Oh, hi! I totally forgot to mention to you all here that I’ve started a newsletter — or as I’ve been calling it, a letter from me to you. Really, it’s a love letter.
So far I’ve been sending out weekly dispatches about life, love, food, politics, books, TV, podcasts (so many podcasts!), motherhood, and I’d be delighted if you wanted to sign up. My mom wrote me a long email with all the questions: Why a tiny letter? Why not do it here, on your website? Can I write you back there? Are my replies public? Do I need to go find your gmail? Do you think people will find it and sign up!?
So: The reason it’s a Tiny Letter and not here, on my website, is because, as you can read in the first email, I love letters. Love them. It’s how I’ve always communicated with my friends and family, it’s how I met and fell in love with my husband. It’s how I think through problems and work out essays. There’s something intimate, precious and private about them, even when they are not written out by hand. When I found Tiny Letter I thought: what a quaint and lovely pocket of the internet. (Rare thought.)
And to answer the more practical questions: Yes, you can write me back directly on Tiny Letter. No, your replies aren’t public. Yes, I do write everyone back!
So come on over. You can sign up here. I’d love, love, love to have you.
See that mash of sweaty bodies above? One of them could be you! Go to Dance Church and you will see what I mean. It is THE BEST. It’s so much the best thing that I wrote about it for Dance Magazine. But you don’t have to be a dancer to go! That’s the entire point! Read about it all here.
I answer this and other vital questions regarding my rules of marriage in this new piece for The Cut!
Here’s something no one tells you before you move to Los Angeles: you will no longer need clothing.
Let me rephrase: you will no longer need real clothing. When I moved to L.A. two years ago I was shocked to discover that grown women wore leggings everywhere — not just to and from yoga or the gym, or even just to walk their dogs, but IRL, as they say: to preschool drop off and pick-up; to the grocery store; to casual weekend gatherings; to coffee shops and restaurants. And I’m not talking about leggings with long blouses and knee-high leather boots. I’m talking about leggings as pants. With, like, a T-shirt and flip-flops.
I wrote about lipstick for a series in The Cut called “Sealed with a Kiss.” So delightful in these dark times! Read on here.
Clad in her signature loose black T-shirt and baggy gym shorts, Emma Portner is standing in a cavernous industrial space in downtown Los Angeles. A glass box—big enough to fit five dancers with only a little room to maneuver inside—sits in the middle. The five performers, Portner included, are standing inside it, side by side, palms on the glass.
“Question,” Portner asks. “Are we looking at our hands?”
She steps out to watch the others try the phrase, and adds a few more steps. Quick, staccato movement, legs kicking out, torsos swiveling around, fists hitting glass. “This is a puzzle,” she says, almost to herself. “I’m not sure I’ll like it.” The statement, like so many, is punctured with a sweet, nervous laugh.
Portner, 23, may be soft-spoken, but she’s a powerhouse mover. Anyone who has seen her Instagram videos can recognize the ferocity with which she throws her body—and seemingly her soul—into each moment.
That said, the energy in the rehearsal space is anything but frenetic. A calm, collaborative feel permeates. “What do we need to do next?” she asks the dancers. “Is everyone okay?”
It was a total joy to write about the incredible choreographer/dancer/revolutionary, Emma Portner, for Dance Magazine. Read the full cover story here.
[Photo by Quinn Wharton]
For months my daughter has been taking ballet and tap at the local recreation center, and she recently came to the requisite end-of-year performance. My kid is only four, so her part was minimal—a few short, absurd appearances, flanked by all the other little giggling girls in her class. The real show started and ended with the older girls. I knew I wasn’t in store for something professional, but I still didn’t expect what was coming.
Read more at Motherwell!
Paul Taylor, a legend of the dance world, was the first dance I ever saw, at age 4, at Jacob’s Pillow. I fell in love right there.
He died yesterday, at age 88, and will be so deeply missed.
Over ten years ago I wrote an homage to my favorite piece of his, “Esplanade,” for Dance Magazine. The dance still makes me weep.
To see this marvelous piece of choreography, click here. Do yourself a favor and watch all five parts.
It’s summer, August maybe, and our family’s boxy purple Peugeot is parked at a rest stop gas station. My father pumps gas in his leather sandals. My 13-year-old sister, Rachel, slumps in the backseat, listening to her Walkman with her hood up over her ears. My mother, in a billowy fuchsia sundress, stands next to the passenger’s side of the car with the door open, one sandaled foot propped up on the runner, one palm resting on the top of the car, waiting. Her gray hair is cut very short. Her oval glasses take over much of her face.
I’m five, and have gotten out of the car to dance around on the cement for a few minutes, my white Tretorns, striped T-shirt, and shorts glistening in the sun. I skip over little puddles of oil between the cars, making a game out of not getting my feet wet.
There are several adults clustered around the pumps, filling their cars. I hop over to one of them, look up and say, “My Mommy had babies that died.” Then over to another: “My Mommy had babies that died.”
My mother did, indeed, have babies that died; so did my father, of course. I guess my sister did, too — baby-siblings. But these babies — a boy, a stillbirth at 23 weeks, and a girl a year later, at 24 weeks, both big enough to swell my mother’s belly but small enough to fit in the palm of my father’s hand — died seven and eight years earlier, respectively. I came next; I was the one who made it.
Read more at Modern Loss.
I had the delightful experience of talking with the folks over at the new podcast, Restoration Row, about chronic pain, identity, mental health, and recovery. How does pain change us? And is that okay?
(Yes, yes, it is.)
Click over here to listen to the podcast. (Interview begins around 14:00.) To hear my Lenny Letter piece read aloud (beautifully–that accent!), don’t skip ahead!
Happy Friday! I’m delighted to be in Lenny today, with the story of how I healed from chronic back pain. If you want to go back and read Part 1 of the story on Longreads — all about my dance career — click here.
I’d love to hear all about your woes of pain and (hopefully) recovery.