Friday, October 31, 2008

 

Halloween Aborted




I'm devastated.

The above was going to be my Halloween costume. All I needed was an afro and then maybe some camouflage pants I intended to pick up at the Salvation Army (or I was going to jerry rig my Gap capris). Since I live in Jackson Heights, home of a substantial sub-continent immigrant population, it was going to be easy to get Gordon one of those little white hats. He was nervous about dressing up as Obama, but I explained that pretending to be Obama was not just for black people anymore--I seem to recall a Time Out New York cover with two people dressed up as the satirical Barack and Michelle but numerous searches have resulted in no Jpeg. (And, yes, I realize this might have been offensive for some, but I live in New York and it's Halloween).

Our friends were going as Sarah Palin and John McCain. We were going to pose for a group photo. It was going to be fun.

Now, one of us has a pre-marathon injury, one is sick and one is on some kind of medication. Which leaves just me. With my afro. With no context. Which leaves the entire ensemble sort of meaningless.

Sigh. Back to a Halloween-less adult life it is. There's always next year, but I doubt I'll come up with such a fun ensemble again!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

 

Perfect Neighbors or Less Clutter or I Think I Want a Kindle



The neighbors downstairs are perfect. They are environmentally friendly and I suspect do not even exhale CO2. They taught everyone in the building to crush plastic bottles so we use fewer plastic bags for recycling. They can repaint, repatch, refix, retile, redo everything. They have cool accents. They never get mad. They wear nice clothes. They are both gorgeous.



We recently visited their apartment, (they served us food they made) and it looked like something out of a Design Within Reach catalogue. I got sleepy because their lighting was soothing and perfect. When we went home, my husband said, "What did you think of their place?" And I said, "It was cool." And he said, "It was so calm. They have no clutter." And I said, "Yes, decorated spaces always look calm because they have no books and no CDs."



Seriously, if you look at any decorating magazine featuring rooms that have been feng shuied to death, you will see few, if any, books. People who live in magazine-worthy designed spaces do not appear to have hobbies.

I started to think that I should shed some books.

I called a good friend and asked her: "How often do you book purge and how do you decide to get rid of certain titles?" She told me her criteria, which I won't list here because it touches on matters rather personal. I said that I noticed I had a certain book on my shelf--a "media endorsed book group" book that had been turned into a Hollywood film a few years ago, and my friend said, "Oh, just get rid of that." I said, "Did you read it?" And she said, "I don't have to. Just get rid of it." And I thought, right, what am I doing with this overwrought tome on my shelf? I like to keep books from which I'm inclined to learn something about technique, or which I enjoyed. This media-mogul endorsed book does not fit the bill. The book is going to go.

Then I thought again about the perfect neighbors downstairs. Maybe I had judged them too cynicaly. Maybe they have plenty of books, but because they don't believe in killing trees, they have books in digital form. Maybe they have a huge library of CDs (at least one of them is a musician) and their music is all in a library on the computer. Maybe, I thought, they each have a Kindle.

I've started seeing the Kindle on the subway in New York, and while I still think it is ugly--it looks like some kind of KSwiss shoe from the 80s--it's intriguing.






If I had a Kindle, I could download the new "literary hit" for about 10 bucks. Better still, I could read the first chapter for free to see if it is the kind of book I'm inclined to finish. And if I love the book, I could go buy the hardback. I could read the latest nonfiction title heralding disaster and absorb it and freak out and forget about it when it turns out to be wrong, without having to buy the book, the object, and look at it sitting on my shelf without any relevance six months later. I could travel with several novels pre-downloaded, and would thus have more space in my suitcase. I could declutter the apartment. I would never be like the perfect neighbors downstairs, but maybe I wouldn't have to look at my pile of books and sigh and wonder how many I can carry at a time to Housing Works for recycling.



I took a look at Sony's eReader bookstore. Um, no. Not much for me. The Amazon bookstore on the other hand--and the new deal that Google has signed with the Author's Guild--makes me feel that the electronic book "revolution" is really here. I can take it. I recently read a book on my iPhone (Dear Steve Jobs: Can't you work something out with Jeff Bezos? He needs you). I think I'm almost ready for the Kindle.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

 

John H. Mockett Obituary



The obituary finally runs today in the Monterey Peninsula Herald. Text and photo are reprinted below. You can sign the guestbook here if you like.

Carmel--John Hilliker Mockett, 69, passed away June 8th at the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula in Monterey, California. His wife Kazuko, daughter Marie and brother Paul were at his side. John was born in Mill Valley, California on September 30, 1938. He spent his formative years in Kimball, Nebraska after the family moved when he was seven years old to run the family wheat farm. Ever the intrepid traveler, he visited Libya, Greece, Western Europe, the Balkans, Japan and beyond, where he carefully photographed locals and artifacts; later he would compile his photos into slideshows he loved to share with friends and family.

An accomplished musician, John played piano, violin and French horn. During his military service, he serenaded the Kennedys in Washington DC. In college, he frequently played the lead in theater productions, including “The Man Who Came to Dinner” and “The Glass Menagerie”; he performed in MPC’s production of Sam Shepherd’s “Buried Child.” A lover of all the arts, his particular interest in opera sent him to Vienna, Austria where he met his future wife, Kazuko, on a chance encounter in the standing room section at the Vienna Opera House. At six foot two, John was substantially taller than the petite Japanese woman and he gallantly offered her a place in front of him so she could see. A romance was born, with the two initially speaking in German to communicate—the only language they had in common at the time. After marriage, the couple moved to Carmel, California, which would be their home for the next 40 years.

A connoisseur of art and antiques, John became adept at art restoration and repair, frequently fixing objects for his friends. He used his skill at handiwork to build half of the family home himself, to design and craft his daughter's childhood dollhouse and mend her violin, and to invent and install an invisible cat door. A farmer by training, John's green thumb was always evident in the orchids he raised and shared with the local Orchid Society and in the lush garden he landscaped and tended carefully with his family. Neighbors were often offered apples, berries, and vegetables. Despite childhood dyslexia, John was a dedicated reader and his wide-ranging intellectual curiosity filled the Mockett house with books on Jungian psychology, archeology, biographies of the founding fathers, physics, computer programming, and other subjects. His creativity extended to business; John developed several real estate properties in Carmel, and pioneered cost-cutting and environmentally friendly techniques on the family wheat farm, which he ran with his brother, Paul.

A gentle and intuitive man of great integrity, John is tremendously missed by family and friends. He is irreplaceable. John is survived by his wife Kazuko H. Mockett, and their daughter Marie Mutsuki Mockett, a writer, who is married to Gordon A. Drummond, originally of Broughty Ferry, Scotland. A private memorial service has already been held at the Mockett home. In lieu of donations, the family asks that mourners support the election of Barack Obama as president of the United States, the candidate John enthusiastically endorsed.

 

Longing for Home Again



Regular readers know of my longing to go home. What does it say about me that I am supposed to be an adult, but that I don't have a fixed sense of home, or that I still want the one I had as a child?

It is raining this morning in New York. So far, it's a gentle rain and the sound reminds me of the kind of rain we get in California. It's a cozy, contemplative rain. If I could transport myself right now, it would be either to just north of San Francisco in Marin County, perhaps looking over the Golden Gate Bridge, or to a certain rock by the beach in the Carmel Meadows.

If I could just be in one of those two places, then I would feel that the world would be okay again, that it isn't futile to press forward. Sometimes my imagination takes hold when I feel this way and I actually start to imagine that I'm in the place I want to be. I suppose that would be considered unhealthy by some, but I find it helpful when I am locked in by geography. This morning I fooled myself into thinking I heard seagulls, and that I was up high on a hill with fog below. If I turned my head, I would see redwoods.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

 

Creating Characters

We writers think we are so smart. We think we know you.

We watch you and we observe what you do and we tabulate all the little gestures and words and actions that you perform and we create a picture of you in our heads. We are sure that we can predict what you will do and often we are right. We think we are more often right than those who think they are right about these things but aren't writers. When we run into someone new--some type of person we have not met before--we are fascinated and want to spend time with you to understand where you fit in the pattern of our experience. Sometimes, if you are different enough, you end up inspiring us. But we still think we have you all figured out.

When we run into a people problem, we are sure we can think it through because . . . we already think we know who you are and what you will do. We think that once upon a time we might have been considered witches because our knowledge of what makes you tick is so sensitive. It's fun for us to sum you up in one pithy statement. We like to retell the one anecdote that sums up the key to your personality. We are, we admit, arrogant, geeky pains in the rear.

Except . . . if this is true, then why on earth isn't writing a character any easier? Why does it take draft after draft after draft to make our fake people come to life if we are such experts at understanding the human animal? Maybe we are wrong. Maybe we don't understand you at all. Maybe all our attempts to sum you up in once sentence are futile. Maybe we aren't so empathetic. Maybe we can't figure out what you feel at all.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

 

The Dark Time of the Year


I have a particular craving when the dark time of the year arrives. I want to spend more time in the kitchen cooking up squash and pork and drinking wine from my favorite vintners. I want to sink into a lush novel--preferably something transporting and rich in imagery. I'm a little more curious about movies than I am in the summer.

And I want a nice, fat, juicy video game.

I forgot to take my iPhone to our local Gamestop, so I'm unable to show you photos of the scene in there, of the 7 foot statue of some metal war hero, the 20-something tattooed youth who nodded with approval at my choice of game, of the recent cover of Game Informer covering my beloved Bioware's upcoming DragonAge for console game. I can however direct you to the review of Fable II at MSNBC--which triggered my curiosity--and show you a screenshot or two. (For hardcore fans, yes, I did play and enjoy Fable I).

We have begun to play and I'm so very pleased that in this recent incarnation, I get to be a girl. I can't wait to run around in a fantastic landscape, to learn to shoot archery (which, actually, I did at one point know how to do), to practice magic, to find some hunky hero to romance, in short, save the world. And since my next novel will incorporate elements of virtual reality (a serious and contemporary topic for any of you doubters out there), I can chalk it all up to research. (Even Scarlett Thomas approves of video games--or at least she said she did when her site was working).

Thus far the graphics are gorgeous, the AI intelligent and the storyline compelling. It's pretty much de rigeur now that video games give us the chance to go good or bad--it's annoying when an otherwise good game doesn't give us that choice--but Fable II promises to be an even richer experience than the norm. It is fascinating to me how this game--and games like it--draw on so many seminal works that inform the imagination: there is the vaguely English accent of the semi-Dickensian world narrated by a Judi Dench like narrator (Stephen Fry does show up, btw), the magic a la Tolkien, the difficult moral choices cum Star Wars. Put these things together and you have the universe in which virtual heroes mostly live. Miss this, I think, and you miss a cultural trend that influences many. Is it all a waste of time? Perhaps. But then, they said that about the novel too. See what the Independent has to say, and maybe the skeptical among you will reconsider.

Friday, October 24, 2008

 

Congratulations

A huge congratulations to my friend, Angela Choi, who has just signed with super agent Andrea Somberg. Angela and I met years ago when I was teaching SAT prep to kids in San Francisco. Her personal story is hers to tell--and not mine--but let me just say now that that she impressed me enormously as a tenacious, intelligent and individualistic person. I was thrilled for her when she won a scholarship for Yale, and it's exciting to see her talents develop as she becomes increasingly confident and outspoken.

I've been spoiled enough to read an early version of her novel. In it, she goes to great lengths to amuse and entertain her reader, and to upend certain stereotypes we still hold of Asian girls. I'm proud of her and will eagerly follow her success.

 

Obamafit (Obama Benefit)




My friend, Laurence, invited me to an Obama benefit last night, which took place at N boutique in Harlem. Since returning home from the Scottish wedding, I've spent most of my time squirreled away in front of my computer, trying to put the finishing edits on my novel. When I am sucked into work like this, extroverted Marie disappears and is replaced by introverted Marie, which is another way of saying that I become less and less adept at picking out a nice outfit to wear to a party, let alone socializing! But still, I went.



There was a man at the party wearing a "That One" T-shirt. I wanted to take a photo of him, but was too shy to ask. So here is a picture of the T-shirt itself. You can buy one here if you would like.



So, how does one hold a benefit in a boutique? Well, there was a hosted bar, which served a kind of cognac which had been "especially designed for women." Since I was coming off of a migraine, I had no cognac, but stuck to water (sigh). We paid an entry fee, then proceeded to drool over the clothes; the proceeds of any sale went to benefit Obama's campaign.

I have to say that the clothes were marvelous--a combination of high end name brands, interesting independent labels and local designers. Laurence warned me that the clothes would be wonderful, and indeed they were. Here we are trying on some hats. He eventually bought the one on my head.

I'm sort of fascinated by the way that fashion writers these days use the term "well edited selection" to describe the inventory of an admired boutique. The implication is that a "well edited" boutique doesn't have a lot of crap in it--like a well edited short story. But why has "edited" come into favor when there are similar terms that don't reference writing? I suppose that "carefully selected" doesn't do the trick--it doesn't capture that sense of a ruthless merchandiser turning down fluff or unnecessarily overpriced nonsense. I wonder if the term "edit" is going to morph in meaning over the next decade to be applied to more than writing and fashion.

Will anyone every run a well edited campaign?



I admired this Tshirt (for men) and pondered buying one for my husband. Eventually I passed because I wasn't sure the color scheme was right for him, but a salesman did come over to explain the graphic. I thought that the shirt was a random print of subway life, but actually it was inspired by Rosa Parks, sitting in a bus. Who says politics and fashion can't come together?



The party was catered by Food for Life Supreme, an organization that fascinated me. It originated in Kansas City, Missouri and now runs about 15 different stores. Its aim--and it is a nonprofit--is to teach healthier eating habits. Though no one explicitly brought up the fact that targeted clientele are African American youth, I'm assuming this is the case, reading in between the lines and looking at the literature. Stated goals also include the use organic ingredients, grown in partnership with farms, cooking and dining room decor. Of course, considering my rants over the summer, this was of interest to me.

After leaving the party, I was hungry, so we decided to check out Harlem's local Food for Life Supreme, in lieu of the soul food joint across the street. I only managed to eat about half of my white fish and quinoa and broccoli dinner, but I will certainly save the rest for lunch. It was quite good.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

 

Aberdeen



In the past, whenever I've expressed an interest in visiting Aberdeen, I've been told: "Och. Aberdeen. That's a cooooold place." This is generally followed by a shiver. But I had the chance to visit the city, however briefly, on my recent trip. The weather was extremely good, which put the town in a lovely light and made it difficult for me to really understand why anyone would be hesitant to see the place.



I made a few new friends on this visit, including the young lady in the photo here, who is a reader of books. I'm always looking for book friends because I generally feel that I don't have enough in my life, and you never know when someone is going to recommend something new and good to read that you have never heard of before.



I loved this view of these kids on top of the car park. They yelled down to me and asked why I had taken their photo. I explained that they looked "cool" at which point they asked me to come up and join them. I didn't go. Honestly, if they discovered that I was just another boring adult, I think they would have been very diappointed.



The visit to Aberdeen also included my one and only trip to a bookstore: Waterstones. I like to go to bookstores in the UK because I usually find something not available in the US. It's because of Waterstones that I've been able to read Iain Banks, AL Kennedy, Jonathan Coe and Sebastian Faulks (the latter had a huge campaign in 1998 in the Underground which made me feel guilty if I didn't pick up Charlotte Gray). Though I can find Kennedy and Coe in the US, it isn't always easy and I'm convinced that more of their work is available in the UK, which is too bad. In hindsight, I'm kicking myself for failing to pick up Rupert Thomson on this trip; I need to make a list for myself for when I return.

I did however buy a copy of Robert Ryan's novel "Empire of the Sand" about which I know absolutely nothing, except that it is set in a part of the world I'm always keen to learn more of, the opening paragraph didn't irritate me, and it came with one of those "3 for 2" stickers and I needed a third book since I'd already picked up two books with the stickers. A cursory look tells me that the book isn't available in the US (yet), or that the reviews and blogs I frequent haven't discussed it at all, so I might end up feeling special to have an early treasure. Time will tell. It looks to be a thriller, but of the intelligent kind; winter is coming and I feel like settling down with something exciting in the midst of all the serious "literary" reading I plan to do. More when I finally finish reading.

Monday, October 20, 2008

 

Best New American Essays 2008

I just learned that my essay, "Letter from a Japanese Crematorium," was cited as a "distinguished essay" in the 2008 Best New American Essays. The volume was edited by Adam Gopnik. I was also pleased to see that Lia Purpura, whose essay "The Lustres" appeared in the same volume as mine, has also been specially noted.

To read the essays chosen for the actual award, you can pick up a copy of the collection here or here.

Once I finish edits on my novel, I'm hoping to spend a little bit more time with nonfiction. Before I wrote this essay, I had no idea that I could actually write something other than stories, and it's been nice to find out about another outlet for writing. And, obviously, every writer needs a little ego boost now and then; so much of our time is spent in a vacuum. So, thank you.

 

Scottish Country Dancing. Midnight



I learned to square dance in grade school, and ever since have loved any kind of traditional dancing that involves some choreography and a partner. I've always been jealous of those characters in period pieces who get to dress up and go to dances and write the names of their partners on the slats of a fan.



So, here we are dancing--Scottish country style. That is my orange dress, which I confess to having picked up at the Escada sample sale.



I hope one day to have a party of my own in a Scottish castle where the focus is purely on country dancing--a ceilidh. I imagine all the Americans hiring kilts, and the party lasting till dawn.


 

A Scottish Wedding or Men in Kilts



After driving from Dundee to Aberdeenshire, we settled in for a night of catch up. Here I am, probably around midnight, red in the face from whatever was thrust into my hand (beer? wine?) and laughing over something that a new friend has told me. I stumbled off to bed around 2 AM.



Friday morning I woke up to find myself at Thainstone House, which is in Aberdeenshire. To call this place a "house" though is an understatement, because it was once a grand manor, owned by a landlord. To a romantic American, of course, a visit to this kind of place is absolute magic and something close to wish-fulfillment; it's impossible for me to look at any part of Europe and not think about its glorious past and to want to experience it just a little bit.



The night we arrived, we managed to stay up until 2 AM, and the night porter managed to stay up with us and make sure we had enough to drink (scotch, of course, which I did not drink) and that there was enough coal on the fire. Somehow, the following morning, we all managed to rise for breakfast.



And what breakfast would be complete in Scotland without a little patty of haggis?

Now, let me just say something here about the Scottish diet mystery. To be specific, I always manage to lose weight in the UK. I don't know why this is. Well, sometimes it is obvious, as when I ate an entire round of Mull Cheddar cheese and my lactose intolerance protested and I spent the night over a toilet. But in general, I eat far more cheese and cream in the UK than I would at home, with the end result that I weigh less. This is not true of my trips to France, by the way.

I'm thinking that the miracle weight loss has something to do with the cold. If you are busy shivering, then any and all calories simply evaporate.



Ah, men in kilts. They were everywhere.



Generations of kilts all the way to the horizon.



And bagpipes!



I liked these corsages, which incorporated the thistle, the flower of Scotland.



The kilt doesn't have to limit your look. I liked the way this couple reinterpreted the kilt so it had a tough black-and-metal kind of vibe. Very creative.



And here was the littlest kilt. He was extremely cute but also, says his mother, a complete terror. Once they walk, you can't stop them.



While waiting for the wedding to get started, the little girls sat in the window and looked at the guests, sharing secrets and observations, the way little girls do all over the world (until they blog).



And the boys, well, they were boys. (Their mother tried to put the chess set back together again).



After gathering around, waiting for the day to start, guests assembled in a large drawing room which was converted to accommodate the wedding ceremony. I liked the sight of so many kilts in chairs.



Not the best photo, but you can see the bride and groom exchanging vows.



Just before the couple exchanged rings, their 18 month old daughter had had enough of feeling excluded. "Daddy Daddy!" she cried, and ran up to her father. So it was that the rings were exchanged while the little girl watched.



After the wedding, we all waited for dinner. Like kids everywhere, these children played games. The girls used pink handhelds.



And the boys played their games.



Eventually, the bagpiper came indoors and played on the staircase, waiting for the bride and groom to reappear.



I was happy to see the Cassidys again, one of my all time favorite families. I really like the children--here you see me with Joanne (sp?) and her mother, Mary, both bright and colorful and smart.



Nine hours after the wedding began (no joke), we went to the ballroom which, of course, had a lovely bar all kitted out with scotch.



Not the best photo of the first dance, but it's all I have.



I don't have many photos of the dancing, mostly because I was actually dancing. I am a convert, now, to Scottish country dancing. In general, I think I like it when there are steps to a dance, rather than the loose gyrating that is so popular--in this, I am an old-fashioned girl. I now think that I am going to have to have a party in Scotland sometime with Scottish dancing--it is so much fun!

Twelve hours later, there we were on the dancefloor, dancing around in a circle. Gordon is very good at the polka, which means that we invariably passed anyone who was slow. The men in kilts were twirling--a dangerous but entertaining thing to do for men in kilts. The children somehow managed to stay up and dance and play. And in the morning, we all got up and ate haggis again.

Friday, October 17, 2008

 

Scottish Drive

By forcing myself to sleep on the flight from New York to Edinburgh, I've pretty much managed to come up with a system that allows me to get through a 5 day trip while remaining mostly functional. This trip involved a wedding in Aberdeenshire, which meant that the very day we arrived, we drove from Dundee up north. Fortunately, Gordon's brother was up to driving, even though he himself had just undergone a 12 hour nighttime bus ride from London which, quite frankly, sounds more demanding than our flight.



Due to recent changes in my life, I'm much more interested in farming around the world than before. I loved seeing the remainder of harvest on the Scottish landscape.



Scotland is far north enough that the sunsets take a long time. Not as long as Iceland, perhaps, but still long enough to make a 2 hour drive a glorious juorney in amber.



We took a coastal route, which revealed that the farms in many cases snuggle right up to the edge of the island. It's interesting to see how the landscape clearly shows the history of the UK--once most people farmed and very few people owned land and those that did owned big houses. If you spend all your time in a city, you might miss the very recent history of the UK, and how modernization has changed it. In fact, you'd probably miss this if you spent your entire life in a US city as well. But once you go into the country, the past reveals itself. The evidence is still there.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

 

Palin and Storage



An ad in the subway for extra storage--something city people always need. The text reads: "What's more limited, your closet space or her experience?" It's funny how nothing overtly screams "Sarah Palin" about this ad, but something about the way the model is standing, and the red jacket makes it clear who the ad is in reference to. I think it's safe to say that this isn't the kind of ad that would be running in all parts of the country, but it plays well in New York City.

 

Odds and Ends and Graywolf

Congrats to Graywolf for picking The End, a novel that has been nominated for the National Book Award. I know what I'll be reading next. (What a gorgeous cover!)

I'm heading to the airport--Scotland bound. I'll try to catch a little of the debates in the gate area. Otherwise, I hope to upload photos of a Scottish wedding in a castle in a day or two.

Monday, October 13, 2008

 

A Dancer's Revenge



Critical assessments of Margot Fonteyn's dancing life invariably point out how her extended career got in the way of other younger dancers. This was brought home to me today while reading the obituary of Royal Ballet principal Nadia Nerina. Apropos my gushing post about Nureyev and Fonteyn, I was struck by a very funny passage in the aforementioned obituary.

By the early 1960s Ms. Nerina was often spoken of as the natural heir to Fonteyn. But her career path was diverted by the defection of Rudolf Nureyev, who joined the Royal Ballet and whose pairing with Fonteyn postponed Fonteyn’s expected retirement and revitalized interest in her career. Ms. Nerina danced successfully with Nureyev, but their relationship was often testy. He discomfited Ms. Nerina’s frequent partner Erik Bruhn by aggressively critiquing his performances.

In one famous incident, Nureyev, in a performance of “Giselle” with Fonteyn, created a sensation by inserting 16 entrechats-six — a figure in which, in a single jump, the legs open and close and open and close with the right leg first passing behind and then in front of the left — into the choreography of the second act. Ms. Nerina, feeling this was simply showing off and not artful, rebuked Nureyev when she danced “Swan Lake.” She inserted 32 entrechats-six to replace the 32 continuous fouettées — whiplike turns that are elegant but less muscular — in the ballet’s “Black Swan” pas de deux. Nureyev, seated in the hall with Ms. Nerina’s husband, Charles Gordon, stormed out.


Even pretty ballerinas seek their revenge. I admire her pluckiness.

As a child, the most romantic thing in the world to me was a future in the Royal Ballet, where I would change my name to sound more Russian. Obviously, it never happened, but like lots of young girls, I read and reread Camilla Jessel's Life at the Royal Ballet School, even trying to pucker my lips the way the girls in the photos did. There is a Royal Ballet school "face." For an updated version, look here.

Today I meant to haul my lugubrious self to adult ballet class, but edits kept me sitting and dreaming in my seat. No ballet for me.

I looked for Youtube clips of Nerina; none were to be found. But I did find this lovely tribute. Included is Nerina's own take on her infamous entrechats.

(....) I only once decided to show off, and if it was naughty it was also great fun. When Rudolf Nureyev did his first 'Giselle' in London he caused a sensation by interpolating sixteen superb entrechat-six into the second Act. it was a rare achievement but it caused dismay amongst some of the company, who could do as well but, not being guest artists, would not dare change the choreography (....)

One night in Swan Lake with Erik Bruhn, when we came to the Black Swan pas de deux, on a sudden impulse I decided to do thirty-two entrechat-six instead of the usual fouettés. I would show our guest artist what the Royal Ballet could do, for I knew that Nureyev was in the audience watching the performance. I always like the music for the fouettés to be slow, and the thirty-two entrechat-six fitted perfectly. Erik was absolutely amazed, and so was the conductor. And so was I, because I just went on beating sixes. If I had thought about it I don't suppose I could possibly have done them. But the audience loved it - I know I did - and so did the company."


Left out of both accounts is the fact that Bruhn and Nureyev were lovers. What a tangle.

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