The Friday evening before Christmas, Scott and I attended the Tucson Symphony Orchestra’s holiday “pops” concert. He had surprised me with the tickets, in more than one way because not only was he volunteering to attend a concert (he usually passes), it was Christmas music to boot. He is not a fan of Christmas music, and yet there we were. He’s a good man; I think I’ll keep him.
Naturally, when you’re having a series of Christmas concerts, it is the ideal time to dig up all the landscaping and roads around the venue, leaving mounds of dirt everywhere, no sidewalks, and the festive blinking lights of road barricades on the way to the single available entrance. This is particularly appreciated by those of us in casts, and given that the average age of your typical symphony-goer is baby boomer or beyond, I daresay I was not the only audience member inconvenienced. But with plucky determination and the steadying hand of my beau, we made it to the door of the venue without my doing a faceplant.
It being the symphony, all the furs were out in force, because one’s opportunities to wear furs in Tucson, a very casual and usually very warm city, are few and far between. Fur-trimmed sweaters and fur stoles and fur coats abounded and astonished. I was wearing a faux fur coat, one I bought last year and happen to love. Certain people I live with, however, do NOT love my coat, and unkindly refer to it as my “pimp coat.” It looked particularly groovy with my navy blue cast shoe, although I did my best to dress it up by wearing a red sock over the cast to match my ensemble.
The orchestra was big and beautiful, and we had great seats in the 3rd row so I could watch everyone and remember what it was like to be in the middle of an orchestra like that. I miss it sometimes, usually when I’m at the symphony, which is not often. My violin had an unfortunate disagreement with our fabled dry heat this spring, though, so it is currently in unplayable condition, languishing in its case.
It being a pops concert, and, apparently, pledge week, there were many guest visitors there to make their pitches for people to contribute to the orchestra, directly or through raffle tickets. One part of the evening was devoted to selections from the Nutcracker, complete with ballet dancers from the local troupe doing the Southwestern version they are famed for, including “The Dance of the Prickly Pear Fairy.”
Now, ballet has never really been my thing, and I’ve never sought it out, but seeing as it was being provided to me as part of the evening’s entertainment, I leaned forward in my seat, trying to get the most out of it and educate myself on this art form I didn’t know anything about.
We were about 3 pieces into the Nutcracker selections when I turned to Scott and said, “I don’t get it.” When I was a little girl, I would turn on my Classical Masterpiece LP (yes, I’m that old) on my huge secondhand cabinet record player, and flounce about my room being a ballerina, up on tip-toes, standing on one leg, spinning, with general airy movements of the arms, and if my brother made the mistake of coming in while I was doing so, he was immediately impressed into service as my dance partner, which usually involved him holding up the leg I lifted behind me. (Why he didn’t just grab it tight and give me a good shove, I don’t know. He was a better kid than I ever gave him credit for, I guess.) This is pertinent, because, other than the toe shoes and much better costumes, I wasn’t seeing anything on the stage that I hadn’t done myself back in my ballerina-wannabe years.
This disturbed me. If you’d seen me dancing as a kid, you would know why. My mom didn’t call me “Grace” for nothin’.
I like to dance individually, and I like to do group dances. It feels good to move. But I have never really seen dancing as a spectator sport, even though I do like to watch ballroom dancers do their thing. So I thought, “Surely, I must be missing something, the something that turns people into ballet fans,” so I watched more intently for it. I thought maybe if I just watched carefully, the beauty and joy of ballet would become clear to me.
No joy. I still thought it was silly. Clearly, I lack the “ballet enjoyment” gene. I could appreciate it from a technical point of view, particularly as I watched the final performer, who was obviously one of the top dancers in her company. She set about proving that joints that move only in one plane are for mere mortals; I swear she had no bones at all, she was so fluid. I almost forgot that she was wearing an over-sized dish scrubby as a skirt. But as I watched the performance, nothing was kindled in my soul but bafflement, mirth, and rude adolescent remarks that I wisely kept to myself. Not really what they were going for, I imagine.
Maybe as one whose body is, and has ever been, her enemy, I would never think of expressing my deepest feelings via interpretive dance (doing so might very well result in my ending up in traction, with full body cast), and therefore cannot understand that mode of personal expression. But I get points for trying, right?