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November 23, 1975 - Image 3

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1975-11-23

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mary long
jo marcotty
barb cornell



page four-books
page five-

AL. L _ *I n T


Numoer IU

Page Ihree

November 23, 1975



,nin is right out of Louisa May
Alcott: a fragile and dreamlike
Beth ready to cough her way
through angher snowy winter. In
her pink leotard and pink hair rib-
bon, she is dancing by herself in a
corner of the Barbour Gymnasium.
Watching her, you realize just
how quickly she must move and
just how many steps there are to
the inch. After each mistake, she
swallows a lump in her long throat
and begins again. She knows the
steps andis running them togeth-
er well enough but it is late and
there is no audience and not even
a piano for an orchestra.
Her calf muscles distend the
blue knit socks she wears as leg
warmers; one bra strap escanes
the white blouse she wears under
the trin-strapped pale leotard. The
bones in her back and chest stand
out clearly, the dark-goid skin
swinkles with sweat, the thin face
is sharpened by concentration. She
seeri.9 to be following an endless
imaginary thread around the
room, but the pattern is becoming
clear, even as she tires.
She will be the soloist, the star,
the prima ballerina, on Friday
night when she performs these
steps with the University Dancers
at the Power Center. Right now,
It is late on Tuesday afternoon and
the ugly room is nearly empty and
everyone else has gone home.
the Power Center opening,
through the gymnasium rehearsals
and the miserable yogurt dinners
and the running out for cold cof-
fee and the nerves exploding on
the air, Elesa brought to it all a
certain noticeable lack of stress, a



explana tions

concentrated calm, the fe
another time, another plac
26 years old and when sh
the young Juliet role in t
duction, she thinks she's
vincing and that makesr
comfortable. 'After all, she

eling of
e. She's
Le plays

again, an amoeba practicing fis-

'She bends her tiny,
ed, farmer's daughter
and reaches her leg c
his head and shoulders
stretch. They contrac
courtship rite devoid

he pro- The other dancers divide into
uncon- three groups. Heads are serene,
her un- shoulders squared, feet directly in
insists, front of noses. The rehearsal picks
up pretty much where it left off
a day ago. A group of dancers in
the middle of a large gymnasium
...... make curiously feline movements
while counting to twenty. When
the sequence doesn't time out,
there is a bit of nervous laughter,
squar- and everyone stops counting and
baCk, stretching and joins a huddle try-
ing to figure out what went wrong.
around They look like a bunch of engi-
neers trying to decide why the
5. They bridge fell down. Elizabeth Berg-
mann, the director of the dance
t. In a department, steps into the sea of
performers, which parts for 'her
of ro- the way the waters did for Moses.
She points out paths for the cou-
t h e y ples to follow and they move away,
o. with the big, energetic steps she
ng on. prescribes.



search, assault and hai

Dancers Elesa Chernin and Gary Schaaf in rehearsal

she is 26 and a married woman
separated from her husband.
She bends her tiny, squared, far-
mer's daughter body back into a
crab, comes out of it on the count
of four and reaches her leg around
Gary Schaaf's head and shoulders.
They stretch. They contract. They
move like kids playing, but kids
don't have to count beats as they
play. In a courtship rite devoid of
romantic trappings, they search,
assault and hang on. Then they're
facing in opposite directions, mov-
ing away from each other, finrers
snlayed, heads up, thighs pulling.
Gary is having difficulty timing.
his movements. They go back to
the center of the room and start

rfESA'S FACE ISN'T coy and
flirtatious enough, the chore-
ogranher claims. And the dancer
couldn't agree more wholehearted-
lv. "I feel so cynical - here I am,
the young lover with the gray
hairs" she says, looking all of six-
teen. "I can't pretend to be in-
volved in this fantasy of young
love. And it's not even my fantasy
of voung love. it's Liz Bergmann's
fantasy. I don't even buy the va-
lidity of the whole dreamv idea
anymore. I feel so uncomfortable."
Well, what could be so difficult
about nretending? Hadn't she felt
that way at some time?
The hands push away your
words. "My God, I have that kind
of a thing as a memory, but things
have changed. I was a 'young love'
a long time ago, when I first met

my husband. And that -was a hor-
rible time in many ways-I was
certain that I had given up on
In an offhand manner she be-
gan to describe that time seven
years ago, in Chicago, when she
found herself blinded by non-stop
tears,in the middle of a rehearsal.
She talks about the pain of invest-
ing too much emotion in ballet, of
finding that her hands could lit-
erally knot into claws with repres-
sed tension. And the harder she
tried, she says, the worse every-
thing became.
The flatness of her voice grows
flatter, yet the emotional pitch as-
cends until one can discern, like
a sound within a sound, a wound-
ed bewilderment. "So, I was stand-
ing there one day in rehearsal,

The Bi Game : A town goes crazy
in the hope of smelfing Blue roses

The chancre of antagonism be-
tween the Buckeyes and Wolver-
ines surfaces periodically. to rav-
age unsuspecting individuals like
a dreaded social disease. Most peo-
ple believe the roots run only as
deep as the infamous Rose Bowl
Robbery last season. But the his-
toric tentacles of the rivalry could
be traced back to the last cen-
tury. So before looking at the ef-
fects of this year's Big Game hula-
baloo, take a quick trip into the
The year was 1835. The Univer-
sity was a sprout in the woodland
that was Ann Arbor, and high-
powered college athletics were less
than a gleam in the University's
eye. The Big Ten title's counter-
part was a border dispute between
Mic igan and Ohio. Bo Schembech-
ler was General Joseph Brown,
Woody Hayes was General John
Bell, and the Tartan Turf was the
city of Toledo. The first bloodless
war between the states was about
to begin.
In the final account, the Buck-
eye Boys walked away with part of
southern Michigan (which included
Toledo) and, in exchange, Michigan
got its hands on the upper pennin-
sula. The only casualty was a low-
ly cabbage patch that had been
trampled by a bunch of inconsid-
erate soldiers.
IN RETROSPECT there are, of

of morning mouth the entire inci-
dent left in its wake.
Then, with the advent of foot-
ball, the mid-west melee was form-
alized. Michigan chose to inaugur-
ate its new stadium in 1927 with
a gridiron clash against Ohio Wes-
leyan. The Wolverines winged their
way to a 33-0 victory witnessed by
40.000 spectators who braved the
pouring rain.
Rose Bowl mania has only served
to heighten the antagonism. Prof.
Emeritus of astronomy Hazel Losh
was at that inauguration game in
1927, and she has been to three
Rose Bowls. "I always say I won't
go," says the stalwart soldier of
the Michigan cheering section. "But
when the time comes, the fever
gets you."
And the fever struck Ann Arbor
this year with more virulence than
Green Slime. Stricken individuals
took to publically displaying but-
tons, banners, and bumper stick-
ers advocating the annhilation of
Ohio State. Residents of Markley
partook in a "Kill Woody" ban-
quet, and Betsy Barbourites unab-
ashedly admitted to a diet of Buck-
eye-butter sandwiches. Books were
mysteriously forsaken for beer de-
spite impending final examinations.
Hoardes of screaming "Go Blue"
fanatics swarmed the streets Fri-
day night. And amidst the season-
able snow flurries, deluded stu-
dents could be heard babbling
about roses.

doing plies, and I couldn't stop
crying. I ran out of there, imme-
diately, and I never went back. I
worked as a waitress, at various
menial jobs. I was certain that I
was finished with dancing,"
But right now, she's dancing
again and she's separated from her
husband and she is concerned
first, last and always with being
able to support herself. "I have to
plow ahead" she says, "I'm aging.
I'm very tired of being in school. I
need this degree and I know what
I have to do - everything is real-
ly quite clear and definite as far
as that goes."
Yes, she says, she would rather
be a professional performer than a
student working toward the Mas-
ters degree that will get her a job
as a teacher. But she says that
really doesn't matter. Elesa is de-
termined without being stony and
there is no doubt at all that she
means just what she says. She has
already fought too many battles
with the windmills of disappoint-
"After I quit dancing in Chi-
ca go and had worked for over a
year, I tried to go back to school.
I had always hated school as a
kid and I very seldom used to go to
class. So to start college scared me
witless. My husband filled out my
annlication, wrote my autobiogra-
nhv, took me every day to classes,
I was terrified. But at Michigan.
It's far from intolerable. I'm not
scared anymore, that's for sure.
I'm reel- sassy - but if you want
enthusiasm, you'd better talk to
someone else. Talk to John" she
says, indicating a young man leap-
ing high and soaring wide a few
feet away. He's pouncing on every
step like a cat playing with a cock-
all-American athlete, like a
ha sktball player due to inherit his
father's business somedav. The
grin is bovish, like maybe he'd
like to choke down a handful of
girrergna-ns with a glass of cold
milk. Ne sells ballet the way that
ctr mqin in a credit oeration sells
furniture. with as much confidence
and panache, and as many tricks.
John jumns and soars and flies
thrnnh the air with the greatest
of ease. carrving his audience with
him. He really wants you to like
him too and he wants to succeed so
hnd1v that he drives full-sneed all
the time. And it's all for the sake
of the honor and glory of God.
John. a member of the Word of

that it gives him a deeper sense of
a new life, of the experience of
first finding God's love.
He gave up a promising career-
in-training with the Alvin Alley
dancers in New York when he felt
the spiritual desolation of realiz-
ing that he could not truly serve
God and his people in a life as a
professional dancer. He's happiest
dancing for small groups, for peo-
ple who know him.
"I love dancing for those people
who know I'm dancing in my joy,
r God, and in my gratitude to
him. When that's known, that's so
great for me. I don't regret giving
up the chance to become a profes-
sional. I'm using dance as a beau-
tiful and sensitive tool, as a gift
that I've been given, to give some-
thing back to God. That's what
dancing means to me, but I sup-
pose" he says with incredible nai-
vete, "that most people don't think
of dance that way."
'SIGHT NOW, HE and Elesa are,
ready to try the whirling ath-
letics of a waltz-like mvement.
You can see that John is going to
be more exuberant but less polish-
ed than Gary Schaaf, Elesa's reg-
ular partner, would have been, but
the dance looks very good.
Elesa is almost as lovely to watch
in rehearsal as in performance.
Her spine is arrogant, her neck is
ungiving, but the hazy tumble of
dark hair softens the image. She
rehearses with conviction, attack-
ing each of the stens and showing
them who's boss, controlling her
muscles so that they know too, She
is young and light-honed that her
determination is attractive - like
that of a young animal insisting
on learning to forage for itself.
John is not a pretty dancer the
wav she is. but he dances with
prore conviction and intensity than
anyone else in the group. He puts
as mouch energv into this plavful
rpehoarcal as if he were on stage.
Mot would steP lightly through
it. John gnes full out. singine a he
goes, chanting the names of steps,
counts and the da-vas-da-vas.
siasm and he's quick and clear
and Flesa nicks it all up like a
p'a'net nicks un nins. The two of
them work tngether like experi-
eneri craftemen. John does part
of wn ounnce. then stens back. and
wthen Flesa go through it.
John, dancing for the glory of
God. does a march forward, as if
ho were 'rring to his coronation.
Elena. dancing for Elesa, repeats


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