Sunday, June 05, 2005

Opening Night

One cold and cloudy day back in January, the Mermaid Girl and I went to the playground.

"I miss gymnastics," she said, balancing along the long skinny bench near the monkey bars. We were just getting used to the Renaissance Woman's full-time job, and we'd jettisoned all MG's formal activities except preschool and Hebrew school.

"You can do one thing starting next month, either gymnastics or ballet," I said. "So think about what you want to do most."

Her answer was immediate: "I want to dance on a stage."

And now she has. On Friday, MG had her dance performance, her very first time on a stage. Her older cousins Emma and Lila (and her toddler cousin Eli) were there to see it, as was her teacher, Donnica, who'd schlepped her from school to dance class every week. (Uncle Skaterboy couldn't come; he had a dance performance of his own out of town.)

The whole performance lasted less than an hour. MG's class, being the youngest, opened the show. Their part took 17 minutes; I know because that's exactly how much tape I had left in the video camera; it ran out just as the class, having finished taking their bows and chanting their "thank you very much" and presenting a bouquet to Ben the drummer, held hands in a line and disappeared one by one into the darkness of backstage.

She got to have her hair in a bun edged with fake flowers, courtesy of the Bun Moms (thank God cause we can't do buns to save our lives). She got to wear lipstick and a little blush. When the class burst onstage, it took a moment to spot her among the dozen little girls (and one boy in white T-shirt and black pants) running in all directions. I've gotten to know them all, or at least recognize them, in the course of seventeen weeks of peering through the window during class, but they were all transformed into near-identical storybook ballerinas in their buns and pink leotards and the coveted, only-worn-during-performance pink skirts.

That morning, RW asked her what she thought were the most important things to remember for the performance. "Listen to the teacher, and don't do anything wrong," she said. "Well," RW said, "it's good to try to do your part right. But it's even more important to enjoy dancing. Then the audience will enjoy it too." And she did. She listened to the teacher, she hit her spot right every time, and she radiated happiness.

My favorite moments:
  • The class chanting "Plié-means-to BEND. Plié-means-to BEND. Plié is a word that comes from FRANCE. It is a word that we use when we DANCE."
  • MG's folded arms and glower of disapproval as the chassé-ing circle fell apart and her classmates tumbled goofily on the floor.
  • The finale, in which the dancers pretended to go to sleep after their adventures with the fairies and the unicorn and beanstalk and the circus rabbit (they helped write the script for the performance): they lay in a line, each child's folded-up legs making a pillow for the head of the dancer next to her.
  • MG blowing a gracious kiss when she spotted me crouching up front with the video camera.
Afterwards, the audience sprinted for the stairs to the studios where the youngest class was waiting while the older dancers performed. I burst through the door carrying flowers, so proud of my girl. MG looked in my direction, her face lit up, and she ran right past me to her 10-year-old cousin Emma and jumped into her arms.

It's the end of an era, all right.

The next morning, MG woke up and started to cry. "I want to do another dance performance!" she wept.

We're stocking up on videotape.


Blogger Rosie Bonner said...

Oh my goodness, Elswhere. How outrageous that you ended up in this place, with this daughter. She is so... my gosh, she's just something else. Thinking about you in college, and thinking about you now, crouched with videocamera in hand, taping your little pink-clad, bun-toting, flower-bedecked, limelightophilic fairy child. It really reminds a person that life is complicated and mysterious and unpredictable, and none of us knows what's in store.

12:24 PM  

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