Linger LongerBeth Williams
By Georgia Finnegan
Summer thrills me. Its kaleidoscope of color, clouds painting pictures in the light blue sky, and the sun’s warmth on my Minnesota white skin make me wake up early and go to bed late. Summer’s early morning light draws me outside. I stroll across the grass, a cup of coffee in hand as my feet caress the morning dew and my eyes take in my garden’s cacophony of color. Summer’s beauty summons the dance muse in me to move, and like the American poet Susan Polis Schutz wrote, Let us dance in the sun, wearing wild flowers in our hair.
Summer evenings bring wisps of gossamer clouds tinged in a rosy glow as the sun begins setting and the moon rising. Hot and sultry days persist into late summer, but I linger longer as the evenings cool down and twilight, like a conductor raising the baton, signals the musical mating call of chirping crickets. A perfect segue to autumn. As a hardy Minnesotan, I brace myself for winter’s blanket of snow and ice knowing that autumn foreshadows winter. So I imbibe deeply in autumn’s cornucopia of fresh produce, the fruits of summer’s labor. As John Steinbeck wrote in Travels with Charley: In Search of America, “What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”
This summer, a global pandemic forever changed my life rhythms. No longer do I move freely from place to place, easily gathering with family and friends or attending events. Yet, I choose not to focus on my drastic changes in lifestyle; instead, those changes have challenged me to make room to actively move forward in researching a history of ballet in Minnesota. Two books in particular, The Ballets Russes by Vincent García Márqueza and Celestial Bodies by Laura Jacobs, impassioned me to begin digging deeper into my ballet research.
With exuberance I began reading countless ballet history books, searching for specific Minnesota connections. I reviewed personal notes taken from interviews with dance artists. I completely immersed myself in the past, enjoying all the historical anecdotes, stories, quotations, images, and primary sources. More research piqued more curiosity, and the more I read. I felt like Alice in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, hearing the White Rabbit say, “I’m late. I’m late for a very important date.” A curious Alice follows him down a rabbit hole; a curious, Georgia, follows historical research down its own rabbit hole. The more I research and read, the more I enjoy an amazing ballet history unfolding. Yet, reading and research must lead to writing, and that is where I need to again change my life rhythms. Now is the time to devote more days to completely writing; otherwise, I will be late, late for an important publication date.
Summer is my favorite Minnesota season, and even though I want summer’s relaxed beauty to linger longer, I also want to ready myself for autumn and winter. My new life rhythm gives me a glimpse of what the coming seasons need to bring: unadulterated time to write and let my research become my words. Once again, a new life rhythm is on my horizon.
Georgia Finnegan served as the Advancement Director for Minnesota Dance Theatre in 2017-18, and currently as an advisor to its Board of Directors. With over 30 years in the nonprofit industry in Minnesota, she focuses on education, and arts administration. Georgia, founder of Saint Paul City Ballet (renamed St. Paul Ballet in 2014), continued its growth and development for sixteen years, garnering foundation, corporate, and individual donor support. Georgia works with her husband, Erik Saulitis, a dance photographer, helping market his business, Danceprints. She is a firm believer that the arts, in partnership with corporate, business, and community support, augment the economy of a city and increases the vitality and aesthetic beauty of its community.