I, like so many little girls of my generation, took ballet. I never was very good though I enjoyed it. When I left New York and came to Los Angeles, I didn’t continue to study ballet. It seemed the right time to make a change. Had I stayed in New York, who knows, I might have turned into a good dancer.
What I took away from my years of studying ballet was a love of dance. I am not a dance snob. Far from it. I can enjoy my niece’s ballet school recital as much as an Alvin Alley show. I enjoy not just classical but innovative dance. Many years ago I used to attend the free dance shows held at the Ford Theater in Hollywood. (Sadly those shows are no longer free) One year I somehow began a conversation with a woman who, like me, was there alone to enjoy the show. She invited me to join her and her friends to a show at the Hollywood Bowl – in their box. That woman, I believe her name was Jill, was the daughter of Leon Uris, the author. I credit dance with giving me my first brush with celebrity.
Recently I’ve seen two dance shows at a local theater. The first was a ballet based on Dr. Caligari’s Cabinet. It was fascinating with it’s combining of dance and media. Just this past week I saw the Luminario Ballet company perform at that same theater. They were phenomenal. What struck me was the athleticism of the dancers. They were obviously classically trained in ballet but they were also gymnasts, aerialists and contortionists. A guy sitting near me commented that he had been a dancer but he’d never have been able to do what these dancers were capable of. To just dance is not enough, he said, wistfully. The pieces they performed were varied and wonderful. I enjoyed the fact that the men in the company got to really perform, not just stand by the ballerina ready to help her balance or to lift her.
Because I hadn’t had enough of a dance fix, last night I watched the documentary about Jacob’s Pillow called “Never Stand Still.” It went right up there with “Pima” and “First Position” on my list of favorite movies about dance. What was really fascinating about Jacob’s Pillow was the number of groundbreaking choreographers who first presented on that stage: Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor, Alvin Alley, Mark Morris, and Suzanne Farrell to name just a few.
Jacob’s Pillow is a UN of dance. There were companies and dancers from all over the world – from India to Denmark and all points in between. What a fabulous opportunity for dancers to come together and collaborate. I wish the young dancers from SYTYCD would watch this video and pick up some ideas for choreography – it would make the “dance for your life” pieces much more interesting.
Attending a show at Jacob’s Pillow has just been added to my bucket list.
Forgive the quality of the attached photos – we were prohibited from using a flash (I think we were not supposed to take any photos but I couldn’t resist) these were taken on my iPod not my real camera.