I was sitting in a crowded (and hot) auditorium last night along with hundreds of other proud parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and aunts and uncles. We were anxiously waiting for the stars of the show to come onto the stage. Yes, it was dance recital time and we all had dance fever!
The curtain had yet to make its ascension and I had some time to reminisce all of the times that I had sat in this same auditorium. My first dance recital was back in 1982 and I was about to meet my husband’s parents for the first time. My Mother-in-law owned the 3 dance studios and I was meeting her and my late father-in-law immediately after the show. I was nervous and scared. I wanted to make a good impression, so when the curtain had descended and the lights were dimmed and the tech crew showed up to dismantle everything, I got down on my hands and knees, in a dress, and helped to pull up the marking tape on the stage.
Ten years after the first recital that I attended, I was sitting in my seat as a proud Mama, waiting for my five-year-old daughter Autumn to make her debut as a tiny dancer. I still recall, 28 years later, how my heart was pounding with excitement and pride as she tapped out and hit her mark on stage. Her number was called, “I’m In Love With The USA” and I thought she was the most fabulous dancer in the world. The following year she added ballet to her classes, and she wore the most adorable pink tutu that fluttered and bounced as she twirled and performed arabesques and pirouettes. Again, I thought she was the most fabulous dancer on earth.
My daughter performed danced under her grandmother’s tutelage for fourteen years and I was in that auditorium for every rehearsal and performance.
Last year marked a new generation of family dancers to perform at the recital as my oldest granddaughter Mackenna made her dance recital debut at the age of 5. My mother-in-law had recently retired but a new teacher took over the studios and continues the legacy of teaching dance and stage performance. I found my seat in that old, familiar auditorium (it felt strange not to be ushering people to their seats). I had my big camera bag filled with assorted lens and extra batteries and a bouquet of flowers to present to my tiny dancer. I beamed with love and pride, as most grandparents do, and snapped over a hundred of photos. I thought she was most fabulous dancer in the world, after her Mama, of course.
This past fall, our tiny dancer declared that she wanted to add Hip Hop to her dancing repertoire and her little sister Althea, who was 3 years old, announced that she wanted to dance as well. Althea is a dancing machine. She dances and sings all day and most of the night- every single day. She moves and grooves and shakes her groove thing. She stands in front of a mirror and choreographs her own routines. My daughter drove the girls every week, over 34 miles one way from September to June to the studio that offers hip hop classes.
Last night, my husband, my parents and my son and I joined my daughter and her husband and the newest baby, Ophelia (little brother Declan stayed at home with his other grandma as he is only interested in farm tractors and monster trucks) in the auditorium for yet another dance recital.
I had my camera bag and assorted lenses and two flower bouquets. I watched act after act of other dances and then the moment finally arrived. My two tiny dancers strutted on stage and performed the most adorable hip hop dance routine. I was afraid that my heart would burst, that’s how proud I was. Mackenna and Althea (who recently turned four years old) are obviously the most fabulous dancers in the world. You won’t convince me otherwise. Mackenna then performed a wonderful tap dance number. Althea joined us in the auditorium after intermission (she was not old enough this year to perform tap or ballet) to watch her big sister dance in the ballet – and yes, she was magnificent.
After Mackenna had exited the stage and her performance was complete, my attention turned to Althea as she rested her hands under her chin and watched, awestruck as the other girls in stunning tutus danced their hearts out. Althea’s eyes were glistening with admiration, her body moved with the music, even though she was sitting in her seat. And that’s when it struck me, for all of the past 37 years that I attended the dance recitals in that auditorium, I have felt exactly the way that Althea did as she watched the ballerinas. I have no coordination, no sense of rhythm and two left feet. But when I sit in my seat and watch my tiny dancers – first my daughter and now Mackenna and Althea, I am transported to another realm and my heart soars. I find myself gazing at the dancers on stage, with glistening eyes of admiration and I begin to sway in my seat as the music envelops my soul.