Sunday, December 07, 2008

Visions of Sugar Plums

We have arrived at the culmination of the dance year - The Nutcracker. This is D's seventh year in ballet and seventh performance. It is easy to see her progression through the other dancers, from the tiny mice to the waltzing flower she has become to the Sugar Plum Fairy she aspires to be. There are also the many hairstyles I have had to learn - who knew I was required to have hairdresser skills? The soldier bun covered by the hat was the easiest. The ringlets of the polka girls were the worst, I finally got them right for the last performance. This year I am sneaking by with the french braid, although I do wish I had practiced more with my Barbies as a kid.

Oh, yes. So many memories. Waiting each season to see what role she will get (she handled the disappointment of not getting Clara much better than I did), the gift-buying for her fellow dancers, the hours of rehearsal, the backstage dramas, the excitement of performing and the huge letdown she feels each year after the last performance. There are the tangible items too - the souvenir playbills I tuck away each year, always taking an extra copy for her. She also receives every year from me a ballerina ornament, knowing someday she will take this collection with her to hang on her own tree. I imagine her as a young adult, unwrapping and hanging them in first a small apartment and then later, sharing them with her own daughter.

I went to watch her evening performance. It is an odd sensation watching your child do something that you cannot. Where does her grace come from? Her sense of self? I spill food on myself regularly, trip and bump into objects I can see clearly. Am terrified to get up in front of a group of people, let alone move in a coordinated fashion across a stage. My child though, floats among the other dancers with a smile of utter serenity and confidence. This is her spot in the sun and I can only share in it by being an observer.

When I dropped her off for warm-ups in the afternoon I repeated the phrase I often tell her before practice, "Dance your heart out!" I usually say it as sort of a joke but this time it was through choked back tears because I knew that she would. And that someday she will dance away from me into her own life.


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