A few days ago I watched a rerun of The Turning Point, a 1977 film about the world of ballet in New York City. The film's story focuses on the rivalries and regrets of two generations of ballet dancers...and it features an icy confrontation between two of the female stars, Anne Bancroft and Shirley Maclaine.
I sat, entranced by the stark intensity of this moment which included a physical confrontation between the two stars, and, as engaged as I was by the depth of the unfolding, I was ultimately stirred by something in the film even more compelling than the unexpected elegance of the women's duel...a scene that both startled and uplifted my soul...the magnificent performance of the incomparable Russian ballet dancer, MIKHAIL BARYSHNIKOV.
There is something so ethereal about watching a ballet.....the beauty and symmetry of the dancers moving in perfect harmony with the music, the dancers' engagement with the unfolding of the ballet's story, their interpretation of the emotions it evokes. The heart cannot help but be swept into the rhapsody of this moment.
Every ballet I have ever seen has elicited this response in me, but, on this day, I was unprepared for the breathtaking denouement I felt with Baryshnikov's performance.
Where ballet dancers naturally leap through the air, Baryshnikov soared to a height which seemed unimaginable to attain. Where the dancers delicately reach for the unseen treasure they seem to be pursuing, Baryshnikov's passionate longing was completely palpable. Where ballet dancers are poised to perfectly present a graceful stance, Baryshnikov was GRACE itself.
I was so entranced with the enthralling beauty and strength of Baryshnikov's performance, I asked myself...is it only in the ballet that such exquisite grace can be found?
Moments later, an answer to this question occurred to me. The grace of Mikhail Baryshnikov can be found in every moment we encounter. This grace may very well be the touchstone of how we choose to live our lives.
It can be found...
in the loving way we honor ourselves and speak our truth in the best way we know how;
in the way we honor others' truth;
in the decision we make to listen to each other, truly trying to understand the emotions being expressed;
in the stirrings of our heart for something exquisite we have encountered;
in the compassion we give to ourselves and others as we wend our way through our challenges, often amid distress and difficulties;
in our appreciation for beauty and joy...the first rose of spring, the gorgeous symmetry of a snowflake, the fun of watching a toad hop through a puddle;
in the longing we feel to understand our place in the universe.
A life full of GRACE is a life teeming with generosity, curiosity and anticipation...and wonder. As close as the next breath we take. Cast yourself in a starring role in the "ballet" of your life with a full and passionate heart and soar with the GRACE of Baryshnikov!
scenes from The Turning Point