2014: You Were a Beautiful Storm; a playlist

An important year-ender tradition – a playlist to sum up my year.

2014, you were ridiculous, and this music helped me roll with your punches. You were far from what I expected, but absolutely amazing nonetheless. A beautiful, stormy year were you.

Songs are in no particular order. And yes, I’m a little upset that I had to put a Pitbull song into the mix.


Prayer in C – Robin Schulz Radio Edit – Lily Wood and The Prick

Give Me Faith – Elevation Worship

Gospel – The National

Girls Chase Boys – Ingrid Michaelson

Wild Wild Love – Pitbull

Here with Me – Susie Suh

Baby Don’t Lie – Gwen Stefani

How Long Will I Love You – Ellie Goulding

Neon Love – Claire

Another Story – The Head And The Heart

Let Your Hair Down – Magic!

A Long Time Ago – First Aid Kit

Bones – Dustin Tebbutt

Magic – Coldplay

I’ve Told You Now – Sam Smith

Good to Me – Audrey Assad

Maps – Maroon 5

Mercy – Phil Wickham

For My Help – Hayden Calnin

Geronimo – Sheppard

My Silver Lining – First Aid Kit

One Day Like This – Elbow

Stacks – Bon Iver

I Had This Thing – Royksopp

“Imperfection is part of life: It’s where the poetry and humor hide.” -Dorte Mandrup-Poulsen


The playlist is also on Spotify and YouTube: “Speak Soon: 2014 in Review”

And here are links to my year ender playlists from 2013 and 2012. 


Haiyan/Yolanda 004: Hope from a Ukelele & 130 Voices of Children Singing

I had my doubts about teaching 130 children a whole song in just a short bit of time.

We’d have just a few hours with the kids and the music was supposed to inspire a celebration, not a language lesson. Our message was hope, and we didn’t want it lost in translation.

The song was written in English, save for one key line written in their home language, Ilonggo. We were quite certain that the kids, all natives of Lawaan, Capiz, were fluent in Ilonggo and could more or less understand Tagalog. We were clueless about their understanding of English.

I speak Tagalog, with a meager understanding or Ilonggo. Milan, who wrote the song and would be leading the music, spoke neither Tagalog nor Ilonggo.

How exactly was this going to go?

It went spectacularly. Milan wrote the song especially for the children of Roxas, who had just two and a half months earlier, survived one of the strongest typhoons ever recorded in history. They lost their roof, their homes, their parent’s livelihood, a stable source of food or supplies.

What a privilege it was for us to spend an afternoon with this children. We were optimistic that they hadn’t lost their hope. If you watch this video, you’ll see that’s true.

See them clap their hands, stomp their feet, and sing out loud! Hope is not lost in this generation!

2013: You Were Quite a Charmer; A Playlist

As always, this is late. But here comes my annual tradition: a playlist that sums up the tastes and flavors of the year that just ended. These songs loyally rolled me through the amazing adventures of the year that was.

Friends: enjoy the music! 2013: cheers to you, and on to the next!

Take what is weary, and flip it upside up.
Take what is weary, and flip it upside up.

Hold On When You Get Love and Let Go When You Give It – Stars

Smother – Daughter

I am Not a Robot (Clock Opera Remix) – Marina and the Diamonds

Isaac – Bear’s Den

Lonesome Dreams – Lord Huron

Your Drums, Your Love – AlunaGeorge

Boy With a Coin – Iron and Wine

Goodbye, Goodbye – Tegan and Sara

Contact High – Architect on Helsinki

The Story – Brandi Carlile

Thirteen Thirty Five – Dillon

England – The National

Different Pulses – Asaf Avidan and the Mojos

Seoul – Amiina

Lippy Kids – Elbow

How You Like Me Now – The Heavy

You’re Missing – Bruce Springsteen

Big Blue Wave – Hey Ocean

Sans Soleil – Miike Snow (Second mention in a row, and now the finale at that! Still in love with this song, but this time I share it in the form of a lovely live recording!)

Dance Films that Move Me

Words cannot explain how entranced I have been the past few days with Iron and Wine’s music video for Boy With a Coin.

The first time I looked up the song on YouTube, I didn’t even bother watching the video and just listened to the song as I worked on a separate tab on my browser. A few plays later, after falling in love with the music, I finally decided to watch the video, made curious by the sound of people ascending stairs at the beginning of the song.

As a dancer, I gravitate towards music videos heavy with dance. This video captivated me so. It even got me dancing around my dining room late into the night.

Boy With a Coin. By Iron and Wine.

Elegance and intensity. But elegance made richer by authenticity. And intensity made powerful by subtlety. I may have watched this video ten million times in the past two days.


While I’m at it, off the top of my head, here are a few of my all time favorite dance-inspired videos/short films. In order of appearance in my life.

I hope one day to direct one of my own.


Slow Dancing in a Burning Room. John Mayer. Choreographed by Wade Robson.

So raw. So beautiful. Thank you Wade Robson for choreographing this. I love the simplicity and honesty of the filming and dancing.

Ariel. By Stateless.

This video will always remind me of the summer I spent in DC, when I first found the video. I played it loudly in my room when my roommate were gone. Over and over again. It may be the least dance-intense videos on my list, but sometimes when I dance, the imagery and electricity captured in this video is what inspires me when I move. I want people to see that when I dance, but without the need for special effects.

Thought of You. By the Weepies. Animation by Ryan Woodward. 

Right here, ladies and gentlemen, is the marriage of two things I love – dance and animation. The animation has so effortlessly and precisely communicated emotion through movement. Even more than that, it’s just such great storytelling.

Valtari. By Sigur Ros. From the Valtari Mystery Film Experiment.

Not only was this my favorite song from their recent album, but when I first saw this film I was left speechless. Time to watch it, people!



Twenty Four for Twenty Twelve: A Goodbye Playlist

Yeah, yeah, yeah. So 2012 is so seventeen days ago. But I cannot, I simply cannot say goodbye to 2012 without dedicating a playlist to the year that was. When I need to remember what 2012 felt like, these are the songs I will fill the space with. This was my 2012 in music. Each song walked (or danced!) me through a space in time.

Welcome to the musical scrapbook of my year. Enjoy! (Click on the song titles to have a listen.)


1. Rembihnútur – Sigur Ros

2. Minnesota, WI – Bon Iver

3. Sans Soleil– Miike Snow

4. Will Do – TV on the Radio

5. Never Never – SBTRKT feat Sampha

6. Love Love Love – Of Monsters and Men

7. I Stand Alone – Theophilus London

8. This Head I Hold – Electric Guest

9. 24-25 – Kings of Convenience

10. Video Games – Lana Del Rey

11. Drive – Boy

12. Mighty Proud – Chief

13. Deep in My Heart – Marques Toliver

14. Lullaby – Sia

15. Wildest Moments – Jessie Ware

16. Fade Into Darkness – Avicii

17. Old Pine – Ben Howard

18. Safe and Sound – Capital Cities

19. Closer Than This  – St. Lucia

20. I Was Broken – Marcus Foster

21. Youth – Daughter

22. Don’t Go – Joshua Kumra

23. Eighteen – We Were Evergreen

24.  Anything Could Happen – Ellie Goulding (Remix)

Look back at my 2011 through music here.