When I was a kid, I started walking pigeon-toed — my feet pointed toward each other instead of straight ahead.
My mother’s remedy? Ballet classes. Surely with a few months — or years — of first position and proper breathing techniques, I would start walking normally.
I remember trekking up the hill from my parochial school to Margaret Scalfaro’s School of Classical Dance and pulling on soft, pink ballet slippers before standing next to the barre to stretch. Occasionally, my classmates and I would switch into a pair of hand-me-down tap shoes and made lots of noise as we tried to follow the steps of Mrs. Scalfaro.
One of my favorite pictures of my youth features my best friend and I right after one of my ballet recitals. We’re standing together, arms around each other in the seats of Hemmens Auditorium in Elgin — me in my frilly headband, leotard and tutu, she in a regular outfit. I was a little embarrassed that I was in such different attire, but I remember that I was glad she was there. It was nice to be able show her what I could do.
And guess what? I don’t walk pigeon-toed any more.
Just a few weeks ago, I watched my mom perform in a ballet recital instructed by the very same Mrs. Scalfaro.
Even if she wasn’t 100 percent sure she wanted us all there, my mom had quite the crowd cheering on her behalf: me, my dad, my brother, both of my grandmothers, my aunt, my mom’s best friend and her daughter, two close family friends, and even two of my mom’s coworkers — who made sure I took pictures of Mom … for blackmail? I’m not sure.
But after her recital, dubbed “The Adventures of Pinocchio” — my mom was a sea anemone and a donkey, much to our delight — it finally hit me.
The fine arts survive on the support of others. By definition, the fine arts aren’t made for practical application — meaning they aren’t meant to make our lives easier by creating a better way of life.
Instead, the arts have been developed for aesthetics — for beauty, for pleasure, for a heightened awareness of the wonderful and amazing things human nature can create. And in that way, the arts do better our lives.
Dance, painting, sculpture, architecture, music, poetry and theater — these and other fine arts are made to help us enjoy our time on earth a bit more, and it’s our job to support those who have the talents to share those pleasures with us.
This month, we celebrate the fine arts with stories about those who have followed their dreams and turned their passions into careers, sharing their talents with fellow McHenry Countians.
Our cover story takes a look at a Crystal Lake dance instructor, an author who lives in Johnsburg and a musical director, performer and composer from Crystal Lake who continue to perform and help others perform in their respective arts.
Kris Hall, president of the Woodstock Fine Arts Association, has spearheaded and coordinated different fine arts programs in the area for years, and we explore how the she and her family give back to the arts community in a variety of ways.
We even talk to several tattoo artists who share why they think tattooing is just as much an art form as painting.
Plus, don’t miss our summer reading guide; a look at different running trails in McHenry County; and our step-by-step guide to a fabulous summer up-do.
I encourage you to find a way to celebrate the arts this month by attending a play or concert, painting pictures with your child or dusting off that old instrument that you’ve been meaning to practice for some time now.
Support the fine arts, and enjoy your summer!
— Stephanie N. Grimoldby