The Dancin' Fool:
Holidaze on Stage
by L. Van Warren

Well I'm now officially a dancin' fool, after over sixty ballet practices in three short months I just finished my stage debut as a Party Guest in Act I of the Nutcracker, complete with a live symphony Orchestra playing Tschaikovsky and the skillful  direction of Kirt Hathaway master choreographer...
Besides learning something new, the real fun was touring, touring with the Ballet Arkansas  Company as we played around the state at the University of Arkansas (fantastic venue), Blytheville (Tom Clancy's secret bookstore), El Dorado, Helena (small town - big heart), etc.

Having never danced publicly or been on a theatrical or performance stage I can say the whole tour unrolled like a long fall episode of Fantasy Island.  From crushing humiliation in practice to celebration before large crowds, it does make one feel alive.  With each performance my character has grown in both boldness and ... don't forget,  accessories!

The addition of a Peterson Pipe, von Sydow black gloves and Crow eye shadows saturated the character with just enough to keep busy between a waltz, a polonaise and a polka.  My daughter Naomi, cast as a toy soldier in the battle scene accompanied me on two of the performances and proved herself a fine shot taking out the dastardly King Rat with her contemporaries de corps during the climactic battle scene.
It was astonishing to  watch real ballet dancers from near and far ply their trade;  Studying  talent from  Little Rock to Moscow, I kid you not, from the Royal Ballet of London, to  Spain.  I, the novice, the nuveau balletnome, watched living sculpture from Chicago to Iowa accomplish things whose difficulty I had only recently begun to appreciate.  Example A: While standing up straight do the splits by pointing one leg at the ceiling! You may begin now, ouch that hurts, can we stop? Example B: Motor telepathy, during  rehearsals my accomplished partner could, with the slightest  pressure of her forearm, exactly direct my movements across the stage at critical mistake prone moments in a way not even Kreskin could foresee.  After sampling them all I rather settled on the polka as my favorite:  Even Kreskina relents and lets me swirl joyfully beneath the lights and dimly lit faces.

Strangely, the high point of my ballet experience actually comes, not at a performance, but  unexpectedly during practice in mid December.  A visiting instructor has the gift of "perfect motion" akin to the musical gift of perfect pitch.  I have only seen it three times in five years.  Motion errors were diagnosed and repaired with no verbal communication whatsoever.  It was enough to make my chin drop in amazement, like the Woodstockers did when Hendrix played Star Spangled Banner.  Form mistakes were subtly corrected with what I can only describe as the complete and exact language of gesture!  I tell you I heard the fully articulated voice, but no sound was made!  This perfect motion, combined timing, rhythm, posture and form is the highlight of my experience to date.

Among all the dancers from the youngest to the oldest I found a level of dedication and training exceeded my most hopeful expectation.  This ballet activity that I taken up to explore "smoothing out my karate forms" took me on a ride I never expected.  It is as difficult as anything I have ever attempted.

Now that the holidays have come, I am temporarily "reverting to the mean", which is how a business friend of mine describes Cinderella's chariot turning back into a pumpkin.  For me this means letting the house go, not picking up and generally loafing, all while diving into the chocolate covered cherries, fudge and other cardiac death treats, symbolic of the minor deprivation I have endured over the past three months.

In addition to my explorations as a Dancin' Fool, I have been actively looking for paying positions that properly portray and propagate  my pretentious creative impulses.  American Honda is flying me to Ohio in January for a research engineering interview.  I have written the libretto for a short ballet and a local college has approached me about being the director of academic computing.  Time will tell which is smoke and which is fire.

Lynn is doing well in her position as the "tree lady" at State Parks and were it not for her faithful efforts this ship would have sunk long ago...  Nick's judo technique is continuing to eclipse my own.  Having grown 9 inches the past year he is almost as tall as moi.  He is  strong, his abdomen now "ripped" into an array of tightly packed squares from thousands of sit-ups and throws.  His grades and spirits are up from this time last year.  His sister Naomi loves to read ceaselessly and I am thankful for the ballet that keeps her moving.  (ballet secret - the movement Never stops).  Bethany likes to sit in my lap while I type stories like this and is becoming quite computer literate for a 7 year old.  All our stuff is in boxes as we await word on our next destination... Hope this short treatise finds you well...  Happy Holidaze from a Dancin' Fool.

(c) 1997 L. Van Warren * All Rights Reserved