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Vertrees: Dance is like life, keep reaching

Carrol Vertrees

Carrol Vertrees

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Updated: February 6, 2014 6:24AM



I have never been to the Land of Snow or the Kingdom of Sweets except in a state of subtle somnolence, caught up in the sound of music.

In my euphoria I watched and heard the Nutcracker Prince and a girl named Claire being entertained by the Sugar Plum Fairy and pals — I think they were doing what was called a grand pas de deux. It was lots more energetic and mysterious than even a square dance. Later we were treated to a pas de trois — you know, a dance by three. I am up on this stuff.

I was nodding off not in a state of boredom but in the spell of graceful movements and sounds of the Nutcracker Ballet in the old restored Paramount Theater, one of Anderson’s proud pieces of history.

That fellow Tchaikovsky had some grand touch. He created an artistic, cultural gem that has sparkled for almost two centuries, music that has created a fever for ballet and a market for billions of shoes that help dancers run around on their tippy toes as if reaching for a prize. Good for the tutu market, too.

My late dear friend Terry O’Rourke said that “If the dancers were taller, they wouldn’t have to dance on their toes.” That made sense to guys like him and me, who admired the skyscraper basketball gents, graceful in their own ways.

These dance people are special. They practice a lot. Our sixth-grade granddaughter is in these annual shows. Her mom, who takes her to the demanding practices, was a good second baseperson in softball years ago, but this youngster may not even know where second base is.

These dancers, most of them youngsters, form bonds, make friends and learn teamwork. Parents get to know each other, too, which in today’s rush-rush society is a valuable cultural pas de something. The young ones sometimes get lost or miss a movement, showing us that this is real life, not make believe. They are all stars — ask their parents.

Some veteran dancers add a pro touch. A couple of the male performers are big enough to be power forwards in pro basketball, but I would love to see a big forward do what these dancer fellows can do. I suspect they would have to sit out some games because of pulled muscles, or something else, while they get rich.

Anyway, it all causes me to think that when I return from the Land of Snow, I will understand why the dancers so often seem to be stretching for something up there somewhere. On their tippy toes in their special shoes they keep on reaching upward.

That is like real life in a way — if we do it right, we will keep on reaching but will never quite find the answers. But it is the dancing, the reaching, the music of life that counts.

I think that it is fun to pretend we are riding an enchanted sleigh to somewhere special. Hearing “Waltz of the Flowers.”

More rewarding than complaining about the neighbor’s leaves blowing into our yard.



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