As if I did not have enough on my mind this past week, I decided to do a mixed media and collage piece for one of my children's dance teachers, Mr Greg Begley. Mr Begley is no ordinary dance instructor... he was an original member/dancer with the famed Hubbard Street Dance Company and later, the company's ballet master. He was a soloist with the Pittsburgh ballet and a former principle dancer with Ruth Page Chicago. He now guest teaches for my children's ballet school as well as Hubbard Street, River North Dance Company, and the Ruth Page Foundation. And I am sure that I am missing something. As you might guess, he walks on water (in my mind). He has been an absolute inspiration to my son Colin. It is not very often that children get that kind of instruction and even less often that a young boy can work with a male ballet master. Colin looks up to him big time. And I think that Mr. Begley is one reason why my son keeps dancing. Imagine what it is like for a 12 year old boy in dance. All his friends at school play a sport. He rarely talks about his achievements for obvious reasons. Mr. Begley's boy classes fostered a camaraderie with some of the boys that dance at the ballet school (http://www.jsvalander.com/school/). And although those particular classes have been shelved, the seeds were planted (Thank you Mr. Begley).My girls have had the opportunity to work with Mr. Begley as well. They love him.
So why haven't I thought about doing something special for him before? A couple of reasons...first, Mr Begley primarily works with the company dancers at the ballet school and the oldest students. He does work with my children, just not on a regular basis (my children's regular dance instructors are super as well and we have been with them a very long time). Second, I have never felt confident enough in my art, to give a piece to another artist. Now that I learning not to take things too personally and get on with my art, I feel I can do that. And third, I had a really good reason to do something nice for him....
You see...Mr Begley also has several retail stores that carry a variety of dance ware etc... A couple of weeks ago, a fire took his downtown Chicago location. I felt terrible for him but what do you do? His insurance took care of most things but still...because I admire him, I really wanted to do something...Hence the piece you see here. It is called Swan Lake Variations. I wanted the piece to convey how I feel about dance every time I watch my children perform and also I wanted to convey how I think professional dancers and students of the dance must feel as they perform. It is a mixed media piece in the style of Misty Mawn. I really did do most of the drawing, done on various papers and then collaged onto the watercolor paper. I added color with acrylics and oil pastels.
I gave this piece to Mr. Begley today (6-9-07). I think he liked it and I think I really took him by surprise. Maybe I am nuts, but I felt so compelled to make a piece for this kind and gentle person. I am glad I did it.