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Born to Dance (for Diablo Magazine)

By Robin Dorman (

Marina Eglevsky was dreamed and transfigured into being by an old pair of pointe shoes given her by a stranger at the age of three; virtuoso Russian emigre dancer parents and their wondrous New York world of artistic privilege; classes at the Balanchine School of American Ballet; growing up under her father's outstretched wing at his own dance company; the music of Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, Mahler; dancing as the center of her emotional life. The dancer was also freed from the fevered world of dance, by a beloved Russian grandmother, who taught her to read and write Russian, crochet, knit, cook, satisfying an avid need for the young girl's serenity and stability, in the midst of a sometimes precarious well-being. The Russian maternal grandmother, Dosimova Sorokin, created for the granddaughter the deep ease of at-homeness she longed for. Young Marina needed her grandmother the way she needed dance. The dancer, a felicitous combination of opposites, loved and clung to both worlds. “I wanted to dance,” she says simply. Soon the dancer would carve out a realm of her own.

...Because Marina Eglevsky has mastered more fully than most the expressive vocabulary of the classics, in every role and every ballet she stages, the continuity of what she is passing on is assured. And Diablo's respect for a certain standard has come in the wake of Eglevsky; many other companies performing Balanchine prove that they cannot meet such a standard. Eglevsky helps the dancers arrive at a particular strength of technique and personality; she robes them richly in the ballet's language. She creates an uncanny sense of intimacy, of private emotion overheard. She teaches them much more than exquisitely executed steps. And the pliable Diablo dancers breathe new life into these classical treasures--their spirit and individuality coloring it. For many, Marina Eglevsky is the reason to love dance itself. One hears the echo of Balanchine.

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Fine Vintage, Rich Harvest (for Diablo Magazine)

By Robin Dorman (

At certain rapturous moments I’ve eaten, as if in a dream, food so seductive and intoxicating as to awaken all the senses at once--my mother’s kugel, an Eastern European sweet-noodle pudding, which sent me into blissful reveries; my grandmother Elsie's steamed potatoes, as delicate as fragrant clouds, and her velvety brisket, cooked with both heart and skill; and Evelyn and Wilson Roberts’s soul food masterpieces, which they served for sixty years at their tiny Cozy Spot restaurant in Hartford, Connecticut, and upon which my friend Nola and I gleefully gorged: buttery biscuits, cornbread, smothered chicken, mashed turnips, black-eyed peas, rice with brown gravy, sweet potato pie, and iced tea with fresh mint and spoonfuls of sugar. From their kitchens, these culinary artists, amateur and professional, turned out a kind of magic. To cook is to create a type of social glue. Food, in all its savory secretiveness, binds people together with the past, draws them closer, makes them happy and even gains entry to the soul. And the perfect tribute to good food is wine, a necessary tonic, a luxury, as well as a source of nourishment.

“There is a communion of more than our bodies when bread is broken and wine drunk,” writes gastronomer M. F. K. Fisher.

No sooner am I approaching the Livermore Valley limits than a sense of heightened surprise takes over, and with it a delicious curiosity that cannot wait to be slaked. In November, the way the light laps over the hills is like some heavy celestial ray, a light so rich and golden that you can almost hold it in your hand. In this sumptuous setting, you can begin to lose yourself in the way travelers do. In Sunol, a hair outside of the Livermore Valley, just off the 680 Freeway and amid a teeming urban landscape, sits the majestic neo-Romanesque Elliston mansion, completed in 1890, in the heart of Elliston Vineyards, one of sixteen wineries in Livermore Valley. Although lacking the renown of the much celebrated Napa-Sonoma vineyards, the valley’s wines are among the very best being produced in California, including a few that can stand alongside the world’s most noble vintages. A Livermore Valley wine, an 1886 vintage Sauterne from Charles Wetmore’s Cresta Blanca Winery, was the first California wine to win the coveted Grand Prix award at the 1889 Paris International Exposition.

This evening, Elliston is awash in celebration of the 150th Harvest of Livermore Valley...