Personal Statement

Personal Statement

Thursday, December 16, 2010

For Your Consideration

Prince William: Congrats on the engagement. The two of you seem very happy, and I really hate to rock the boat - but I'd like to throw my name in for consideration. The transition wouldn't be that difficult for you, I think; she's Catherine Elizabeth, I'm Kathryn Elizabeth, so you wouldn't even have to learn a new name.

It's not what you think. I mean, you're reasonably cute, but really not my type, and you're awfully young. And I have never been a Cinderella girl, you know? Not interested in the carriages, or the tiaras, or the ladies in waiting - the whole thing seems incredibly isolating, actually.

But your grandma does have a couple of things that I'm coveting. So we should talk.

I'm obsessed with "Battle of the Nutcrackers Dance-Off" on the Ovation Channel. Five international ballet companies performing their variations of the ballet, and the viewers get to vote on their favorite. Of course I would be obsessed with this show, because, while I have never been a Cinderella girl, I used to be a ballerina girl. And a jazz and modern and tap dancing girl. And then a dance and drill team girl. My sainted parents wasted a significant portion of their middle ages driving me to and from classes, rehearsals, recitals and purveyors of Danskin leotards, toe and character shoes. They also sprung for really good seats at "Cats," which, if memory serves, I insisted on attending, notwithstanding the fact that I was highly limited in my mobility due to a dancing injury. Ankle? Knee? They sort of blur together at this point. I do remember thinking that at least people would be able to TELL that I was a dedicated artiste, as the extent of my suffering for my art was evident in the form of two aluminum crutches shoved under my armpits. Surprise, surprise - there were no less than four other patrons of my approximate age and body build, clutching their playbills while crutching it down the aisle.

Yeah, I was a cliche. . . to the extent that, as a tween and young teen, I actually hosted an ANNUAL SLUMBER PARTY centering on the local PBS channel's broadcast of the Nutcracker. If you were a dance-obsessed child of the seventies, you may remember that holiday classic - American Ballet Theater, circa 1977, Gelsey Kirkland as Clara, and Mikhail Baryshnikov as the Nutcracker Prince.

SIIIIIIIIIIIGH. We all thought that Mikhail was so hot. And that Gelsey was so milquetoast. (For the record, she totally was; it wasn't just a matter of us resenting her for having a personal romantic relationship with Mikhail. I mean, we DID resent her - but that was only one of our objections to her performance.)

The ABT Nutcracker was the gold standard for me for a lot of years. And, I have to say, if I were to put the ABT version up against a couple of the modern-age performances featured on Ovation, I would go with ABT, hands down. I completely agree with another blogger who posted on the Ovation site that the Berlin State Orchestra lost it with their Arabian dance and truly heinous set design. But I'd go a step further - their technique was awful, and more often than not they were not in unison. I kept thinking that, maybe, they had taped the dress rehearsal and accidentally submitted that tape in lieu of the actual performance.

The same blogger posited that you really can't compete with the Bolshoi. Um, actually, I think that you can. The post Cold War era has not been kind to the Bolshoi. The overall quality of the dancing was, I thought, pretty poor. No doubt, funding probably isn't what it once was - but I also can't help but think of the comment that my mother was heard to repeat OVER AND OVER during the Olympics, prior to the fall of Communism:

"Ooh, the Soviet skater fell. She's probably terrified that they will shoot her when she exits the ice. They tend to do that, you know."

Um, Mom, you're exaggerating. They don't shoot them for falling.

"Well, at the very least she's in danger of being shipped to Siberia."

Again - no. But, I suppose, there was truth in the theory that Soviet athletes tended to be relentlessly perfect because they were afforded no other option. And now that external pressure to succeed has been lifted?

On to Bachelor 3: the Royal Ballet of London. NOW we're cooking with gas. Ovation blogger didn't think they had good technique. I tend to disagree - certainly, it was better than the other two, overall. And there were interesting tweaks made to the otherwise traditional choreography that I thought kept things pretty fresh. However, if I were being 100% honest, the things that set this company apart for me were the gorgeous sets and costumes, all done in shades of creams and beiges, but also done with a lot of depth and luminosity. Simple, yet totally luxurious at the same time. Even the bouquets for the principal dancers screamed "we put a LOT of thought into the visuals" (they were huge, the colors perfectly harmonized with the sets, and amidst all of the roses and blooming flowers were giant heads of ornamental cabbage).

What really got me, though, was the curtains.

The curtains at the Royal Opera House, London, are REALLY RED - and at the bottom of the REALLY RED curtains, someone has embroidered in REALLY, REALLY BIG AND FANCY script, "E II R." Confused? That stands for "Elizabeth II Regina," as in Prince William's aforementioned granny. It i s called her royal cypher. But we all know what it really is. It's a REALLY, REALLY BIG AND FANCY MONOGRAM.

Yup - Elizabeth II Regina has MONOGRAMMED HER BALLET. Or, I guess, technically, she has monogrammed the opera house in which her ballet performs. But, whatever - either way, it's flippin' cool. Really, it's the pinnacle of personalization, and as we all know I am ALL about the personalization. So I am adding to my historical Christmas wish list one rocking royal cypher-style monogram, as well as a ballet on which to put it. (In case you are wondering, other big-ticket wish list items include: (1) an anesthesiologist (I consistently forget to take medicine that, if taken, would help me to recover from common things like respiratory viruses, strained muscles, etc. - I tell myself, "Oh, we have [Sudafed/ibuprofen/whatever]," but I never actually make it to the medicine cabinet to retrieve the bottle); (2) an IV drip (I also consistently forget to adequately hydrate my body during the day, so a saline bag on a rolling pole would be just delightful); and (3) Pips. Yes, Pips - Pips to sing the last few words of what I say as punctuation to my sentences, complete with choreography. I might say, "I'm going to Half-Price Books" and they would end with "Half, Price, BOOOOOO-OOO-OOO-OOOKSSSS [jazz hands].")

I'm registered at Harris Methodist Hospital, Motown Records and, as of this week, Buckingham Palace. Start your holiday shopping for me early!

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