Two days ago I was seated in the Chicago Auditorium Theater feeling the buzz and anticipation of a special performance. Electricity filled the air, the auditorium jammed to capacity. Opening night. Everyone seemed excited about what was to soon unfold. The lights dimmed, the orchestra began as white smoke drifted up on a dark screen. All eyes fixed on the stage as the ballet dancers started to appear.
A very special night, indeed — opening night for the world premiere of “Anna Karenina” by the Joffrey Ballet. Once the dancers hit the stage, my thoughts disappeared. I was totally focused on the graceful movements, amazing athleticism and precision of the ballet dancers. In the moment, my attention was on each move, each movement, supported by a beautiful musical score.
My friend, Peter and I have been attending ballet performances since the early 1980s, seeing the American Ballet Theater company many times and then subscribing to the Joffrey, which we continue to this day. I reflected with Peter the other night about all our ballet experiences, how I held his arm to gingerly walk down the aisle to our seats when I was too unstable to walk on my own. With wobbly legs and compromised stamina, I would use the energy I had to reach my seat, then watch the curtain open, dancers appear and be transformed.
Nothing was more inspiring and motivating to me when I had trouble walking than watching ballet dancers. I loved how they moved their bodies, had control over their bodies and epitomized grace and style. I didn’t want to be them. I wanted their energy and their excellence and I internalized it because they were sharing it with me, with us. I took it all in. I still do.
I carry a special place in my heart for ballet dancers, who continue to share their energy and artistry with me.
I don’t know specifically why, but I do know they were a big part in my healing, in my determination to regain balance and walk “normally” at a time when that was not my reality. This week I was once again transported to a place of calm, being totally in the moment. Watching ballet always does that for me. Tai Chi always does that for me. I am so grateful to enjoy ballet and Tai Chi, that always come through, always transport my thoughts and body to a place of calm, and time of enjoying the moment. And I am grateful to Peter who has been such a wonderful friend over the years, encouraging me and enjoying together so many wonderful ballet performances over the decades.
We all need a ballet, a Tai Chi, some kind of event or practice that transports us to a new place of being right in the moment, a moment of calm and joy. What do you do that transports you to that place?