I have been carrying around the New York City Ballet’s brochure for their 2017/2018 season for weeks now. The edges of the pages have become purse-worn. The cover page has come out of the stapled binding. I have brought it to Florida and back. Maybe even twice. And all because I thought it was one of the most beautiful brochures I had seen in a long time. Perhaps ever. As I perused it the first time, I was captivated! And I wanted to write about it and how beautiful it was and how happy I felt just looking at the photographs and reading the text that someone in marketing had worked very hard to come up with. I also thought, as I was perusing that first time, what a shame it was that it was only a brochure for one season. A shame because one, it was already demoted down from “real” art simply by existing as a marketing brochure and two because it was for only one season. This brochure would go exist for one season and then everyone would forget about it and how beautiful it was.
So I saved it because I thought it was beautiful and I wanted to write about it.
My writing, as it turns out, has gone to the wayside since May 3 when I picked up my 7-wk old daughter. And let’s face facts. My writing had pretty much already gone to the wayside even before I had picked up my daughter. Yes! Essentially I was not writing.
I carried the brochure with me for wks with the hopes that I would write about it, about all of it. About how it inspired me. About how I would take it out at various and random times and look at the beautiful pictures of the dancers. The front insert page invited the peruser to “ESCAPE…EXPLORE…EMBRACE…” And that’s what I did. The photography was compelling. How much more exquisite eloquence could those bodies express? And that was just from the photos. My goodness, how much better would it be in person?
I don’t know because I never subscribed or bought a ticket. Acquiring an infant, becoming a mother, turned out to be a little bit of a hindrance to attending a NYCB performance in NYC (or anything in NYC other than taking care of an infant, for that matter).
But here I am, I swear at least two months later, picking out the worn brochure from my tote bag. Lkng at it again and loving it as much as I did the first time I opened it. But this is different because this is the final time that I will take it out. This time I am really writing about it and once I am done I will put it into the recycling bin. This time I am finally saying goodbye to it.
It has been my baggage for the past two months (who knows, maybe even longer…). Albeit it is my beautiful baggage of exquisite dancers. But it is still my baggage: sitting on my to-do list; weighing down on me both in my tote bag and my psyche. Oh! I would remind myself every time I picked up the bag – I need to write about it! Or I need to subscribe! Or I need to purchase at least one ticket! Of course I walked around for over two months with it and did nothing but have it weigh on my mind.
Until now. I turn the front page insert and see the picture and caption: “Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Ballet,” and am reminded of why this brochure initially appealed to me. Someone in the marketing department was also a reader and lover of Wallace Stevens and had found a way to derive that poem into the NYCB’s 2017/2018 brochure. I have no idea who that person was but whomever it was I love. V and XI are my favorites, but VI haunts me.
V. Inflections and innuendos. A ballet performance happens to us twice. First, the dancing pours out in front of us. Then the afterimages appear, staying with us for days — or forever — moments embraced in a mental glow, like rooms in the paintings of La Tour. Explore these rooms and why they’re now a part of you.
VI. Dance doesn’t have words. It has moods, shapes, shadows, people going to and fro. Sometimes it’s like looking through a distant window into another world. Sometimes it’s like losing out your own window into darkness and desire.
XI. Fairies, sulphate, birds, insects, angels, Mercury’s winged feet and Time’s winged chariot. Dance moves as the crow flies, straight to the heart of things.”
Earlier today I took out the brochure and the cover fell off since it was not longer attached to the stapled binding. I picked it up and felt sad because I wanted to have it forever but realized it was already gone. I gently put the cover into the trash can next to me.
And now here I am writing a blog post for the first time in god knows how long. It has been a lifetime ago (that I can say with conviction). And though I don’t feel emotionally ready to get rid of this beautiful baggage, it is time. So here is my last tribute to this beautiful piece. I am sorry to be get rid of this baggage, even as it feels good to lighten my tote bag and free my mind of that overhand.
But isn’t that what ballet is? An ephemeral hopefully beautifully exquisite existence that will settle into your bones and be with you forever. Even though the performance is long gone. (That, incidentally, is also what I experienced at my first visit to the NYCB, watching the curtain go up on Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings. It was a magical moment and even though it is passed and gone it has become a part of my existence.)
For that matter, isn’t that what art is, or even life? And yes, even a beautiful brochure for one season of the NYCB. So here is to baggage. And getting rid of it and keeping it at the same time. Not good riddance, but simply good.
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I cannot sign off without mentioning Douglas Taurel who wrote and acted in the one-man play, The American Soldier. He is performing this as well as another one-man show, An American Soldier’s journey Home: The Diary of Irving Greenwald at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. on November 11. I reviewed The American Soldier over a year ago and found it an honest and moving tribute to our soldiers and veterans and am so glad to see it continue to live on. (For more details, please go to: http://www.theamericansoldiersoloshow.com.)
For anyone in DC this wkend and lkng for something to do, it is well worth the visit. Especially on a Veteran’s Day wkend.