Thursday, May 12, 2011

Tiny Dancer

"On with the dance! let joy be unconfined;
No sleep till morn, when Youth and Pleasure meet
To chase the glowing hours with flying feet."
~George Gordon, Lord Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage

It is summer, and for about 15 years that meant time for a performance. I have mentioned in past posts about my love of dance, and the fact that I took ballet lessons for many years. Not only did I perform in dance recitals, I also performed in community theater, often acting, but always dancing.

As an adult, I have tried to find ways to incorporate dance back into my life. Unfortunately, the instrument I am working with is a little "rusty" and somehow "expanded." (eh hmm.)

I was recently reading my friend, Leanne's blog post about her daughter's dance recital. It sparked such a light inside of me. I am truly thrilled when I hear of people I know attending their daughter's dance recitals. I think it is just one of those things little girls should always experience. Clearly, my hope is for my niece, Autumn, to love ballet - though I am afraid she is going to be more of a "sporty" girl.

I often wonder how many of my friends have considered allowing their sons to dance? Ahhh.. you just lifted your eyebrows.. didn't you? I am serious. There is nothing wrong with men who dance. Actually, it is extremely athletic and not at all feminine.

I remember these two little boys in my dance classes - One boy was named Anthony, and for the life of me I cannot remember the other boy's name. Anthony  was  a GREAT tap dancer - and of course, so adorable in the recitals. To this day, I think of how progressive his mother was to encourage her sons to dance.

When I entered the "theater" phase, it was always refreshing to find straight guys who were actually amazing dancers. Let's be honest, that's the concern of most parents. They associate dancing (males) with homosexuality. Neither one have anything to do with the other. It just so happens, more men that happen to gay are comfortable participating in the arts. Why? There is no stigma for the subculture.

There are plenty of amazing male dancers (that happen to be quite the lady's men!) My absolute FAVORITE is  Mikhail Baryshnikov. Beautiful, talented and probably one of the best dancers EVER. He was born in Soviet Russia, and defected from Leningrad in 1974 to Canada. He later joined the New York City Ballet as a principal dancer. His final move was to the American Ballet Company where he became the Artistic Director.

Baryshnikov has spearheaded many of his own artistic projects and has been associated in particular with promoting modern dance, premiering dozens of new works, including many of his own. His success as a dramatic actor on stage, cinema and television has helped him become probably the most widely recognized contemporary ballet dancer. In 1977, he received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and a Golden Globe nomination for his work as "Yuri Kopeikine" in the film The Turning Point.

According to a bio on Baryshnikov: His talent was obvious from his youth, but the Soviet system in which he grew up was ill-suited for developing it. Shorter than most dancers, he could not tower over a ballerina en pointe and was therefore relegated to secondary parts. More frustrating to him, the Soviet dance world hewed closely to 19th-century traditions and deliberately shunned the creative choreographers of the West, whose work Baryshnikov glimpsed in occasional tours and films. His main goal in leaving the Soviet Union was to work with these innovators.

 Baryshnikov made his American television dancing debut in 1976, on the PBS program In Performance Live from Wolf Trap. During the Christmas season of 1977, CBS brought his highly acclaimed American Ballet Theatre production of Tchaikovsky's classic ballet The Nutcracker to television, and it has remained to this day the most popular and most often shown television production of the work, at least in the U.S. I have to admit - that very production of the Nutcracker made me fall in love with his dancing, and with the story.

That very Christmas, my mother took me to see the production of The Nutcracker at the Grand Opera House.  I looked at my mother and asked if I could be the Sugar Plum Fairy. She promised when I started elementary school, I could take ballet classes.

If you have not had the opportunity to watch The Nutcracker, I have a surprise for you - the entire version of the video I am talking about:

There is one more video I would love to share with you. Just to get a feel of who I am talking about. It is not as long, just clips!

The famous multiple pirouette scene!

Opening performance in White Nights -

Finally - I found a wonderful tribute to the great dancer:

Not to mention - how beautiful he STILL is and what a decent actor he is.

So clearly I will never get the chance to dance with him, nor will I (well you never know) actually get to meet him - but I have to unofficially thank him. Without his life, his sacrifices and his shear God-given talent - so many others would not have even thought about dancing. Thank you Mr. Baryshnikov, without you - I may never have even tried.

And to all of the little girls (and boys) out there - dance on!

Perhaps my dancing has taken on a different twist:

"Dancing in all its forms cannot be excluded from the curriculum of all noble education; dancing with the feet, with ideas, with words, and, need I add that one must also be able to dance with the pen?" ~Friedrich Nietzsche


TV's Take said...

Love that picture of your niece and you! Cute. KLV loves ballet and I'm working on getting her into a Mommy and me class. She points her toes and balances it's precious.

Anonymous said...

I loooove dancing and I miss it so much. Someday I would love to take a class again.

PS: Love the quote. Byron. *girly sigh* I love my Romantics.

Zoe G. said...

As a former ballet dancer I say "Here, here!" Hilariously I have reconnected with my childhood ballet teacher, who now owns a fabulous consignment store near my house. Despite seeing her rather often I just can't bring myself to call her anything but "Miss Alice."

becca said...

i would love to see my son get more invovled in the arts i think it would not only be fun for him but educational as well


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