Assigned seat

FullSizeRender-61On this spring day with gray skies pummeling freezing rain, the allure of my warm cozy sweater and a freshly brewed pot of tea nearly outweighed attending the final performance of Milwaukee Ballet’s Giselle. However, my seat in the theatre, for one of my great loves – the ballet, was also warmly calling.

As I quickly made my way from the parking garage to the theatre, bundled in my puffer coat, I noticed a daughter helping her mobility challenged mother. With significant effort they were also making their way towards the venue.

Moments before the theatre went dark, the mother and daughter were seated in the row ahead. The mother, with the daughter guiding her every step, struggled mightily to get seated – a stunning investment of effort to enjoy an afternoon of ballet.

The dancing and the story telling were at once riveting, beautiful and morally powerful. Milwaukee Ballet’s Artistic Director, Michael Pink had transported the 1841 Giselle ballet setting to a 1941 Nazi-occupied Jewish ghetto setting.

While the citizens of these real life ghetto communities were doing their best to hang on, they honored the arts by composing and playing music despite their horrific conditions – an element Michael incorporates into his Giselle production.

Rather than the dancers pretending to be musicians, Michael ingeniously situates members of the orchestra dressed in costume moving betwixt and between the dancers – brilliant!

How much easier though, for the dancers, the musicians and the choreography, had the musicians remained in their assigned seats in the orchestra pit?

From the time we are young we are programmed to find our assigned seat, stay there and do as we are told.

Yet if we are bold and brave enough to move out of what is seemingly our assigned seat, what artistry, what music, what brilliance might we bring to the world?

What change might we create when we allow our perfectly, perfect selves to shine in ways that may currently be encumbered by the seats we believe we are assigned?

As the curtain opened on Giselle’s second act, I was again struck by this idea of moving out of one’s assigned seat. Only by stepping out of Giselle’s assigned role – haunting the lover who had betrayed her – were love, hope and forgiveness able to triumph.

As the curtain fell on a truly magnificent production and I glanced towards the mother and daughter in the row ahead of me, I was struck by the power of an assigned seat.

It’s essential to put effort, thought and passion into sitting in the assigned seat you choose. A seat that brings you immensely powerful joy, happiness, curiosity, inspiration and creativity. When you enthusiastically sit in the seat of your choosing, love, hope and forgiveness are always possible.

It is equally essential to bravely jump out of an assigned seat so that effort, thought and passion can be placed into the work and artistry that brings great things forward.

Things like love, hope and forgiveness.

My father told me that whatever happens, we must remain human, so that we do not die like cattle. And I think that the will to create was an expression of the will to live, and survive, as human beings. —Helga Weissova-Hoskova, Terezin Jewish ghetto survivor





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