“Sell it somewhere else”
I can’t resist putting up one more ballet story from my great friend and mentor, David Leddick.
Remember, in last week’s post, David told us about dancing at the Metropolitan Opera and taking a class there from Miss Craske, who told her students, “Leave your problems outside.”
Here’s more from David’s book, I’m Not For Everyone… Neither Are You:
Miss Craske taught the Cecchetti Method, a ballet technique created by Enrico Cecchetti, who had trained the Russian greats: Nijinsky, Pavlova, Karsavina and many others.
She was an English lady with a high, piercing voice. She brooked no foolishness in her classes. One day my friend Betty Ann Paulin, who was a musical comedy dancer, was in the front row doing a combination.
Miss Craske stopped the class and said, “Betty Ann, you wretched girl, what are you doing?” Betty Ann replied, “I’m selling it, Miss Craske.”
Then came the reply: “Well, you can sell it somewhere else.”
At the Met, you were there to serve the music, the story, and the production. Never your own ego.
My first grown-up job was as an office boy at $105 a week on the Revlon account at Grey Advertising in New York. David was the Worldwide Creative Director. That was a big, big deal. He was such a great ad writer that his portfolio—the “book” you carried around to show what you’d done—didn’t contain his ads; it only held spoofs of his ads from New Yorker magazine cartoons.
David was around thirty-five then; this was probably ten years after his ballet career. Part of my job as an office boy was to carry the pages of ad copy from one star writer to another or to the art director they worked with. (Revlon was all star writers, mostly female.) I remember reading the stuff and thinking, “I can write this shit.”
One day, I gathered up my courage and knocked on David’s door. “How does somebody get to be a writer in this business?” David gave me an assignment. “Pick three existing ads that you like; then do the next one in the series. Then pick three you hate and do it right. This doesn’t have to be fancy, just scribble it on cocktail napkins.”
David introduced me to his friend Ed Hannibal, who was a creative director at Benton & Bowles. Ed hired me. So, whatever I’ve done or not done since then, it’s all David’s fault.