The following is the introduction to my speech “My Life in Leotards.” Stay tuned for more to come or better yet, sign up for my newsletter to be kept in the loop.
Imagine you’re in Times Square. The square is normally bustling but today the city has been evacuated a mile in every direction by 2,500 combat ready soldiers. Surrounded by tanks, military vehicles, helicopters circling and snipers on the roofs. Overhead, air force jets spray the clouds with dry ice to stave off the rain. Just yesterday the street where you stand was filled with tourists but now it looks like a war zone.
But it’s not Times Square – it’s Palace Square, St. Petersburg, Russia and it’s not a war zone but preparation for the Paul McCartney concert. And I am the opening act.
The doors opened. One hundred thousand people had come — so many that my eyes couldn’t see the end. They came to see a Beatle for the very first time. Banned from the former Soviet Union, a Beatles album’s went for half a month’s salary, a price that many of these fans bravely paid, despite the threat of imprisonment for simply playing it. As popular in Russia as they were at home, the Beatles’ rebellious style stirred a cultural revolution that is said to have contributed to the fall of communism.
At age five I shed my first tears of joy dancing with my closest friends to the Beatles “Here Comes the Sun”. My life came full circle that summer night when I found myself back in my happy place, dancing alone before a sea of humanity in Palace Square. One hundred thousand and one of us all crying… for the joy of music, the gift of freedom, and the love of life
Welcome to a day in my life as an aerialist.