“Come, let us have some tea and continue to talk about happy things.”- Chaim Potok


Posted on March 18, 2015

Shelby-1825This very day marks a special place in my heart each year, one that merits – at the very least- a moment of humble reflection here on Tutus&TeaNew York City, Central Park

It was 6 years ago to this mid-month of March that I packed up my many bags and moved from the sleepless city of Manhattan across the Atlantic to start my professional dancing career with the Royal Danish BalletNew York City

I wondered wide-eyed down the cobblestoned streets of Copenhagen with not the faintest idea of what the next four years there would behold. Sweet diction can hardly suffice to sum up my experience living and working in that quaint European gem of a city…Needless to say not a day passes that I don’t indulge myself in the most luxurious memories…CopenhagenWhispering rooftops, Royal families, famed streets & statues, I dove headfirst into the most beautiful, humbling life-perspective shift I could have asked for…and never looked back.Rooftops of Copenhagen…until that is, a time and place in my life & career came that beckoned me back over the Deep Blue Sea. The divinely orchestrated chapter of my life in Denmark came to a close as I packed my suitcases full of sacred memories, and made my way to Boston, Massachusettes where I now dance for the Boston Ballet. The irony was that this move occurred on the exact same day, March 17th, a fast four years later.

shelby59…and now here we are. I’ve had the pleasure of calling Boston home for two years to the day, and in that short period of time have had the luxury of joining another family of talented dancers and incredible friends at the heart-wrenching expense of leaving one behind…Boston BalletIt’s funny how life seems to know just when to tie things together for you, even when it might seem chaotic or overwhelming at the moment…there’s a beautiful gift in reflecting that allows you to look back and see how and why it was all supposed to make sense. Shelby-1867This week we are rehearsing for a triple-bill in our upcoming Spring repertoire, a program called Shades of Sound that combines Wayne McGregor’s Chroma, George Balanchine’s Episodes, and Hans van Manen’s Black Cake.

Chroma is a genius combination of exotic beauty, stretching contemporary limits beyond bare-white walls, giving dance-dialogue to a story we’ll never know…It’s always been a dream of mine to perform, one that Royal Danish was preparing for just as I left.

Episodes is just one of many masterminded “leotard ballets” of Balanchine’s,  lending neoclassical simplicity to intricate musicality and choreographic brilliance.

It seems fitting that while on stage at the Boston Opera House this very evening, I realized this program is a humbling combination of my New York roots and near-missed opportunity during my last days in Denmark…It all fits together how it’s supposed to, you see.

Sometimes, it just takes a day or dream or two to note well the realities of treasured time.

Here’s to milestones & memories.


{artist} challenge.

Posted on March 12, 2015

Throughout my career as a professional ballet dancer, I don’t think I’ve ever met an artist who doesn’t appreciate a good challenge. I would even dare suggest that we invite challenges into our lives on a daily basis, pushing our bodies and minds beyond normal limits of creative confines and comfort…perpetually seeking that endless climb towards perfection — or better yet, learning to accept our unique imperfections.Shelby by Kenneth

Today’s post was inspired by yet another trending Facebook Challenge targeted towards Artists far and wide – (Three cheers for another encouraging use of Social Media!) This creative class of individuals are challenged to share pictures of their artistic career for 5 days, each day nominating two other artists to do the same. I think this is a most brilliant idea for several reasons. A friend of mine recently told me that she had heard of her musician friends participating in this quite a while ago, and was happy to see it had made its way to performing artists in the dance world…Shelby by Kenneth

Despite my inevitable bias as a dancer, I do feel like the artistic community has formed a beautiful camaraderie of late – dance is permeating the world of athletic advertisement, dominating photographer’s Instagram feeds and waltzing down runways – not to mention its recent balletic influence on broadway! Shelby by Kenneth

I feel like this challenge is such a beautiful reason for artists to reflect on career highlights that have contributed to their own perspectives, while shedding light on the influential friends/colleagues/artists that have likewise shared their talents to make this world a brighter place. Shelby by Kenneth

Recently nominated myself, I look forward to sharing bits and bobs of my own memorable stage moments this week, and to spreading the honor of artistic reflection throughout Facebook & beyond :)

Fittingly, I’d like to thank the lovely artist/photographer Kenneth Edwards who’s work is featured here above…Pop over to my website for more moments from this Studio 4 Shoot

“Art is not what you see, but what you make other’s see.”

~Edgar Degas


Posted on March 5, 2015


This weekend concludes the Boston Ballets run of Lady of the Camelliasa scorned lover’s tale after the famed Alexandre Dumas Fils’ 1848 novel by the same name… It felt lovely to be back on stage again, dancing to the brilliant melodies of Chopin amongst dramatic turns of pointe & plot.

I took a few free moments to capture bits of this beautiful story through my own lens, and was excited to invite you all backstage to catch a glimpse from the wings!

The ever-talented Yuri Yanowsky (pictured below with his wife, Kathleen Breen Combes) will be retiring as “Armand Duval” this coming Sunday – See this lovely tribute in the Boston Globe – I dedicate this post to him and the exciting next chapter of his career! I’m so thankful to have shared the stage with such an eloquent artist…

Act IIIMG_2623 Act II Act II Act II Act II Act II Act II Act III Act III Act III Act III Act III Act IIand Curtain.


 Catch Boston Ballet’s Lady of the Camellias, at the Boston Opera House through March 08, 2015

Choreography by Val Caniparoli, Costumes by Robert Glay de la Rose, Music by Chopin



Posted on February 27, 2015

In light of this short month’s ability to sell an abundance of chocolate and likewise, commercialize on yet another palatable holiday… I thought I’d give a little (belated) tribute to Saint Valentine, and the wonder/quest/conquest of noble love he’s long since been remembered for.

Without getting carried away on a bed of roses… I thought I’d share with you all a collection of thoughts I came across not long ago, a soft suggestion really, that has simplified my perspective on life in a truly generous way. I invite you all to start your day and continue your year with this humbling challenge:

Love. Just Love.

Love your city. Love your home. Love your food. Love your dreams. Love your people. Love.

Love the things that are easy to love, and stretch to love the things that aren’t.

When you love fearlessly, you beam. You’re a light in the storm. You’re a smile in the crowd. You’re a breath of fresh air.

…Make a commitment right now to embody your soul- to be the most irresistible version of you. Center, feel grateful, live your truth and love your heart out, and you will, without a shadow of a doubt, become a magnet to everyone who has the privilege of basking in your light.

(Shelly Bullard from MindBodyGreen)

Is that not most delightful?! I wish I could say I wrote it… Alors, think about how you might invite love into your life today. Maybe you let yourself linger over breakfast, smile at a stranger in passing…relish in a good conversation or reach out to someone you admire. I chose the latter recently when I came across a bright talent on my instagram feed, the ever inspiring Elma Murakami. Elma is a brilliant lingerie designer and seamstress located on the sunny West Coast. To say she’s found her niche in making women feel beautiful is a generous understatement. Elma’s work is (ironically) seamless. Her designs are reflections of her unique eye to compliment personalities and capture beauty in every garment. Her Instagram is my daily eye-candy. We decided to collaborate on a silky set that began what I hope is an endless conversation of sharing each other’s passions…Elma for Shelby Elma for Shelby Elma for Shelby Elma for ShelbyPhotographs by the talented Kenneth Edwards

Elma has a most enviable Etsy Shop that invites you to linger on lingerie or even place custom orders should you so desire…I’m so grateful to her for this collaboration and feel humbled to promote the work of such a talented artist.

With only a few days staving off a month of St. Patrick’s Day shenanigans… I leave you with this tidbit of tenderness from Galations 5:13-14:

“…but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Here’s to Noble Love as we Know it :)



Posted on February 22, 2015

Four days away from our premiere of Lady of the Camellias, I invite you into the studio to share in the heart-wrenching tale that will soon take the stage of the Boston Opera House.

Act II: A pianist, An Opera Singer, Two dancers – a scattered company bordering the studio’s perimeters…

His sound came like a sonnet

Rays of sunlit reverie

from the corner where he stood

a piano beckoned gentle plea

betrayed through tears she left him

for what good he did not know

betrothed to written lies

and tired lungs she dared not show

in agony he fell towards

lonely comfort that was left

a father-son reversion

lover’s torn, two hearts bereft

one tragic scene prevailed

upon a normal day of rest

through bleary eyes we watched and

learned of adoration’s test

while sun’s solace distracted

endless winter’s cold outside

for a moment we escaped to find

where true love does reside.

To  Anais Chalendard, Eris Nezha and Boyko Dossev, who take artistry to a new level, and transported us all.

Photograph by Kenneth Edwards


{creative} collaborations.

Posted on February 19, 2015

Among the many wonders and hopes I have for the great wide world of technology, I’m tickled by the idea of encouraging it’s potential for creative collaborations. The ease at which we can use social media to create a “following,” or more importantly, procure one for others amazes me on a daily basis. There is an ever-present opportunity for spontaneous introduction at the very tips of our fingers! If that’s not a 21st century perk – I’m not quite sure what is…Kenneth Edwards Photoshoot of Shelby Elsbree

One such tech-fostered friend by the name of Kenneth Edwards came to me recently through Twitter – With a passionate interest in living his art, Kenneth proposed we collaborate on a photoshoot, aiming to capture personality, passion and authenticity through the lens of his impressionable Hasselblad camera and unique eye for story-sharing. Between his training in classical Opera, vested interest in dance & natural affinity to capture a past-reflected present, I knew this was going to be good. Shelby Elsbree by Kenneth Edwards

Needless to say, it was not long before we found ourselves in the creative confines of an empty ballet studio on a day off, warming up to fabulous tracks and dancing about with no inhibitions. In between tutu changes and inspiring conversation, Kenneth would hop over on the grand Piano, inviting the likes of Gershwin and Chopin to casually join our party… One-Man-Band-Stand?! Je pense Oui :)Shelby Elsbree by Kenneth EdwardsTimeless hours drifted by as we chased sunlight from studio to studio…Shelby Elsbree by Kenneth EdwardsIt’s funny to think of where the possibilities an open-mind and subtle spirit will lead you to… Inspiring conversations or lasting friendships…an ‘epiphany moment’ or even just a good belly laugh you didn’t realize how badly you needed. I look so forward to future collaborations with Kenneth and like-minded creative dreamers. Shelby Elsbree by Kenneth EdwardsIn these bitter cold days of relentless winter, I would hope that we all keep chasing sunlight – wherever that call, comment, message or moment might bring you :)

Kenneth wrote a generous blog post that shares our story here (more pictures). I’ve also featured more selections from our shoot inside Studio 5 and Studio 6 on my website, but you’ll likely see them sprinkled throughout Tutus&Tea in due time…

You can share in Kenneth’s story telling on his VSCO blog, www.kennethedwards.vsco.com or on Instagram @kennethbedwards

Birds for Words (#twittertriumph) ~


In Loving Memory.

Posted on February 13, 2015

Dear Grandpa,

So few will walk this realm of life
With so direct a path
So few will handle obstacles
With honor nary wrath.

So few will wear the roles assigned
Imposed by Higher thought
So few will seek the wayward road
When easy paths are naught

So few will stroll the streets
Giving more than what they take
So few will trade in doubt for
Faith and not their love forsake

So few will earn the trust of family, friends and strangers like
So few will see the light of darker days triumphant strike

So few of God’s creation can return to Him and say
With courage I have lived my life so fully to this day

So few who battle sickness fight for more than just their own
So few make final minutes pass with treasured family shown

So few is valor given, earned, restored and never bought
Of all the things you’ve left behind
To each of us you’ve taught:

A life well lived is one that reaches high while standing low
That dreams and dares discover
Beauty has no greater woe.

So few will walk this realm of life
I know this much is true
Among these few who triumph
I am talking dear to you.

With love forever,


Gordon MacPhail


Gordon MacPhail

March 1930-February 2015


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