04/04/2014 06:54 am ET Updated Jun 04, 2014


Celebrating a 91st birthday is not what I'm after. Celebrating being here is where it's at. Celebrating the air we breathe, the ground we walk on. I celebrate each day that I wake up and can see the puffy white clouds in a beautiful blue sky. I celebrate living in this amazing city of Los Angeles.

I just returned from an overnight trip to New York to appear on Katie Couric's TV show "Katie." While driving from JFK to the city, I realized how lucky I am to live in L.A. Living in New York in the 40's and the 50's to me, was probably the epitome of living. For me there was nothing to compare to that great city.

Now, New York is different or maybe I'm a different person. Both apply. I've lived in Los Angeles for more than 60 years and it's grown in a million ways. Intellectually, musically and architecturally, are just a few.

But I'm vacillating. What this April 4th birthday means to me is really, that I have grown mentally and physically and that I never stop loving what I do. Only one minor hitch at this moment. Someone has thrown me a curve and for the first time in my life, I am feeling real pain and I learned how to deal with it. It was an amazing experience.

I had a great opportunity, as I was asked to appear on Katie Couric's TV show (airing soon). Incidentally she is a truly great host and personality. A few days prior to flying to New York, I was feeling severe pain and I knew there was no way I could cancel this wonderful opportunity. So I made the flight to NYC and did the show, all the time feeling this agonizing pain. I had not a clue what the cause was. I stepped on stage with two other performers, a gentleman 100 years old and a beautiful lady 77 years old. So you get the picture of the premise of the show "how one deals with age." We were each interviewed, but in my case, plus the interview, Katie and I performed a headstand on the stage together and while in the headstand we talked and laughed and the audience went crazy! They love Katie and the show!

You ask how did I manage this performance experiencing agonizing pain? To my surprise, during those 15 minutes or so, there was no pain. My concentration/meditation was so intense that pain was displaced by the joy of the performance. No pain/no gain is a reality!

As a dancer, I've always known this to be a truth. But now, 80 years later, giving birth to this amazing 'out of body' experience was and is a beautiful and important learning experience. Unfortunately all that pain returned in full force! Arriving the same day/night in L.A. and going straight to emergency, only to discover, I had contracted shingles! Not the shingles you put on your roof, but shingles on your wonderful body. A word of advice -- get the vaccine!

So you see, it's still only a number and you simply celebrate life.

I've celebrated 66 birthdays in Los Angeles and they just get better and better!

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