Month: February 2014

The case for fourth places.

When I was two or three, my grandparents took me to a performance of Sleeping Beauty, a sprawling, three hour long, 19th century masterpiece, at the San Francisco Ballet (SFB).  To the surprise of everyone nearby, I sat, rapt, through the entire performance. From that first trip to the ballet, I felt like I belonged there.  The War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco is a gorgeous, late Beaux-Arts grandiosity, all marble and grand staircases, but even as a child, every time I went there I had this feeling of calm.  Of being part of something.  At the Opera House I would grow quiet, still, watching the adult visitors swishing and clattering across the long echoing hallways and staircases, in their coats, suits, and dresses. My grandfather was a trumpet player in the SFB’s orchestra, so my childhood was filled with last minute balcony tickets to weeknight ballets and trumpet solo rehearsals in the living room.  I knew every score by heart, and when I grew older, the name of every dancer and his/her trajectory …