How were you inspired by the arts when you were a child? Do you have a distinct memory of a specific event?
My childhood environment was an embarrassment of riches in the arts. I am not an artist myself, but I grew up dancing and acting my way from Pre-K to college, surrounded by world-class classical music and opera, and a literal Who’s Who of the finest artists, thinkers, educators and change makers. Bouncing all too easily and comfortably between the stage door entrances to Philharmonic aka Avery Fisher aka David Geffen Hall, the Met, New York State aka David H. Koch Theater, Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall and summer visits to Tanglewood, I was naively unaware of how unusual and extraordinary were my experiences and access. Try, as I did, to avoid the arts as my career path – that was my parents’ territory – it came charging right back at me at the all-too-familiar “crisis of confidence” moment confronted at some point by nearly every college student. My entire, accelerated course of study maintained a laser-like focus on becoming a clinical psychologist specializing in cognitive and learning differences. But when it came time to prepare applications for grad school, I realized that in order to be happy doing what I would be doing every day of my professional life, my work had to connect to the arts. With only a single semester left, I raced to earn legitimate credentials in the arts that could at least get me started in the field.
My most distinct memory of a specific event was seeing “Jewels” for the first time. Perhaps as an act of early rebellion/independence-seeking, I gravitated to dance (Dad cornered music and Mom, opera). I think I was around ten years old. I remember walking in to the State Theater to see the performance (my parents were working at the time in other venues in Lincoln Center, so it was not unusual for me to check out what NYC Ballet was performing) , taking my seat in the first balcony, and feeling as though I hadn’t taken another breath from the moment the house lights dimmed until reuniting with my parents in front of the fountain. It was the most exquisite, spellbinding and visceral experience in my life to that point. Like an olfactory memory, that one still returns with the full force of its original sensation.
Notwithstanding that I am not an artist, in college I did have, what has turned out to be, my highest personal artistic achievement. The Hebrew Choir, which I helped to create as a freshman and then co-direct for two years, won the Georgetown University Christmas Caroling Competition three years running. It still makes me laugh