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Basketball, Singing, Ice Skating, and Yes, Art!


The US Basketball Team, referred to as the “Dream Team” in the 1996 Olympics, featured almost entirely National Basketball Association professional players.  The power and skill the Dream Team exhibited helped them to beat every team with wide margins.  The US scored 96-68 against Argentina; 87 to 54 against Angola; 104 to 82 against Lithuania; 133-70 against China; 102-71 against Croatia.  For the gold medal match against Yugoslavia, the US finished 95 to 69.

 

 

 

 

I remember having a discussion with a friend of mine, a high school athletic coach who regarded the unfairness of the pro players participating in the Olympics.  I had the pleasure of watching the Dream Team compete against Argentina.  The young Argentina players were at first somewhat dazed by the incredible force they were about to reckon with.  At first they seemed to be completely bowled over by the power of their opponents.  Slowly I watched how their personal best emerged.  What an incredible chance they were having – this rare opportunity to play against the world’s greatest players.  Within minutes their skill improved.  They were taking bold shots at the basket and more aggressive moves against their opponents.  For me this was a lesson about inspiration through the power of example.

 

Have I seen this type of inspiration before? Yes, many times.  I attended a Franco Zaffirelli production at the Metropolitan Opera of Turandot starring non other than the famed Luciano Pavarotti as Calef and Jane Eaglen in the title role.  Eaglen’s large soprano voice did not seem to command the music as was so eagerly anticipated.  The first scene seemed to lack the luster of other Met sopranos.  I sat quietly in my seat waiting for the moment to begin.  When Pavarotti appeared in the second act and powered his way through the scene, Jane Eaglen seemed to become a new singer.  Together on stage the magic began.  Their voices playing off each other, begging each other to be more, to make more of the moment.  And so it happened, the miracle of inspiration was born again.

 

I have seen this happen before, singers helping each other to be more than they can be.  The new child prodigy, Jackie Evancho – the 10-year-old crossover opera singer – did a duet with Sarah Brightman and another with Barbara Streisand.  Were my ears playing tricks on me? Or did Jackie’s voice develop in that instance of combined inspiration?  What magic erupted as she rubbed shoulders with greatness and soon thrilled her audience with “Nessum Dorma.”

(More about Jackie here: http://www.myplaydirect.com/jackie-evancho/details/25779654)

 

 

Just last week, I took my ten-year-old granddaughter ice-skating. It was not a real ice rink, but one of those Synthetic Ice Rinks that make themselves available in the various malls. The rink manager gave her a half-hour lesson during which time she fell at least five times.  She soon mastered the getting up and managed to skate the length of the rink without a fall.  Another child about the same age took the ice.  She had the same half-hour lesson, but soon zipped around the ice quite free spirited.  My granddaughter hobbled her way to me exclaiming her dismay over her lack of skill while the other little girl was already training for the Olympics!  I did not need to say anything, for my granddaughter’s competitive spirit once inspired, fueled her athletic prowess.  Soon like a dancer, she whirled around the ice. Inspiration once again became the great teacher and friend.

 

To all my students and colleagues, and to all my friends, I pray for your miracle of inspiration this summer.  Perhaps you will be inspired to try a triple flip off the diving board, take a ride on a motorcycle, or learn to paint like the masters.  I wish for you a muse – something or someone to inspire your creative endeavors and help you rise to great heights – heights that reach beyond your imagination and cause you to cheer at your own attempt at excellence.  An achievement that will have you exclaim as Calef did in Turandot’s famous aria, Nessum Dorma,All’alba vincerr vincerincerr” – At dawn I shall win!!

God bless and Happy 4th of July.  OM

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