Stage + Studio, A Louisville Ballet Blog: “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” by Annie Honebrink

Christmas is the best time of year. Every two years, however, Christmas takes a slight back seat to the Olympics. Just as I inherited my intense love of Christmas from my mother, I too have received her obsession with the Olympics. I can remember Mom carrying around her tiny eight-inch screen TV from room to room so she could watch while cooking dinner or brushing her teeth. If Dad, my brother and I had something different on the main television, Mom would prop up her tiny one next to the recliner chair. She knew all the athletes, their backstories, and all the inside scoop about the events and the host city. Our favorite part of the Olympics was easily the figure skating.  Mom had loved to skate since childhood. My brother started hockey at age three, so we practically lived at the rink. I learned to skate nearly as soon as I could walk, and with the help of an enthusiastic mother and older brother, I learned how to glide around the ice pretty quickly. Dad helped coach the team, and one New Year’s Eve he opened up the rink for us and we brought in the New Year skating until our feet went numb.  

I have probably watched nearly as many figure skating videos as ballet videos on YouTube. At least twice a year Mom and I have a sleepover which includes the pull out couch, kettle corn, and a marathon of figure skating videos—new and old. As a teenager I was enchanted by Sergei Grinkov and Ekaterina Gordeeva—their seamless movement, captivating love story, and tragic end. I have never seen two souls move and breath as one like they did. I sobbed my heart out watching them skate.  

Year after year I am amazed by the human body and spirit. The ability humans have to push boundaries. Records are constantly being broken. There is always More and New and Firsts. I am fortunate enough to see this same beauty in my own line of work.  Our art is unique in that our bodies are our vessels. We are constantly pushing for More.  Striving to improve, never settling for less. There is no perfect, yet, that is our goal. There is nothing that compares to the rush of a performance, and there is something uniquely special in watching your friends and coworkers achieve goals, overcome odds, surpass the Old, and create beauty.  

The Olympics celebrate human achievement. I am grateful for this time to unite in our differences and similarities and to embrace the capacity humans have to arise and grow. This truly is the most wonderful time of year!