Saturday, September 29, 2012

My Date With Cinderella

What is Cinderella thinking about as she sits in her carriage and dreamily stares into the distance?

She's thinking about her dinner date with me, of course!

Okay, okay… She's not really Cinderella, I'm clearly not Prince Charming, and our dinner definitely wasn't a date!

But, fairly tales aren't just for little girls, you know. Broken down old guys like me can dabble in a little make-believe now and then, too.

So, I trust you will forgive my little bit of whimsy... Here's the real story:

Maria Chapman is my absolute favorite ballerina. I first noticed her many years ago when she was in the corps of the Pacific Northwest Ballet. She is now a principal dancer.

There is something special about the way Maria moves that is different from most ballerinas I've ever seen. None of that stiff, edgy, fussy feeling I often get from dancers. Maria is much more flowing, relaxed and just plain enjoyable to watch. I think that has a lot to do with her popularity.

A few years ago, Maria married a young client/friend of mine, and I have had the pleasure of getting to know her socially. She is just as charming and delightful in person as she is on the stage.

Whenever I'm in Seattle, her husband and I make it a point to attend whatever ballet she is in at the time. Today, we saw her dance the lead role in Cinderella, with plans to have dinner together after the performance.

Backstage after the curtain calls, I asked Maria if I could get a photo with Cinderella and she was gracious enough to humor me.

As you can see, Maria is a perfect ballerina: Stunning beauty, exquisite posture, radiant smile and that special ability to look perfect in every photo ever taken of her!

Maria made a quick change into street clothes, then did an after-performance Q&A session with members of the audience. Despite being asked questions which she's been asked a zillion times before -- e.g. When did you start dancing? What is your favorite role? -- she answered each one as if it was the first time she'd ever been asked.

With all of Maria's celebrity responsibilities fulfilled, the three of us walked to a nearby restaurant and had a nice dinner together. (Note: Another thing that distinguishes Maria from many other dancers is that she eats like a normal person!) After coffee, we all took a "real-life" photo together.

You will no doubt notice that Maria looks beautiful in street clothes, without makeup or costume, while her husband Brendan and I look like a couple of guys she might have picked up at the pound!

There you have it, my "date" with Cinderella. What's even better than make-believe is when I get to have a great visit with two of my real-life friends, both of whom I am honored and privileged to know!

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