Friday, June 13, 2008

Greek and Hindu Gods and Friday the 13th

In the Hindu cosmology, Ganesh is the god of auspicious beginnings. People often collect statues of the little, elephant-headed god as good luck totems, removers of obstacles. Ganesh was the child of Shiva and Parvati. One day Ganesh’s mother ordered him to stand guard at a door and keep anyone from entering. When Shiva came home, Ganesh followed instructions and refused to let him in. Shiva was angry and cut the child’s head off. When he realized what he had done, he repaired the child by replacing his head with that of a baby elephant.

When I first heard that story, it struck me as ironic that this was the god of auspicious beginnings. Being decapitated and converted into an elephant boy didn’t seem like an especially promising start. But then perhaps the god of auspicious beginnings began life this way to remind us that often what appears to be an inauspicious beginning is an auspicious beginning in disguise. We certainly hope so.

If you are superstitious, you may think our ill luck has to do with our decision to launch our tour on Friday the 13th of June. In any case, we had some special challenges getting started from our base in the Detroit, Michigan suburbs. Valery Lantratov arrived fresh from choreographing and directing a new work for a festival for Aphrodite in Cyprus. (The picture is a flyer for the event) If you read Greek there are some articles on the event on the Internet.

This major job took all his time between his last visit to the United States and his current visit. So he planned to work on choreography for the students at the River City Youth Ballet and preparation for his classes of various levels in the week leading up to our departure. The only wrinkle in this plan was a storm that hit the midwest two days before his arrival. High winds knocked down power lines and our Michigan home was suddenly dark and quiet.

(According to the Michigan Public Service Commission: "Storms in Michigan's Lower Peninsula from June 6 to June 15, caused an estimated 720,000 customers of Detroit Edison and Consumers Energy to lose electric power to their homes and businesses for varying lengths of time."

Of course, flexibility is important in ballet, both on stage, and behind the scenes.

Cooking on the barbeque and visiting by candle light was fun for a couple of days, but as the power outage stretched out to three days, four days, and eventually a full week the novelty wore off.

Thank you to the Birmingham Unitarian Church in West Bloomfield, Michigan-- which had power-- for giving us space to play music, prepare choreography and load files from a desktop to a laptop computer. (Yes, we lugged the desktop to the church)

We rolled with it with a positive attitude and a sense of adventure, and managed to pack everything we needed by the glow of flashlights. As we drove towards Newark, Ohio for our first class, we got the call that the power had finally been restored back at home. We look forward to seeing the glow of televisions and that little light in the refrigerator when we get back to Michigan in August...

Dont Worry, Be Happy (O.S.T.) - Bobby McFerrin