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Terez Mertes

A different kind of art

June 19, 2008 at 1:13 PM

My current novel-in-progress (lovingly and somewhat baudily referred to as my NIP) is set in the world of contemporary ballet, as opposed to novel #2, which was set in the classical music world and is indeed what brought me to in the first place. It is a different experience writing about ballet dancers instead of violinists. For starters, I have twenty years' experience in being a ballet dancer, compared to three years with the violin, which, at the time of commencing novel #2, was hovering around zero experience. Why I should have chosen to write about something I had no knowledge of is one of life's great mysteries. When the muse calls, though, you don't question, you just scramble to catch what she dispenses.

But now, this. The ballet world. I'm back inside it, in a very different way, from those days when I performed, over twenty (gulp!) years ago.

Ah, the memories. They are returning.



Photography by Mike Manley for the Kaw Valley Dance Theatre. Lawrence, Kansas 1983, 1984

From Tom Holzman
Posted on June 19, 2008 at 2:05 PM
Very cool! I assume that that glorious female dancer is you. As I recall, the wonderful film about two ballet dancers starring Anne Bancroft and Shirley Mclaine, The Turning Point, took place somewhere in Kansas or around there. I always found it to be a very meaningful film about life choices, regardless of one's field of interest. Good luck with your new novel. I am not sure we at can be of much help.
From Terez Mertes
Posted on June 19, 2008 at 2:23 PM
Tom - yup, that be me. And hey, I had no idea The Turning Point took place in the Midwest. Then again, I guess when Shirley and hub left the exotic NYC dance world behind, they headed toward mainstream suburbia, which I'd say describes much of Kansas and the Midwest. (Yes, I know, there is rural and urban in KS and other such states, but "mainstream" was my KS experience. Although Lawrence, KS is FABULOUS. My favorite KS town/city by far.)

The Turning Point was a great movie. It actually encompasses a lot of the same themes my novel employs. Or let's ask Anne - she's read my first draft. Anne, did it remind you of The Turning Point at all?

From Anne Horvath
Posted on June 19, 2008 at 2:30 PM
Nice pics!

I have a tremendous respect for ballet dancers. It is the toughest field in the Arts.

Like Holzman, I liked "The Turning Point" a lot, but my favorite movie is "The Red Shoes"!

From Anne Horvath
Posted on June 19, 2008 at 2:38 PM
Well, "The Turning Point" featured a fabulous actress named Anne Bancroft ("Anne" with "e" at the end, of course!!!), so I think the new book really needs a character named "Anne", with an "e" at the end of her name...

(Insert smiley face here).

From Tom Holzman
Posted on June 19, 2008 at 2:47 PM
My recollection of where The Turning Point takes place may be wrong, but I think it is somewhere in the Midwest. If anyone ever buys the movie rights to your novel, you should insist that Anne play the role of whomever is the terrific female violinist (I assume there is one in the book).
From Terez Mertes
Posted on June 19, 2008 at 2:44 PM
Anne - all right, you've convinced me; just now went and ordered a copy of The Red Shoes off Amazon. (Gotta love those $1.79 VHS copies.) Do you know, it just might help me at the same time which changing some of the dynamics of my novel, for the better. (I'm seeing it now, maybe even a name change... Desperate Little Ballerinas

And as for the Anne with an 'e', I'll have you know I was so taken with the implied elegance of that spelling that I changed my middle name from Ann to Anne as a kid, and legally as an adult, when I got married and changed spelling of first, middle and last names. Well, the last name, from Mertes to Rose was obvious, but I got a three-for-one deal out of the work. And now Terez sounds like a Hungarian name instead of Therese which people used to assume, somehow, should be pronounced Teresa. Sigh.

So much nicer now. Especially with my elegant middle name. : ) And a Hungarian name.

From Terez Mertes
Posted on June 19, 2008 at 2:50 PM
>...whomever is the terrific female violinist (I assume there is one in the book).

Oh, you're good, Tom! You somehow knew I couldn't fully let go of my violin characters. In fact, the same violinist from novel #2 is in this one, only now she's mellow and happy. Yes, we'll make sure Anne gets to play her.

From Anne Horvath
Posted on June 19, 2008 at 3:14 PM
Besides being completely mellow and happy, I am absolutely unqualified to be in any movie. Get Meryl Streep. She is awesome!

I hope you enjoy "The Red Shoes". The end makes me cry every time...

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on June 19, 2008 at 6:26 PM
Do you still dance?
From Terez Mertes
Posted on June 19, 2008 at 6:41 PM
>Do you still dance?

I was taking a great local class for about five years, in a gym of all places, but the teacher was good, a former professional, and all of us (most of whom were little more than advanced beginners, actually) just had great fun. The teacher had to give it up, about three years ago, and I've never found a class to take its place - sob! If I really, really needed to, I could spend the $$ and the time and find something a 45 minute drive away, but really, you reach a point where you ask yourself what makes sense (particularly for a 45 year old body). So I do lots of yoga, an aerobics class, work out with weights and hike, and make do with that. But, really, losing that ballet class was another big reason to start up with the violin and keep up with it. It's my chosen art form now. (Writing doesn't count - it's what I "do.")

Some day down the road I hope to find one of those "perfect fit" dance classes again...

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on June 20, 2008 at 7:13 AM
Terez, you look absolutely beautiful in those two photos. You certainly look like more than an advanced beginner. I bet your new novel will be great.
From Terez Mertes
Posted on June 20, 2008 at 1:08 PM
Aww, Pauline, thanks. As for the "advanced beginner," that was the make-up of most of the class, but there were a few of us who had the coveted status of being aging, has-been, "I once was a contenda" kinda of dancers. : ) Actually, we were all well beyond prime dancing years, so really, it was just kind of a "wherever you're at is where you're at" kind of class. It was really a great class. : /
From Ray Randall
Posted on June 20, 2008 at 4:14 PM
Very nice pictures.
A few of my pro football friends said they were sent to a ballet class in
the off season to learn balance. They flunked. Every one of them. Turns out they didn't have the stamina to "dance"
and they finally confessed that the ballet dancers were in way far better shape then they were, muscles and all.
Oh yes, the team doctors told me the ballet dancers, pound for pound, were more muscular.
From Terez Mertes
Posted on June 20, 2008 at 4:32 PM
Ray - just loved your comments!

I always liked seeing the occasional athlete come into a ballet class, and the way they looked so much more respectful at the end of it. The balance aspect of it really helps everyone. It's why I encourage pretty much any adult to try out yoga - great balance work, exercising different muscles, and less challenging then a ballet class. Oh, and the men don't have to wear tights. : )

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