When I was a young girl I wanted two things: to own a pony, and to be a ballerina.
Both endeavors seemed to me to have so much elegance and splendor to them, and so, like most little girls, I found them intoxicating. I collected every imaginable horse model, my room was strewn with horse posters (until I fell in love with David Cassidy), and when I wasn’t horsing around with my toy horse collection, my friends and I would choreograph dance performances at nauseum pretending we were prima ballerinas on a grand stage in New York.
Fast forward to this past Monday when I had the rare opportunity to sit among some of the world’s top ballet performers from the Bolshoi Ballet Academy, here for rehearsals for the world premiere of “Reflections” at the Orange County Performing Arts Center.
At the table across from me I was distracted by a woman talking during the presentation being given by OCPAC president Terry Dwyer, only to realize that she was the Russian translator helping the young dancers understand what the Americans speaking so admiringly of them were saying.
Funny how you can say something really complementary to someone, yet unless you speak the same language they can only understand your admiration through what they see in your eyes and expression – unless a translator is handy. I guess that is why all the arts, visual and performing, are truly made up of a universal language that we can all share on some level. I am sure the performers could sense the good will in the smiles and applause from the group.
I sat and wondered what their life in Russia must be like, and what an experience it must be for them to be here in America in one of the wealthiest areas in the country.
It also made me think of why I felt the need to jump about to every style of music and beat as a young girl so passionately. Of course, I had no talent, but the delight it brought me to make up and then perform those little routines was magical. Spellbinding hours imagining being on the stage sent shivers up my spine. I smile to remember what it was like to feel that kind of pure joy in such a beautiful art form, even though I was millennia away from the talent I now found myself meeting at the luncheon.
As it turned out, the woman sitting next to me was a choreographer from New York working with the troupe. I asked her what it was like to work with these talented young Russians, and she said without hesitating, “Well, in the United States we have the opportunity and are encouraged to learn many different styles of dance and interpretation. In Russia they basically are taught one way, the Bolshoi way, and that’s it. So they will be learning a new way to dance while they are here. It should be very interesting. I think they are in for a bit of a shock and it will be fascinating to see how they react to being able to go beyond what they’ve been told.”
I thought about that as I drove back to my office. When I was a little girl, I could dream to be anything, anyone I wanted to be. I could have chosen modern ballet, traditional, classical, you name it. As it turned out, I ended up choosing to play the violin after all. But the point is, I had and made a choice. It has never, ever occurred to me that I would not have a choice, that our government would choose and deem what was most important, lucrative, or patriotic, and bend my talent to conform to that way.
I never did become the owner of a pony, nor a ballerina. But I have a new understanding of what it is like to simply want to be something and not have anyone tell you what that something is going to be.
Two follow up items I would like to take the opportunity to thank you all for this week. One, thank you to everyone who has RSVP’d for the Newport Beach Vineyard and Winery harvest and crush on September 18th. There is still time to make a reservation to join in the fun if you email [email protected]@sbcglobal.net.
Second, thank you for the awesome response in support our Marines at the 1/1 car wash hosted by Dan Marcheano at The Arches restaurant. The Marines made over $10K in support of the families of deployed men and women. I heard a lot of nice stories from people who came out on Saturday, but I like Tom Johnson’s story the best. When I asked him if he went by the car wash, he said he had and when a young Marine approached his car, Tom handed him his money and said “there’s no way I can have you wash my car. For all you do for our country, I just want to make this donation and say thank you.”
Residing in Newport Beach, Lynn Selich is a weekly columnist and society editor for the Newport Beach Independent, and associate publisher and society editor of Newport Beach magazine. She can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Facebook at Lynn Selich-Columnist or http://twitter.com/LynnSelich.