Old regrets haunt me.
I have photos of me on various walls in my home, not a lot, but enough to remind me, when I want or need to be reminded, that I have danced. Really-really danced, and done what I dreamed of doing when I was a little girl and vowed to be a dancer, till death do me part.
I see my feet. I always notice my slightly turned-in right foot. After my first summer in New York City, taking daily ballet classes at a school in the Metropolitan Opera House, my feet hurt when I walked.
A doctor told my parents I couldn't be a professional dance because my feet were built wrong -- they were almost "flat" -- with no arches, no "instep."
I took classes anyway, and spend hours exercising, pointing my feet. Even lying in bed at night, I pointed and positioned my feet in a turned-out position. I devised all sorts of ways to stretch the instep and make it bulge out like a dainty claw.
I knew a dancer in Robert Joffrey's Ballet company, who wore foam rubber falsies under her leg tights, so her feet, when she pointed, would have the high-instep look -- the look Balanchine wanted all his dancers to have. (For Mr. B., feet were probably more important than skinniness and long legs.)
Despite my feet, I danced -- really danced -- the way my child self wanted to dance till death do me part. I could float, fly, sway flitter, turn, leap -- but never would I have been able to dance and become the music -- allegro, legato, pianissimo, presto, grandioso -- if I were focusing on my feet.
Regret hits me when I see those photos of me dancing, when I ought to rejoicing.
Did Beethoven rejoice when he created music -- fantastically evocative, passionate melodies that we still sing in our minds today?
Beethoven couldn't hear it. Alas I can see my feet.
Golly, because of my turned in flat foot, bad foot, wrong foot for a dancer, I had devotion, discipline, deep passionate commitment to expressing what I wanted to express, dancing my way, dancing more a than a thousand one-night-stands, dancing in Europe, South America, Africa, the Far East ...
Regret? Hey, take a look at my right foot in this picture -- nice picture -- but look at that right foot.
Oh my -- REGRET? NO WAY! Cherish it, CELEBRATE IT.