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Dance Fever

A local ballet studio had a one-night-only
show this weekend. They invited other local dance companies to
perform, and it was, for them, a big deal. With general admission
at five bucks, I considered taking the girls.

And I have to be honest here – after reading about it, I
decided not to take them. The reason is purely selfish: I’m a
dance snob, and after spending my life doing it professionally and
with friends in some of the best companies in the world, the
thought of watching teenagers struggle through Don Quixote or Swan
Lake was, um, less than appealing. So I left it there.

But then a friend of ours brought it up, mentioning she was taking
her daughter, and I realized I needed to change my tune. It was one
night, cheap, and something the girls absolutely adore –
dancing. So I squished my snotty standards way down deep, and we
headed off for a night at the ballet.

Here’s the deal – it was
everything I thought it would be. And my girls absolutely loved it.

I’d told them we’d probably only stay for the first
half, what with bedtime and all, but when intermission came I
didn’t have the heart to make them go home. They were silent,
and in their seats, the whole time – eyes riveted onstage.
“Is this from ‘Sleeping Beauty’?” Maddie
would whisper – and she’d be right. She sat next to her
friend, oohing and aahing over the pretty tutus and fast turns and
shiny pointe shoes.

Maddie’s joy, however, was nothing compared to Cora’s.
That child stood the entire time, clutching the two seats in front
of her, face peering between the heads on either side. She never
once fussed, or cried, or asked to leave. She never begged to sit
in my lap for a snuggle, or go dance in the aisles because of
boredom. She stayed through the entire two-hour program and was
loathe to go home when it was over.

I realized that this, of course, is where dance is most important
– where it touches people in a way they can’t
understand. Maddie and Cora loved the whole thing, and didn’t
notice if the pirouettes where shaky or the feet not pointed some
of the time. I’ve sat next to ballet aficionados at a New
York City Ballet performance and heard them discuss the
evening’s program knowledgably and discerningly, and none of
them appreciated the show as much as my kids did this weekend. I
have to swallow my snobbery and allow my children to go experience
the arts when they’re less than perfect – because even
imperfect art has the ability to touch you perfectly.

So I’ll be watching the paper for more opportunities –
local symphonies, student art shows, and yes, more student ballet
performances. It’s hands-down better than watching another
Thomas movie, and will stay with them a lot longer.


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