Actress Zan Charisse in costume for “Gypsy”
Some of us have regrets, things left unsaid or undone. Perhaps in our younger, immature or insecure selves we hesitate. We’re unsure. Like I was during my days as a twenties-something version of myself living the gypsy dancer life in New York City. A few years ago, I wrote a story about those days…a story I was hesitant to re-tell. I was not proud of what I did, or rather didn’t do. To act on my mother’s wishes. It wasn’t such a big request. But I hesitated–and disappointed mom.
So, I blogged about it which helped assuage some of the guilt of not delivering a letter to a prominent New York City ballet teacher from my mother. Way back when, my mom was a little girl and the ballet teacher was a slightly older girl. They met when my mother’s family sponsored the young girl’s entire dancing family-headed my matriarch Calliope Charisse-after they came from France to live in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Mom (Virginie!) was their first student. In the un-delivered letter my mother penned, Mom’s wish was to introduce me, her-daughter-cum-dancer to Nenette in New York.
Are you still with me? You can read the original story here:
Then, this happened. Just recently it happened. And, it happened at the end of what had been for me a very trying, not-so-great day. Another letter. Only this time the letter came to me from the daughter of the young girl slightly older than my mother.
I was just going to bed and somehow decided to google my grandmother, Calliope Charisse. My daughter and I had been talking about her and discussing names for kids even though she’s not even in a relationship. Just Daydreaming. I suppose she was on my mind. I came across your lost letter and immediately called my dad. He was so taken and asked me to contact you to tell you that Nenette has gotten the letter now through me. It is a lovely tribute to my mother and grandmother. We are so thrilled that especially my mother is remembered as the amazing talent that she was as she was very private. If Calliope was Gloria Swanson, well then Nenette was Greta Garbo.*
Happy to meet you
To state that this letter made my day…is, well, a great understatement.
Immediately, I felt the presence of my mother, Virginia Mary Sarah Lohr Morgan and Nenette Charisse bringing her daughter, Zan Charisse–another dancer (and actress) and myself together through generations dating back to our grandmothers.
“Zan, meet Jean. Jean, meet Zan.”
Smiling with Love, Nenette, Virginie, Calliope and Bena.
And, not only that. I got to meet Robert Tucker, Zan’s father and Nenette’s husband. Little did I know that Nenette was married to the Broadway dancer/choreographer. You can read more about Zan and Robert here:
Then I found the original letter my mother wrote. And, after scanning it, they both got to see it. Reading the letter made Robert, and me even more, wish I had indeed studied with Nenette, said Zan.
I didn’t want to tell my story.
But, this is why we need to tell them.
Because stories make connections.
Somehow, my mom and Zan’s mom connected us. And, the best part is that we are now family. And, Zan, one of these days we will meet in person and make our mothers (and grandmothers) dance for joy.
Make some miracles happen.
Tell your story.
Thank you, Zan.
With Gratitude and Love,