I finished up a nine-show run with the Pacific Northwest Ballet this weekend. What a wonderful experience! I am sorry to see Kent Stowell and Francia Russell leaving the company, as they have fostered a sense of well-being and caring in a business that is often nastier than opera. (I saw this first hand as a child in a couple professional ballet children’s corps; it’s what made me decide not to dance anymore.) Everyone at the ballet – dancers, administrators, crew – was friendly and warm. Businesslike, to be sure, but it was a good place to work.
A couple cases in point: Dancing being such a physical activity (understatement!), they have a resident physical therapist. Well, after a hellish day on Saturday, dealing with horrendous traffic, two performances and a rehearsal for another show in between, my neck and shoulders were a mess of knots by the evening. And even though I was a guest artist, – and NOT a dancer! – Boyd, the PT, worked on my shoulders for about 15 minutes. It’s amazing what a professional can accomplish in 15 minutes… During the massage, I asked him about how he cares for his dancers’ joints, since mine have been acting up a bit lately. After I’d gotten into costume, I went back to ask him about my ankle, which was hurting (prompting the original question). And he fixed it! Felt around for the tiny joint that was out of whack, showed me on my other foot how it was supposed to work, then CRACK! it was better. So cool… What a great perk of working at the Ballet!
Then after my final performance on Sunday, I was met on my way out of the backstage area by one of the technical crew members with whom I had been exchanging pleasantries over the past two weeks. I think his name is Michael. He handed me a small gift bag and said, “Here is a little something to thank you for your singing. I have really enjoyed it, and every night we all stand back here and watch and listen. You are wonderful” Wow! I was so touched. The card inside said that the CD (Ray Charles’ final, the duets CD) was from “Stage Right Tech,” not just from him, and I’m sorry that I didn’t get to thank them all individually. What a great way to end a great run of shows with a great company. I hope the new director will continue to develop the warmth and caring that most certainly contributes to the greatness of the company’s work on stage.