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A Perfect Moment

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If you had the choice of a perfect moment with a ballet personality what would you choose?

I was presented one of my "perfect moments" a few years ago. My daughter and I were at a San Francisco Ballet performance. In the ticket line I spotted Makarova, my all-time favorite ballerina. I grabbed a program, asked for her autograph, and was struck speechless! No "You're my favorite ballerina"; no "Thank you for the years of happiness you've given me". I just stood there as she wrote, mumbled thanks, and watched her walk away. Of course I giggled the rest of the evening!

My choice of a favorite moment would be to have Merril Ashley (in point shoes) and her book "Dancing For Balanchine" in a dance studio for a day and have her explain/demonstrate Balanchine to me.


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The idea of capturing and/or kidnapping one of one's favorite dancers and forcing them to answer all of ballet's unanswered and unanswerable questions is one I'm sure we all can understand. And think how much better it would be if you had a video camera there to shoot your victim as she demonstrates.

There. Presto, it's a video question. You experienced a video moment with Mme. Makarova. You just forgot your camera.


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Giannina and board--

Regarding what to do and say when confronted with an artist that one admires--

I just recently come up with an answer, while backstage at the Michigan Opera Theatre following a performance. In the past I had always avoided the "meet the artist" galas or going backstage to greet artists one had just seen on stage. They were on a different plane, breathed that rarified 'artist' air that is denied to us mere mortals. So I could never decide what to say to such august beings.

Well, I have figured it out--What worked and would work under almost any circumstances: "We just saw you in (LOHEGRIN, SWAN LAKE, whatever, fill in the blank) and you were wonderful...and we saw you last year in (more blanks to fill in) and you were wonderful...and we hope to see you in (larger/more challenging/your favorite) roles soon, where you also will be wonderful."

If possible, throw in a response to something that they actually did "I never saw a grand jete cover so much ground" or "That first Bflat in Senta's Dream was the most sublime note I have ever heard."

all the best,

ed waffle

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I think that's very good advice. My problem is, I'd be afraid that if I met, say, Gelsey Kirkland, I'd be befuddled, and get it wrong, like, "I just loved you in Push Comes to Shove." One of the simplest things to say if you meet someone right after the performance is: "Thank you for tonight." That can work under almost any situations. In situations where you really aren't feeling very grateful, but feel you have to say something, a wise older friend once told me the perfect save: "You must be very proud." (Of course, that works more for the choreographer or dancer's mother than the actual dancer him or herself."

When in doubt, be sincere. If it comes out as a gush, I don't think they'll mind.


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When I come into contact with people I admire (with varying degrees of fame), I just try to be honest. Ed's idea of pointing out a specific point shows that you actually understand what they're involved in and not just going up to them because he or she is a name. However, I would add not to approach people when they are involved in a private moment or eating dinner. I figure, `What would I think if someone came up and complimented me?' I'd probably be embarrassed but pleased. But `How would I feel if someone came up to me while I was arguing with my mother or coming out of a bathroom stall?' I'd be pretty angry.

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