Thursday, March 26, 2015

Dance ensemble

Today was the last Young People's Concert of the season in Spivey Hall. This year, considering how hectic everything was, and how overwhelmed I felt, I have not made use of this great resource as I have in the past years. Also, due to large range of my children's ages, it was hard choosing a performance which would engage everyone. We have gone to three concerts: one was cello quartet, one was a children's opera and this last one was the university's dance ensemble.

My daughter was in playgroup today, so I ended up taking only the boys. I had to get gas, so we ended up leaving so early that we got to the university's grounds with half an hour to spare. This worked to our advantage. The weather was nice, and there are beautiful ponds with waterfowl. My kids often watch them through the window while we wait to be seated, but it rarely worked out for us to spend any time walking around. Today, we got close and personal to a swan and quite a few geese. The older boys spotted a bunch of turtles, and even a water snake. They ran around one of the ponds while 2 yo diligently collected sticks and tossed them in. I often kick myself for not building in this type of free, unscheduled time, especially to enjoy and contemplate nature. We are always rushing to and fro, always working around nap time and taekwondo and playgroup pick-up.

When we went inside the Hall, 2 yo decided to try sliding down the staircase on his stomach, just as he does at home. There were not many people, and I was glad not to have to carry him down all those stairs. At the same time, I felt that it might not be exactly appropriate, considering the decorum of the place. As we were reaching the bottom, one of the ushers approached me. I tensed up, suspecting that it has to do with our entrance. Instead, she asked me how far along am I and where is my missing daughter. She spoke about looking forward to seeing our family next season, with a little one in arms. I exhaled in relief. Maybe we are not that socially inappropriate. Maybe we make a good impression. Maybe people have compassion for us.

Usually the concerts involve singing and/or musical instruments, so having a dance performance was not something that my boys have seen on stage before. Additionally, there was a program this time. 10 yo looked at a black-and-white cover featuring a ballerina, and grouched that it will be all about girls in frilly pink skirts. I kidded him back, that maybe the tutu will be white, or black, or pale blue. He browsed through the program and then tapped me excitedly: one of the dances was set to The Piano Guys' Code Name Vivaldi. My husband recently introduced boys to The Piano Guys, and they have been obsessing over it.

This is a college-level dance program, but, as the choreographer explained, it is a fairly new program on campus, less than three years old. Consequently, it was obvious that we did not have professional ballerinas and dancers performing; rather, students who chose to take a dance class. What struck me is how diverse were their body types. Often, when one watches ballet, or even back-up dancers in music videos, it is easy to assume that one has to be emaciated-looking in order to dance. Now these ladies were voluptuous. Some might have even qualified as obese. Some were petite, but there was no uniformity to them. Yet they all danced with passion and with grace. They all knew how to move to the music, and how to enjoy themselves. It did not look ridiculous, it looked like great fun. And there were no pink frilly tutus. There were body suits, and off-the shoulder leotards. There was jiggling of flesh; there was movement and confidence. I am glad that my boys got to see these real human bodies moving, instead of glossed and polished versions on TV, or in a professional program.

My daughter is finishing her year of ballet and tap. There is going to be a recital and all the hoopla that comes with it. One thing that bothered me from the first day about ballet was how much emphasis is placed on appearance, on wearing the matching outfits, on staying in line, etc. My reasoning for signing her up (she was asking for it) was to get this ballerina dream out of her system when she is young, and then move on to some activity which requires less emphasis on appearance. After watching the young ladies on stage today move their bodies with confidence despite lack of uniform appearance might make me reconsider. No, I am not plotting a dance career for my daughter, but I want her to be confident that her body can do wondrous things, despite the body type and appearance.

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