Dancer At Rest

Today – with the help of a photograph from time gone by – I am calling upon my youthful self.  This shot was taken by a lovely woman named Aleta. I owe thanks to Aleta for most of the photos I retain from those Ballet days. Aleta danced, but her camera was never far from her hands. During those very intense and demanding years I called her a friend. How glad I am to have this evidence that the younger Leif relaxed and waited in the light at times, confident of future dances.

I am sure that part of the peace I perceive in this photograph is attributable to my trust in the photographer, but also to the fact that I earned my living modeling at the Newcomb Art School. Truthfully, classes at Lelia Haller’s Ecole de Ballet could be stressful, competitive, and downright heartbreaking. At that age (about nineteen) I was taking three classes a day most days – plus rehearsals. I wonder how I managed the three hour modeling sessions.  I think that the atmosphere at the art school was refreshing. I was honestly interested in the language of art, and standing, sitting or reclining, I could listen to and absorb the passionate intent in the instructors’ voices. I could be student even as I was contributing to this world of aspiring artists.  And I was a dancer dancing, admired and even paid for the gestures that flowed through my body and onto the paper or canvas of those who received them. I was soloist on my five by seven foot stage. And wasn’t it wonderful to be so appreciated. Interestingly, the exacting world of Ballet could be left behind me for those few hours and the dance I danced was evocative of the freedom to come in later years.

But back to the photograph and the dancer resting in the light. On this day I see what I need to see, and I am comforted by my present perception of my younger self. I am what I see and can rest in the luminous present she gifts me with. I, too, can be confident of future dances. Her innocence and belief endear her to me, for I am privy to all her dreams, disappointments, and small triumphs. Her dearness mysteriously becomes my present dearness. Why not be dear to myself – knowing all I know of our history?  Of our dreams…? How they still hover even now…?

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2 Responses to “Dancer At Rest”

  1. Kendall Says:

    I’m so glad you are dear to yourself. You are certainly dear to me. I think about your being a soloist on that five by seven foot stage. Are we all soloists on the stages we chart for ourselves? I suppose some people (I think of Christopher) experience a long pas de deux. I marvel at that, envy it a bit, and settle into the dance I have created for myself, glad of your company as our two solitudes salute each other (I think I’m borrowing from Rilke there).

  2. leiflife Says:

    I imagine that self-compassion and even self-cherishing are worthwhile practices. Can’t always manage this, but when we can I think we show faith in the human soul’s capacity for blooming and re-blooming – no matter what age the body. And from soloist to solitude. That is a journey worth realizing – and sharing. Thank you. I salute you.

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