Village Matters


Striving for Perfection

ann christoph
By Ann Christoph

“La Bayadere” includes one of the “most iconic and breathtaking scenes in classical ballet.” Thirty-two dancers in identical filmy white costumes enter a dream scene from the rear of the stage. One by one, each performs a simple sequence—an arabesque, (a high extension of the leg behind her), arching the back, extending the arms gracefully in front, followed by a few steps forward until gradually the entire stage is filled. Each dancer executes this to superb perfection, mesmerizing the audience with the beauty and serenity of the “Kingdom of the Shades,” a view of the afterworld. A complete contrast with the frenetic activity of the preceding parts of the ballet taking place in the living world of imaginary India.

The performance I had the privilege of experiencing last Saturday at the Segerstrom Center was perfectly executed—scenes, music, costumes and of course, most of all, the dancers. Highly practiced in their athleticism and their expressive art, their professionalism and dedication to every detail—the tilting of the head, the placement of the foot, the holding of the hand so that all five fingers are placed correctly—are all essential parts in conveying the message of the piece. With colossal effort over years, these all came together for three hours of viewing, for the audience, a world of perfection.

Growing up in Catholic school, we were similarly trained to seek spiritual and life- accomplishment perfection. The confessions I used to make, “I fought with my brothers four times,” recited just the most easily remembered defects in my character. I continue to find that every day perfection eludes us in so many ways. A cross word, an imagined offense, a non-acceptance of someone who is different from what we view as the norm, the downhill path of imperfection is broad and slippery.

Now we have a political environment, nationally and here in Laguna Beach, that is concentrating on what’s wrong with others in the same performance, in the same theater. The lead characters are bickering and the performance is suffering. It’s far from perfect. “She’s bobbing her head.” “They’re lying.” “ Someone’s sabotaging back stage.” There’s no all-powerful conductor or ballet master to set things straight. We rely on each person to seek what is best and do their best to make a more perfect world and community in a harmonious way. The path may be uphill and difficult. The perfection goal may be like a mirage, always ahead of us but never quite within reach, like the afterworld in “La Bayadere”. Still, our living world will be better for our having tried.


Ann Christoph is a landscape architect and former mayor and member of the City Council.

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  1. Here comes sANNEctimonius Christoph with this week’s rant from her bully pulpit in the Independent. As always, it starts out with a kumbaya moment and then trails off into a passive/aggressive and nameless attack on me.

    Yes, I called activists liars and will continue to do so unabated. Anyone who lies will be called out as a liar. Pretty simple isn’t it? Oh, sorry you want to be able to lie and not be called a liar? You want to engage in political fact-free grandstanding to get your way and do not want to be questioned? I know all of you Village Lagunans believe the ends justify the means. Maybe your line should have read “Still, our living world will be better for our having lied”?

    Anne, If only you had been elected, we might have that “all-powerful conductor or ballet master to set things straight” We could live by your rules and everything would be just right! After all, only you know what’s best for Laguna. Don’t you?

    Why do you think the “political environment” has changed? Maybe the residents are sick and tired of 300 control freak hippies running Laguna with an iron fist after 50 years? Maybe there’s a new generation whose time has come to make decisions for OUR future? We want more out of Laguna! It’s not that we don’t like it the way it is, we actually love it! We just want Laguna to be a sophisticated, quaint, cultured and world-class village. Something you and the rest of your tribe would know nothing about.

    Anne, why don’t you go mind the garden that you and your supporters have been squatting on for the last ten years and let the new generation chart the future? We’ll all be better for it!


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