Does every little girl go through a ballet phase? My own obsession first played out in a ballet class that I went to on Saturday mornings after riding downtown (alone) on the bus and walking several blocks to the YWCA. I picked up the bus on Capitol Hill, standing in front of Herfy’s on the corner of Broadway and Denny and got off in front of Frederick & Nelson at Fifth and Pine. The walk up Fifth Avenue took me past the Coliseum Theater (where I saw Jessica Lange in King Kong) and another smaller movie theater where I would later see Saturday Night Fever, which led me to gush about “John Travolta as *Tony*” in my diary, which I typically used only on Sundays to track Kasey Kasem’s Top Forty.
My tenure as a ballet student was short-lived but my obsession with ballet dancers had legs, in particular through reading about them. Who can forget “A Very Young Dancer” by Jill Krementz?
I was an avid reader and library patron. When I lost my library card and the ladies behind the counter refused to renew it because I had unpaid fines, I took to “borrowing” my library books by taking them into the stairwell with me as I made my way from one floor to the next. By the time I exited the stairwell, my stack of books were in my backpack and ready to take home.
My approach to reading was to find an author or genre I enjoyed and then I would devour everything that particular person had published or everything I could find in the genre with which I was currently obsessed. (For example, Jill Krementz published a series of “A Very Young…” books and I read them all.)
In my teenaged years I read books about young love (naturally), kids who suffered gamely through cancer or lockjaw, and stories about children who lost their parents but managed to stick together and stave off the advances of Child Protective Services by maintaining the charade that their parents were still looking after them.
Later my love of dance manifested itself in an obsession with Mikhail Baryshnikov, which likely came about after his supporting role in The Turning Point. But who wasn’t in love with him in the 70s?
When Willa and Arlo were little, I took them to dance classes at Spectrum Dance Theater and later to ballet classes at Pacific Northwest Ballet. Our time there was short-lived due to Willa’s tight hamstrings and my trepidation about all those mirrors. So we moved on and filled our weekends with soccer and skiing instead.
Offering: One lovely ballerina nightlight, purchased from either the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC or the National Gallery in Washington DC.