I have learned that there are certain things in life that are in great demand and thus are easier to succeed in. My first memory of this was in ice hockey. When I was an eight year old “squirt” (that is the name of the league for kids that age), our coach had the new team for our first practice. We were in a all in a circle–most of us trying to keep our balance on the ice–when the coach asked who wanted to play goalie. I was surprised that nobody wanted to do it. I had no idea what was involved, but I figured that it sounded like I would not have a lot of competition for the job and that it would also probably be special in some way. Therefore, I gladly volunteered. I’ve always been attracted to things that are slightly against the grain.
I mentioned in my last post that I took ballet lessons in SLC while I was a shoe repairman. This was a lot of fun, and I realized that as a male I was in high demand. Young women and girls needed to be very good to get into performances, but all that guys seemed to need to do was be able to chew gum and walk to get a lead role. It was then that I heard about another ballet studio in SLC that had a folk dance troupe and who were planning a folk dancing trip to Europe. The leader was named Tamara Gladikova; she was as stern as her name sounds (but very nice, too!).
The folk dance group was mostly young Mormon girls (no, I am not a Mormon, but thanks for asking…), one or two older girls, and 4 other guys, at least 2 of whom were quite serious dancers. The whole group was very serious and had been working together for a long time. There were elaborate costumes, carefully choreographed dances, and all the drama that comes with young celebrities, prima donnas, and divas. And there were the parents…
They put out a call for male dancers to help them on the trip to Europe, and I could not resist. Even though I have posted the photo on an earlier blog, I repost it here, because it was the passport photo that I had for this trip to Europe. You can just imagine how well I fit in with the young (highly talented) Morman divas.
I practiced with the troupe for a few months, and they got comfortable enough with me that I was able to join them on the trip. I wasn’t a a great dancer, but I actually looked like a pretty convincing Cossack, so I probably contributed something. I also could serve as a pseudo-chaperone when they realized that I was not related to Charles Manson.
We landed in London, went up to Denmark, then down through Germany and Switzerland and Austria. We performed in many cities along the way, including Copenhagen, Munich, Brunswick, Cologne, Bern, and Salzberg. We stayed with families, and I made some good friends that I continue to exchange Christmas cards to this day. I think that the families were all expecting good Mormon kids, and some seemed surprised when they got assigned to me! It was a great experience for my first trip overseas!
The only problem with the trip was that I was pining for my new love, Katherine. I ended up cutting my trip short and gave up some of the extra travel time that I had planned, because I missed her so much. We had been together for about 5 months before I left for Europe, and we had made plans to move together to Santa Fe, New Mexico so that I could give college another try. To be continued…