Monday, February 6, 2012

Turning Points and the Roads Not Taken

Yesterday, while the rest of the world got ready for its annual football extravaganza, we watched The Turning Point, which I hadn't seen since the late 70's.

How did I come to watch this movie?  Someone asked me if I knew that Shirley MacLaine had been a dancer, and I thought about this movie.  When I saw we could stream it on Netflix, that was that.  We've spent a lot of time streaming old Westerns.  It was time for a ballet movie.

For a movie released in 1977, it holds up well.  The ballet scenes, of course, are timeless.  Even the clothes, which are so 1970's, didn't distract.  The shots of 1977 New York City fed a hunger I didn't even know I had:  New York, back when it was really gritty!  And look, the World Trade Center towers, just after they were built!

How strange to think how the world barely knew Barishnikov when the movie was released.  As I watched him dance, I thought of his character in Sex and the City, and how he never really changes his look radically.

It's strange to watch this movie from this vantage point in my life.  When I first watched it, I was the young drama student, taking dance classes, taking drama classes, dreaming of Broadway.  I knew that I would never, NEVER, make choices I would regret later.  I would never wonder about the roads not taken.

Ah, the certitude of youth.  What vanity.

Now, of course, I know that I will always wonder about the roads not taken, even if I'm sure I made the right decisions or the decisions that were right for me at the time.

I wonder if people stop thinking about turning points in the roads of their lives as they get older.  It would be a relief.  Maybe it's similar to weight loss and body image.  Through the years, it's become abundantly clear to me that to have the angular body I think that I want, I'd have to cut my calories to about 900 a day--and even then, I'd probably be a curvy kind of angular.  I will never have the ballerina body I would like to have, and as the years have gone on, I've quit trying and quit yearning to have something so different than what I do have.

Maybe some day, it will be the same with careers.  Maybe some day, I will quit thinking about career paths I didn't take.

I also found myself thinking about the more recent movie Black Swan, and how I just could not slog through it.  Hmm.

And I thought about going to traditional ballets when I was in high school, how I found Swan Lake just so boring, but I knew I wasn't supposed to find it boring.  Once a modern dance troupe came through town, and I found their dances electrifying.  I felt like I was liking all the wrong things.

Of course, now, I realize that there are plenty of art forms for us all.  How lucky I was to have had access to both traditional ballet and modern dance.  And now, thanks to all sorts of cable and online resources--and of course, PBS--we have access to all sorts of art forms we would never have seen back in 1977.


Lucille said...

I think it would be such a relief to not think about career paths not taken. Of course, in saying that, I realize that I hold the key to getting that relief, which is to let go of "all that" and focus on the present and future. It is so hard. I am 45 and I find myself having to face facts that the time for exploring some pathways (at least) is long gone.

Re: Turning Point and Black Swan. You aren't missing too very much with Black Swan. True, there was some nice ballet scenes, but it's a dark psychological piece with some gratuitious scenes. I much prefer the Turning Point. I especially like when the two friends are fighting out on the terrace and then start laughing at each other.

And I love Anne Bancroft!

Kathleen said...

Now I want to see Turning Point again, in light of all you have said!