaimed choreographer Trey McIntyre, the return of choreographer-in-residence Amy Seiwert’s “Broken Open,” and a world premiere from one of Smuin’s very own dancers, Nicole Haskins. LOCATION: Academy of Ballet, 2121 Market St., San Francisco, CA, 94114

DZine And Amy Seiwert’s Imagery – Friday April 28 6pm San Francisco

Amy Seiwert’s Imagery performs at DZine in conjunction with the launch of the gallery’s show “Pure: Burning Bright.” Gallery opening from 6-9, exact dance performance times TBA. LOCATION: DZine, 128 Utah St, San Francisco, CA, 94103


AXIS Dance Company Friday April 28, 11:30am Oakland

Join AXIS Dance Company as they prepare to celebrate 30 years of innovation under the new artistic direction of Marc Brew. All abilities welcome for this company class geared towards experienced adult dancers. Following our 1.5 hr company class, we invite participants and dancers of all ages and skill levels to attend a sneak peek of Amy Seiwert’s work The Reflective Surface that will be premiered in October 2017. Participants are welcome to either or both the class (11:30am-1pm) and open rehearsal (1pm-2pm). LOCATION: Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts, 1428 Alice Street, Suite 200, Studio E, third floor, Oakland, CA, 94612

San Francisco Public Library and the San Francisco Dance Film Festival – Saturday April 29, 2:30pm 

In honor of Bay Area National Dance Week (April 21 – April 30) San Francisco Public Library in partnership with the San Francisco Dance Film Festival and the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library are pleased to screen selections from the San Francisco Dance Film Festival’s October 2016 Fall Festival. Schedule: 2:30pm: 2016 SFDFF Shorts Highlights 3:30: feature documentary”Kick, Ball Change” Kick, Ball Change – A glimpse into the creative, crazy, and inspiring mind of Maxim Kozhevnikov, five-time professional world champion in Latin ballroom dance. For more information about the feature documentary – visit: Visit: LOCATION: San Francisco Public Library, 100 Larkin Street, San Francisco , CA, 94122

San Francisco Ballet – Saturday April 29, 11:45am

Want to see the artists of SF Ballet up close and in action? Go behind the scenes with San Francisco Ballet, the oldest professional ballet company in America. Observe the dancers of SF Ballet in action in a Company class, led by one of the Company’s Ballet Masters, on stage at the War Memorial Opera House. Guests will enjoy open seating in the Opera House auditorium. LOCATION: War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness Ave,
San Francisco, CA, 94102

Alonzo King LINES Dance Center – Saturday April 29, 9am

If you’re new to the Dance Center or you haven’t taken class with us for more than a year, come take any of our open classes FREE of charge. The number of free slots are limited so come early. LOCATION: Alonzo King LINES Dance Center, 26 7th Street, 5th Floor, San Francisco, CA, 94103

Mary Sano Studio Of Duncan Dancing Saturday April 29, 12pm 

Join us for our annual open studio event on International Dance Day! You can take a sample Duncan dance class (12-1 pm) and observe Mary Sano and her Duncan Dancers as they rehearse for the upcoming 20th annual Dionysian Festival celebrating the 140th anniversary of Isadora Duncan’s birth. (1-2 pm) Q & A Session (2-2:30 pm). LOCATION: Mary Sano Studio of Duncan Dancing, 245 5th Street, Studio 314, San Francisco, CA, 94103

Deborah Slater Dance Theater Saturday April 29, 11am 

Dance & Theater Workshop open to artists & creatives of all disciplines. Experiment using writing, moving & vocalization to create new material, gain specific, repeatable tasks to take home and use in your own creative process. How do you locate source material, transform it into your art form & translate it for an audience? Dive deep into your creative process and end up somewhere unexpected! LOCATION: 3435 Cesar Chavez, Studio 210, San Francisco, CA, 94110

Margaret Jenkins Dance Company (MJDC)/Resist: a Conversation with Artists about Activism – Sunday April 30, 5:30pm

Margaret Jenkins will facilitate a conversation between Choreographer and Activist Larry Arrington, Performance Artist Dohee Lee, Dancer, Writer, and Equity Analyst Tammy Johnson and Afro Futurist Conjure Artist Amara Tabor-Smith. The discussion will center on the intersection of their work and social justice. Whether you are defiant in the way you make work or the way you make waves, all forms of resistance are needed. Join the discussion around activism and artmaking and leave the evening with new tools to utilize in both performance and protest. LOCATION: Margaret Jenkins Dance Lab, 301 8th Street, 2nd Floor, Studio 200, San Francisco, CA, 94103

Until next time. Live. Dance. And prosper….


On with the show. The column resumes.

Posted in arts, dance, events, journalism, music, performing arts, pr, public relations, salsa, sonoma, wine country by MiNA on February 24, 2017

Greetings from the MiNAPRESS news desk…. Since our last post, freelance journalist Mina Rios wrapped up 2016 with the October 26 issue/feature story “Refined Lines” in the Pacific Sun newspaper, commemorating the 10 Year Anniversary of Alonso King LINES Ballet’s BFA Program at Dominican University in San Rafael, CA.

pacific-sun-10-26-16-cover3-lines-bfa-austin-forbord  2-lines-bfa_anniversary_emblem

As we embark on 2017, the MiNAPRESS Column will resume with more regularity, as will published articles in print with a variety of media outlets. To that end, if you’re a professional artist/arts organization, a winery, restaurant, or brewery and have a unique story angle, contact Mina Communications for consideration in a feature story or review. Submit your query here.

In other news, Mina Communications proudly announces its partnership with Santa Rosa Salsa – serving as the company’s publicist/advisor. Santa Rosa Salsa is the pulse of Sonoma County – presiding at the helm of what is an actively growing Salsa community. Regular events and classes include:

  • LIVE Salsa at the Flamingo Resort. Monthly – every 2nd Saturday
  • Salsa & Bachata dancing every Sunday at the Flamingo Resort. 21 and older. Salsa dance lesson included.
  • Bachata dancing every Thursday at the Flamingo Resort. 21 and older. Bachata dance lesson included.
  • Salsa Crash Course w/Irene. Teaching the fundamentals of Salsa to get you confidently on the dance floor. A 4-week class series begins at the start of each month.  No partner or experience necessary. Location: 1808-B Empire Industrial Ct., Santa Rosa, CA 95403
  • Santa Rosa Salsa is also the presenter of the annual Santa Rosa Salsa Festival (projected for October 2017; location TBA) as well as Dancing Under the Stars at Francis Ford Coppola Winery (live musical guests to be announced). Summer 2017 dates include:
    • June 24
    • July 22
    • August 26
    • September 23



Until next time. Live. Dance. And Prosper….

Tagged with: , ,

MinaComm Pressing-on in 2016

Greetings Arts Enthusiasts!

Mina Communications has been keeping very busy since our last posting in July 2015. From article writing to new client generation, the work and results have been both steady and positive. Here’s what you’ve missed and what’s to come….

July 2015  – Pacific Sun – Restaurant Review: “Whip It Good” by Mina Rios











October 2015 – San Diego Reader – Feature: “How Comic-Con Spectators Combat Hotel Wars. The Overnight Game of Woes.” by Mina Rios


December 2015 – Pacific Sun – Cover Story: “Cool Vines” by Mina Rios

12-9-15 PacSun Covr Pt. Reyes Wildflower. Heidrun Meadery




January 2016 – Santa Rosa Salsa client PR efforts for the 6th Annual Santa Rosa Salsa Festival
2016 SRS Fest Banner


2014 salsa fest IMG_9239.JPG











February 2016 – Flamingo Resort client PR efforts for the 25th Annual Santa Rosa Tattoo & Blues Festival

25th Tattoo-Blue logo.jpg


  • “About the Music” Screenplay by Mina Rios completed. More details to come…
  • Mina Communications and New York City based Duvall Productions will be collaborating on various creative projects beginning in mid 2016. More details to come.

Thanks for your readership. As always – Live. Dance. And prosper.

DANCE IN CINEMA. MiNA Recommends: “First Position” (Part II)

Posted in arts, ballet, cinema, dance, film, reviews by MiNA on July 3, 2015
Bess Kargman, First Position Films, LLC.

Bess Kargman, First Position Films, LLC.

Continuing our two-part review of director Bess Kargman’s extraordinary 2011 documentary feature First Position about youth ballet competition, we resume with coverage of Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) competitors Michaela de Prince and Aran Bell; and introduce dancers Rebecca Houseknecht, brother and sister Jules and Miko Fogarty, and Joan Sebastian Zamora.

Following Michaela de Prince’s costume mishap/dilemma (in Part I) de Prince sparkles on stage during the 2010 YAGP semifinals, giving a powerful performance that advancers her to the NYC finals. Immensely proud, her Dad states, “Tonight’s performance was perfect. She was in total control.”

Michaela de Prince pictured. Photo by Yaniv Schulman. Provided courtesy of Bess Kargman, First Position Films, LLC.

Michaela de Prince pictured. Photo by Yaniv Schulman. Provided courtesy of Bess Kargman, First Position Films, LLC.

Only three days before the NYC finals, de Prince develops swollen tendons. Torn over whether to compete or not, de Prince decides to press forward. Nursing her injury until the very last moment, de Prince shares, “My teachers know that even when I’m sick or injured, I won’t stop.”

Injured and all de Prince delivers yet another flawless performance. After the fact however, she admits, “I was in so much pain afterward.”

Photo of Aran Bell with friend Gaya. Courtesy of Bess Kargman, First Position Films, LLC.

Photo of Aran Bell with friend Gaya. Courtesy of Bess Kargman, First Position Films, LLC.

Once 11 year old Aran Bell arrives to the YAGP European semifinals in Sicily, he is pleasantly greeted by his enchanting young friend (and competitor) Gaya from Israel. Passionate and full of life, together these young dancers bring an adoring quality to the screen that’s as compelling and irresistible to watch as their dancing. Tremendous performers — are these two dancers, both of whom deservedly receive standing ovations; securing their spots in the NYC finals.

For 17 year old Rebecca Houseknecht of Odenton, Maryland dancing professionally is more than a pipe dream. She shares, “I started dancing just for fun, but now it’s much more than that.”

Photo of Rebecca Housenecht. Bess Kargman, First Position Films, LLC.

Photo of Rebecca Housenecht. Bess Kargman, First Position Films, LLC.

In her final year of high school, Houseknecht admirably juggles ballet with academics and an active social life — all while coping with lingering pressures at home.

Despite fears over an uncertain future (post high school), during a discussion with her parents, Houseknecht puts on a convincing face to assure them they will get a return on their investment in her ballet training.

Once YAGP semifinals are underway, Houseknecht makes some first-hand observations. “People size you up as soon as you get there, especially in the dressing room,” she says.

During Houseknecht’s performance, nerves get the better of her, resulting in a near complete loss of focus. Afterward, Houseknecht admits with a smile, “it was horrible.” Then adds, “No one sees the hard work you put into it.”

As dance mentor Michelle Lees consoles her pupil, Lees recalls, “She was absolutely prepared for this competition.”

Fortunately for Houseknecht, YAGP judges see past her flawed performance and recognize what potential she has; ultimately letting her advance to the final round in New York.

Proud of her student, Lees assures, “She will do much better in the New York finals. ”

Miko Fogarty pictured. Photo by Nick Higgins. Provided courtesy of Bess Kargman, First Position Films, LLC.

Miko Fogarty pictured. Photo by Nick Higgins. Provided courtesy of Bess Kargman, First Position Films, LLC.

Photo of Jules Fogarty with mother. Courtesy of Bess Kargman, First Position Films, LLC.

From the Bay Area, we are introduced to brother and sister Jules (10) and Miko Fogarty (12). Adamant about the proper balance between ballet training and childhood, Miko states, “Those that say I’ve missed out on childhood, I think I’ve
had the right amount of childhood and the right amount of ballet.”

Encouraging Miko’s dedication to her art is her ballet teacher Viktor Kabaniaev, teacher/choreographer with Diablo Ballet. So that Miko can devote “more hours to ballet,”  Kabaniaev recommends homeschooling to her parents. With parents in full agreement, the family also decides to move to Walnut Creek, where she can be closer to the Diablo Ballet studios.

“Miko is exceptional student,” says Kabaniaev in a heavy Russian accent. Yet with Miko’s brother Jules (J.J.), Kabaniaev says with less confidence, “I don’t see that Jules is the same case.”

While favoritism toward Miko are clear case points, Kabaniaev does little to help instill confidence in his other impressionable pupil Jules. Instead, Jules demonstrates how painfully self conscious he is around other peers by confessing, “I don’t tell any of my friends that I do ballet because at my old school, I told them and then everyone started teasing me.”

In a later conversation between brother and sister about food, Jules jokingly calls Miko anorexic. Dismissing her brother’s accusation, Miko says, “I love food,” yet with some insecurity she adds, “There’s people who say I’m too skinny and I should start fattening up, but you have to be skinny to do ballet.”

During semifinals, Miko takes a fall and her mother blames herself for rushing her daughter. After Miko is given a second chance to perform, she sways both audience and judges and advances to the NYC finals; as does her brother Jules.

In time, Jules’s mother finally asks her son whether he truly enjoys ballet. To her disappointment, she discovers he does not share his sister’s passion. An understandably difficult conversation between mother and son, yet one that’s far past due.

Joan Sebastian Zamora pictured. Provided courtesy of Bess Kargman, First Position Films, LLC.

Joan Sebastian Zamora pictured. Provided courtesy of Bess Kargman, First Position Films, LLC.

Originally from Colombia, 16 year old Joan Sebastian Zamora, of Queens, New York, is an ambitious ballet student of mentor Flavio Salazar, whose hope is to one day join the Royal Ballet.

Inspired by his mother, a former ballet dancer, Zamora states in broken English, “My dream is being a professional ballet dancer.” He then adds, “So many dancers would like to have a career but very very few succeed. Ballet is very, very expensive.”

While Zamora speaks long distance over the phone with his father, he is reminded of certain harsh realities back home. “There’s nothing for you to do here in Columbia,” says his father, referring to the widespread poverty and work shortage.

As a teenager under the obligation of having to help support his family back home, the amount of pressure is inconceivable. Despite this, Zamora admirably demonstrates his maturity and commitment by doing what’s in the best interest of his family.

Focused on what he must accomplish at the YAGP semifinals, Zamora puts on a flawless performance; making his family and mentor proud, Zamora advances to the NYC finals.

Following the semifinals, Zamora returns home to Cali, Columbia. As we are introduced to Zamora’s mother, we learn that ballet is an unusual pursuit for most boys, yet his mom insists that ballet was a means of keeping her son off the streets.

Joan Sebastian Zamora at home in Columbia. Provided courtesy of Bess Kargman, First Position Films, LLC.

Joan Sebastian Zamora at home in Columbia. Provided courtesy of Bess Kargman, First Position Films, LLC.

Now a role model himself, Zamora is honored to serve as his younger brother’s inspiration to dance one day.

Easing his little brother into ballet, Zamora teaches him first position; one of the film’s most endearing scenes, when Zamora leads his brother into plié, in turn out.

During YAGP finals at the New York City Center judgment looms. While some dancers from around the globe give spectacular performances, others shed tears and endure inevitable disappointments.

To get a sense for what some judges are looking for during the competition, one judge states, “We’re looking for that hunger and need to dance; talent that will be exceptional 10 years from now.”

Once the final results are in, competitors (by division) are asked to take the stage.

From the 9-11 year old division, Aran Bell receives highest honor with Best Overall while his friend Gaya receives a Bronze Medal in the Women’s category.

From the Women’s 12-14 year old division, Miko Fogarty receives a Bronze Medal, while Michaela de Prince receives a scholarship to the ABT/Onassis School.

Though Rebecca Houseknecht does not place in the competition or receive a scholarship, two months following YAGP finals however Houseknecht is offered a position with the Washington Ballet.

As for Joan Sebastian Zamora, he is the proud recipient of a Royal Ballet scholarship and becomes the first Colombian student to attend the Royal Ballet school. Relishing his accomplishment he says, “This is my dream. My life’s gonna change.”

Inspiring and thought provoking on so many levels, “First Position” stands tiers above the bar —in the dance film genre. If you’re a dancer or a parent of an aspiring dancer, this is essential viewing. Even if you’re not a dancer — prepare to be both entertained and enlightened.

Courtesy of Bess Kargman, First Position Films, LLC.

Courtesy of Bess Kargman, First Position Films, LLC.

Until next time – Live. Dance. And Prosper.

DANCE IN CINEMA. MiNA Recommends: “First Position” (Part I)

Posted in ballet, dance, film, journalism, performing arts, reviews by MiNA on May 9, 2015
Bess Kargman, First Position Films, LLC.

Bess Kargman, First Position Films, LLC.

Among the most notable independent dance films of recent years – was a film so well-received during its premiere at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival, the award-winning documentary continued its surge across the globe well into 2013.

Director/former dancer Bess Kargman calls her debut feature film “First Position” a work she – “always wished had existed.” Shot in North and South America, Europe, and Asia – the 95 minute feature provides an inside look at youth dance competition – touching on some of the ballet world’s most sensitive topics including: peer pressure, injuries, eating-habits, and stereotypes.

Six contestants are documented – three male and three female, as they prepare for the world’s largest ballet scholarship competition – the Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) from 2010. Immensely competitive, the annual competition enables supremely talented youth age 9 – 19 an accessible means to entering the profession. Few advance to the end to reap the extraordinary benefits, which in some cases include contracts with professional dance companies.

Aran Bell pictured. Photo by Nick Higgins. Bess Kargman, First Position Films, LLC.

Aran Bell pictured. Photo by Nick Higgins. Bess Kargman, First Position Films, LLC.

First introduced is 11 year-old Aran Bell from the US, living in Naples, Italy with his parents – where his father is stationed in the military. Dancing since the age of 4, Bell explains his adoration for ballet, then casually demonstrates the proper use of a foot stretcher; a torturous looking device which Bell innocently admits “hurts a lot.”

Voicing a common concern of parents, Bell’s mother confides: “Kids who are pursuing ballet as a career give up a lot of their childhood” – a position where mother and son differ, but has not interfered with the youth’s long-term goals; this is evident through Bell’s parents’ willingness to commute two hours from Naples to Rome, to ensure their son receives the best training available.

Aran Bell with mentor Denys Ganio. Photo by Nick Higgins. Bess Kargman, First Position Films, LLC.

Aran Bell with mentor Denys Ganio. Photo by Nick Higgins. Bess Kargman, First Position Films, LLC.

In Rome, we are introduced to Bell’s ballet teacher Denys Ganio. Bell describes Ganio as “Strict, but not mean strict, he’s nice strict – and funny;” a deeply moving scene as we observe the mutual fondness and respect shared between mentor and protégé.

Michaela de Prince pictured. Bess Kargman, First Position Films, LLC.

Michaela de Prince pictured. Bess Kargman, First Position Films, LLC.

In the compelling story of 14 year old Michaela de Prince of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, we learn that the normal life she currently leads, might never have been, had she not been rescued by her adopted parents. Orphaned as a child amidst South Africa’s civil unrest, de Prince’s birth parents were horrifically shot down by rebels during her early youth.

In studying ballet at the Philadelphia Rock School, the art form has served as an invaluable means of expression for de Prince. Under Stephanie and Bo Spassoff’s tutelage, de Prince has found strength and determination through her art. Making certain she always remembers her roots, de Prince vows to play a key role in helping to abolish racial discrimination in the ballet world.

Michaela de Prince pictured. Bess Kargman, First Position Films, LLC.

With the competition fast approaching, all seemed in order until de Prince’s mom discovered a problem with her daughter’s costume. Concerned that the light nude colored bodice beneath her daughter’s corset might be too glaring against Michaela’s dark skin, she feared judges might get distracted. “They only come in flesh color – for white people,” said Mrs. de Prince. Instead of leaving matters to chance, Mrs. de Prince remedied the situation by removing the bodice from the corset, dying it a darker color, then reattaching it.

While Mrs. de Prince dealt with the issue with her daughter’s bodice as best she could, the subject she brings up about nude colored dance undergarments not being made for dancers with dark skin merits further discussion. For this reason, our focus will now shift to the topic at hand; while the review will resume in Part II.

In response to the question as to whether dance undergarments are made for dancers of all skin colors – the surprising answer in these modern times is – yes and no. Research shows that a few product lines offer some dark skin color undergarment options, however variety is still limited. One must still scour the internet to locate these costly hard to find products.

Considering we’re talking about product demand from such a sizeable demographic, where the potential for capital gain is substantial, why such a basic product isn’t already available through most major dance apparel manufacturers is a good relevant question for today.

Ultimately someone will catch-on and make a fortune. It’s just a matter of whom and when. If that investor happens to be you on account of this column, you’re welcome; just don’t forget where you got the idea. I’ll be awaiting your reply.

Stay tuned… Part II of this review will feature dancers: Rebecca Houseknecht, Joan Sebastian Zamora, Miko Fogarty, and Jules Fogarty.

Until next time – Live. Dance. And Prosper.

Bolshoi Live on Stage and On Screen

Posted in arts, ballet, cinema, dance, performances, reviews by MiNA on March 20, 2015


Bolshoi Ballet LaBayadere

Photo provided courtesy of Zellerbach Hall on behalf of the Bolshoi Ballet.

Over the course of the Bolshoi’s restoration project, one of the company’s greatest gifts to its global audience was their extended world tour that began in the US in June 2009. Under the artistic direction of Yuri Burlaka, Bolshoi’s first stop in the US was in the San Francisco Bay Area; where I had the privilege of seeing Yuri Grigorovich’s full-length version of “La Bayadere,” live on stage at UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall.

A seldom performed ballet within the US, the Sunday matinee on June 7, featuring the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra and Bolshoi conductor Pavel Klinichev, was at full capacity.

Utter silence blanketed the auditorium in anticipation, until first notes of Ludwig Minkus’ intoxicating ballet score filled the room.

As the male lead Solor, Alexander Volchkov was superb. Commanding and majestic, the audience gasped the moment Volchkov soared through the air during his powerful grand entrance.

Impossible to not notice was the abundance of male dancer roles; each one exuding extreme masculinity — very typical of Russian ballets.


Nadezda Gracheva as Nikiya. Photo by Damir Yusupov. Provided courtesy of Zellerbach Hall on behalf of Bolshoi Ballet.

As the female lead Nikiya (the temple dancer) and Solor’s love interest, Nadezda Gracheva was radiant; as was Ekaterina Shipulina dancing the role of Gamzatti, Solor’s betrothed — by arrangement.

One slight faux pas during Shipulina’s first solo — which could have gone terribly wrong, was her foot becoming tangled in her long veil. Showing not even the slightest hint of concern; Shipulina simply went about her sparkling tour jetés and grand jetés, as if nothing had happened.

During Act II, the engagement celebration, the highly anticipated dance of the Golden Idol was a smashing success. Covered in gold body paint, Denis Medvedev’s athletic and charismatic performance was extraordinary.

Only on one occasion during the program was the music timing slightly off with the dancing; not necessarily the fault of the dancers, as it’s the job of the ballet conductor to ensure the music is precisely synchronized with each movement.

Act III — the Kingdom of the Shades was a transcending experience. To hear the familiar adagio live as the glowing corps de ballet perform the famous port de bras that repeats across the stage, was to be transported into a dream state. At the close, Volchkov and Gracheva’s pas de deux was breathe-taking, triggering a thundering applause that saw no end.


To see Bolshoi live on stage in one’s lifetime, it is simply a must. Although when live performance is beyond one’s means, there is at least one alternative. Thanks to local independent cinema and advancements in digital technology — the big screen is the next best outlet for viewing live stage performance. Now in its fifth season, Bolshoi LIVE is a cinematic experience no dance enthusiast should miss.

More than a cost effective means of captivating new audiences, dance in cinema is one sure way for companies to reduce their annual tour cost; a likely reason why Bolshoi’s 2014 tour to the US was limited to Washington DC and New York City only.

Under the current artistic direction of Sergei Filin, Bolshoi Ballet has become a leading presenter within the dance in cinema genre.

Bayadere-photo by Damir Yusupov

Photo by Damir Yusupov. Provided courtesy of By Experience on behalf of Pathe Live and Bolshoi Ballet.

On December 7, 2014, Pathé Live  presented Yuri Grigorovich’s “La Bayadere” via distributer BY Experience; a pre-recorded production from the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, digitally streamed to cinemas across North America.

For the local presentation of the ballet, I attended the December 10, 2014 evening performance at the Sonoma Wine Country Rialto Cinema in Sebastopol, California.

An eager, culturally diverse audience turned out for the 2 hour/45 minute performance featuring new costumes and set design and such renowned artists as Svetlana Zakharova (Nikiya), Maria Alexandrova (Gamzatti), and Vladislav Lantratov (Solor).

The scene opened to a foreground filled with towering exotic tree limbs and male slaves dancing about the sacred fire; after which, Lantratov (Solor) leaps on stage like a graceful Gazelle.

As the striking prima goddess herself entered, Svetlana Zakharova (the temple dancer Nikiya), wearing pantaloons, a simple midriff top, and worn toe-shoes (perhaps for sentimental reasons), all eyes were fixated on her.

LA BAYADERE ©Damir Yusupov

Photo by Damir Yusupov. Provided courtesy of By Experience on behalf of Pathe Live and Bolshoi Ballet.

The portrayal of undying love between Lantratov and Zakharova was convincing in every way, as the dancers brought life to their characters with every heartfelt movement.

Also dancing impeccably was Maria Alexandrova — as Gamzatti — the perfect foil to Zakharova’s Nikiya — showcasing her wonderfully explosive grand jetés.

During Alexandrova’s time on stage, one slight deterrent stood out; the young entourage that accompanied her. No doubt these students were highly skilled dancers; what was unfortunate was the galumphing choreography and unflattering costumes given to these youth who would likely have preferred simple boring choreography to the simply embarrassing movements they were given.

In Act II, costumes seemed to take-on a more Egyptian appearance than Indian. And the dance of the Golden Idol, though technically spot-on, charismatics fell short.

One particularly spectacular highlight was Alexandrova’s furious fouettes, without question — the fastest I had ever seen.

Act III was pure magic — start to finish. As Solor turned to Opium-infused dreams and 32 corp de ballet dancers appeared as mirror images of his beloved Nikiya, time stood still.

At the close, a tutu perfect pas de deux (down to Lupkhova’s shiny new pointe shoes), prompted that ever so glorious and distinct Russian applause from the Moscow audience. As contagious enthusiasm spread to onlookers within the wine country cinema, satisfied spectators left the theatre with smiles upon smiles.

Coming Soon


Equal to the cost of an average rush ticket, ballet enthusiasts throughout North America have the opportunity to view another Yuri Grigorovich classic at their local independent cinema:

“Ivan the Terrible” (Live in Moscow) — Sunday, April 19, 2015

To learn more, visit:

Bolshoi Ballet: Through the Years

Posted in arts, ballet, dance, journalism by MiNA on March 18, 2015


Grand as its name implies — the great neo-classical Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow is a spectacle whose glory and rich heritage spans over two centuries. Home of the premier Russian ballet company, the Bolshoi Ballet is one of the largest dance companies in the world, employing more than 200 dancers.

While Bolshoi Ballet’s talent lineage is far reaching, so too is its link to controversy over the last few decades; dating back to the 1980s Cold War, during which Soviet artistic director Yuri Grigorovich was at the helm. Rumors of corruption over matters varying from casting and compensation to bribery and coercion raged; creating political divide between Grigorovich loyalists and dancers and teachers favoring that he step down — which eventually occurred in 1995.


First intentions to begin company reform began with artistic director Alexei Ratmansky (2005 to 2008), whose credit includes leading Bolshoi into its golden era — artistically. Following Ratmansky’s resignation in 2008 (due to lingering internal corruption), Yuri Grigorovich returned to assume a directorial role within Bolshoi (where he remains today) to oversee revivals of his ballets; meanwhile — three different artists have held the artistic director title since Ratmansky — including: Yuri Burlaka (2009 -2011), Gennady Yanin (2011), and Sergei Filin (2011 to the present).

Dedicated to instilling further positive change within the company, Filin’s directorial contribution thus far includes introducing contemporary European ballets to the company’s repertoire and recruiting dancers from outside of Russia; i.e. David Hallberg.  Sadly however, scandal in January 2013 cost Filin to nearly lose his eyesight after a soloist, unhappy with the way in which Filin was running the company, ordered an attack on him. Since this near tragedy, the company remains under a fine microscope.

While 2005 marks the beginning when administrative restructuring and efforts to combat impropriety within the Bolshoi Ballet became objectives within the institution, this period also marks when Bolshoi Theatre’s massive reconstruction project began.

Lasting through 2011, the Bolshoi Theatre sustained a thorough interior/exterior overhaul from the foundation up, resulting in the restoration of its original architectural design and legendary acoustics lost during Soviet occupation. With new spaces added, new state-of-the-art technological equipment, and an expanded orchestra pit for up to 130 musicians, the complete grandeur of the Bolshoi has now been fully restored.

Wrapping up the 2014/2015 Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema Season, the next MinaPress column features:   REVIEWS OF “LA BAYADERE” LIVE AND IN CINEMA

Provided courtesy of By Experience for Pathe Live

COMING SOON: Children’s Book by Mina Rios

Posted in animals, authors, books, canine, crowdfunding, crowdsourcing by MiNA on February 11, 2015

It’s official. The first Installment of “Simoneprecious pencil sketch1 Tails” (or tales) by Mina Rios is now complete. The children’s book series based on Shepherd/Chow-Chow — Simone — is a tribute to her life which came to an abrupt end in April 2010 after a tragic accident.

The first “tail” in the series – “Waiting For Simone,” introduces readers to the family who adopts Simone from the animal shelter she was placed in when she was just three months of age. Written in five chapters, the full manuscript is now posted on the Inkshares crowdfunding/publishing site, where funding efforts toward the book’s publication are in progress.

To pre-order your copy, visit: Inkshares-Waiting For Simone

Available Formats:

$10 eBook / $25 Hardcover and E-Book / $50 3-Hardcovers, E-Book, plus an acknowledgement in the book.

precious pencil sketch2

Simone, 2005 – 2010

The full color, hardbound book will also be available via major book distributors to be announced.

Happy reading…..

Flavors That Dance – with Chef Patricia Williams

Posted in careers, dance, food, health, journalism by MiNA on January 3, 2015

1-photo-002Seasoned professionals from all walks of life have found sanctuary in the increasingly popular culinary arts trade; retired dancers among them. A movement in the making for decades now, dancers turned chefs have impressed upon spectators, their take on kitchen choreography – creating exciting new flavors that dance.

Prone to dazzling New York City audiences, acclaimed chef Patricia Williams, formerly with New York City Opera Ballet (NYCB), is renowned for her inspired culinary emulsions and warm table-side charm.

Drawn to the cinematic effect of “The Red Shoes” in her youth, dance was chef’s first true love. Steadfast determination served her well – conceding favorable results that led to early entrance (by age 15) into her chosen profession. From Houston Ballet, Williams danced like the wind in an eastward motion – toward the coveted city of dancers – NYC.

By age 30, dance injuries led to Williams having to step-away from the ballet barre, a hard truth to embrace, yet a reality she knew necessary. Traveling overseas to experience where life would steer her next proved a wise decision. In Aix-en-Provence, France – revelation struck. Captivated by the art of cuisine, Williams resolved to learn French culinary technique. In finding a seasoned chef mentor willing to pass-on their secrets of the trade, Williams found her next career calling.

Chef Patricia Williams

Chef Patricia Williams

Now a celebrated chef herself, Williams follows a distinctive produce-first approach in her style of kitchen choreography. Chef Williams explains, “Vegetables are far more exciting than just any protein. I build a dish on the accompaniments not on the protein.”

As executive chef of Smoke Jazz & Supper Club in Manhattan and curator of “10 Chairs” – chef’s personalized dining experience – hosted one evening a week (by reservation) from her NYC flat, Chef Williams has attained what some chefs would consider pretty sweet gigs; given Williams is able to devote a majority of her time practicing her art rather than running a business.

Chef Williams shares, “10 Chairs is all about: great food, great wine, and the feeling of belonging. Everyone invites you in as a friend and partner in conversations that are positive, unpredictable, and riddled with laughter.”

10 Chairs 047

10 Chairs course


10 Chairs course

Those intrigued by Chef Williams’ “10 Chairs” dining concept/experience will be pleased to learn they too can be among chef’s guests at her NYC flat; simply inquire via chef’s Facebook page or website For further indulgence, please enjoy the delicious healthy recipes and stimulating food for thought chef has shared. Bon appetite….

Mushroom Minetrone Recipe (Serves 1)[Note: no photo available]

“Mushrooms can add intensity to a soup or salad without any extra calories. I love to mix and match items. Here’s to cooking and eating wonderfully fresh food that nourishes your body and feeds the inner dancer in us all.” — Chef Patricia Williams

Amount Measure    Ingredient — Preparation Method

——–  ————  ——————————–

1/2      dried mushrooms

1              lb  cooked white beans

10            plum tomatoes peeled seeded and dices

3             onions diced

2           bunches of fennel diced

2              quarts shiitake tops

1/2       quart sliced trumpet royale mushrooms and assortment of vegetables

4          garlic cloves – diced

1              pound – cooked d’Itallini

Saute 10 shallots and 10 sliced garlic cloves. Add dried porcini to 1 gallon of water; cook for 25 minutes, then steep for 30 minutes and strain.

Saute onions and diced garlic cloves. Add fennel and remaining mushrooms. Add mushroom broth and tomatoes. Keep pasta, beans, and vegetables separate. Finish with basil pesto, red russian kale and the beans and pasta

Per Serving: 636 Calories; 2g Fat (2.2% calories from fat); 44g Protein; 115g Carbohydrate; 29g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 27mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 7 1/2 Grain(Starch); 3 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT from Chef Patricia Williams

“As a dancer, my diet was not good. I maintain a much healthier diet than when I was a dancer. I know what’s in season and how to coax flavor out of food without cream or butter. A squeeze of lemon, lime or orange can brighten the flavor of a simply grilled shrimp (see photo) it is simply grilled with pureed herbs and a little olive oil.”

“I am a huge fan of fruit desserts. Making sure they are ripe is the key. The old fashion way of placing them in a paper bag to ripen is still the best way. In the winter, citrus is at its height a combination of honey bells, tangelos, Meyer lemons can make a spectacular dessert with the addition of a little Greek yogurt (or not).”


Sangria Granite Recipe (from MasterCook – Serves 1) [Note: no photo available]

“Beautiful ripe fruit is always my choice. Sounds difficult but not nearly as hard as that perfect tendu.”

Amount Measure    Ingredient — Preparation Method

——–  ————  ——————————–

1-1/2        cups  red wine

1-1/2        cups  ruby port

1000        grams  water

510         grams  rasperries pureed in a blender

510         grams  fresh figs quartered

2          lemons  cut in 8ths

250         grams  sugar

750         grams  orange juice

Pour wine and port into a pan and simmer to ignite. Once the flames have died, add the water, raspberry, figs, lemon, and sugar. Simmer for 20 minutes Take off the heat and add the orange juice. Let cool and strain into a baking dish. Freeze overnight.

Per Serving: 1560 Calories; 1g Fat (1.0% calories from fat); 6g Protein; 334g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 270mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 6 Fruit; 17 Other Carbohydrates.

2014 in Review

Posted in journalism by MiNA on December 30, 2014

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,300 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 22 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Kitchen Choreography

Posted in arts, ballet, careers, Chef, culinary, dance, florida, miami, new york, tv by MiNA on December 18, 2014

1-photo-001Truth be told that a dancer’s creative appetite sustains an everlasting pirouette motion; hence the reason why a continuum in artistic practices during one’s post dance career, remains all the more important for mind, body, and soul to thrive.

Little known fact, but there’s a particularly sweet second career path in which former dancers can mindfully indulge their inner artist with the forbidden fruit of yesteryear while savoring delicious long-term benefits. Perhaps one of the best-suited post-dance career trades around, kitchen choreography — or rather — the culinary arts have a bountiful many parallels to dance.

While teaching dance and choreography are traditional À la Seconde career outlets for many former pros, alternatives to the norm will forever reign in demand. The proof is in the existing numbers of dancers who have long surpassed their culinary taste tests and blossomed into some of today’s most esteemed chefs.

Dancers intrigued by this revelation need not worry about culinary proficiency upon entering the trade. As long as there’s a clear commitment and earnest desire to learn, aspiration can transform reality.

Whether an aspiring chef de cuisine (executive chef) or pâtissier (pastry chef), it’s the swift and the disciplined who make it into the kitchen spotlight, exercising their supreme creative potential.

Photo by Simon Hare

Chef Michelle Bernstein. Photo by Simon Hare.

The kitchen — though a vastly different stage setting – similar binding ingredients (to dance) impact culinary performance; ‘tis the amalgam of talent, coordination, and choreographic innovation (in cuisine) which yield the coveted enthusiastic audience reaction.

Dancers turned chefs with the natural ability to create flavors that dance, are more of a rare breed however, as they represent the extraordinary — those twice graced with the gifts of supreme dance and culinary talent.

One such chef-extraordinaire whose mastery in both art forms has earned her place in the limelight is renowned Chef Michelle Bernstein of Miami, FL. A familiar face indeed — chef is also a former dancer with New York City’s Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

Quite the impressive resume, Chef Bernstein’s culinary undertaking began with the study of cuisine at Northern Miami’s Johnson & Wales University. In developing her own cooking style, Chef Bernstein established her own definitive form of kitchen choreography rooted in chef’s Argentinian and Jewish heritage. While Latin flavors drive her cuisine, an occasional twist on Jewish delicacies and Moroccan inspired dishes get mingled-in now and again.

Well-recognized throughout the culinary world, career highlights include the opening of chef’s acclaimed restaurant Michy’s Miami; followed by her winning of the 2008 James Beard Award, and publication of her cookbook “Cuisine a Latina” in the same year. Chef Bernstein has also appeared on such programs as Bravo TV’s “Top Chef” and “Top Chef Masters,” and Food Network’s “Iron Chef,” where she defeated the acclaimed Bobby Flay in cooking battle.

Specially chosen for readers — for their tasting pleasures, Chef Bernstein has selected a recipe comprised of healthy seasonal ingredients, with one worthwhile splurge of fromage (cheese) for protein. Bon appetite…

A Recipe in Kitchen Choreography: Roast Root Vegetable Salad (serves 4)

Chef Michelle Bernstein Food - Dishes for MicroSoft

Chef Michelle Bernstein’s Root Vegetable Salad


12 asparagus

1 butternut or acorn squash, peeled and cut into 2 inch long, ½ inch wide pieces

2 cups small cauliflower florets

8 radishes

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped

1 cup grated manchego cheese (protein and calcium rich)

salt and black pepper


3 tablespoons extra virgin oil (countless health benefits)

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 400F. Toss the veggies with the oil, rosemary and season with salt and pepper. Roast the vegetables for about 45 minutes or until golden brown and tender. Cut the asparagus in half, radishes in quarters. Toss with vinaigrette and mix-in the cheese.

More recipes from Chef Michelle Bernstein and her culinary team:

Moroccan-Chickpea-Soup – published by

Tajine of Seafood Chermoula – from a collection of recipes for the James Beard Foundation

FROM THE ARCHIVES: The San Diego Film Scene

Posted in events, film, news, san diego by MiNA on October 2, 2014
Willem Dafoe and Michael Pena on location shooting "My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done." Photo by J Rios.

Willem Dafoe and Michael Pena on location shooting “My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done.” Photo by J Rios.

For every writer, editor, media outlet, and business entity with an online presence, one’s biggest fear is getting buried by the tsunami of content that’s already on the web. What could be worse? How ’bout when your content disappears completely after an online source met its demise? The circumstance is inevitable, therefore if salvaging one’s past work is a priority, ensure you have copies to post elsewhere later-on, such as one’s blog; hence the reason for posting this 2009 write-up on the San Diego Film Commission for Enjoy…..


San Diego has an impressive filmography that dates back to the silent film era. Cecil B. DeMille filmed the Virginian in 1914 which soon triggered an ongoing following by other major filmmakers. To attract even more film production traffic to the area, the city of San Diego created a simplified permit acquisition process. As film-making steadily increased, the San Diego Film Commission (SDFC) became the designated resource for all local film related efforts.

The SDFC serves as a liason between the film industry and city ordinances so that producers can devote more of their time to their film projects. The commission provides a step by step overview of the permit acquisition process with sample documents of Production Agreements, Certificates of Insurance, and Talent and Property Release Forms. An invaluable Film & Video Resource Guide is also produced every year and includes lists of film location sites, talent and pre/post production specialists, and production equipment providers.

San Diego has an array of modern and historic architectural structures that are ideal backdrops for film, plus a variety of diverse terrain that can easily pass as other parts of the world such as Spain, Mexico, the Mediterranean, Hawaii, among other places. Notable films produced in San Diego include “Citizen Cane,” “Some Like It Hot,” “Top Gun,” “the Hunt For Red October,” “Bugsy,” “Apollo 13,” “Almost Famous,” “Traffic,” “Pearl Harbor,” and “Babel.”

Other major draws to filming in San Diego; there is no cost for filming on California state properties and film permits are free. The California Film Commission also recently instated a tax credit incentive that will go into effect on July 1, 2009. SDFC Commissioner/CEO Cathy Anderson is thrilled about recent developments in the business. She shares, “Not only did we get a new state film incentive, but we have a special San Diego edition of the Hollywood Reporter (HP) to remind the film industry that San Diego is ready to take on more business.”

To celebrate the new state incentive and the release of the HP’s February 2009 special issue, “Made in San Diego,” the publication and the SDFC invited members of the media and the political and film-making community for an informal gathering at the posh new San Diego Hard Rock Hotel. Among guests were film producer, Tim Ryan, founder of the San Diego Asian Film Festival, Lee Ann Kim, San Diego Mayor, Jerry Sanders, Councilman Kevin Faulconer, and County Supervisor Ron Roberts who proudly shared that he made his first film debut in the 2006 documentary, “Who Killed the Electric Car.”

San Diego has been a film production destination for over a century and growth is sure to continue. The pace to which that growth occurs comes down to creating widespread awareness about what San Diego has to offer — a multitude of time and money saving benefits.


Posted in animals, canine, crowdfunding by MiNA on September 25, 2014
Mission Bay, San Diego, CA

Mission Bay, San Diego, CA

The MiNAPRESS canine companion — Leah — remains in need of medical attention and you can still help by visiting the new crowdfunding campaign page via GoFundMe.

Take part in helping save Leah’s life. Become Leah’s Hope.

Many thanks from the MiNAPRESS news desk…..


Posted in clients, hospitality, public relations, sonoma, travel, wine country by MiNA on September 23, 2014

Mina Communications proudly welcomes to its clientele

The Flamingo Resort & Spa of Sonoma Wine Country

Photo courtesy of The Flamingo Resort and Spa

Jane Mansfield. Photo courtesy of The Flamingo Resort and Spa.

Not far from city life, yet away from the Bay Area hustle and bustle – the historic Flamingo Resort & Spa awaits. A diamond in the vines, amidst Sonoma’s Bennett Valley Wine Appellation, The Flamingo is the destination where those-in-the-know flock to retreat from everyday monotony.

Designed in the 1950s by Los Angeles modern architect, George Vernon Russell — with the intention of mirroring the original Vegas Flamingo design, Hollywood glamour soon became synonymous with The Flamingo Resort image.

After opening its doors in 1957, Hollywood deemed The Flamingo the place to stay north of the bay.  With such iconic stars as Jane Mansfield frequenting the hotel in years past, and film crews (of more recent years) on-location for such pictures as “Mumford” and “Bandits,” The Flamingo has long lived up to its claim to fame.

Declared a historic landmark in 1996 by the City of Santa Rosa, The Flamingo Resort remains an important piece of local history with a constantly thriving pulse.

As of September 2014, Mina Communications is providing The Flamingo Public Relations services for various promotional efforts. Jobs include News/Press Release generation, E-mail Blast design and copywriting, and Media Outreach. Stay tuned for project samples via


To learn more, visit


<a href=”; id=”mT330″>check this out</a>


Posted in crowdfunding, crowdsourcing, news by MiNA on August 31, 2014
A consulting business 4 the Arts

For Stimulating  Arts News & Consulting Services 4 the Arts

 N E W S    R E L E A S E 

For Immediate Release


Jasmine (Mina) Rios, Publicist

619.851.3920 PST

Partake in Leah’s Hope.

August 31, 2014 — Rescued six-year-old, White Shepherd (Leah), whose harsh
beginnings in life were less than humane, now survives with the aid of antibiotics
and painkillers, until crowdfunding efforts help enable a life saving surgery.

blue moon 004Diagnosed via x-ray and ultrasound with an infected kidney that’s no longer functioning, veterinary specialists from the eastern Santa Rosa based Petcare Emergency Hospital speculate that the root cause of infection lies within Leah’s
pelvic region; where a mysterious mass (possibly cancerous) is pending further examination.

While the removal of Leah’s left kidney is imminent, to help prevent the spread of
infection, exploratory surgery of Leah’s pelvic region also necessitates a biopsy; a
complex procedure based on where the potentially cancerous mass is embedded.

Crowdfunding efforts via Indiegogo (IGG) are in effect and will continue through11:59pm on September 7th. Since the campaign launch (in late August), the Leah’s Hope campaign has reached a global audience through various social media platforms, and has received donor support from sources in Northern California and Hawaii.

Over a two week period, diagnostic cost and treatment has reached $2,000. With the impending cost of surgery and recovery, medical expenses are expected to quadruple; hence the IGG campaign goal of $10,000.

All contributions toward Leah’s Hope have a direct impact on prolonging Leah’s life; therefore campaign leaders encourage the public to help in securing Leah’s future as a healthy, happy, member of Sonoma’s thriving canine community.

The Leah’s Hope IGG Campaign
Leah’s Hope on Facebook


p style=”text-align:center;”>Mina Communications / Arts News & Consulting Services / 8910 Sonoma Hwy, P.O. Box 964, Kenwood, CA 95452 / 619.851.3920 PST / /


Posted in crowdfunding, crowdsourcing, film, journalist, music, news, publicist, publicity, Uncategorized by MiNA on August 24, 2014



With a heavy heart, we bring you word that our MinaPRESS canine companion — six year old Leah — is in need of an operation. In recent days, Leah was diagnosed with an infected kidney (cause still unknown) which needs to be removed before the infection spreads. A rescued soul, whose early beginnings in life were far from humane, Leah now survives with the assistance of antibiotics and pain killers until the necessary means are acquired to cover the cost of surgery. Fundraising efforts are in motion and here’s how you can help:

IGG Logo

Thoughtful gifts (perks) have been carefully selected for each denomination/pledge amount: $5 (Leah’s paw print), $25 (framed hi-resolution photo), $50 (Leah’s Hope charm bracelet), $100 (Leah’s Hope Chest/keepsake box), $500 (handmade Princess Leah tiara), or $1000 (canvas print).

Please note that the more you donate, the more perks you receive; i.e. by donating $100, you’ll receive the $100 perk, along with each perk of smaller denomination.

On behalf of our girl, we thank you in advance for your interest in Leah’s Hope.

May Leah’s life-force be with you.

Leah’s Hope IGG Campaign Video

Leah’s Hope on Facebook


Posted in arts, events, film, freelance, journalism, journalist, news, tv by MiNA on July 8, 2014

Comic-Con International San Diego Convention Center

Greetings Comic-Con Enthusiasts……

With Comic-Con month now underway, the suspense is likely hard to contain for most. But contain ourselves we must, and divert that energy elsewhere, as things like wrapping-up final costume details and deciding how you’ll spend what limited free-time you’ll have is of the essence.

If you’re anything like freelance journalist Mina Rios, despite exhaustion from standing in line all morning/afternoon at the Con, by days end, the internal craving for further stimuli persists. For this reason, Mina takes time to recoup (and sort through media coverage from the days events) after Con hours at such preferred San Diego hubs as Mary Jane’s, Dublin Square, and Odysea.

This year, MiNA proudly invites Comic-Con enthusiasts to drop by MiNA’s Roundtable (starting at around 7pm-ish nightly) to share their Con experience(s) and get featured in an upcoming MinaPRESS column and YouTube video/slide show. Interested parties — please  RSVP by 7/21.


Mary Jane’s Thurs. July 24th / Dublin Square Fri. July 25th / Odysea Sat. July 26th
San Diego Hard Rock Hotel  Mary Jane's

San Diego Hard Rock Hotel
Mary Jane’s


For the curious — what on earth sparked an arts journalist’s interest in Comic-Con in the first place? Childhood influences include Charles Schulz Peanuts comic-strips;  re-runs of the original Superman and Batman TV Series; classic horror films; and fantasy motion pictures by the special effects master Ray Harryhausen, whom I had the pleasure of meeting during Comic-Con a few years prior.

Having grown up during a time when such iconic, pop culture films as Jaws, Superman, and Star Wars were first released, fascination with these films inevitably triggered a deeper appreciation for the cinematic art form — thus inspiring current practices in screenwriting.

San Diego Gaslamp

Dublin Square

As one who continuously looks for innovation in concepts/characters/and plots (for article subjects and inspiration), it’s impossible to overlook the extraordinary attention to superior writing for the small screen over the last decade. With such programs as BBC’s Sherlock and AMC’s Mad Men and Breaking Bad, the quality generating machine television has morphed into, often surpassing the writing excellence of mainstream film (for the big screen), it’s a marvel to watch and privilege to partake-in through Comic-Con.

Odysea Lounge

Odysea Lounge

While only hours remain before the complete Comic-Con Event Schedule is officially posted, based on event announcements thus far, MinaPRESS coverage will include:




Bates Motel, July 2013

Bates Motel, July 2013

 Bates Motel – Fri., Room 6A

Big Bang Theory – Fri., Ballroom 20

The Walking Dead – Fri. Hall H

The Hobbit / Gotham /The Flash / Constantine  / Sat., Hall H

Grimm/American Horror Story – Sat., Ballroom 20

The Following / The Strain – Sun., Hall H

#  #  #

                                              Until next time…. May the Arts Be With You.


Posted in crowdfunding, crowdsourcing, journalism, news, publicity, services, Uncategorized by MiNA on June 12, 2014

By way of the fundamental trial and error method, many of us have learned that there really are no simple shortcuts to monetary triumph in fundraising; particularly with regard to crowdfunding. With the constant surge in new crowdfunding efforts being added to the mix everyday now, this kind of fierce competition (which the world has never seen before), has made it virtually impossible to anticipate how well any campaign will do these days.


The reality of how one can have any handle on their campaigns financial gain isn’t a shiny new sexy strategy, but rather plain-old straightforward (and constant) networking with people of common interests and stable financial means; and advance planning of how one will go about promoting their campaign.

If your campaign (like many) started out without a real plan and you’re fast approaching the bitter-end of your campaign — your only real option at this point is to extend the campaign deadline by a few weeks; give your campaign content a facelift; then begin promoting your effort with a fresh new approach like there’s no tomorrow.

If you’ve yet to make social media outlets and blogs your best friends, it’s time to get friendly and put on that pleasant friend-face to make it so.

Tell the world about your project/cause; and do it well. Short on ideas? See what others are doing right; visit campaign pages that know what success looks like up-close. For inspiration — check out some of the million dollar campaigns on Indiegogo that have more than doubled their goals in record time.

Paying it Forward to an in-direct campaign competitor you admire (one that’s in a different campaign category from yours), by sharing some positive feedback on their campaign comment section, could lead to good things; i.e. an encouraging or validating reply that yields a boost in morale; possibly even a financial contribution.

Commentary that’s simply not cool to post on other people’s campaign pages are messages from amateurs claiming to offer effective publicity services to help promote your campaign, in exchange for a cut from your hard-earned funds. Don’t fall into this trap.

The overwhelming growth in crowdfunding that’s rapidly turned into a groundbreaking phenomenon, pretty much guarantees there will soon be a slew of start-up companies offering publicity services catering specifically to crowdfunding efforts. Not surprising — there already are a handful of small business entities offering these services; despite this, be a little weary. Given that crowdfunding publicity services are a relatively new trade, thorough investigation of their legitimacy is yet to become public record, therefore caution is advised.

Now after reading this, if you’re feeling a little inspired — even a little generous, take a look at the Soul of a Blue Butterfly campaign on Indiegogo and see what a unique project in need of support looks like. Then ask yourself — what exactly makes a crowdfunding campaign fund-worthy? Can a small production with clear potential matter to enough people to make a difference? One can only hope.

The IndieGoGo Tap Dance Continues……..

Posted in journalism by MiNA on June 1, 2014

Good news! The perks just keep getting better… While efforts to make the Blue Butterfly campaign/crowdfunding tap dance with Indiegogo a crowd-pleaser — remain an ongoing objective, to help stimulate interest and support for the presentation of Soul of a Blue Butterfly in NYC on June 17, 20, 22 — we wish to butter-you-up a tad further.

Most people recognize that by nature, the art of dance (particularly ballet) is back-breaking work; making chiropractic back adjustments an essential part of a dancers existence. To that end — Alive & Well Chiropractic, located on the upper east side of Manhattan, wishes to reward contributors of all levels ($5 and above) with a FREE-dom ticket to spinal therapy wellness.

Quite the generous offer from the house doctor (the official chiropractor of the Blue Butterfly artists), it’s our way of extending our thanks for your support toward this very important campaign/production.


Show your support, and the reward of back pain relief is yours. IndieGoGoGo.…. 


Posted in arts, ballet, crowdfunding, crowdsourcing, dance, events, news, performances, publicity by MiNA on May 27, 2014

GOOD DAY ARTS ENTHUSIASTS!…. Announcing as of this date — 20 days remain before the world premiere of Duvall Productions’ Soul of a Blue Butterfly in New York City. With great optimism, we bring you word of two affordable support options that have been added to the Indiegogo campaign — both of which come with perks!


Dancer/choreographer/story creator Anna Duvall

$5 Contribution/Perk: See your name in BLUE! For your contribution, we’ll add your name (in blue) to our list of Indiegogo campaign contributors on the official Soul of a Blue Butterfly website.

$10 Contribution/Perk: See your name in-print!…. in the performance program!…. and in BLUE…. on our official Soul of a Blue Butterfly website.

A small investment by a large group of contributors can go a long way. Help make it happen. Make it real. Share. Support. And feel good about your good deed for the day….

Thank you for your attention. Live. Dance. And Prosper.



Posted in arts, ballet, dance, film, journalism, lifetime, network, news, tv by MiNA on May 26, 2014

San Diego’s best-known Sugar Plum Fairy of California Ballet, Jennifer Curry Wingrove — hasn’t had enough on her plate with thriving constants in her professional life – like teaching and running Pilates on Park and flying through the air (as an aerialist) with the Los Angeles based Luminaro Ballet; no Wingrove had to throw in a “make it work” maneuver for Lifetime TV too. Yes, the Tim Gunn “make-it work” advice did work its magic in Wingrove’s case during her Lifetime production shoot, but we’re actually not talking about a “Project Runway” episode – something else, actually a bit more suitable (pun intended) for a dancer. As of late February 2014, Wingrove began shooting scenes for “Petals on the Wind,” the film sequel to V.C. Andrews’ “Flowers in the Attic;” set to premiere tonight (May 26) at 9pm Pacific on the Lifetime network.

Produced by A+E Studios in association with Silver Screen Pictures for Lifetime TV and starring Heather Graham, Ellen Burstyn, Rose McIver, Dylan Bruce, and Will Kemp; with teleplay by Kayla Alpert (“Flowers in the Attic”); Wingrove says, “Unlike the book, the film will jump 10 years ahead from the events of ‘Flowers.’” She adds, “I also love that this movie is being directed by a woman;” actress/writer/director Karen Moncrieff – who made her directorial debut in the feature film “Blue Car.”

With choreography by the highly sought-after Kitty McNamee, artistic director of the Los Angeles based Hysterica Dance Co., the dance sequences alone, aught to cause a little hysteria (the good kind of course).


During “Petals on the Wind” film shoot. Photo by Jennifer Curry Wingrove.

Story Synopsis (courtesy of Lifetime)

A decade after Cathy (Rose McIver, “Masters of Sex”, “Once Upon a Time”), Christopher (Wyatt Nash, “Pretty Little Liars”) and Carrie (“Bailey Buntain,” “Bunheads“) escaped from their grandparents’ attic at Foxworth Hall, “Petals on the Wind” continues to follow the twisted plight of the family as they attempt to put their sordid past behind them, but soon discover certain secrets can’t be left behind. When Cathy finds herself in an abusive relationship with a fellow dancer, Julian (Will Kemp, “90210”), Christopher and Cathy are forced to face the forbidden feelings they developed for one another while coming of age during captivity. But when tragedy strikes the Dollangangers once again, Cathy returns to Foxworth Hall to confront her grandmother and seek revenge on her mother with a plan to seduce her husband Bart (Dylan Bruce, “Orphan Black”). When Christopher runs to Cathy’s side, the two are determined to start over again – together.

Other recent project’s Wingrove has had her hand-in; collaborative efforts as choreographer, aerialist, and dancer for Luminario Ballet’sTrails” – a multi-media dance/aerial production on the subject of climate change in California, featuring scientific advisory from NASA.


Posted in arts, dance, events, music, news, performances, publicity by MiNA on May 20, 2014
Photo of dancer Jennifer Chicheportiche provided courtesy of Duvall Productions

Photo of dancer Jennifer Chicheportiche provided courtesy of Duvall Productions


For Your Eyes Only Darling…….

The MiNAPRESS Column

Wilcommen. Bienvenue. And Welcome….. Duvall Productions proudly announces — Soul of a Blue Butterfly is now casting for the roles of “Production Contributors.” Come partake in the launch of an artists dream by playing the role you were destined for. Semi-controversial in context — this important theatrical dance production is a rare quality piece which cries-out for your funding assistance; enabling this modest stage production to metamorphose into the international theater sensation it’s predestined to become. Earn a place with your name in the performance program with a contribution of $25 or more and make a visionary’s life work become realized.

Representing what a true crowd-funding effort is supposed to be — supporting independent artists with limited financial means — your participation via Indiegogo is respectfully requested.

Photo of dancer Jennifer Chicheportiche provided courtesy of Duvall Productions

ABOUT Soul of a Blue Butterfly….

The true story of a young Swedish woman en…

View original post 334 more words


Posted in arts, dance, events, music, news, performances, publicity by MiNA on May 19, 2014

Wilcommen. Bienvenue. And Welcome….. Duvall Productions proudly announces — Soul of a Blue Butterfly is now casting for the roles of “Production Contributors.” Come partake in the launch of an artists dream by playing the role you were destined for. Semi-controversial in context — this important theatrical dance production is a rare quality piece which cries-out for your funding assistance; enabling this modest stage production to metamorphose into the international theater sensation it’s predestined to become. Earn a place with your name in the performance program with a contribution of $25 or more and make a visionary’s life work become realized.

Representing what a true crowd-funding effort is supposed to be — supporting independent artists with limited financial means — your participation via Indiegogo is respectfully requested.

Photo of dancer Jennifer Chicheportiche provided courtesy of Duvall Productions


ABOUT Soul of a Blue Butterfly….

The true story of a young Swedish woman en route to Jerusalem to discover her roots, finds unexpected love. Upon being asked to marry, the Synagogue Rabbi declares Lavana (the story’s heroine) not Jewish enough for an Orthodox wedding. As despair ensues, the struggle of a lifetime begins.

Set in the 1940s, this tragicomedy – elevated by an original music scoreperformed live by Swedish composer Elin Palmer; a lighthearted Charlie Chaplin mime motif; and breathtaking aerial theatrics by former Cirque du Soleil artist Sara Joel, is a rare theatrical feast for the senses for all generations.


  • To compensate our artists for their hard work and commitment
  • To generate positive/effective media coverage
  • To generate strong patronage for three performance dates
  • To establish our brand and continue building a national and international presence

NEEDS: $5,000 USD

  • STAGING/TECHNICAL: Lighting, sound, stage management, photography/filmography, venue space, rehearsal space, costumes, sets, and props
  • CAST/CREW: actors/directors/musician(s)/admin salaries; transportation; lodging
  • COLLATERAL/PROMOTION RELATED: programs, flyers, website maintenance, advertising/publicity

CONTRIBUTOR PERKS In addition to having your name featured in the performance program, your contribution of the below listed amounts include:

  •  $25 USD – Contributors receive an autographed Soul of a Blue Butterfly poster
  •  $50 USD – Contributors receive a CD of the soundtrack (original score by Elin Palmer/music sample: and an autographed Soul of a Blue Butterfly poster
  • $100 USD – Contributors receive a tee-shirt, a CD of the  soundtrack (original score by Elin Palmer/music sample, and an autographed Soul of a Blue Butterfly poster
  • $1000 USD – Contributors get to meet the cast and receive a tee-shirt, a CD of the  soundtrack (original score by Elin Palmer/music sample, and an autographed Soul of a Blue Butterfly poster

Support the Blue Butterflies of the World via


Thespis Theater Festival / Cabrini Repertory Theater / Washington Heights

701 Fort Washington Avenue / New York, NY 10040

JUNE 17th at 8:45pm / JUNE 20th at 9pm / JUNE 22ndat 2pm

Tickets $20 + minimal fee (no discounts) /



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