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How Do You Break In Your Pointe Shoes?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Thank you for the question, Solveig.

Breaking in pointe shoes… oooh every dancer that you meet, will do it differently. Pointe shoes are as individual as your own feet. It will take some trial and error but it will be an interesting journey and before you know it, you will have developed some of your very own odd, ballerina pointe shoe tricks. 

I do customize my shoes which is a blessing because it cuts down on the time that I need to spend breaking them in. Although, I still do a few things to my shoes after I’ve sewn on my elastic and ribbons and have darned my them. Here are the four things I do to prepare my shoes: 

1- Glue

I lightly glue the bottom of the toe and up either side about 3 inches with HotStuff glue. (Jet Glue in the States) 

When I am glueing my shoes I have the shoe stand up on pointe as I move it in a circular motion until it dries, which is for only about 10 seconds. I do this thinking that it is evenly spreading out the glue on the toe but I cannot prove that.  Just something that I do. Then I let my shoes remain standing on pointe for several minutes after I’ve glued them.

2- Shave the outside down.

I do shave the outside of my shoe. PLEASE BE CAREFUL AND HAVE AN ADULT HELP YOU. This is no joke. I’ve seen girls do some very painful things by accident while shaving their shoes down. The hobby knife that I use is really, really sharp. I shave the shoe from the point of where my foot bends and downward. The heel still has full support. I do this so it takes less effort for me to be able to bend the shoes when I pointe my feet. 

3- Chair Trick.

Always, always, always. I will not wear my pointe shoes until I’ve done this trick. I take a chair and place it on my bent pointe shoes OVERNIGHT. 

4- Water the Bunions. 

The final thing that I do to my pointe shoes is once I’ve put them on for class, I will run to the bathroom to splash a small amount of water on the bunion area. Nobody got time for blisters and water softens the material where I know it will be rubbing my feet. 

These are the four things that I do. Some people stand on them and make them pop, some people press them in to doors, some people bang the shoes on the ground…. there are many options to try to find your best break-in routine. I hope this helps!

xoxo
-Hol

What Are Your Favorite and Least Favorite Steps!?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Friday, June 5, 2020

Thank you for the question, @andreeaunicorn

Favorite Steps!

-TURNS: I really enjoy that floating sensation. Turns for me are almost like my rest step. I look forward to them in my variations. I enjoy all turns but fast pike turns that really travel across the stage are definitely, one of my favorites!

Pike turns in Tchaikovsky Pas De Deux

-BIG JUMPS: When you leap, it’s almost like you are flying! And that feels amazing!

Ravn Campaign.

– MOVING FAST: I really enjoy the challenge of moving fast. I think it is interesting to the eye of the observer and fun for the dancer. You also have to be so on top of what you are doing because there isn’t a split second for hesitation! That’s a thrill!

Ballo Della Regina.

-POINTE WORK: I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with pointe shoes, but I sure loving dancing in them. It is so much fun to dance on my toes while doing little, feminine steps. But oooooh sometimes my toes can be so painful, I can barely breathe! Although, ever since i switched to using PerfectFit Toe Pads, it has been a game changer and has taken away almost all the pain!

Lead Marzipan in The Nutcracker.

Least Favorite Steps!

PENCHE WITHOUT A PARTNER AND IN POINTE SHOES: This is, without a doubt, my least favorite step. From the fact that the bottoms of pointe shoes aren’t really flat, to the reality that you have nothing to hold on too and can easily, EASILY fall… all penche’s are terrifying. Giselle has quite a few of them in the second act. At one point, she is the only person moving on stage, so all eyes are on her, and there is a terribly bright spotlight on her and there she is trying to do an impossibly slow penche! That is tricky!

Penche in Giselle Second Act

SLOW ADAGE: If adage becomes too slow, I find it not fun. My legs feel heavy. My hips start to hurt and it no longer feels like dancing but rather fighting for poses. BUT it’s always good to have something to work on.

xoxo
-Hol

A Slow Adage Section from the ballet, Giselle

How Do You Maintain Good Shape During These Corona Times?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Friday, May 29, 2020

Thank you so much for the question, @sidsefog

What an unnerving time we are all currently living in around the world. I hope you and your families are safe and healthy. Truly.

To help me stay in shape, as close to ballerina shape as I can, I currently do these 5 things:

1- Run. I run 5k every other day. Running gets my heartbeat up, helps me maintain some sort of level of stamina, and the hard landings keep my ankles used to impact when jumping is rather limited without a studio. I do run on a dirt path so it isn’t as rough for my ankles. If you aren’t a runner, I do recommend it but start slow. Shin splints, knee problems, and ankle issues can appear if you do too much to soon.

2- Ballet Barre. On the days that I don’t run, I do a ballet barre. I was doing barre everyday but now the Royal Danish Ballet is officially on summer holiday so I’ve given myself a bit of a break. I want to keep my feet and legs moving but to also allow them to get a rest so they are ready for the 2020/2021 exciting season.

3- Single Leg Heel Raise Exercise. Many injuries start from a weak calf… I have found that by just adding this exercise into my daily routine, it is helping me maintain better calf shape and it helps prevent injuries when we eventually get back to a full time dance schedule.

The exercise is to stand on one leg with your other foot off of the ground. Slowly count to four to raise up to a demi point and then slowly count to four to lower down again without ever allowing your heel to touch the floor. If you can do 27 in a row then they say that you have a healthy and strong calf. It’s pretty tough though! I’m only at 17 in a row!

4- 3-5 minute plank. This one I do after my run. I’m currently building up to 5 min. Trying to keep my abs strong and my arms sculpted.

5- Stretch. Especially my calves from all the running and the leg heel raises. But I also do the splits, and some hip stretches. Trying to keep things loose.

These are the five things that I do religiously but there are so many different types of exercises that can also keep you in a good shape during these tricky times. Maybe you prefer the jump rope instead of running. Or a workout class with squats and weights. Or even learning a dance routine off of the internet. I’ve done these things too! They are fun. Take advantage of all the classes on social media. It’s a great distraction and maybe you’ll discover a new love!

xo
-Hol

In the Ballet, Napoli, Who Is the Lady in the Blue Dress?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Blue Angel: Viktoria Brandt

Thank you for the question, Ingrid & Hanne Kuhlman

In August Bournonville’s ballet, Napoli, there is one character that can be a little tricky to figure out. The ballet opens up with a scene of the streets of Napoli. A charming, busy, dirty city on the sea in Italy. You meet the two main characters, Teresina & Gennaro. They are very much in love with each other. Teresina’s mother, Veronica, doesn’t want her daughter to marry Gennaro, a poor fisherman. Veronica introduces her daughter to two other possible suitors, Peppo and Giacamo, much wealthier options. Teresina will not have it and begs for her mother’s approval. BUT! Amid all of this, a woman dressed in a blue robe comes on stage and has a short dialogue with Teresina and Gennaro.

Teresina: Alexandra LoSardo, Gennaro: Alban Lendorf, Blue Angel: Josephine Berggreen

This character, in the newest version by Nikolaj Hubbe and Sorella Englund is called the Blue Angel. Originally the Blue Angel was in fact, a Catholic monk. Nikolaj and Sorella wanted to take a step away from having only one form of religion represented and decided to incorporate all religions by having her represent love.

The Blue Angel can ONLY be seen by Teresina and Gennaro. This is because they are the ones fighting for their love. The Blue Angel guides the couple throughout the ballet. You’ll see the Blue Angel in first act, have Teresina give her necklace to Gennaro, representing her choice in love.

Teresina: Holly Dorger, Gennaro: Jonathan Chmelensky, Blue Angel: Viktoria Brandt

Later, once Teresina has drowned and Gennaro is on the cusp of committing suicide, the Blue Angel reappears to Gennaro and tells him to search for Teresina in the Blue Grotto. She will not allow him to give up on love.

Gennaro: Alban Lendorf, Blue Angel: Josephine Berggreen
Gennaro: Jonathan Chmelensky, Blue Angel: Viktoria Brandt

At the end of the ballet, you’ll see the blue angel cross the stage on the infamous bridge, at the couples wedding festivities. She is watching over them. Love prevailed.

Gennaro: Alban Lendorf, Blue Angel: Josephine Berggreen

In the original version with the Catholic Pilgrim, in first act, you see Teresina give the monk her heart necklace instead of Gennaro. The monk then blesses Teresina and Gennaro and their love. The monk also is the character to stop Gennaro from committing suicide when they learn that Teresina has disappeared.

Teresina: Holly Dorger, Gennaro: Jonathan Chmelensky, Blue Angel: Viktoria Brandt

There is a version on YouTube from 1986, that is of a pretty good filming quality, following closer to the original version, including the Pigrim. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdR2N4u3r5A

Teresina: Linda Hindberg, Gennaro: Arne Villumsen, Monk: ?

Or…

There is Nikolaj Hubbe’s and Sorella Englund’s version from 2013 on KGLExtra. This is the version the Royal Danish Ballet currently performs. https://kglteater.dk/xtra/forestillinger/forestilling-napoli/

Teresina: Alexandra LoSardo, Gennaro: Alban Lendorf, Blue Angel: Josephine Berggreen

Hope that helped! Enjoy Napoli. It is a fantastic ballet!

Xo
-Hol

What Was Your Journey Like To Get To The Royal Danish Ballet?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Monday, February 24, 2020

Photo: Kglteater

Thank you for the question, @liv.book

Do you know the song, My Way, by Frank Sinatra? (such a good song) 🙂 It is a fantastic reminder that everyone has their own path in life. Their fate will be lived out their way. Twists, curve-balls, and unexpected challenges will occur to everyone at some point during their life’s journey. Life can be truly unpredictable! Maybe your path will take you in a totally different direction then you originally planned! That is exactly what happened to me. And it turned out to be my biggest blessing in disguise!

I moved away from home to N.Y.C. at 14 years old to become a year round student at the School of American Ballet. (SAB) SAB is the ballet school that feeds in to The New York City Ballet. (NYCB) In order to join the company, all dancers must attend SAB. So for four years, I trained everyday in hopes of getting in to the NYCB.

During my four years at SAB, Nikolaj Hubbe, a Danish star dancer with both the Royal Danish Ballet and The New York City Ballet, used to teach a few classes at the school in his spare time. I met Nikolaj when I was fourteen years old, in my first year at the school when he was my substitute teacher one day. What is pretty remarkable is that if you ask him today, he still remembers exactly where I stood at the barre during class. (Second girl in line, by the door. An easy escape (if needed) and I always had a girl in front of me for both sides, in case I didn’t pick up the combination.) 😉

Napoli

Fast forward to about half-way through my fourth year at the school. I turned eighteen years old and was getting ready to graduate high school. Kay Mazzo (the director of SAB) called me in to a meeting about my future. This was right before audition season for professional companies started. Kay told me that Peter Martins (director of NYCB) and Nikolaj Hubbe had had a meeting about me. She continued to tell me that Nikolaj would be taking over the Royal Danish Ballet that August. (2008) And she informed me that Nikolaj had chosen one student, to bring with him back to Denmark. That was me.

Flower Festival

So that is how I ended up at the RDB. It was a shock. It was not my plan. But RDB has given me my dream come true and I couldn’t be more grateful for where I ended up having my professional career.

xoxo,
-Hol

How Do You Deal With Injuries?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Monday, February 10, 2020

Photo: Kasper Nybo

Thank you for the question, @sylle_

Gosh, how do you deal with injuries!? Whether an injury is taking off ballet for a few days or taking off for several months…years, it is never fun. It always feels like it is the worst timing. None of us want to miss out. None of us want to lose an opportunity. None of us want to not be able to dance, the thing that we love to do.

Photo: Ravn

Dealing with injury is a tough process but in order to survive it, we have to find an upside. Finding this upside will not come overnight. NO. NO. No. It will take you time.

I believe that there are several phases of injury that one has to go through.

Starting at the very beginning, Phase 1: Shock and Denial! “I’m fine. I’ll be fine,” you whisper to yourself as you limp home to watch Netflix’s on your couch. Yeah, sure… sure you’re fine. You aren’t fine at all.

Phase 2: Acceptance. Admitting that you are hurt IS scary. It has to be done, though. The quicker you get to this stage, the quicker you can start to heal. Your mind can finally calm down and stop having to repeat that made up story of how you aren’t really injured. One can stay in denial for months… just getting by…for months.

Phase 3: Depression. It will hit you hard and it will put you in a place that you never knew existed. A dark, dark place. Tears… so many tears. Anger will flare up from within you too. Depending on how you deal with this stage, will shape your return from your injury. I would say, feel that deep, black hole, feel the cold walls surrounding you, then… look up at the light. Look up to the surface and start swimming upwards to get out.

Photo: Kasper Nybo

Phase 4: Find the positive side. Suddenly, you have more free time then you know what to do with. Instead of watching TV all day (yes we’ve all given in to those lazy days of watching nonsense TV when injured) I would recommend to take this time to work on having a more, well rounded life.

We put so much focus, energy and hard work in to our ballet that we easily forget that there are a million things happening in the world everyday. Exciting things.

Try something new! Dare to be a beginner at something again. Have that coffee with a friend that you never really had the time to get to know. Educate yourself. Explore what you might be interested in. Could be learning more about the human body or learning a new language or learning about art history. Sky’s the limit! Explore your own city. Find local spots that you’ve never been too.

Phase 5: Starting your way back to ballet. When you are able to start moving again, you’ll be so grateful to have survived all the previous phases. Your love for ballet will have grown even bigger. And believe it or not you will have learned a lot. Hold your horses a little bit though. Try not to rush back. Listen to your advisors including physical therapists and doctors but also listen to yourself. Only you can feel what is going on in your body. I’m a believer of listening to that gut feeling.

Photo: Kasper Nybo

Phase 6: Expect at least one set back. I’ve seen it, time and time again. Someone has recovered from their injury, everyone is so excited to have them back in the studio but their work load just increased quite suddenly. That injury will get a little mad at you for asking so much of it, all of a sudden. Be smart. You are so close to doing what you love but you must remain careful and not push too hard. You are risking setting yourself even further back. And there is no way you are ready to be back at phase 1 emotionally.

If you are injured or know someone who is injured, I’m so sorry that you got hurt. I would never wish an injury upon another human being but especially never upon a dancer. It kills us. Our insides just die. I wish you a speedy and healthy recovery. I hope that you get back even stronger then when you were forced to stop.

xoxo
-Hol

What Is the Summer Ballet 101?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Monday, February 3, 2020

Thank you for the question, Elena Kelly

Every year, Nikolaj Hubbe takes a small group from the Royal Danish Ballet, around 10-12 dancers, to perform on outdoor stages around the countryside of Denmark. Nikolaj Hubbe chooses what the dancers will dance and who will perform. The show is around 1 hour and fifteen minutes long and consists of classic pas de deuxs, & modern pieces from the current season or the upcoming season. Usually the show finishes with a group piece such as Pas de Six from Napoli or Pas de Sept from A Folk Tale.

White Swan with ulrik Birkkjær.

If the summer ballet tour takes place during our contracted season then it is mandatory to go but some years the summer ballet tour takes place outside of the Royal Danish Ballet’s season and then it is a paid tour and optional to go. (but who wouldn’t want to go!)

I’ve always loved dancing in the summer ballet tour! Before I was a part of it, I set it out as a goal! I thought it looked like so much fun. Typically, the principal dancers go, some soloists and possibly an up and coming corps de ballet member or two depending on the repertoire.

Coppelia.

It is a privilege to be asked by Nikolaj Hubbe to represent the RDB to the rest of the country. We love what we do and we love where we do it, so it is always a huge honor. The tour takes us to different cities every year, allowing us to explore Denmark in a way that we probably wouldn’t be exposed too otherwise. You fall in love with Denmark not just Copenhagen.

We have been to many cool locations to perform. Sometimes in font of old, historical castles or in large, blooming gardens or in a farmers backyard with sheep running by! Once we performed in front of an old prison… My favorite spot was several years ago in Funen. It was just so beautiful!

Etudes Sylph Section in Funen.

Summer ballet is especially fun because of the time you get to spend with your colleagues. There are many dinners and bus rides all together, so naturally a lot of jokes, great talks and lots and lots of laughs! All while we do what we love to do. It’s the dream!

The only time that summer ballet isn’t so fun is when the weather begins to drizzle, the temperature drops and now you are COLD. That is not the ideal condition to be in to perform difficult, high demanding pas de deuxs. Such as Black Swan pas de deux, or Grand Pas Classique…etc. Nikolaj always casts a pretty challenging program, full of difficult pieces. So when it is cold, as the Danish summer always has at least a few cold days, it is actually dangerous for us. Our muscles are frozen and that tutu isn’t exactly helping us to keep warm against the wind and other natural elements. When your muscles are cold, an injury is truly just one wrong twist, or one wrong step away. And to get injured, for us, is like death.

When the weather downpours, the show gets cancelled. Disappointing for all involved, including the audience that so kindly showed up, but understandable. The group usually goes to have dinner somewhere and then we try again the next day.

Diamonds Pas with Ulrik Birkkjær.

We do have a few tricks to help us stay warm on those more challenging days. We have skin colored leg warmers that we can wear and long underwear we can put on. If the temperature is ridiculous then we will shorten the program. Instead of each couple doing a pas, male solo, female solo and coda. We will cut each couple to only dancing the pas. That way we can still give the crowd a show, while lowering the injury risk for us.

We do all that we can to help ourselves recover and be ready for the next day, as a ten day tour with one day off is demanding on our bodies. It is common to see us traveling around with our compression socks constantly on, back warmers on, and a roller under our arm so we can roll out our muscles. Anything to help our bodies recover faster to be ready for the show the next day.

Pas de Sept

There will be a summer ballet tour this year from June 8th-June 17th. The specific cities have not been announced yet. The casting has gone up though, so I’m very happy to announce that I will be joining this years tour. I’ll be dancing, “That’s Life” from Come Fly Away and Napoli Pas de Six! I hope we come to a city near YOU!

Summer Ballet Tour

xoxo,
-Hol

Which Are Your Favorite Costumes?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Friday, January 17, 2020

Photo: With Ulrik Birkkjær. Diamonds

Thank you for the question, @elisabethbjornholst


Costumes!! So many beautiful costumes! We are so lucky at the Royal Danish Ballet to have a super talented costume department that makes THE most incredible costumes! I’m absolutely blown away by what I get to wear on stage. They are amazing!

I am 100% a tutu person. I love all tutu’s! To be extremely specific, my favorite costumes are the tutu’s that are considered to be “small”. For example, the tutu I wore for Theme & Variations or for Diamonds.

Photo: NYC Dance Project. Theme & Variations Tutu

The tutus used for more of the classical ballets such as Swan Lake or Sleeping Beauty, or Raymonda are also very beautiful but they can be quite large! The smaller tutus just feel like they fit the best.

Photo: With Ulrik Birkkjær. Swan Queen (Odette) Tutu

Here are some of my favorite tutu’s!!

Diamonds Tutu
Photo: With Gregory Dean. Gamzatti Tutu.
Black Swan Tutu
Photo: With Jonathan Chmelensky. Princess Florine Tutu
Photo: With Sebastian Haynes. Coppelia Tutu
Photo: With Jon Axel. Sugar Plum Fairy Tutu.
Photo: With Jonathan Chmelensky
Raymonda Tutu.

My other favorite type of costume is a leotard with a flowy skirt. For example, Ballo Della Regina or T. Pas.

Photo: With Jonathan Chmelensky. Ballo Della Regina.

I’m a fan of dancing in a tight fitting costume that doesn’t get in my way. 😉 Here are some of my favorite flowy dresses.

Photo: With Marcin Kupinski. T. Pas
Photo: With Magnus Christoffersen. Schubert Pas De Deux
Dew Drop.
Teresina Second Act

Soon (April 2020!!) in Come Fly Away, I will get to wear the costume below and I’m positive that it will be going on my favorite costume list! I mean look at those sparkles!!

Kate Costume.

Xoxo,
-Hol

Is It Hard To Be A Ballet Dancer?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Monday, January 13, 2020

Thank you for the question, @frederikke.schmidt

The quick answer is yes. Yes, it is hard work to be a ballet dancer! BUT if you love it, love it with your heart and soul, then it is worth every second of pain, every sacrifice, every drop of sweat and every tear.

Photo: Morten Eggert

As a ballet dancer, you don’t do it for the money. You don’t do it if you are lazy. And you don’t do it if you don’t have a passion for dance. It’s too hard.

We spend hours upon hours trying to push our bodies to the extreme. We have constant body pressure to look a certain way. Long days. A six day work week. (Sometimes seven days, like last week 😉 )Vacations always include an element to stay in shape. We are more in our leotards then in street clothes. We are at the theater more then we are at home. It can be difficult to make friends outside of the theater because of our demanding and weird schedule. Friday nights are not to party. Friday nights are to recover because you most likely have a show the next day.

The hardest part is to stay strong mentally. When you are working so hard physically, it wears you down and you know the saying, “Life Isn’t Fair…” well ain’t that the truth. Things will happen, out of your control that will hurt you, and they most likely will never be explained. You have to stay focused. You have to continue working. And that is wayyy easier said than done.

Photo: Ravn

You need to fall in love with the training. Fall in love with rehearsing and fall in love with performing. Then you no longer see the work as hard. You see it as a part of “you.” It is just what you do. The reward you get for dedicating your life and working so hard, is in my opinion, absolutely worth it. I love being a ballet dancer. And I love working hard to be a ballet dancer.

Xoxo
-Holly

Do Professionals Really Hate The Nutcracker as Some Say!?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Saturday, January 4, 2020

Photo: KGL Teater

Thank you for your question, @idaspedtsberg

Well… personally,

I LOVE The Nutcracker!! I absolutely love it!

I think there is a kind of magic around it because it is THE reason why so many people become dancers! Ask any room full of dancers, Why did you start ballet? More then half will say, “I saw The Nutcracker.”

You can see a child’s face entirely light up when they watch it! You can almost see the dream forming in their own minds. Hoping that one day they to will get to be on that stage! And that is magic! It is so rewarding to witness, especially now as a Professional because it reminds us that this life that we have, was once just a dream. It reminds us of just how lucky we truly are to do what we love.

Photo: KGL Teater

I think why The Nutcracker has a bit of a reputation among dancers, is because we do a lot of shows, in a short amount of time, of the same thing, everyday. And in many companies, The Nutcracker, comes around EVERY December. (The Royal Danish Ballet is also jumping on that train from this year forward.)

Companies tend to not switch up the version that they perform either. At the Royal Danish Ballet we dance the George Balanchine version. Personally, I love this version. But the girls do have more opportunities to dance then the boys. Girls get the magical dance of Snow, filled with jumps, great music and teamwork. Boys get heavy costumes and large masks as Mice. The girls can dance as Spanish, Arabian, Chinese, Marzipan, Flowers, Dew Drop, or the Sugar Plum Fairy. The boys get Spanish, one boy in the Chinese dance, one boy in the Candy Cane dance or the Cavalier to the Sugar Plum… Not quite as many thrilling options.

Photo: KGL Teater. Dancer Julien Roman

After you’ve done several weeks of rehearsal and then you are on show twenty something of The Nutcracker… you are tired. You are border line exhausted and still have ten plus more shows in front you. That is when, sometimes the patience for The Nutcracker starts to run thin. Which is where that reputation of professionals hating the Nutcracker comes from.

IN reality, ALL dancers have a soft spot for The Nutcracker. We owe that ballet our life. It created our dreams.

Xoxo,
-Hol

Me as The Sugar Plum Fairy with ALL my beautiful Angels.