Saturday, June 12, 2010

Everything's Still Beautiful At The Ballet

Nothing like seeing your precious little ballerina in a group of three-to-five-year-olds prancing around a stage in white tutus and bunny ears to make you gush.  My daughter appeared this afternoon in her dance school's annual end-of-the-year production, her very first real performance.  This year's production was entitled BEYOND WONDERLAND.

There were plenty of students on stage at this production who'd studied ballet, jazz, tap and modern for years.  And they did some amazing work.

But I was all eyes on the wee ones, the ones who, like my daughter, take 40 minutes of dance class once a week.  I expected to be at least a wee bit emotional when my kid took the stage.  But the funny thing is, my eyes started watering the first time some of the smaller kids took the stage, long before my own kid's group.
There's something irresistably sweet and moving about watching little girls in tutus dressed as flowers or caterpillars or what-have-you, taking their first few steps on stage during an actual performance, with lights, music, makeup, and in an auditiorium packed with family, that just brings out the "awwws."

My daughter, Thing 2, was only on stage for one number.  Maybe it lasted three or four minutes.  Maybe the kids remembered about half of their steps on time, to the music... my daughter, perhaps because she's at the older and more mature end of the class, remembered more than most.  But the imperfections of the performance only made it that much more adorable.  And when she and the others got stuff right, oh the kvelling I felt for all of them.

My kid has rarely managed to get up and perform a rehearsed song among her classmates in preschool; nearly every time she's been asked to get up in front of a group of parents and do some pre-rehearsed song and dance routine at a school function, it's been a wash, or pretty close to one.  She's shy in these situations, and self-conscious.

But that wasn't the case today.  Maybe it was the fuss I made beforehand, helping her apply blush and select lipstick in just the right shade to match the pink bunny ears on the costume.  The care I took putting her hair into a bun.  The attention I paid to getting her properly costumed and ready to go, on time and in place.  Or maybe it was the many other kid performers, taking themselves and the whole endeavor so seriously.  But for whatever reason, today my kid got on stage and delivered.

She had poise.  She had presence.  She showed no fear.  And she was clearly having a blast up there. 

Dad was practically blubbering.  And he can be a jaded, cynical guy sometimes.

Thing 1, AKA twin brother, was riveted.

I just gushed for my little girl, for the sheer confidence she displayed, and her ability to just get on with it, no matter if a step or cue was missed here and there.   

I'm not saying a star was born or anything.  What she did -- and her classmates -- was far from perfect.    But it's not about talent, not at this age, and it doesn't have to be.  It's about taking a small step toward independence, toward being able to handle oneself out in the world. 

One of the moms who chaperoned, watching the kids down in the cafeteria and backstage while waiting to go on,  made a point of saying how well my little one behaved prior to her turn in the footlights, and after.  "If only my kid had behaved that way," she sighed.  (I'm sure her daughter would've behaved differently around another chaperone; kids always save their worst for their parents, don't they?)  That compliment meant a lot. 

But what meant the most was what happened after.  When we met my little girl just after the show, and her brother handed her flowers, her entire face was shining with pride.

She doesn't graduate from preschool till Wednesday, but the proof that she's beyond preschool was right up there on stage, and off, in Beyond Wonderland. 

Kindergarden, here she comes.


Alyssa said...

I must see pictures! I cannot beleive they are going to kindergarten!

Unknown said...

Maia had her dance recital last spring, and SO much of your blog was spot on with my emotions that day :)

Unknown said...

I feel very much a ballet recital veteran now. After all, I've done this six years now... my oldest is now nine, my second is five and my youngest just entered this year at age 3.

You'd think I'd be jaded after all these years... all the dolling up to attend seemingly neverending 2+ hour performances, only to see glimpses of them for 3 minutes standing, posing and trotting the stage in their tutus.

And yet, you have it right, Holly. The first set of three year olds gets on stage, and I find myself the sentimental fool all over again. It's not only the innocence in those young faces--it's also watching them discover what it feels like to perform before an adoring audience. They come out uncertain, a little scared; and they leave with a sense of joy and budding confidence.

My eldest has questioned several times whether she still wants to dance. She doesn't like to practice very much, and seems more content to spend time with school friends. But the concert comes each year, and she comes around to feeling it is all worth it, just for those three minutes on the stage.

And I'm glad for it.

Thanks for sharing with us. It's always a pleasure to hear your thoughts. Sorry to miss you in person!

Karen said...

Hol-Another fabulous piece of writing! You never stop feeling a sense of pride and awe and admiration as you watch your children blossom. Sam on stage playing the trumpet; Sarah on the soccer continues to amaze me that those are my kids.

Melanie said...

So sweet. enjoy!

William V. Madison said...

Oh, how I wish I could have been there!

This was the next-best thing, and we're grateful. But ... wow ... I wish I could have been there.

Anonymous said...

I had the same moment with my Audrey. There was nothing more sweet than these little girls in their pink tights and leotards, princess tiaras and tutus. It was sweet and hilarious, all at the same time. Wonderful post!