Sticking to Knitting

This afternoon on an early 2015 stop at Atelier Yarn on Divisadero
near California, I was poking through yarn to harmonize with some
in my stash to finish pullover sweaters for new grand nephews. Near the counter was a slim young woman with a beguiling young daughter. As the pair started to leave, the daughter tried to persuade her mother to purchase some downy balls. Mother demurred, saying, “Make it part of your wish list.”

The mother looked quite familiar and I said, “Young?” She turned
to me, and a little startled, said, “Leslie.” Of course! I introduced myself and asked what she was doing. She indicated her daughter and remarked, “That’s full time.” Then she added, “But I am getting back into it. I’m setting Beauty and the Beast for Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. They’re performing it in February.” I exclaimed, “Oh, I remember it well. Terry Orr is artistic director, and Andre Reyes is there teaching with Dennis Marshall.” Leslie added, “Robert Vickery is there too.” All of them, alumni from San Francisco Ballet, who worked at one time with Lew Christensen. I was thrilled, having seen them all dance at one time.

What a nostalgia trip those few moments were. But what is more
important is that Lew’s works are still being mounted, and how fortunate that Leslie Young has taken up the baton which had fallen with the death of Virginia Johnson, causing many of us to wonder when and if Lew’s ballets could and would be preserved.

Leslie Young was a particularly winsome soloist with San Francisco
Ballet, one of the San Francisco natives whose training and talent
spoke well of what emerged locally, one of the very first Asian-American dancers to achieve solo status in the company.

Lew liked to tell a story, and he could do wonders. I think of so many of his works – the later ones – Scarlatti Portfolio, Don Juan, particularly – as well as some of the earlier ones – Shadows, Il Distratto, Norwegian Moods, Con Amore of course as well as Filling Station,and then Life, A Do It Yourself Disaster, a biting work if ever there was one, alongside his iconic Jinx.


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