Monday, December 7, 2009


Saturday afternoon I moseyed over to Akron, to the majestic Civic Theater, one of those rococo pleasure palaces built in the 20s, with starry skies over what seems to be semi-Gothic, Moorish palace gardens. And I mix my architectural styles in the spirit of the romantic build es of that era. It's from the days when going to the picture show was an ADVENTURE. It is being lovingly restored and is used for a variety of live performances such as the one I attended that afternoon" the "Nutcracker" ballet.

It has been staged for 17 years by a local professional ballet company, consisting of dancers from the ages of 4 or 5 to adult. It's connected to a pre-professional school of ballet and most of the adult dancers are former students who come back to Akron for the production. They put on an absolutely beautiful production, with gorgeous costumes and scenery. I love to watch the teensy little dances, who are amazingly disciplined, playing mice and angels. They always receive a round of applause as the patter off the stage. The Waltz of the Flowers was just gorgeous, and so were the Snowflakes all in white, with snow drifting down.

The audience is fun to watch, too, consisting of large numbers of little girls, dressed in velvet and spangles. They sparkle, too. After the ballet, the dancers mingle in the vast lobby and meet their star struck fans. I wonder how many of these little people go home and dance around their houses.

I would love to have been able to go to something like this when I was a child. My sister and I took a few weeks of ballet when we were living in Montgomery with our relatives at the beginning of the depression. Our glamorous Aunt Amalia ran a dancing school and taught ballet. She could dance right up on her toes! We loved it, and when we moved to Atlanta, she arranged for us to study with Madame Solomanov, who had, it was said, come over from Russia with Anna Pavlvoa's troupe and stayed on to teach lazy little Southern girls. Unfortunately Madame scared the hell out of us, and we begged to quit. So we did - and I just know that, like Lady Catherine de Bourgh, "had I learnt I would have bee a great proficient."

Since there was no televison then, I didn't even see any ballet until I was in high school, when the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo came to Springfield, Ohio and I got to see the real thing. The Joffrey Ballet also came through the next year. Somewhere in the stuff that I have too much of, I think my program from one of those ballets lurks. Some of the great dancers of the era were in those companies.I remember that one of them did "Rodeo" and one did a pas de deux from "Swan Lake." It was lovely.

And seeing "Nutcracker" makes me readier for Christmas.

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