A few weeks ago, I went to go see the New York City Ballet perform. I was very fortunate that after several years I finally had the opportunity to see them perform, since the last week of their performance season was the first week of the WYA internship. When I was in high school, I lived and trained in Manhattan for four years at the School of American Ballet to become a professional ballet dancer. Ever since leaving New York, I had this lingering bittersweet feeling. I made it professionally, dancing for the Minnesota Ballet for a year. I continued to dance for a few years after this, and yet through it all there was still something missing. I desired something else, I just didn’t know at the time what it was. As I saw this ballet, and have recently been reflecting on my childhood experiences, I realized fully what I was searching for. Coincidentally, this ballet resonates with my past life experiences.
Not Our Fate is based off of a poem written by one of the dancers that performs in the ballet. The combination of this poem and this ballet reminded me that I searched for the answer to two questions: “Why am I doing this?” and “Why are people the way they are?” Underlying those two questions were numerous other questions; at the time I couldn’t place what I was experiencing. In my time in New York as a teen I met so many people, and I recognized that we in many ways are the same and yet in numerous ways different. I would very often find myself contemplating the complexities of the human person, without really knowing how to concretize my thoughts. Then when I would explain my thoughts people would question me and I knew that what I was experiencing was truth in some form, but I couldn’t defend it.
Unbeknownst to me, I found the answers I was looking for through my education at Benedictine College, and through WYA. I was starting to figure out that people need each other. Even more than this, I learned that man in his nature is specifically made for others. If you really stop and think about it, you’ll see that you picked up your love of dance from your mother, or your love of the bands Queen and Abba from your father. That you know 2+2=4 is because of your relation to your teacher. Man is meant to be for the other, to give and to receive the person that is right in front of you, or next to you. From personal experience, I have found myself numb to this receptivity of the other, forgetting what a gift it is to give and receive others.
And this is how I viewed this ballet, Not Our Fate, as these different people, in this dance, they were opening to the reciprocity of their relation to others. The poem coinciding with the ballet has this line that I feel beautifully encapsulates this reality, “Finding ourselves, finding another, is a gift unlike any other.” How beautifully do these two arts, ballet and poetry, encapsulate such a beautiful and fundamental aspect of what it means to be a human person. I see the richness of my own being as I reflect upon my past encounters with people that have caused me to be who I am at this very moment.
To close I’d like to include the entire poem, so the depth of this musing of mine on ballet, the person, and relation might be more fully demonstrated:
“Connections lost, connections made
They are not always an even trade.
Finding ourselves, finding another
Is a gift unlike any other.
Running away, running towards
Our fears, passions and rewards.
Moving fast, moving slow
We take it in or miss it go.
Living trapped, living free
Can we choose how to be?
Spreading love, spreading hate
Is our choice, not our fate.”
– Mary Elizabeth Sell
Written by Rebecca Bruch, a current intern at the WYA North America office.
 Mary Elizabeth Sell. (2017,September). Not Our Fate [Playbill]. New York, NY: Playbill.