March 24, 2024

Ballet – Berlin – Art Is The Way

About the Author: Suzanne Wagner
By Published On: March 24, 2024Categories: Ballet, Blog Daily

Berlin – Art Is The Way

Berlin was a feast for artistic expressions seeking new ways to express themselves. Berlin was a scary and dark place during the Cold War with a chronic underlying tension that seemed on the edge. It seemed that there was something constantly threatening to invade this island of fragile peace.
Berlin was a place that tested me more that I believed I could withstand. And yet, its rewards were glorious!
I got to live in a fantasy world of costumes that were made of French Chantilly lace and hand painted silk from China. I got to be dressed in fur coats that probably cost more than my salary at the time on stage for winter scenes in Russian Ballets. I got to wear amazing wigs and headpieces fit for queens and kings. I got to be on stage with legends in the ballet and opera world.
I laughed a lot … but probably cried more. I saw my weaknesses laid out in a way that only allowed for authentic acceptance of those truths. I failed many more times than I succeeded but those successes were unforgettable.
I lived in a city that was isolated and that only magnified my feelings of aloneness. I felt the echoes of two world wars and touched the foundations of buildings that still stood after the Blitzkrieg, still scarred with machine gun bullet holes in their bases. I have watched the old women who survived the war, walking their dogs in the park like the walking wounded, shoulders hunched over, still contemplating the past losses in their life.
And yet, the light that carried the German people forward was their theater, their opera, and their ballet. That light still shines brightly as Berlin comes back from the brink of destruction to reclaim its place as a powerhouse of beauty and art. A position that it shared equally with Paris before the wars to end all wars.
Berlin taught me that art can save a people, a place, a city, and a country. Berlin showed me that embracing the diversity that art offered in Berlin creates spaces of permission for all to grow. Berlin is a force that still lives even after so many terrible things were done to it.
This city is a place of hope even when the corrupt governments in Germany tried to destroy everything that made this place unique.
Having gone back to Berlin many years after the wall came down, I was so excited to see the café houses open on the sidewalks once again. I was so excited to see all the new and innovative buildings going up and to realize that the Avant Garde disposition was alive and well in Berlin. I was thrilled to see the incredible dancers still performing enormous productions like Romeo and Juliet on the Berlin stage. And while I am of Austrian and Irish descent, being in Berlin, I realized that I am a Berliner somewhere deep inside.
That is because Berlin showed me that one has to embrace one’s own destruction in order to rebuild. One must be torn down in order to discover what is really real. One has to discover that we are an immortal soul having a mortal experience.
So, I celebrate this city that has been reborn. I celebrate that it birthed me to become who I am now. And I celebrate that my soul had the courage to dive into the heart of this city, not when it was its best but when it was at its most vulnerable. She showed me that vulnerability can be powerfully informative when honored and witnessed.
~Suzanne Wagner~

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