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Mommy's Budding Ballerina

Yes, I survived my first ballet recital
– at least, my first recital as a Mommy. And let me tell you,
it’s a whole other animal when you’re on the other side
of the footlights.

We had dress rehearsal early that morning, and I was grateful
Maddie’s three-year-old class was first on the program
–first on the stage, no waiting for the inevitable back-log
in the rehearsal process. All our little ballerinas were there in
their pink tights and pink leotards, each assigned a row in the
audience to sit and wait. The parents were assigned seats further
back in the auditorium, and as Maddie’s class was summoned up
on stage to practice, the ballet mistress turned to the audience
and politely said, “We ask two things during rehearsal
– that you don’t sit in this front section so the
children don’t try to seek you out from stage, and that you
refrain from using flash photography so the flash doesn’t
startle the children. Thank you.” And she turned and began
instructing the girls.

At which point the parents rushed the stage, fighting for the mosh
pit, and promptly whipped out their flash cameras.

We got quickly through the rehearsal
process, me stubbornly sitting in the back with my flash turned off
– some sort of lone protestor to breaking the rules, or
something. Then Maddie had the entire rest of the day to dream
about the big moment – not, mind you, the moment she would
step on stage, but the moment she would get to wear makeup.

I was determined not to turn my child into JonBenet, but knew she
legitimately did need some color to avoid a total washout in stage
lights, so I worked gently and a bit fearfully on her face, Maddie
holding still as best she could but quivering with excitement. The
whole family ate an early dinner, and it was finally time to Go To
The Theatre.

Maddie was to be dropped off backstage, in a dressing room for all
the three-year-olds. Already dressed, with hair in buns and ballet
skirts on, a flock of miniature ballerinas sat perched in the
holding room, simultaneously apprehensive and manically excited. I
settled Maddie into a spot next to a friend and took her through
the contents of her dance bag – extra lip gloss, Silky (not
to be used in conjunction with the lip gloss!), water bottle,
snack, and a packet of tic-tacs to calm the nerves.

Maddie seemed fine with the whole arrangement until it came time
for me to actually leave, at which point she grew increasingly
apprehensive, coming back for multiple hugs. When I saw the mood
was going to change rapidly for the worse, I gave her a chore
– offer a tic-tac to each girl in the room. Maddie is nothing
if not bossy and a good hostess, so as I was leaving Maddie was
running from girl to girl saying importantly, “Would you like
a tic-tac? They’re quite delicious! Please have one!”

I was determined to be blasé about the whole thing, but
I’ll confess that when she came running out onstage my heart
leapt up and a stupid grin spread across my face. The entire family
nudged each other, smiling, as we spotted our prima ballerina. And
as for Maddie, she was fantastic, if I do say so myself. The girl
standing next to her flatly refused to come out onstage, and Maddie
was completely unfazed, carrying on with aplomb. The show must go
on, you know.

And at the end of the piece, the girl in front of her blanked, so
Maddie simply gave her a (gracious) shove in the right direction
and everyone was off.

We were instructed to pick up the young ones immediately after
their piece was finished, so I demurely hoofed it backstage right
after she left. I didn’t think I was in particular hurry, but
it’s possible I was eager to see my daughter because I got to
the dressing room before she did. And when she came in the room and
saw me, she lit up and threw herself in my arms, trembling with
pride and happiness.

I brought Maddie back into the theatre to watch the “big
girls” perform, and she sat spellbound through most of the
act. As soon as Maddie sat down in the empty chair, Cora insisted
on climbing down from Daddy’s lap and snuggling on the seat
next to Maddie. I saw Cora’s hand snake around Maddie’s
shoulder as she snuggled against Maddie’s back and whispered,
“Good job, Maddie!” with obvious pride, and I thought
I’d break open in happiness. Maddie watched a senior girl
perform her graduation solo, and she turned to me and said,
“When do I get to do that dance?”

So I guess she’s hooked.

We all made a huge fuss over her after the show, giving her flowers
and taking photos. I think she floated home on a cloud, and I am
pretty sure she’ll be back for more. Here’s how I know:

As she was getting ready for bed, Maddie was chatting with Daddy
about the show. “Were you nervous up there?” he asked
her. “Nope,” she replied matter-of-factly. “Did
you have fun?” “Yes, I did,” she said. “You
weren’t scared at all, in front of all those people?”
“No,” she replied, as if that was a weird question.
Then she thought a moment and added,

“Daddy, I REALLY liked it.”



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