Dancers talking soul-to-soul |

Dancers talking soul-to-soul

by Ron Walker

I am having coffee with a very dynamic lady. The reason she isn’t intimidating me is because we are both dancers. Dancers speak soul to soul; words are incidental.

Sally Bailey danced with the San Francisco Ballet Company for 20 years. To give you a point of reference concerning ballet companies, if the Pentagon were set to music, it would be a ballet company. Both have infrastructures that are highly kinetic, volatile, and exceedingly emotional. She joined up at age 15, did her first Swan Lake at 19 and, from then on, was ever upward bound. Along the way, she acquired a whole raft of managerial responsibilities, which the Company put to good use.

Sally has danced in most of Europe’s capitals, went on three goodwill tours for the State Department (Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America), and managed many tours across America. All the while meeting with sponsors, working with stage managers, collaring young dancers, giving out weekly paychecks, and then, going up on stage and dancing.

As we speak, Sally’s recently acquired rescue cat has jumped up on the table. He seems keen on seeing if what I’m writing is accurate. Sally pours more coffee, and our innermost thoughts resonate throughout her tastefully decorated “villa style” home. Her family found a top architect and built an addition to their home for Sally. Their family includes Ted, Krissy, KoraJo (girl, 6-½), and Kenton (boy, 3). The grandkids have access to Sally’s home by way of the laundry room down the hall.

Sally retains full independence of her life, even though she no longer drives, and uses a walker while gardening. The more I listen to Sally, the more I realize she makes her own good fortune. “I take responsibility for the things I do, so I don’t have anyone to blame but myself,” she says pointedly, and then offers another sage observation. “When you age, you need plants, animals, and children in your life.” (Coincidentally, I become aware of the sound of cackling chickens in the back yard.)

After a 20-year career as a “diva” (my word, not hers), Sally withdraws from ballet and marries Robert Jasperson, an environmental attorney. One of Bob’s greatest achievements is rescuing Mineral King from the clutches of Disney, by taking the case all the way to the Supreme Court, and winning. (When you see Mineral King, a Western Sierra wilderness, you will surely cheer at his awesome achievement.) Sally is openly proud of Bob’s accomplishments in saving so much of Sequoia land as public land.

Sally is 40 when she marries Bob and, at 44, she has a baby. “The doctors were a little worried because of my age, but all went well, and Ted, my son, is the special part of my life,” she exclaims.

I am in awe of this woman. From being a soloist in the world-renowned San Francisco Ballet to marrying someone who achieved such lofty goals to raising a son, who builds additional living space for his mother, must surely be a track record for getting so many good things in one lifetime.

Ron Walker can be reached at