Growing up in a still-divided Berlin, me and my pals treated the city as our playground, the vast parks as our forests, the streets and backyards as our domain.. even with the Wall a constant and sinister presence. In retrospect it was a creepy normalcy, but to us kids it enhanced the sense of adventure as we roamed about, our playtime blissfully unsupervised. At the time I was a tomboy, climbing trees and jumping fences and happy at that. I had no clue about ballet, neither did any of my friends.
|Victoria Park, Berlin|
|The Wall, photo: Barbara Klemm|
I never had dance lessons as a child. No pink tights, no satiny ballet shoes, no recitals. But being so happily clueless, I never knew if I was missing out on anything. For all I know, I might have hated the whole ballet class experience. I was a competitive kid back then, always wanting to be the best and finish any race first. Not having a natural body for ballet (certainly not after hitting my teen years), the eventual disappointment of never being good enough would have been hard to bear. No regrets then. I´m just happy to be dancing now.
As I wrote before, I had no clue about ballet. Fortunately, at the time (West-)German TV was overflowing with American programming, especially old Hollywood movies and musicals. And I loved the dancing more than anything. Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire were my heroes, Cyd Charisse and Leslie Caron my idols. Their movement to music was the most beautiful and exciting thing I could imagine! To this day I am fascinated by the elegance of their lines and the vigor and skill of old-school musical dancing. It made me fall in love with dancing in the first place..
I still get a big kick out of these movies and their dance numbers. And hey, there´s more ballet in them than I remembered. Go figure..
|Leslie Caron and Gene Kelly|
starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron.
Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse. The Band Wagon (1953, Dir. Vincente Minelli):