Anther Christmas Gift

On the ninth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
Nine Ladies Dancing


Yes, it is still Christmas, the ninth day of twelve. What can I give (share with) you from my heart? Dancing ladies? We might ponder why we love dancing so much and why it is so popular in every part of the world. Even the animals undersea seem to dance to the currents. I think we all have experienced the need to move when we are overwhelmed by emotions. For example, when my first poems were accepted by Robert Graves’ Mediterranean Review, I ran out the door, letter in hand, and raced around the block coming back to an open house. What did I think about safety or anything other than the excitement of having all four of my submitted poems accepted by Robert de Maria, the editor of the most prestigious literary journal while I was still a freshman in college? My body had to move! Isn’t it true that we share the elation and joy with dancers even when we are sitting formally in our loge chairs under the chandeliers in grand concert halls? Our hearts dance if our bodies cannot. I would like to share some memories of dancers with you and two great dancers who have “moved” me and then wonder if anyone reading this remembers watching these great performers too. 

First, as a very young girl still in Vaseline-polished maryjanes and in my best dress I sat in an orchestra seat by myself. Today my mother would be called a “culture-vulture” because she made sure I saw ballet, opera, concerts and theatre every time I came home from the convent for a weekend. I even remember having to watch an old grainy film of Tito Gobi in Rigoletto in an art house–in Italian– by myself. When I asked her why she sent me alone she explained that she had seen it all and wanted me to enjoy the same things and one “best” seat was better than cheaper balcony seats for the two of us. Although there was no arguing with my mother, I would have liked company, someone to tell me about what I was seeing. Only twice she came to the opera house with me, once to see The Song of Norway (the story and music of Edvard Grieg) when we sat in the balcony and I saw for the first of many times the great and beautiful dancer, Frederick Franklin dancing to “Freddie and His Fiddle.”  I could share stories with you about this wonderful ballet star were there a way to find the time.
frederick frankllin as slave

I saw the Ballet Russes de Monte Carlo every year until it split in two and then I saw both companies. Then, as a teenager I developed a crush, probably akin to a mania, for Jose Greco and his dance troupe of Spanish musicians, flamenco singers and dancers. Every time they came to Boston, my room-mate and I found our way to the Boston Opera House. I remember going backstage where a young girl could roam about without questions being asked, and I think the star himself thought I was a child of a dancer when he allowed me to sit on his lap while he talked to his friends in Italian in the dressing room. (see his bio online) Going backstage became a habit with me and I found that it was not hard when alone to manage this. jose greco it was easy to maintain a crush on Jose Greco. See YouTube for an example of his magnificence.

When I was eight or nine years old, my mother sent me to see the ballet Scheherazade with Frederick Franklin playing the slave. As exciting as it was, I couldn’t help feeling that my mother did not know what the ballet was about. Somehow I knew the dance was somewhat more erotic than appropriate for a convent girl. It has always been my favorite ballet. So, Dear Reader, as my ninth day of Christmas gift, I give you this rare gem of a performance by Igor Kolb and Jiyeon Ryu at the Marinsky. It is very rare for anyone other than a Russian to dance with this company, but you will clearly see why this exquisite dancer from Korea is where she is supposed to be.

AND, Maybe the most important part of this present for you: Jose Greco’s son has carried his father’s profession to perfection! Why would anyone NOT trade virtual reality for the real world when this is going on somewhere? Why sit in front of a TV set or video game or any screen for that matter when something like this is happening at a theatre near you? Enjoy this and then look for the chance to experience it in the flesh, hopefully with someone with whom to share the experience.