Frank Sinatra and I have a relatively young relationship.
His wasn't really the kind of music that wafted through the house when I was a kid. We were more likely to hear some Beatles, Percy Sledge or Temptations tunes. Fact is, I probably heard Ol' Blue Eyes in snippets when I was at my grandparents' house in Youngstown, but it really didn't make much of an impression on me.
The first time I have a crystal clear memory of Sinatra involves an old movie starring Holly Hunter and Richard Dreyfuss. The story centers on a May-December romance between a 3o-something woman who's desperate to make something of her life and a much older sales ace. Their relationship is spurred by the sharing of a common favorite song - Fly Me to the Moon. 18 years ago it was a vague reference - I knew that Sinatra was a significant musician, but I really knew nothing about his breadth and depth.
Who knew that all these years later I'd be such good friends with a girl who adores that song?
GOP Big Wig, one of my eternally best friends ever, grew up with Sinatra and other Big Band music. I've seen her sing Sinatra at karaoke and dance to it at her wedding reception (aside: the Verdin Bell Event Center in Over-the-Rhine is a spectacular location for a Cincinnati wedding reception). GOP made me realize that I'd been missing out on a good thing all those years.
These days, Sinatra elicits a Pavlovian reaction that makes me want to gracefully shuffle my feet while embracing arms with a man I love. I grow giddy at the pitter patter of the snare drum, the horns and The Chairman's crystal crooning over lyrics of love and innocence.
Sinatra reminds me of a time when people greeted each other with courtesy, when people were content with life's little pleasures like stardust and warm summer wind.
My deep appreciation for the 1930s and 40s is a plus, especially considering I only became acquainted with Frank when I was 14.
I've been trying to make up time ever since.
The Cincinnati Ballet is offering a great opportunity this weekend to get in touch with your inner Rat Pack self. I know, I know. You're probably saying, "But I thought the ballet only did Tchaikovsky and starchy tutus," and if you said that out loud in my presence I'd probably knock you upside the head like the kid in the V8 commercial.
Ballet is ANYTHING but starch tutus and classical music.
Sure, that's a facet of the artform, but if you haven't checked out a performance lately, you might be surprised to know it's a lot more than what you see when you take Mom to The Nutcracker every Christmas.
This weekend the Cincinnati Ballet is offering Sinatra Suite & More, which includes four ballet pieces by one of my favorite choreographers, Twyla Tharp, whose movements are typically a bit more whimsical and delightful in nature.
The shows also include some Balanchine, historical Baroque dance and a bit of new contemporary choreography by none other than the Cincinnati Ballet's own Devon Carney.
I happened to stop by the Ballet's Central Parkway studios last week and got a half hour sneak peek of Carney's piece - I was really impressed by the dancers' sheer athleticism and discipline.
If a night at the ballet and some Sinatra tunes have the power to make me feel like I can dance like the Company, then those tickets are worth every poker chip at the Sands.
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Check out Cincinnati Ballet's Sinatra Suite & More at the Aronoff Center this Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
If you're a Cincinnati YPer attending the Bold Fusion conference Thursday, be on the lookout for a coupon that will give you $10 off toward your ticket purchase!