Last February, about this time, I was able to fulfill a childhood wish to see Swan Lake (which had been thwarted. It’s a good story. You can read about it here. I wrote the piece at a time when this blog was very small, and I wondered if anyone at all read it. You can imagine my surprise when the Eugene Ballet Company (the lovely dancers and choreographers responsible for my dream-come-true experience with Swan Lake) found the piece and put it on their Facebook page. I refreshed my screen every so often, watching new people come to visit.
When I write a piece, whether it is an essay, blog entry, poem or short story, I try to keep one person in mind. In a way, I write it for them, sometimes literally. Sometimes, I’ll have an opportunity to share the piece with that person, serendipitously, or on purpose.
Often, it is only later that I find out who the piece was truly written for.
On this occasion, I received a comment from Yoshie, a principal dancer with the Eugene Ballet Company, who danced Odette that evening. She told me that my words had encouraged her, that she had been low on confidence after that performance.
If there had been anyone that I would have wanted to read that piece, it would have been her.
A few weeks ago, I got an email from Yoshie, letting me know that the company was coming back on tour, this time presenting Scheherazade, along with three other short ballets. Yoshie told me that she was dancing the lead and that she would dedicate her performance to me.
I had already been hoping to go, but with an invitation like that, who could refuse?
My mom and I dressed up and ventured downtown to the Fox Theater, which has been refreshed in the last few years to bring it back to it’s 1920s elegance. As many of you know, last year ended in a difficult way, not changing much as January showed her face. But as February opened her eyes, and the curtain rose, revealing the ballet, I found myself thinking that maybe this was my first taste of real newness in this new year.
Each ballet brought delight, the staging, lighting and costumes marrying with superb dancing to create a wholly satisfying experience.
I was completely captivated.
It is possible that I will, someday, look back at the litany of things to which I have compared life and laugh. But as I watched the feast for the senses which was Idyll for Eight, I knew that I was going to have to do it again. It’s a beautiful piece, but what struck me was the fluidity of the structure. It started in a traditional enough way, four couples dancing together. But soon, I noticed that sometimes there were only women on stage, sometimes there were only men, sometimes a couple danced alone, other times several couples danced together. The combinations continued in their delightful permutations, always moving and changing. As I’ve watched this past year or so unfold, I realize that this ballet rings true in that way. For me, the music brings different companions and circumstances and I must dance through them all, knowing that they will continue to change.
Yoshie danced the part of Scheherazade. If you read the piece about last year, you will know that she danced a happy ending to a story without one, traditionally. This year, she danced the role with grace and exceptional flexibility, with impossibly beautiful backbends and dramatic lifts (the guest artist who danced as her partner added to the experience well, bringing the role of the Golden Servant alive). I smiled, a bit, as I thought about her promise to dedicate the performance to me. Each lovely arabesque and développé seemed personal somehow.
This year, the story ended more sadly, with Scheherazade’s death as a result of her unwillingness to live a lie in the king’s harem. It might not have been exactly happy, but it was brave. I clapped as though my hands depended on it, because it was February, and as the curtains rose, so had my hopes.