New Ballet Ensemble' s annual holiday performance Nut Remix is Nov 20-22, Cannon Center
New Ballet Ensemble’ s annual holiday performance Nut ReMix is Nov 20-22 with the MSO  at the  Cannon Center

One of the great graces of my work life is the chance to meet and make numerous new friends. Many of them, in fact almost all of them,  are energetically engaged in constructive projects for the benefit of others. Most are volunteers, some are toiling as non-profit administrators, and others are board members–but all could be doing something far less selfless with their time. In a day filled with deadlines and eternal cropping, tweaking, and edits,  the faces and voices of these kindhearted people who represent this city’s better angels are like espresso for my soul.

One such woman, whom I met this past week, I already count as my shiniest new friend–she’s a real sunflower. Her devotion to the young people’s dance ensemble known for putting the “jook” into ballet is intense and personal. As we sat talking about what our business can do to help–we enjoyed getting to know each other a little better. And that’s what I mean about how lucky I am–what could be more exhilarating than discovering the beauty of a person?

Jackson Browne had a great line in a song called, “I Thought I Was a Child”. In it he wrote, “It’s such a clever innocence with which you show myself to me.”  What a priceless gift to give another person!  Doesn’t it seem like so often it’s almost easier to understand someone else and their needs– than it is to understand our own? I’m so grateful for this spontaneous grace of insight and reflection. Still, I was very surprised when my new friend presented me with a small poster that read “If the music is good you should dance.”

Well yes. You should. And yet at some point,  I had simply stopped dancing. Somehow, I stopped, and I hadn’t really noticed, until one night, just recently, someone said to me, with a grin,  “I bet you like to dance.” Just out of the blue. And somewhat bemused by the somewhat random question, I answered,  “Well, yes, I do.”

The next morning, when I woke up, among other things,  I thought about how I used to love to dance. I’m talking barefoot Isadora Duncan dancing, as well as dance-until-you-are-hot-and-sweaty-dancing because the music is in your bones. I studied dance at a studio called SculpturEssence as a young mom, dancing to the  stirring beat of an African drum line while my kids assembled Legos off to one side. Even when I was as young as three, my mother would pull silk scarves from her drawer, pinning them together to make a worthy dance costume for my toddler fantasies. Then, after carefully buckling the tiny strap of my black patent Sunday school shoes, I would dance to Ferrante and Teicher like a wild little fairy or a nascent Stevie Nicks (take your pick) on the magenta cabbage roses of the living room rug.

So what happened? Somehow, I just began to slumber in the seven sleepers’ den.  I lost something integral to myself–and to dance: a sense of joy. I forgot what joy even felt like. I needed to be reminded, I needed someone to show myself to me, someone to say, “I bet you like to dance.”

Last week, I went outside, and under the full yellow moon, I danced on the lawn behind the house as the stars twirled around my head and the strains of Rob Thomas’ concert throbbed through the soft night air from an outdoor concert several blocks away. Even so, his song, “Lonely No More,” was clearly understood, articulating the possibilities,   “What if it was paradise? What if we were symphonies?”

Yes, what if?  Sometimes you just don’t know until you try. Who knows where your road, or my road will lead us, or what lies beyond the yellow brick tao?  But as Elton sang, sometimes, it’s there our future lies—waiting for us to find it.

Drums performing with New Ballet Dance Ensemble

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