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A Midsummer Night’s Dream at SBT



From left: Geraldine Leech as Hermia, Will McCullough as Lysander, Kevin Gardiner as Demetrius, Anna Morreale as Helena and Anna Si as Titania

Late spring has sprung in Swarthmore, bringing with her the lush flowers and the shady tree canopy and the Farmers Market, and of course, the ballet.


Sweet young love is in the air at Swarthmore Ballet Theatre and the result is not what you might think – at least not at first! Shakespeare’s classic tale of love gone wrong and then very wrong and then right again is played out with humor in this dreamy production.


The performance space at Swarthmore Ballet Theatre is not large. Most productions have ingeniously minimal set pieces. But stepping inside the theatre for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the audience is instantly transported to the enchanted wood outside Athens. A venerable oak seemingly sprouts out of the stage floor. Boulders and vines blend the lines between the upper and lower stages.


At last Saturday morning’s production, a sold-out crowd of lucky audience members young and old watched the lights go down and then Mrs. Ardis herself came out to remind us of the story of the bard’s beloved tale.


Then the lights went down and out came the elegant Trinity Clow-McLaughlin to draw us into the story with a solo accompanying a narration of the fairy’s classic over hill over dale speech.


After that the show exploded forward with bevies of fireflies and fairies setting the mood of the magical forest and making the way for the fairy royalty.


Don Guthrie danced Oberon with great dignity, and Anna Si was appropriately indignant and haughty as Titania when Guthrie slyly tried to assume custody of her sprightly changeling boy, danced by Nate Mitchell. When it was clear that the fight was on between the fairy king and queen it was time for them to make way for the lovers.


Even if it’s been a while since you read Midsummer in high school, the four lovers made their roles clear with their first rate acting and the help of gorgeous costumes that helped the audience see who was meant to be together.


Though there were many laugh-out-loud moments in this ballet, few were funnier than the pas de deux between unrequited loves. Demetrius (Kevin Gardiner) expressed dismay when he suddenly found himself dancing with a hilariously enamored Helena (Anna Morreale). And later, Lysander (Will McCullough) abandoned poor Hermia (Martine Leech) for Helena, whom he was devastated to catch dancing with Demetrius. The lovers’ fight scene was incredible too.


Of course it’s not Midsummer without Puck. Nathanial Hodges was perfectly playful and spent as much time airborne as he did on the stage. His interactions with Oberon and with his butterfly companion (Elizabth Si) were light-hearted and delightfully expressive.


Led by William Hodges as Bottom, the rude mechanicals were fantastically funny. When Puck used his magic pollen to make Titania fall in love with Bottom the whole audience held our breath in anticipation.


Anna Si is such an achingly elegant dancer. It can be all too easy to forget her silly streak. The scene where Hodges literally chews the scenery as Si falls madly in love with him, donkey ears and all was desperately funny.


But what brought down the house was the arrival of the fairy attendants to dance with Titania. One after the next they each entered gracefully for their dance, only to do a comic double-take at the shocking sight of their mistress dancing with a donkey. By the time the final fairy danced in and then wandered to the edge of the wings in confusion the audience was in stitches.


Naturally Oberon urged Puck to make things right and one by one the lovers and Titania were all made to fall in love with their right partner.


At last Hippolyta (danced with strength and passion by Maia Virgil) arrived. She and the Duchess presided over a truly lavish wedding attended by a flock of flower girls whose infectious enthusiasm brought joy to the audience as well as the couples onstage.


Lori Ardis and Amber Flynn choreograph every single ballet on the dancers, meaning that every note of this two-hour production was crafted precisely to mine the talents of the dancers at hand. The result is that every dancer onstage is stretching his or her skills to the limit. And what they can accomplish is absolutely stunning.


If you are looking for a fun and inspiring way to spend your Saturday night, rumor has it that there are a few tickets left for the 7:30pm performance. Stop by the door at 7pm to check in!


Meanwhile, if you want to be sure not to forget to snag tickets next time, why not sign up for classes at Swarthmore Ballet Theatre? Learn more on their website at


For info on what it’s like to study Ballet at SBT, check out the post here!

Flower girls

The flower girls spin and smile through their enthusiastically energetic dance…


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Late Spring in Swarthmore…

1 Food Truckathon

The Food Truckathon brought out Swarthmoreans & visitors to enjoy good food & company…

4. SRS Orchestra Performance

The hardworking students and music teachers of Swarthmore-Rutledge Elementary School hosted their final concert of the year. The auditorium was packed with fans, many of whom were willing to accept standing room space in order to enjoy the sounds of the young musicians.

5. Twilight

Peaceful twilight in springtime Swarthmore. This beautifully repurposed sitting area by the municipal lot & library looks like it has been there forever, lampposts and all…

Would you like to learn more about life in our village? I’d love to be your Swarthmore real estate agent! Just shoot me an email at and let me know your goals!

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635 N. Chester Road, Swarthmore


I’m so excited to have the opportunity to share 635 N. Chester Road with you!

This is a simple picture of the lovely view from the third floor landing overlooking the beautiful backyard.

Would you like to see the rest of the details on this stunning Center Hall Colonial in Swarthmore Borough?

Check it out here: 635 N. Chester



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Springtime in Swarthmore

1. April showers

The first flowers of spring poked up their heads…

3. April snow

And then it snowed…

4. Gentle buds of spring

But the bright blossoms preserved, and thank goodness, the tulips bloomed as beautifully as ever!

2. Veteran's Memorial1. Downtown gardens


Thanks for visiting! I hope you’re enjoying springtime in Swarthmore!

If you’re hoping to move to the ville and you’re not working with a local agent, I’d love to be your Swarthmore real estate agent!

Feel free to reach out!

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Holidays in Swarthmore

The lights are in the windows and the garlands embrace the lampposts. The Home for the Holidays horses pulled their sleighs past our office last weekend as the Swarthmore Ballet Theatre performed one sold out performance of The Nutcracker after another. (Pictured above, Anna Si, as the Dew Drop Fairy – check out my Letter to the Editor in this week’s edition of the Swarthmorean newspaper about this magnificent production).

Swarthmoreans seem to be focused on shopping locally this season with treasures at  Harvey Oak Mercantile, Compendium with its selection of warm scarves, tasty treats at the Co-op, books and gifts at the Swarthmore College bookstore, and so many more choices all without setting foot in a mall or warming up the car!

I’ll update this post in the coming days with more pictures of our town celebrating the season! Feel free to email me your favorite Swarthmore holiday pictures and memories to be shared!

(Pictured below: Visitors to The Inn at Swarthmore this Thursday were treated to a view of snow outside and seasonal decorations inside!)


Carolers serenade the audience in line to see Swarthmore Ballet Theatre’s The Nutcracker…


Cornell & Rutgers is slush & ice a week and a half before Hanukkah & Christmas…


Wondering children tour Dave Augustine’s courtyard holiday light display on Park…


On one magical day of the year, Park Ave has horse-drawn carriages again…


Trees are for sale outside the library – proceeds benefit the Swarthmore Fire Station!


A young Nutcracker dancer spots the horses & Christmas trees across the street…


D. Patrick Welsh gets in on the holiday spirit!


A winter storm on 12/17 turned Swarthmore glassy and magical…

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Coming Soon!

Two wonderful homes are COMING SOON in Swarthmore!

Stay tuned for information on:

207 Riverview Road, Swarthmore, PA 19081

This Victorian twin is located just half a block from the pool and a few blocks more from Swarthmore Rutledge Elementary School! The property includes a LEGAL two bedroom in-law cottage, also on the property (not for rental, only for family).


312 Dartmouth 1

312 Dartmouth Avenue, Swarthmore, PA 19081

This Victorian twin is located right in the heart of the village and a block and a half away from Swarthmore Rutledge Elementary School! A wonderful opportunity for a handyman or investor, this property is being sold in as-is condition.

If you are interested in seeing 207 Riverview Rd, 19081 or 312 Dartmouth Ave, 19081 when they become available, please have your agent reach out to me! 

If you are not working with an agent, feel free to connect with me directly:!


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Scenes from around Swarthmore (Summer ’16)




We all came out to celebrate the accomplishments of Town Coordinator, Marty Speigel, pictured here with his wife, Linda Heffernan!

Farmer's Market

The Farmer’s Market is always bustling, but that was a particularly fun day as we all came out to thank Marty for his work in bringing the Farmer’s Market to Swarthmore in the first place!



A few blocks away, a deer munched on grass between the backyards. Want a look at the charming home set on a lot even the wildlife can’t resist? Check out 112 Yale Square in my “Homes For Sale” section!

Library area

The green by the library is hung in red, white and blue in preparation for the Fourth of July events!

Veterans' Memorial

The Veterans’ Memorial is abloom with color.

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Coppélia with Comedic Flair


will & annaAs spring melts into summer, Swarthmore’s quiet streets come to life with plant sales, Farmer’s Markets and outdoor dining.

What better time for a production of Coppélia, the story of young love awakening and a doll who is meant to come to life? And who better to craft this tale than mother-daughter choreography team Lori Ardis and Amber Flynn of the Lori Ardis Ballet Company?

The story is the tale of beautiful Swanilda, who loves a boy called Franz, and how Franz’s fascination with a strange girl spotted reading a book in Dr. Coppelius’s window leads them both on a madcap adventure.

Anna Si dances Swanilda with the effortless-looking perfection we have come to expect from her, and the silliness of which we often forget she is capable. Will McCullough is Franz, embodying both his youthful good looks and haplessness with great abandon. The two were a joy to watch.

Eleanor Runiewicz is lovely as Coppélia (the girl in the window who, as it turns out, is only a doll). At first, I think anyone in the audience who has seen Runiewicz dance before must be a little bit heartbroken to think she will be relegated to the window for most of the production. But her classic deadpan as Coppélia sends the audience into titters as each group of villagers comes to the window to try to wave or bow to the “new girl in town”. And of course in the third Act she dances her heart out in the Waltz of the Hours, so really we get the best of both worlds.

William Hodges, whose wife and three of his children also dance in the production, plays the role of Dr. Coppelius. William’s acting chops are such that my own little dancers have begun to describe the stories of the great ballets from the point of view of the male soloists, and more specifically “Lily’s Dad”. The Nutcracker is now the ballet about how Lily’s Dad makes a beautiful nutcracker to give to his goddaughter. And of course, Coppélia is the ballet about how Lily’s Dad tries to make a real girl. Hodges is so expressive, his determination to bring Coppélia to life so great, that when it all culminates in McCullough and Si trying to escape his clutches we can see exactly what is coming, and the scene is so hilarious it brings the house down.

Maia Virgil and Donn Guthrie’s Waltz of the Hours was stunning. Fifteen year-old Virgil had me in tears in this spring’s Ballet a la Moderne when she showed off the choreography skills she has honed at SBT, dancing a heartfelt barefoot pas de deux with Guthrie to Hozier’s Work Song. The two return to classic ballet with a vengeance in Coppélia, and deliver the show stopping performance we have learned to expect from them.

Anna Moreale and Kevin Gardener as Discord and War deliver a cleverly choreographed and unexpected “dance off”.

Truly, there are so many standouts, it is only fair to say that each and every dancer to set foot on the stage brings his or her A-game to this production – from the leads right down to the tiniest scarf dancer.

Though I was not there to see it, it was no surprise to hear that in an extremely rare technical glitch, when the music went out in one of the biggest scenes in the production during the opening performance, the dancers paused, and then simultaneously went on to dance flawlessly for eight full minutes in perfectly synchronized silence (including the elaborate entrance and exit of a large group of the very youngest dancers in the production, on an already full stage). Truly Swarthmore Ballet Theatre is a special place where dancers are learning the kind of joyful teamwork that they will carry in their hearts forever, no matter where life leads them.

There is just ONE MORE performance of Coppélia with a few tickets left- June 5th at 2pm. Tickets are sold 30 minutes before the performance. Adults $15.00, Over age 65 and under age 12, $12.00 All seats are reserved. Cash or check only. 

Did seeing Coppélia make you want to dance? Did you know that Swarthmore Ballet Theatre offers choreography classes? And special classes for male dancers, even if they are just beginning? Studying dance at SBT is affordable, and it’s practically a rite of passage for the lucky residents of the Swarthmore area. Be sure to check out the school’s website here:

Questions about what it’s like to have a student at the school?  Here’s an article about it!




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Guess-the-Address Contest (Cape 1)

I’m very pleased to have listed a charming cape cod in Swarthmore Borough that will be priced in the $300,000-$325,000 range!


While my owners make last minute preparations for showings, I’m going to pass the time by teasing you with clues about which house is about to be listed!

You know how this works – if you are the first to guess the address of this new listing I will buy you a one-year subscription to The Swarthmorean newspaper!  You can post a reply on this page, or email your answer to


If you’re walking in the borough

And you see a sweet cape cod:

Picture window in the front,

Dogwoods in the yard,

You’ll find that for a mailbox, they have this small abode,

For accepting mail delivered to their Swarthmore zip code!



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A Merry Nutcracker

Flowers Dew Drop

Grace Hodges (C) as the Dew Drop Fairy,  wth Ellen McCullough (L in yellow) and Geraldine Leech (R in orange) as the Flowers

An unseasonably warm December morning lent an air of merriment to Swarthmore this Saturday. The sky was topaz blue and the sun was shining. Even Charlie, the venerable white horse who pulls the carriage for Swarthmore’s Home for the Holidays celebration, seemed to have a spring in his step. Though local shops displayed helpful signs reminding us how many days until Hanukah and Christmas, no one actually seemed to feel pressed for time.

Lucky ticket-holders to Lori Ardis Ballet Company’s performance of The Nutcracker exemplified the holiday mood, nodding to each other with a twinkle of anticipation in their eyes.

Once inside, we were greeted by Mrs. Ardis herself. Just before the performance began, she stepped into the spotlight to share a joyful explanation of what we were about to see, so that even the smallest audience members were informed and enthralled. Then the lights went down, and the Christmas tree was illuminated.

At LABC, we are regularly spoiled with beautiful technique and clever choreography. This company has proven again and again how resilient they are, how well they work together as a team, how much endurance and discipline they have. From the tiniest Ginger to the Sugar Plum Fairy, we have come to expect nothing short of perfection.

But the wonder of The Nutcracker is in the heart as well as the feet.

Choreographers Lori Ardis and Amber Flynn keep the joy in The Nutcracker by re-choreographing the entire ballet to take advantage of the unique talents of the dancers playing the roles.

Every. Single. Year.

Their herculean effort paid off in spades this season, with a performance filled with excitement, wonder and humor. (Would you like to learn more about this mother-daughter choreography team? Click here for a short interview!)

From the first note of the party scene, this year’s production capitalized on the personalities of the dancers. First act highlights were William Hodges as Drosselmeyer – leaping and swirling his cape, even breaking the fourth wall at times to bring the audience into the joke, the Gypsy dance performed with towering energy by (real life siblings) Will and Ellen McCullough, and Anna Si’s hilarious performance as the mother of seven small and very energetic children.

Mia Davis is a dancer I’ve watched grow up on the stage of LABC. Her genuine smile has warmed the stage from the corps throughout the last five productions I’ve had the pleasure to see. It was a joy to watch her wear Clara’s iconic pink dress. Mia’s Clara was curious, kind and played younger than other dancers we’ve seen in the role in recent years. Nowhere was this more apparent than in her quite realistic interactions with her younger sister (the Fritz role) danced with gusto by Elizabeth Si. The two had great chemistry and had the audience tittering on more than one occasion.

And Kevin Gardner was the perfect Nutcracker prince to suit her. In spite of his obvious athleticism and the extraordinary physical demands of the fight scene with half a dozen very energetic mice, followed immediately by a pas de deux with a series of complicated lifts, Gardner’s performance appeared to be effortless. His kind smiles for Clara were sigh-worthy, and his bearing was never anything short of regal.

Act Two found Clara and the Nutcracker Prince regaled with dances from all over the Land of Sweets. Each dance was spectacular, and the members of the audience found themselves smiling and leaning forward, until, that is, the Arabian dance.

Anni Si and Donn Guthrie took the stage with so much power the air went out of the room. These two have partnered many times before and their trust in each other was exploited to the breaking point in this sumptuously crafted pas de deux. The power struggle played out between them was palpable, and just as a deft lift had our hearts in our mouths, with Si suspended nearly at the ceiling, Guthrie would remove one hand, holding her aloft with the other, as if the two had only been toying with us all along and he could have lifted her with his mind.

When they left the stage, my heart ached with sympathy for the dancer who would have to perform afterward.

I should have known that Ardis and Flynn would hand those dancers the keys to the kingdom. And Will McCollough and the very expressive Eleanor Runiewicz knew just what to do with them. Assisted by four small sheep, McCollough and Runiewicz had us all in hysterics as the shepherdess lost and found her sheep again and again to everyone’s delight.

Mother Ginger, played with panache by Denise Hodges, delighted us when her hoard of adorable children burst from her skirt and danced with such vivacity they left us all cheering for more.

The lovely Maia Virgil danced the Sugar Plum Fairy with a gentle sweetness that was appropriate to her character’s name. Cavalier, Donn Guthrie, partnered her and the two were absolutely charming to watch.

All the costumes worn in the production are made by staff and volunteers. The costuming triumph of the night was the Flower dance. Gorgeous swathes of tulle were made into wing-like petals that floated and sank as if they were dancers in their own right. Lucky Flower dancers Geraldine Leech, Ellen McCullough, Anna Si and Linnea Si wore the glamorous smiles to match. And among them, Grace Hodges, as the Dew Drop Fairy, sparkled and flew. Grace has always been a force of nature on the LABC stage. It was thrilling to see her in this exciting role.

When the lights came up and it was all over, the audience lingered – searching for the right thing to say to each other, to Mrs. Ardis who was there to bid us farewell, and to ourselves.

But I believe our universal sentiment was summed up in the words of one small attendant, who simply whispered to herself, “Wow.

Tickets for this year’s The Nutcracker are completely sold out. If you’d like advice on how to score those tickets for next year, be sure to check out my interview with the choreographers here for tips!

Did seeing the Nutcracker at LABC make YOU want to dance too? Swarthmore Ballet Theatre, LABC’s training ground, offers classes for children and adults. Stop by their website here to learn more.

Full disclosure: I’m the mom of two Gingers and a Mouse/Party Child/Page in this production. Click here to find out what it’s like to have a child enrolled in ballet classes or in a production.

Mia & Kevin

Kevin Gardner and Mia Davis were exquisite as the Nutcracker Prince and Clara


Anna Si (aloft) with Donn Guthrie performing the Arabian

Candy Canes

L to R Amelia Dunning, Julia Friel (in split), Charlotte Caywood (standing) Caroline Grogan (photo by Quinn Guthrie)


Clara's sister

Elizabeth Si, Ava Manaker, Wilhemena Mcelhenney. (photo by Quinn Guthrie)


Kevin Gardner (photo by Doug McCullough)


Eleanor Runiewicz, Will McCullough (photo by Doug McCullough)


The Whole Cast (photo by Quinn Guthrie)

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