Last week there was an interesting article in the New York Times about some kids from the US who have gone to Moscow to study ballet at the school of the famed Bolshoi ballet. (Read the article here.) How times have changed! But in fact, these kids are not the first to do this. Way back in 1996 CPYB student Vanessa Zahorian left Carlisle to go study at the Kirov. She has gone on to have a stellar career at San Francisco ballet. I am always intrigued by people with particularly strong passions. One kid, Joy, put it quite plainly, "I want to be Russian." I can't identify with that one, but I definitely could identify when I read that she burst into tears the first time she saw Natalia Osipova on video. Sometimes beauty is just that powerful. (Osipova is currently in New York for a stint with American Ballet Theatre. Read Alistair MacCaulay's rave review of her performance Tuesday night here.) In any case, regarding Daniela's passion, it seems like really good luck that we are in Carlisle, where the passion is so conveniently engaged. Nonetheless, it can get complicated. I just read a marvelous essay by yet another CPYB dancer from Carlisle, Abi Stafford, a principal dancer with New York City Ballet. She writes in Pointe Magazine about competitiveness, professional anxieties, and how she's learned to manage it all. And I feel confirmed: from the very beginning I've tried to impress upon Daniela that it's about having fun. (She's also taught me the very same lesson.) Fun can be very serious business, can involve hardship, sacrifice, and a lot of pain, but we need to keep coming back to that joy and, I think, to the sharing.

(Luck is tricky to define. Well, perhaps not, but it is complicated when we try to determine how it applies in our lives. Sometimes just about everything can seem like chance. At the other extreme, I often hear said "there are absolutely no coincidences." It's usually affirmed by people who believe in an all-powerful, participatory God. God as Director. I don't believe in that one.)

I don't know if this constitutes a passion, but it sure could be fun: we make an obscenely huge paella, then get a crowd, all nicely equipped with thick oven mitts, and we hoist the paella/throne and procession it to... to some huge cathedral? We've had the bread and the fish, now it's time for a paella miracle. (In the image, above, the making of the world's largest paella, near Madrid. Paella for 110,000! Check out the big equipment!) If I could manage to make a very large paella, maybe not for hundreds of thousands, but, let's say, maybe for a thousand (I've reached 100), and got several people to help parade it in a sacred culinary procession, would that be luck? I don't know, but it would certainly be lucky.

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