Tuesday, October 15, 2013


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.


Poet_Carl_Watts said...

A simple way to handle the past is to create future. Start a dance school :-)

Happiness lays in the doing much more than in the done :-)

Life is grand! Let me know if I can assist you, ma Lady Em :-)

Piroska said...

Emily, life has brought many lesson, learning opportunities. No regrets! all that has come to pass(the good, bad, sad, joyful) has brought me to right now. And I like who I am and who I am becoming, All is well :)

Cara Lopez Lee said...

I social dance: Lindy hop, West Coast swing, and sometimes blues. My only regret on that front is that I didn't start dancing the Lindy when I was in my teens or twenties. I would have loved to have performed in a troupe & done the aerials and acrobatics young Lindy hoppers do. Instead, I started in my late 30s. I still love social dancing, minus aerials, and in this, as in many things, I find that what Mom told me is true: better late than never.

Vonda Norwood said...

Oh, the passion and drive!!! Strong minded, disciplined and an unstoppable will!!! What a beautiful soul! This is a wonderful article! A great testament of a powerful and positive human being!!!
Thank you very much for sharing!!!