On January 19, 2012, I received an e-mail from my friend Jennifer Davis, a former ballerina. I had asked Jen to look at a few photographs I took of dried orchid blossoms to see if she could find a few dancers who could strike poses inspired by them. She was by then a physical therapist offering services to ballet dancers among other patients.
In the e-mail, Jen said she “spoke to ‘Misha’ (Milhailo Djuric-the Artistic Director)” and that he “was very receptive to” my contacting him for some photographs. And, she added that “he is open to any and all ideas about ways to promote” the company.
I thought long and hard for the entire sixty seconds and said I was in.
I met Misha for the first time on January 31, 2012, at 3:00 PM in his office at Festival Ballet Providence. The director of the school, Mary Ann was with him. I mentioned my idea of some dancers posing for me inspired by the flower photographs. Then, I pulled out my tablet with the orchid photographs and showed them one by one. I could feel and see the excitement in both Misha and Mary Ann. We left it at that I would go watch what they do, and he would think about the potential of the photographs.
Maybe a few meetings later, Misha asked me if I would like to collaborate to create a ballet based on and using my photographs. I believe he had spoken with Victor Plotnikov, the resident choreographer and they came out with the idea of the ballet, Orchis. It would be based on the mythological demigod, Orchis whose death gave us the flowers we enjoy today, orchids.
It was quite an offer! I thought long and hard for the entire sixty seconds and said I was in. I was already on sabbatical and left for Turkey for a few months. When I returned, the collaboration gelled, others joined in, music was commissioned, and Orchis was reborn. I was amazed to see the rehearsals starting with awkward moves and magically polishing up after a few tries. Then on the stage, with the huge screen displaying the slideshow I created, above and behind the graceful dancers, the performance was truly thrilling. One of the high points in my photographic life.
I visited these old memories because I have heard that Misha is retiring very soon after decades of leading the company. Misha, welcome to the Club Ret, an exclusive one for the retired people. You will be missed at the company, I am sure but you will get used to the difficult life of retirement with a few pieces of advice:
- You will learn in no time that every week actually has six Saturdays and one Sunday
- Try only to remember the important appointments, other than that, October 10 is as good as October 14!
- You will not be bored, maybe even busier than before, but with doing things you want to do rather than what you have to or need to do
- And, boredom is underrated and not easy to attain anyway
And, now about the opening photograph. That photograph is a photomosaic generated by using over four thousand photographs I took during the rehearsals, live performances, and the original orchid blossoms. And, Misha will get a printed copy.
I created it to celebrate Misha’s retirement and the successful collaboration that brought Orchis to life. Thank you all, Jen, Misha, Victor, Sonya, Toots, Alan, and all the very talented and graceful dancers of the company. You have all given me a gift that will be with me for the rest of my life. Orchis occupies an important place on this site.
Happy retirement Misha!