I love Valentine's day. I decided a long time ago that I would cast my lot with the platonic camp for this holiday, knowing that I would probably spend more alone and would rather enjoy the love of friends than be in the embittered 'single awareness day' crowd. I go all out. I always make homemade Valentine's cards, bake obscene amounts of sugar cookies, and make cheezy/ironic love mix c.d.'s. It's great. This is not to say I don't believe in romantic love (I even won a tug-of-war for the romantic cause), but it's happier this way.
With that said, let me share my favorite platonic love story. . . that of Dame Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev. Margot is a ballerina. I wanted to ballerina once. For 7 years I gave my life to it, the pink satin slippers, twirling on my toes, the whole bit. And Dame Margot was my hero. I loved her. I even named my first cat after her. She was great. I learned in my dance history class that when she was a girl she carried messages across dangerous war borders to the French in her ballet slippers. . . hiding from the evil Nazi soldiers. She came from a humble british background and became a Dame, a prima ballerina. In 1961, just as she was about to retire from a brilliant career, Rudolf Nureyev- one of the greatest Russian dancers, defected from the Soviet Union and came seeking one thing. . . to dance with Margot. He convinced her to keep dancing and be his partner. And thus began one of the greatest partnerships in the history of ballet that lasted till her retirement in 1979. . . the year of my birth. Perhaps their most famous performance is that of Romeo and Juliet, choreographed by Kenneth MacMillen, set to Prokovief's fantastic score and available to see on film today. I have always loved it, and to this day that score is my favorite piece of classical music. Sigh. They loved each other. Despite the 19 year age gap, his sexual orientation, and all the odds, they were fiercely loyal to each other. Nureyev said that they danced with "one body, one soul" and that Margot was all he had, only her. So it was significant that on Feb. 21, 1991, when I, as an eleven year old ballet enthusiast, was in attendance of a performance of Nureyev (on what turned out to be his final tour) in Salt Lake City on the very night that his beloved partner died. I don't remember if he found out during or after the performance, but I remember him crying during the curtain calls, mourning her loss.