Sunday, March 21, 2010

What I Did For Love

I always wanted to be a dancer, to wear the leotards and be surrounded by sophisticated worldly choreographers like Balanchine and Twyla Tharp who would create dances for me. I wanted to live in New York City and to suffer for my art. I was big on suffering in those days like most young people who don't know that life doles out plenty of it and none of it is particularly glamorous. Of course, I lived in Mineral Wells, Texas so I had to settle for a beginning jazz class from a woman who was being stalked by someone long before the term had been coined. The stalker would call the dance studio and threaten to kill her or breathe heavily or hang up. Those were the days of land lines when you knew when someone hung up on you and didn't just lose the connection. These calls terrified my teacher and created a real mood kill as the class danced to Aretha Franklin's "Highway of Love."

My class wasn't like the book my dad bought me, Dancing!, a book that I desperately wanted and we couldn't well afford (twelve dollars in paperback was a lot of money for a book at that point). When I did get it, I read it obsessively. It includes lots of stories about the New York City of the 1970s, and its propensity for being both magical and dangerous. This was as close to the dancer's life as I would ever get. I didn't want it, not really. I wanted the trappings. A dancer's life is equal parts despair and hope and pain which plays out brilliantly in Every Little Step, a documentary that follows the process of auditions and call backs during the 2006 revival of A Chorus Line. There is great footage from the 70s, during the creation of the musical and like Woody Allen, A Chorus Line has its own font which always brings up a feeling of nostalgia for a time I never knew. What is the word for mourning a life you never had? I suppose it's all dead space, like the dial tones of the past that we don't hear anymore.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I think that anyone who's pushed to do the very best that they can is privileged. It's a luxury." Twyla Tharp

Cocktail Hour
Anyone reading anything good right now? You guys tell me!

Benedictions and Maledictions


Anonymous said...

The April Esquire. Gray jeans are in.--Parnelli Jones

Anonymous said...

The most important single privilege is that of obtaining an inside view of another character, because of the rhetorical power that such a privilege conveys upon a narrator.--Wayne Booth

Jason said...

"I didn't want it, not really."

I feel this way about writing. I wanted to be called brilliant and have people tell me that I touched them or understood them, but I didn't want to put in the work or the suffering.

I don't miss or pine about being a writer any more. Sometime I miss those feelings though.

jodi said...

Oh Dear Michelle, I too had a similar dream. I would live in a walk up flat (never been to one in my life) and eat crackers and juice--like that would EVER happen. I would so something artsy and be surrounded by intellectual types that I would hope would not out me in all my redneck self! xo

Anonymous said...

I ate pizz off of her stomach.--Alice B. Tokless

Lana Gramlich said...

Suffering--for one's art or anything else--is wildly overrated.
I saw "A Chorus Line" on Broadway years ago. Little did I know that my brain wasn't getting the oxygen it needed...until we got up to leave & I fainted & fell through the crowd down a flight of stairs. <:\

Heff said...

I read the back of a Campbell's Soup can last night. It was incredible !