The heroine in the book I’m writing now is a ballet teacher but she used to be a principal dancer in the American Ballet Theatre (although I may have to change the company depending on licensing issues). She’s different from many of my heroines so far, not as outwardly emotional and expressive but in a lot of ways, she emotes through her body when she dances.
As I was thinking about her, about who she’d be in relation to who Brody is (and I wrote him in Laid Bare so I knew him much more as I began to write the proposal). I wanted her not to be his opposite, but with core things very much like his, but outwardly different. Her mode of expression also through art but what or how? And then I thought about ballet and dancing. I love ballet. Like, really, really, really love ballet.
When I was ten, a woman my mother worked with had a son who danced with the Royal Australian Ballet and he came to visit her in Los Angeles and with him, came tickets to a gala at the Terrace Theater in Long Beach for the American Ballet Theatre. This was huge and a moment in my life I’ll never forget (I still have the program tucked into a book Lois – our friend – gave me for my birthday a few days before that.) A gala is often a chance to see bits from the season so it has several acts, each with different styles and it’s wildly exciting for people who love ballet. And even better, it’s a great excuse to get dressed up. We had these amazing seats because of our friend’s son and that night I knew I’d love ballet forever. I wanted to be Cynthia Gregory when I watched her dance the Grand Pas Classique with Fernando Bujones (both of them such amazing, amazing dancers).
That night, I don’t think I can really put into words how it changed my life. I was this kid who watched ballet on PBS. We didn’t hob nob, we couldn’t afford lessons or anything. I’d never seen it live and even later in my life I hadn’t seen anything that could touch it until I was an adult. Something inside me was set free by the beauty I saw that night. By the way the dancers moved and carried themselves. It’s one of the most beautiful things imaginable to see ballet live.
This is the Grand Pas Classique with music by Auber – I looked for Bujones clips because I love how he looks when he dances but the only one I found was of poor quality. This one features Sylvie Guillem, who is one of the finest ballet dancers ever. It’s worth a watch because she doesn’t allow her dancing to be filmed these days.
This is very a very classic, very beautiful piece. Look at the balance required, the timing, the strength and poise. It’s one of my favorite pieces when done by a good company because it’s lovely to look at. It had embedding disabled but the link works. When you watch closer to the end and see her freaking balance during her turns, it’s amazing. She’s flawless, like a thing of magic and air.
That night we saw The River as the closing piece – this is Cynthia Gregory above performing part of the River (with music by Duke Ellington and choreography by Alvin Ailey)
Anyway, I’ve been watching a lot of youtube, thinking about Elise, about what she’d look like, how she’d carry herself and so I thought I’d just share a bit of that, and a bit of me, with you all.