May 15, 2006

Maya Plisetskaya's Dying Swan

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'Tis the wee hours, and we turned on the television to discover a black and white film of what appeared to be a ballet of The Dying Swan, a ballet which we've never had the pleasure of seeing. This could be nothing else, we thought — and, as it turned out, it was indeed a recording of The Dying Swan ballet performed by famed Russian ballerina Maya Plisetskaya of the Bolshio Ballet. Truly a wonder, for which we are thankful to get a glimpse.

Not being a ballerina, but having some small experience with both dance and martial arts, we were rather amazed -well, "amazed" is too trite a word- by some of the physically challenging positions that Plisetskaya executed in her dancing. More Maya Plisetskaya photos and more.

We were lucky enough, some many, many years ago, to be walking through an old factory district in San Francisco, at a time when factory buildings were being bought and really talented interior designers were brought in to do these buildings majesty. And so they were. In one building, what I remember was a large, heavy dark-stained staircase lined with photographs — professional black and white shots of the truly stunning (and outlandish; he lived quite the life, did he not?) Rudolf Nureyev and Dame Margot Fonteyn. Unfortunately, we were not able to find the photograph of Dame Margot as The Dying Swan, but we do remember it, all these decades later.

All this brings us once again to the realization that to become really, really good at something, one puts in one's time. One does not become fabulously accomplished at the mere thought of "I want to do _____". But that, too, is a part of the intensely engrossing enjoyment of it all. The heights are there to be scaled. And the heights after that.

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