Sunday, May 22, 2011

We Love Polina Semionova at the ABT

On Saturday the Boshoi-trained Polina Semionova performed to a sold-out audience at the American Ballet Theatre.  Ms. Semionova was on loan from the Staatsballet Berlin, and was performing as Kitra in Don Quixote.  From the moment she stepped on stage all eyes were glued to her.  Poor David Hallberg and Veronika Part, magnificent dancers both, didn't stand a chance.  We (I speak on behalf of the audience) love Polina.  Why do we love her?  Because she balances unwaveringly en pointe for an unspeakable amount of time in an attitude derriere that she then extends to a lingering arabesque.  Because she spins like a top in so many pirouettes you lose count after eight, when she slides her foot down to a sous-sus as if the stage were ice and she a figure skater.  Because she does double fouettes without using her arms to help her around, but instead sets one hand jauntily on a hip while the other hand shoots straight up with a fan, demonstrating her prowess.  Because, when David Hallberg doesn't get that she really can do more pirouettes at the end of a grueling performance, and stops her after three revolutions, she takes an extra balance just to show she has more in her legs.  Because she's not afraid to show off.  Because she shows what the female body can do when in peak form.  Because she wears a girlish, wide smile that fills the theatre with the joy of dance.  Because she makes little girls spin in circles at intermission (this is a fact, I saw it with my own eyes).  Because she reminds us of the joyful little girl in all of us, the one  who would spin around until she fell down laughing and dizzy, the one for whom anything was possible.        

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Last week on Ft. Washington Ave. I was nearly run down by a four year old squealing with joy: Butterfly! Butterfly! Butterfly! she said.  Her stubby legs pumped at top speed, making her pig tails jump up and down on either side of her head.  The lilacs were blooming.  The sky was crystal clear.  And there was no reason not  to be overjoyed by the prospect of butterflies.  Her parents followed behind, smiling and indulgent.  Such displays of exuberance are unfairly reserved for the very young.  I wanted to throw my arms in the air and run alongside the girl, rejoicing over earth's power to renew itself each spring. 

Several days later, I passed the same girl and her mother.  The girl had used string to attach two floppy paper plates to her back.  They were decorated with wavy crayon lines and cut on one side to make a straight edge next to her shoulder blades.  The mother reached for the girl's hand and said gently, Come on Butterfly.  The girl skipped along, her wings fluttering behind her.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day in Central Park

New York 1 forecast rainstorms  for this year's Mother's Day, but the mothers would have none of it.  They must have talked to the Big Guy and told him what's what.  Weather-wise, this was the best day yet.  In Central Park, Pooch and I tried to dodge the obstacle course of families picnicking, roller blading, waiting for the carousel, and eating icecream bars.  A line fifty people long waited to rent row boats near the Boat House.  In between having meltdowns, kids frolicked on the green grass of Sheep's Meadow.  And if you hadn't thought ahead and packed your own food (like Mom does), you had a long wait on your hands at the Rickshaw Dumpling truck. 

People came at us from all directions.  After an hour of frantically trying not to become road kill, Pooch and I decided to be antisocial and ducked into The Ramble.  There the crowd thinned, but barely.  We duly became lost (no matter how long I live in this city, I never learn my way around The Ramble).  Pooch rubbed noses with a St. Bernard, then got confused when,  trying to greet him in the usual dog manner, stood in shadow beneath the huge dog's belly.  Finally we found our way to the West Side, where we emerged to find a new barrage of families.  But the funny thing was, despite the discomfort of the crowds, most people were smiling and polite.  These people must be from out of town, I thought.  Or maybe, on this Mother's Day, people had remembered a mother's frequent refrain:  mind your manners.  Which is a gift to all of us.