It was a whirlwind of a weekend. I danced in 9 ballets (that’s 3 different ballets, 3 times each), constructed a total of 6 buns atop my weary head (taking care to use the same combination of hairpins each time- superstitious much?), kept track of 7 separate costume pieces, and changed my tired feet between 2 different kinds of shoes from flat to pointe (3 if you count the fluffy slippers I accidentally wore to pt- true life: I am tired). After an extremely energetic 3 days spent celebrating 10 years of the incredible, vivacious Viktor Plotnikov, I’m at a bit of a loss for words. Fortunately, someone in the audience was feeling verbally inspired where my brain was blocked. FBP principal dancer, Vilia Putrius, forwarded the following message to the company, written by Jim Turner, one of FBP’s dedicated photographers.
“Here I am 70 years old and for the first time in my life I am exposed to dance. Over the past two seasons I have been fortunate as you know Cemal has included me in his photographic passion. As a result I have come to know you, Mindaugas, Ruth, Brenna, Eugenia , Kirsten and others. I watched as you practiced your art, watched your ability to make your body move as if it was the source of music itself. I started this email simply to say congratulations on a magnificent performance by you and all FBP dancers. Yet, congratulations is not sufficient by itself. I want you to know, this dance of yours, ballet, has changed me. Tonight as I watched I cried, not from sadness rather from pure joy of watching the expressions and movements that feasted my eyes. So, Vilia, Mindaugas, et. Al., instead of congratulations, the words that come to mind are simple indeed, ‘thank you.’ -Jim“
Jim’s message was a revelation in my haze of exhaustion. Perception seems to be the theme this month. When you’re completely wrapped up in something day in and day out, it’s not hard to lose sight of just how affecting it can be on one less immersed in it. Ballet is one of those art forms that is so much more accessible than it seems. You don’t have to be a 4-year-old girl in a pink tutu or her mother to find joy in ballet. You don’t have to be an artist, a classical music aficionado or even a human over the age of 2 (my 17-month-old niece goes crazy for Balanchine’s Nutcracker) to appreciate ballet, and that is one of its least known and most magnificent gifts: it moves us all. Just ask my engineer father, his landscaping neighbor, or FBP’s hockey-player registrar; They never miss a show.
Jim’s ‘thank you’ inspired me to write a sort of ‘thank you for thanking’ reply. So here goes…
Thank you for reaching out to the company and sharing your story. It was beautifully unconcealed and brave, so nakedly sublime. Your words of appreciation could not have been more rewarding to us. You know, everything worth having in this world is only made valuable by its potential to be shared with others. Ballet is a two-way art form. As dancers, we work to move and inspire our audience, and with your lovely confirmation it seems we have had a successful weekend.
Thank you for proving that it’s never too late to become exposed to ballet. Thank you for throwing yourself so willingly into the frenzied grasp of our beloved Plotnikov show. Thank you for engaging yourself in our world, watching our stories through your camera lens and allowing yourself to feel them so wholly. Thank you for everything you do for this company. For your photography, your time, your support, and your tears of joy. They mean more to us than you know.
first, third, fifth and last photos by A. Cemal Ekin, all others by me.