Friday, October 26, 2012


Cyd Charisse dancing with Gene Kelley and Fred Astaire -- we've seen her dancing with them in films that we've seem over and over. My favorites are "Singing in the Rain" and  "The Band Wagon."

She gave me a gift. I didn't know it till the other day.

I've seen most of her films. I see her photos -- she must have posed for how many photographs?

I have a 2 X 3 foot carton, jam-packed with my dance photos. There must be thousands of Cyd Charisse  photos  -- 10 cartons? Hours go into creating one single dance photo. She must have spent -- golly -- a hundred thousand hours of her life just posing.

Posing for photos is hell -- each photo involves makeup, hair-do, checking out various costumes, and trial poses --  10, 20 rolls of film, as the photographer does his work, coordinating lights while the dancer positions head, arms, hands, torso, feet, and facial expression -- happy smile, thoughtful look – click, click.

One of my teachers was Nanette Charisse,  Cyd's sister-in-law, when Cyd was married to Nico Charisse, Nanette brother. Nanette taught daily classes in room 404 in the Ed Sullivan Building, where David Letterman's show is now filmed.  Room 404 was home to me over the years, between tours.

Nanette's class was like a coffee klatch – chorus kids, Broadway stars, famous dancers from all over the world dropped in.  That's how I met Cyd Charisse, as well as Alicia Alonso, Vera Ellen, Tommy Tune, Donald O'Connor, and others, including Nanette's husband, Bob Tucker, dancer-choreographer. He  choreographed the musical  "Shenandoah," the Broadway production that  starred John Cullum, my husband.

One morning, I happened to stand behind Cyd Charisse, when she dropped in for  "barre."  No matter where you are or what you're doing professionally, most dancers do some kind of daily workout "barre" to maintain technique.  

I didn't pay much attention to Cyd. just squinted at her, the way I did with other dancers -- comparing myself to them, looking for ways to make my choices of style different, more interesting than theirs.

She seemed to be a typical classical dancer, not very interesting or exceptional.  

Boom! The other night, I watched "The Band Wagon," on AMC.  I was  riveted.   

I'd been working on "Stand Tall," writing a blog post about its importance.  I had added a "Stand Tall" routine to my daily schedule. 

Cyd Charisse suddenly amazed me.  Not just because she pointed her feet, so well, so reflexively, articulating them before every step.  (Articulate feet are why other dancers watch ballet  performances with opera glasses -- expressive feet are prized and envied.)

Yes,  I'd noticed her feet  before. Yes, I knew that Cyd Charisse, who'd become even more famous as singer Tony Martin's wife, had left the world of the living about four years ago.  

What stunned me --  it was the fluid way her arms moved up and back over her head.

Standing tall, for 10 seconds, a dozen times a day, I'd been raising my arms up and back over my head.   OUCH!  It was something I'd rarely bothered with, never worked on -- it was a movement I ought to be able to do freely.

Cyd Charisse, in the film, lifting her arms so effortlessly, so  coordinately -- so freely and beautifully -- what it  meant.  Oh my God, I thought -- how how she must have worked to achieve what she achieved with that movement, with all  her movements.  

That girl, on the screen was amazing. Her body was amazing. Her ability was amazing. She could sing, dance, act, and be beautiful, and though I'd see her dancing in films,  seen hundreds of photos of her, I'd missed what she could do, really do.

Distracted by her technique, her feet, fantastic legs, her beauty, her making it in movies, her fame -- the most important thing was -- IS -- her amazing  dancing.

Thank you for what you gave me, Cyd Charisse.

Thank for your dancing.

If you have time, here's a huge batch of her photos.  Imagine what she had to do, to prepare for each photo, what was involved to take the pose, make it perfect  for the person behind the camera. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


As you're waking up with thoughts flying helter-skelter -- chores, memories, toilet twinge, leg cramp -- you want more sleep. You close your eyes -- suddenly, POP.  An idea pops. 

Be it a trip to take, or a powerful longing to do, say, try something, or nothing important -- that POP colors the day that unfolds.

My husband works -- is established, has had a busy, successful career as an actor.  But what's next for him is a long corridor, a dark hallway with ... oh, maybe a light bulb here and there, stuck in one of the walls. The phone will ring -- his agent will call with a new project. He doesn't have to do anything but be what he already is -- cheerful, positive, ready to dig into whatever possibilities come his way.

For me it's different. I'm a self employed writer, blogger, ex-dancer, wife, mom -- when the phone rings, it's for my husband or for me as the landlady -- we own the building where we live.

Waking, doing the usual washing, dressing, coffee-making, putting away last  night's washed dishes -- with coffee cup in hand, I head down a hallway I painted pink, and gallop downstairs to turn on my computer  and POP.


I grab it.

Whatever it is -- a big wham of a thought or a looney-tune tinkle -- be it a penny, spool of thread, or needle -- wherever the money goes -- who cares where the money goes -- GO -- fourth dimension, or zero tiny impulse -- from that easily un-noticeable brain itch, comes great ideas.

Make that a new rule -- grab any tingle -- whatever you find in your mind, grab it and do.  


Monday, October 22, 2012


 He's a WOW guy.

Dr. Mehmet OZ was an Oprah Winfrey discovery. She has an uncanny ability to sense a personality that masses of TV viewers will like and trust, and like Oprah,, Dr. OZ seems to know what's on our minds.

At present, he's fascinating his audiences with his 21-day sure-fire way of losing weight, and fixing wrinkles, and hair loss. Though he himself is not selling the products, Dr. Oz has been promoting Raspberry Ketone and Green Coffee Bean Extract as "belly-blasting supplements," recommending a "48-Hour Weekend Cleanse," and some of his food recipes.

Hmm. It makes me uneasy.. Is he benefiting financially from promoting this stuff? He's focused on major problems for women. His show is on the air twice a day, five days a week.

Big "Holy smoke wow"  things:

      Mehmet Oz, a cardiothoracic surgeon, and author, earned his undergraduate degree at Harvard University, his MBA and MD from the Wharton School and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.  He's a professor at the Department of Surgery at Columbia University. He directs the Cardiovascular Institute and Complementary Medicine Program at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, researching heart replacement surgery, while performing more than 100 heart operations annually.

     With  collaborators, Oz has authored more than 400 research papers, book chapters, and medical books that often are on the New York Times' best sellers list: “YOU: The Owner’s Manual,” “YOU: The Smart Patient,” “YOU: On a Diet,” “YOU: Staying Young,” “YOU: Being Beautiful,” “YOU: Having a Baby,” “YOU: The Owner’s Manual for Teens,” as well as the award-winning “Healing from the Heart.”

(Wow -- those titles -- OZ, and his collaborators know how to "sell.")

More Holy Smoke stuff:  The Dr. Oz show has won two Emmy Awards; Oz appears regularly on TV's “Today” show; was featured on “Good Morning America,” “Larry King Live,” “The View," “Piers Morgan Tonight,” “Charlie Rose” show, and Dr. Oz has appeared, at some point or other, on ALL the evening news broadcasts.

This man, age 52, is a non-stop achiever -- winner of the prestigious Gross Surgical Research Scholarship; awarded an honorary doctorate from Istanbul University; voted “Doctor of the Year” by Hippocrates Magazine; was recently "#3" on Forbes Magazine's "100 Most Influential People" list; on Esquire Magazine's list of the "75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century."

Mehmet Oz was married in1985; he and his wife and their four children live. They live in Northern New Jersey.  His salary is $5000 per show or $25,000 per week. His net worth is estimated by Forbes to be $7 million.

So what does Oz want? What more is there for him to win, achieve, or sell to us? He is into everything that's current -- transcendental meditation, homeopathy, exercise, vitamins -- all the super-special antioxidants, and live-longer pills such as Reservatrol.

His strong, positive, confident, manner -- rat-tat-tat way of talking -- whatever Dr. Oz says or does, presents him as the be-all, end-all, of what there is to know.

Hmm ... He talks too fast -- strongly, dispassionately -- is too certain that his way, his ideas, his recommendations are the right thing for you.  Hmm ... He said, regarding meditation:  "When I meditate, I go to that place where truth lives.  I can see what reality really is, and it is so much easier to form good relationships then."  Hmm ... He's also a spokesman and adviser for the website, which the New York Times has criticized for its pharmaceutical marketing practices.

His neighbors think he's an arrogant, selfish guy because he planted trees so that his swimming pool couldn't be seen by others -- his trees cut of the neighbors' light and view.

That, maybe, represents what bothers me. His too strong, too fast, over-certain be-all end-all, opinions cut off my light and view.

Is Dr. Oz going to be your health guru?

Hmm ...