When Donnie met Vladdie, part deux

All smiles – sort of – at the G20 this past July in Germany. Courtesy the Kremlin.

All smiles – sort of – at the G20 this past July in Germany. Courtesy the Kremlin.

Well, after two indictments and one arrest in Robert S. Mueller III’s Russkie investigation, quelle ironie: President Donald J. Trump will be meeting with President Vladimir Putin during Trumpet’s big “if it’s Tuesday, it must be Vietnam” Asia swing this week.

Oh, to be a fly on that wall. No, really, to be a fly on that wall. Donnie and Vladdie tend to meet with no one but interpreters, the better to look under their eyes at each another and say  breathlessly, “It’s an honor to see you again, Mr. President.” Cue the theme of “Brokeback Mountain.”    

Or should we cue Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball”?

Of course, cynics would say that Donnie has to get further marching orders from his handler. Silly cynics. Still, wonder what are the chances the Russia investigation will come up in conversation?

Meanwhile, Trumpet hasn’t signed off on Russian sanctions. How can he? How can he hurt the one he loves? To put pen to that paper – oh, the stab to the heart.

A Body of Work Cover.jpeg

On a far more serious note – yes, I know how high the political stakes are but where would we be without our sense of humor? – allow me to recommend David Hallberg’s superb new book “A Body of Work:  Dancing to the Edge and Back” (Touchstone/Simon and Schuster, $28, 424 pages). Hallberg – a principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre who’s the complete package, beautiful, brilliant and talented but also kind-hearted – is the only American to date to dance with the Bolshoi Ballet as a member of the company (2011-14). He writes about all of it – his time in Moscow, a challenging town; being bullied as a gay teen and fledgling dancer growing up in Phoenix and as an American student at the Paris Opera Ballet School; and rehabbing in Melbourne from a career-threatening ankle injury that required two surgeries – in an astonishingly frank memoir that casts an uncompromising but compassionate eye on everyone, including himself.

This is a rare work by a rare person, one who from a young age has been comfortable in his own skin. It’s a reminder that we cannot allow others to define who we are – a lesson he passes on in particular to boys studying ballet, for whom he has established a scholarship.

Among his performances of note next year will be a “Giselle” at American Ballet Theatre with Natalia Osipova on May 18 – their birthday.

That’s the kind of Russian-American relationship we should be celebrating.

For more on David Hallberg, visit and look for my profile of him in WAG’s December “Exploring Grace-Filled Spirits” issue and at