Last night we went to see the Bolshoi production of Sleeping Beauty on the cinema screen. The newly restored Moscow theater features gilded woodwork and royal red upholstery, a royal box and no “cheap” balcony seats. It is Old World magnificence and romance in itself. Add Tchaikovsky’s lush orchestral score (which includes not one, but two harps!) and the lavish beaded, satin costumes and tutus of classic ballet and you have a Spectacle of epic proportion. We sat in the 5th row and felt like we were actually on the proscenium during the close up camera shots. It was breath-taking. Princess Aurora showcases all her most difficult moves in Act I at her 16th birthday party, partnered by 4 elaborately dressed foreign suitors. Cymbals accentuate each technically challenging pose, and she becomes the prima ballerina superstar of all my girlhood dreams. Suddenly, I am 10 years old and sitting next to my father at the Auditorium Theater in Chicago. The ballet is so beautiful and I am so lucky and so loved and I miss my dad so much that I can’t hold back the tears. My heart is too full.
My dad proudly attended to the cultural education of his 4 charming daughters. We had classes at the Art Institute and ballet lessons at a studio on Michigan Avenue every Saturday. He had season tickets to the ballet for the whole family and to the opera for my mother. I was absolutely stage-struck as a kid and couldn’t resist trying on poses and gestures in the lobby during intermissions. I was the youngest of his daughters and probably tried the hardest to please him. I suppose I felt like a princess in many ways. I counted on my father’s kingly protection and generosity. I sometimes slept through life, waiting for Prince Charming to appear and carry me off to a dream of happiness. I met my prince when I was 15, married him when I was 21, and almost lived the whole freakin’ fairy tale. But no, I lived a real life. And I’m glad of it.
I found out that grace takes a lot of hard work, that fathers are imperfect people, and that love is stronger than death and more powerful than beauty. And it also requires a lot of hard work. Discipline and commitment can be more lovely than romance. Facing reality is more invigorating than dreaming. Pinch me when the spectacle seems overwhelming; I want to know I’m alive.
And David Hallberg is my new fascination. Not only is he a supremely graceful human being, he blogs, too. Yup, he’s real.