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Staying Young

In certain art forms, age is a sign of maturity and wisdom.  In the field I know best, classical music, I have had the pleasure of hearing memorable concerts by pianists in their 80s (Rudolf Serkin, Menahem Pressler) and their nineties (Arthur Rubenstein and Mieczysław Horszowski- the latter at the age of 99!) Writers and painters can also be found quite active after three quarters of a century.  But there is one artistic discipline where age is almost universally considered a liability- dance.  A dancer is essentially an athlete, and like our sports heroes, they often have very short careers.  So I was delighted to read in the very same week that two of my dance idols are alive and well and active, well into their 70s. Edward Villella, at 75, was back in a Miami Beach gym strapping on his boxing gloves, which, along with dance, were very much a part of his youth.  After his remarkable career at New York City Ballet he founded the Miami City Ballet and has led the group ever since.  Then there is Jacques D’Amboise, a year older than Villella, who is currently promoting a new book which talks not only about his remarkable career at New York City Ballet but also a second equally impressive career founding and running one of the country’s most successful dance education organizations, the National Dance Institute.  What is the secret of these and so many other active creative people who keep going after seven decades or more?  Perhaps it is that they always find new ways to exercise their creative juices – the best prescription anyone has ever discovered for staying young.

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