Demands For Resilience

Image by Michael Piesbergen from Pixabay

I have been thinking about the topic of resilience all week.  Every day requires a new plan, while a pandemic forges forward, felling the human family in alarming numbers.

If I were still performing or teaching dance, I would have less choices in my response. Just stay home.

In Sedona’s world, this surfer girl in pointe shoes, her dance world, her high school,  would be closed. There would be few, and only local, surfers on the beach near her home.

She could still do her evening run with her black lab, but without her neighbor Laurence. At least not within six feet of her.

She would ruminate about how rich her family is, and how useless the guilt she feels about that is. Her family could barely get through a day without their long time housekeeper and skillful chef.

She is still a child, and would yearn for the fantastical world she experienced where such an illness would be swiftly overcome.

Below are some quotes from an article I read today, that sums up what I’ve been thinking all week. I don’t usually quote so much from others’ material, but it is perfectly expressed, so I will.

The full article is here in DANCE Magazine..

“During COVID-19, Dancers Must Reframe What It Means to Be Resilient

...”Broadway went dark, opera houses across the country were forced to shutter and dance studios started closing down.”…

…”Dance artists are resilient. We show up for work sick. We dance through pain. We rehearse when cities shut down for holidays and weather. We survive on meager wages. When one job falls through, we use creative immediacy to develop new opportunities. I have always been extremely proud of the resilient attributes of those who work in the dance field, until last Friday.”…

…”Dancers are taught from a young age to push through physical challenges. And we also develop a thick skin to help us deal with the emotional hurdles presented to us throughout our careers. But the challenge with the resilient dancer mindset is that we don’t always think through our expression of toughness beyond the world of dance. We urgently push through situations that others wouldn’t even consider, perhaps due to the urgency of our shorter careers.”…

I remember when I and another dancer Cindy Fisher, many years ago, performed with pneumonia and bronchitis, over a two week period.

Backstage, we placed cough drops in designated spots, so we could pop them in our mouths as soon as we ran off stage. We bought different colors so we wouldn’t get them mixed up. 

Because, no coughing like that backstage, right?

This week I go into the grocery store with a cough drop in my mouth. I have seasonal allergies and the pollen count is high.

I can just imagine the few folks in there scattering, if I were to break into a fit of coughing. I might be asked to leave!

We must shop, and some of us shop for others. We try to limit our outings. 

I wear gloves. I wipe down everything I take off the shelves. I have sprayed the shopping cart with rubbing alcohol. I tell the bag girl “don’t touch my stuff!” and bag the produce myself.

She looks offended. Sorry. 

I’m taking this food to someone who is always confined at home. We live in a town that doesn’t have a hospital – just a glorified ER unit. 

My health insurance company emailed me to stay home, with no offer of a test for this Covid 19 virus. They have mailed me other lab tests, unsolicited, which I view as great marketing, and ignore them. 

So where is my Covid 19 self-test? The lag in testing in the US, which I read described recently as “the first rich failed state”, is incomprehensible. The “we can do it better” attitude deplorably misplaced.

But that’s another topic. I wanted to share my thoughts about the resilience of dancers, and shared Barry Kerollis’ instead.

Thank you Barry.  



What I Did On My Summer Vacation 1960

What I Did On My Summer Vacation 1960

The universal school task in September, right? 

In the many schools I attended, we were not given a book list to choose reading material from to read over the summer.

So we didn’t have to write a book report. This was because so many families moved, randomly, that such assignments were pointless.

In late August 1960 I and my friends – about half a dozen in the neighborhood – had been on the summer vacations with our families and returned.

We were now in that part of the summer when the vacay factor was wearing thin.

I got a couple of friends together and proposed we produce a dance show.

We didn’t have a theater. 

We each chose a three minute excerpt from a 78 vinyl record of Chopin Etudes. Piano music.

We began our choreography, with the space limitation in mind. We didn’t know exactly where our show would be performed.

Rehearsal Space

Rehearsals were in our basements. We rehearsed together, helping each other with ideas.

The basements were cool enough, yet we had light due to the highly placed tall windows with deep wells.


I chose a simple practice tutu. The performance tutu my mom had made me, 24 layers of tulle, a boned on the inside and sequined on the outside piece, seemed way over the top for this event.

The practice tutu was black, and pulled on like a pair of pants, over black tights and a black leotard.

Out of a catalog. 

The part that mattered was the row of colored scarves tied along my arms, and a fan.

I was a fish, and the fan provided the underwater movement of rippling fins, as I moved slowly, turning, bending and rising.

My friend’s garage was the stage.

The door was pulled up by two helpful audience members. 

There were the two rows of bridge chairs, eight seats, waiting for the show.

Not a bad turnout for a hot summer afternoon. The lemonade was free, and cold.

The scratchy recording started. (The two dancers not on stage were the stage hands).

The sound was too low. I could hear the trucks on the nearby highway and the buzz of the small planes overhead.

I wasn’t looking forward to school starting the next week. So, the show was something O.K. to do.

Two weeks after school started, my family moved to a tiny town about an hour’s drive south of the big base.

There was no ballet teacher.

The next two years were a grind. 

What did you do on summer vacation when you were 10?

This account was a seven minute writing exercise at a Writers of Kern meeting. 


The Shame Of Imperfection

Image by Annalise Batista from Pixabay

The Shame Of Imperfection

I wrote the following referenced article many years ago. Doomed with one’s body type applies to gymnasts and models. And, is anyone excluded?

Many of us are, of course. Yet, even while shopping I’ve noticed that some tasty designs in blouses, tunics, and pants, transform into square blocks above a certain size.  In the mid-price ranges, anyway. So, doomed…

As I write today I’m running videos of ballet auditions on the Tube. One ballet master makes extremely sarcastic and body shaming comments disguised as corrections throughout the class, mostly aimed at the girls.

Doesn’t that make him so special! 👿 I know, that was bad.

I had teachers like that and the whole class suffered this abuse every day.  The diseased attitude even transferred to some of the academic teachers in the school. As a child, I didn’t get it. I thought teachers were there to help me.

Any artist knows that criticism isn’t always going to be constructive.

Having the perfect body for ballet is a chance of birth. 

Sedona, gifted for dance in some ways, doesn’t know why her teacher Ms. P., doles out nastiness to her in ballet class, far above the every day sarcasm the other students receive. 

I trained with some very gifted students who -omg! – grew breasts! BAM. Those careers were over.

A decade and a half later, I directed young dancers who had small bosoms with scars beneath them. Health insurance could be lobbied to cover a reduction if it was professionally related. 

Likewise, students who gained weight in their teens were simply written off by their teachers. No hormone testing, no diet or nutrition advice was forthcoming. Only shaming.

Oh cruel world! 😀

I am surprised to see those attitudes now, in the 21st Century.  

Rejection Is A Thing For Writers

And we get that, right? It’s a challenge, a numbers game. 

We keep writing, keep editing, keep taking workshops to improve.

Luckily our joint shapes and leg lengths don’t determine our potential for publication!

What helps is community, beta readers, critique groups, connections and family support.

Sedona’s Shame

 “Now we get to the part of class I truly love – the grand allegro – the flying leaps where I can soar as high as the boys. I don’t know why, but it’s the one thing I can do that money can’t buy and technique can’t improve. But then there is still this awful embarrassment I have to try and hide even though I’m only a 32B.   


That’s huge for ballet by the way. It can really hurt – despite my carefully practiced landing technique and the expensive sprung floors. I’m too developed to wear a sports bra or just to go without like most girls in class. But I’m thinking that the five pounds I just lost for the show is making things feel a little better.        


Ms. Pavlechenka catches my eye as we’re all leaning over the barres, gasping for breath after a long combination. There is no way she can find fault with my jumps but I can see a toad or some other slimy thing rippling waves just beneath the surface of her oh so benign gaze. And every other eye in the room is on me waiting for the alien baby to erupt from her chest and go for my throat.          


“You know Sedona, some things can be changed. Insurance will pay for a reduction if it involves a professional liability.”       


 I’m hoping for a 9.2 quake or worse, right now, this second, as it registers that she really laid that out in front of the whole class! At the same instant I notice Nadya stiffen, her eyes deer in headlights. And suddenly I get it. I met her mother and sisters at the last show. They are all, uh, bountifully endowed. And yet Nadya is almost flat. Gag.        


Lawrence is giving me his BS alert “Don’t buy it!” look. Ms. Pavlechenka seems very pleased over her snarky hit-and-run strike. Get me out of this no-fly zone. ”    

Doomed With My Body Type in the Dance World by Dianne M. Buxton

Anyone who has seen a few classical ballets, or modern ballets with dancers in white spandex unitards, has figured out what the favored ballet body type is:

*Small head***long neck***shortened torso***long, thin, lean (but slightly muscular)legs

*Turnout of the leg from the hip joint. This would depend whether the natural angle of the thigh bone in the hip is angled outward or inward. Also, increasing the flexibility of the surrounding soft tissues must begin before the age of seven to significantly enhance the degree of turnout. 

*Slight knee hyper-extension has become a pleasing line in ballet. The slight backward curve of the leg enhances the look of the arch curve outward (yet undermines the function of balance). 

*Bowleggedness is favored for the ballet dancer for both practical and visual reasons. External tibial torsion (outward rotation of the lower leg) is favorable in that it can increase turnout look of the feet.

* Adequate mobility of the ankle and foot so that the body can be stacked up from a demi pointe or full pointe position. A less flexible ankle especially would have the dancer’s weight slightly back. 

Some talented dancers with lesser-favored proportions and muscle shapes rise in the ranks to become soloists and character performers in classical dance companies. Hard work, a winning personality and acting ability all help contribute to the success of a dancer like this.

Yet body type has nothing to do with the love of dance or performing talent. If a dance student realizes that she/he is struggling to accommodate ballet positions, let them keep struggling. And also investigate other styles of dance where success is more likely. Also look into whether or not fulfillment may be gained better acting.

Hitting the ballet body barrier never has to be a negative. It may propel a young person toward a different area of performing. And this person will have gained dance technique, discipline, ability to work hard, and they no longer will be doomed with their body type in the dance world.

Full Article here

If you’re a writer you may also be a teacher, coach or editor. Can you imagine talking to your students or clients in those caustic tones? 

I can’t imagine them putting up with it!



Sexual Predators Near Me – Look Online For Them

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Sexual Predators Near Me – Look Online For Them


The following is an excerpt from the Sedona series Book II, as yet untitled. Sedona and Laurence “El” are rehearsing and she explains the story to the reader as they go over the sequence.

Tommy, her date rapist (Book I), looks on at the end of the section. Ms. P., their ballet teacher looks in on them also.

girl with flowers

The Ghost Ballet Giselle

Giselle’s protective single mother never had the chance to look up “sexual predators near me” on a computer. They lived in a small village in the forest where periodically a hunting party from the local castle would wander through.

The peasants would hustle to provide a meal and drink for these selfish (in this story) and entitled aristocrats.

It is in this setting that Giselle is noticed by the Prince, who returns later disguised as a peasant. He enchants her and asks her to marry him.

Does that make the prince a sexual predator? Yes, I think so. He is betrothed to a lady in the aristocracy, yet he plans to marry Giselle too.

That does not happen. Giselle kills herself when the prince’s duplicity is revealed.

She becomes one of the Wilis, ghost maidens in the forest, who have been betrayed by their betrothed.

After Sedona is date raped, she feels like a ghost, in a way, too. She is disoriented and life seems dreamlike.

girl underwater

Giselle Rehearsal (from Sedona Book II)

It’s just me and El today. Janie’s class is on a field trip and Nadya has a doctor’s appointment. I worry about that girl. Still thin as a rake and extra quiet as a mouse this year.

I really like these new pointe shoes. They are very different from the traditional canvas and glue shoes, and they’ve lasted three
rehearsals so far. I put on the gel pads over my toes and lace the satin
ribbons to a tight knot.

“Oh Sedona!” Ms. P. sails into the room pushing a dress rack with long tutu skirts.

Our new practice tutus!

“I’m glad to see you’re ready to
rehearse even though the others can’t come today. You don’t have to do the overhead lifts without someone to mark you, okay?”

“Yes Ms. P. “ I stand up and start doing slow rises and plies. I’m pretty warm from the class after lunch, but gotta get the heart rate up.

I jog on the spot.

Ms. P. hangs the tutus in a closet behind the piano. She sails out again, a small smile, yet forced looking, on her face.

My phone clinks and I see a tweet with a picture, and bend down to look. Tommy is on the mat in the karate studio, Lawrence looming over him, his heel poised in Tommy’s armpit.

The view is from above where El’s fans always watch.

Snicker, double snicker.

I know El will be here in a couple of minutes, plenty warmed from the martial arts class. I head over to the tutu closet and look for the one with my name sewn inside.

It’s perfect, the tulle cut just below my
knees, like the Giselle ballet costume.

I hook up the fastenings in the back, and it sits nice and snug over my waist.

Steve walks in. We exchange “hey’s”.

Steve sets up with a large leather bound Russian score of Giselle. His treasure – a gift from an elderly mentor of his when he played for his first performance a few years ago.

Up until then, he had been her page-turner, when she played for the concerts.

My heart warms at the memory of Babs, who used to smile sympathetically at us behind Ms. P’s back, as she shredded one of us
while we were having a bad day.

Did she never stop to think we might
have cramps?*

El is in the forlorn position of Albrecht, on one knee, head in one hand. I look at Steve and he nods, and begins.

This is a four minute sequence where Albrecht has found her grave, deep in the spooky Wili-occupied woods somewhere in the Black Forest. He kneels in grief
and remorse.

Giselle flits in ghost-like and does a few moves around him. Sad, slow, bending toward him, bending away.

He starts, and sees her moving near him.

Is she really there?

He reaches for her but she slips by. Then she turns and comes back to him and he lifts her high overhead, a momentary grasp.

No problem, that lift with El. So there Ms. P.

This elegant back and forth weaving repeats for a couple of minutes.

Finally Giselle runs away leaving Albrecht puzzled, looking around for her with anguished high leaps.

And Giselle is back! Grasping a twig of herbs in each hand, the ones that represent commitment and devotion, or in some lore, the magic that enables the Wilis to leave their graves between dusk and dawn.

With light leaps she tosses a twig back toward him, and then the other.

Suddenly she is gone again. He picks them up, wondering how this all works. The next moment he turns back to her grave where she hovers in front of it, with an armful of blooms.

She gestures for him to come to her. He runs over and kneels, still remorseful and wanting

She – I, drop one flower down to him, then another, then the whole bouquet falls as I fade in and out of physicality. Then I slowly flit away.


“I think you guys have nailed it for today” Steve announces as he shuts his score book. “And I’ve got to get downtown so you can carry on without me if you want to act out that crazy perfectionism stuff”.

Yet he grins, as he puts his precious book into a leather backpack. He knows how it goes with ballet dancers.

“And that was good acing the Tominator” he grins back at El as he disappears through the doorway, leaving it open. 

I pull off the tutu and drape it over the barre. A few El fans lean in to take a picture of him toweling off.

Bent over, I swivel around toward them to unlace my pointe shoes. I know they’d love a shot of my behind to post online.

No way.

El ignores them and they finally lose interest and leave.

I put my right leg up onto the barre and start massaging an overused muscle. El moves in close.

“Hey, you hurt?”

“No, just a muscle spasm. You’re really good at keeping me on balance though El. No complaints!”

“Here, let me, just relax.” He moves my hand and starts going deep into the middle of my thigh with his thumb.

W Tee Eff! Is this good? I dunno! A bit too close?

I remember that incredible kiss of last June the night he was flying off to NYC, presumably not to return for at least a year.

And is he reading my mind as he leans in closer?

My mind strobes. Shall I pull back/lean in/push him away/grab him?

I’m frozen.

Then over El’s shoulder, I see Tommy in the doorway,. He smirks at me, Mr. Slimy Smarmy.

I grab El and pull him in to a long kiss.

When we’re done, Tommy is gone.”

Romantic Ballet

Many ballets are romantic and yet they are rife with tragedy. They have magical elements, as in the use of Myrtle in Giselle.

In this Book II of Sedona, the character Giselle is similar to Sedona’s, in the particular circumstance of being conned and abused.

It leads Giselle to death.

But it leads Sedona to a grand adventure, one she could have never imagined.

Have you seen any ballets? Did you understand and like the story?

Have you ever been stalked or threatened in any way?  When I was young, this happened periodically to me and my friends. No one even knew to complain. 

It was always to be “but what did you do to get that attention?”

Related material:

Roofies And Date Rape


Personal And Universal – A Memorial Web Site

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Personal And Universal – A Memorial Web Site

This is #3 of the 26 blog posts in a blog challenge, just to explain to the every day dancer readers.

And for the writer readers participating in the blog challenge,  most of these blog posts will be about something related to dance, the book series Sedona (working title) – or just dance.

I’ve been off Facebook and most other parts of the computer world for five days, weathering a head cold that caused pain just from typing. Ah, the common cold, many of which are caused by different corona viruses, as I learned from Youtube.

That’s why it’s now called Covid 19, to distinguish it from common cold viruses and whatever is yet to come.

Today I felt better and feeling a dread of falling behind in this blog challenge (two a week on average) I had planned to get to my draft of a third post, connected to the novel Sedona.

I went onto Facebook first, to see what other Writers of Kern peeps had posted, that I could read and comment on, before I got tired.

Because blogging on line is about Presence, right? Don’t fade away!

Promoting your writing is about Presence. Don’t fade away!

On Facebook, today, I saw that the site about Amelia Itcush, a dancer and teacher extraordinaire, has been published.

I met Amelia in 1966 when I was a student.  Modern dance in the form of the Martha Graham Technique had arrived at the National Ballet School of Canada.

It was a great challenge to ballet students, most of whom didn’t have the body type for that modern dance technique.

My chiropractor at that time, later told me I had the Martha Graham Syndrome, as she and her partner in the chiropractic office had come to label the chronic sciatica they saw developing in their dance patients.

Yet it was a simple fix for most. She showed me how to get into a position to adjust my pelvis after a Graham class. I took Graham classes for a few more years, with The New Dance of Group of Canada which became the Toronto Dance Theatre, and at York University, while I was teaching  ballet there.

In the late seventies after I stopped dancing, my body really started to hurt. I was teaching at George Brown College, and another teacher there, Anne Evangelista, had started her own studio.

I found out that Amelia was teaching some classes there that I would find very interesting. I already had some knowledge of The Alexander Technique that had been recommended to me by a professor of music at York.

But I was told what Amelia is teaching is even better, especially for dancers.

And it certainly was! Like the Alexander Technique, it taught how to sit and stand, while releasing the muscles, instead of building up tension just by moving.

This video will be invaluable for anyone suffering from neck pain, back pain, arm pain – what I call computer pain.

And isn’t that…everyone? Watch Amelia.

Sitting and Standing Demonstration from Remembering Amelia on Vimeo.

Just the beginning.

Years later I saw a post on Facebook referring to the “Remembering Amelia” project.

Oh no! Remembering!

What had I missed? I was now in another country, barely connected to the Canadian dance scene.

I ended up on the phone with Susan MacKenzie, in Vancouver, Canada. She had been a student in the York U dance department when I was teaching there.

And she was among those working on the Remembering Amelia project. I was glad to contribute what I could to that.

And reading it today – I am remembering twenty years of dance! Teachers, fellow students, musicians and other artists.

And little things, like I had my first avocado in Amelia’s kitchen. I wasn’t adventurous with food in that northern town.

Amelia didn’t yet know how to get people where she needed them to go. She took movement into her own body, she was discovering things, finding new freedoms. This process opens your eyes to see the way people are working against themselves. She wanted people to have a different kind of physical experience, a realization. She wanted to prevent them from working against themselves which she now so acutely perceived. She had no qualms about taking people out of the dance environment. She had something to prove; when dancers chose her work over dance training, she felt empowered. She would change their minds, their experience. She had an unforgettable reputation as a dancer. Lots of people listened”. Ann Tutt

“…the way people are working against themselves..”  And don’t we talk about that a lot at the Writers of Kern meetings.

That’s what I would call Personal and Universal in a reference to artists. To anyone.

The most enthralling pieces of art (all fields), both classical and modern, have these two elements in a balance, to my experience.

Vone Deporter and I were  able to meet with Ashley Johnson, a certified Itcush Method teacher, at a movement performance, part of the Somatic Movement Arts festival, AKA SOMAfest in Santa Monica  CA, a few years ago. 

My first question to Ashley was “What happened to Amelia?” 

Amelia had died from lung cancer. 

I am so grateful that her work was remembered and documented, and that the people who were inspired by her gave such appreciative, insightful and poetic comments about the impacts she left in their lives.

Who has inspired you in your creative journey? Please, do share!


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