Smiles on the Magnificent Mile

AE January 2010 resizedOne of the most Magnificent things about working and living on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile (a.k.a. Michigan Avenue) – in addition to the breathtaking architecture, incredible flower displays and tempting shop windows (especially the ones with sale signs!) – is seeing the smiles of shoppers carrying gift bags for their friends and relatives. We’ve all heard, and said, that giving is as satisfying, if not more so, than receiving. It can be such a pleasure to choose a gift for someone we care about, and we look forward with hope to the pleasure it will give to the recipient, the smile it may bring. Each time I look at the “card wall” at our office, I can’t help smiling. The wall is filled with holiday greetings from around the world, each expressing the sender’s individual personality, cultural tradition and special energy. Beautiful young dancers sent cards with their own photos in tutus, pictures of nutcrackers and traditional family images. My Harvard friend from Sydney, Australia sent a card with the Picasso Peace Dove; Mayor Daley sent a delightful family photo with his grandchildren; the Russian Embassy’s card has an image of Moscow’s Red Square. Each time I opened one of these envelopes, I felt that I was traveling to another part of the world, or to the home of a friend. What an important, meaningful gift!

Gift-giving has been a constant theme for most cultures throughout history, and the importance of gifts has inspired many scenes in ballet. In Sleeping Beauty, the fairies’ gifts are central to the story, for better or worse. Romeo gently and passionately presents flowers to Juliet. Tchaikovsky dedicated the entire second act of his Nutcracker Suite to the gift to Clara of dances from around the world.

One of the most vivid gifts of dance I have personally witnessed was at a friend’s wedding. The bride danced “Malaguena,” a Spanish-inspired dance by composer Lecuna from the ballet Proud Heritage, a Trilogy of the Southwest (originally performed by Pajarito Ballet Theatre of Santa Fe) for her newlywed husband. He had never seen her dance, as they had met a month after she retired as a performer. Halfway through this dance, guests were in tears. It was filled with so much love, passion and sensuality that it conveyed her gift of partnership and commitment better than any words could.

The heart-felt creative work of composers, choreographers and visual artists has the power to move audience’s minds and hearts even centuries later. I view their masterpieces as the supreme gift to the universe. Recently, I read in a best-selling book that the meaning of life is to love, be loved and never stop learning. I agree with this sentiment, but would add one more item to the list: to give and share both ideas and meaningful material gifts to enhance the lives of others, even if it’s just with a postcard!

As I walk down the Magnificent Mile to the Russian Pointe offices, I am thinking about what I can share in 2010 – both tangible and intangible – that will make a positive difference. I’m excited about sharing the comfort and beauty of our new Spotlight Collection pointe shoes, and looking forward to upcoming seminars, when Authorized Retailers will enjoy fellowship and sharing of expertise. Also included in my plans for the upcoming year is to continue building bridges between Russian and American cultures, work that is important to me because of the mutual understanding and benefit that these bridges bring.

As we begin the New Year, I want to thank all of you for your best wishes during the holiday season. It gives me so much pleasure to know that Russian Pointe has an important place in your lives.