Sunday, December 12, 2010
Confession Friday - The Nutcracker and the Pas de Deux
Welcome to another Confession Friday....
I am not a dancer. That is not a confession, just a fact. Like Eugene Levy's character in the movie "Best of Show", I have two left feet. If I want my feet to go one way, they have the infuriating knack of doing the opposite. My family has been known to make fun of me about my lack of coordination, it is that bad. But just because I can't dance doesn't mean that I can't appreciate dancing and the talent that dancers have to make their bodies do these miraculous mystical things. I love all types of dance, but I am very partial to ballet, especially this time of year.
The very first time I saw The Nutcracker Suite Ballet was on television and I was probably already a teenager or close to it. I can remember being quite entertained by the whole production. It wasn't something that I went just gaga over, mind you, but I do think it planted a seed. Years passed and I don't recall sitting to watch it in its entirety when it came on. Also, I am not sure that there was ever a ballet studio in my hometown that would have taken on the monumental task of putting on such a production. The closest place to have had the opportunity to see it live, even in an amateur setting, would have been in Nashville. Let's just suffice it to say that my family was not of a ballet-loving background so we didn't go searching for the Nutcracker Suite and let it go at that!
Fast forward to marriage, my firstborn daughter, a transfer by Ed's company and a move to Milford, Delaware, about 20 miles south of the capitol of Dover. Paige was 2 years old at the time and was already showing an early interest in dance, ballet to be exact. By the time she was three years old, she loved to dance.
It was the Christmas season she was four and I made the fateful decision that would resonate down the years and effect our lives in ways we never would have imagined. As a treat for her, I bought tickets to a small Dover ballet company's production of The Nutcracker. It was a Sunday afternoon and we dressed up in our Sunday best as though we were going to a performance of the New York City Ballet. What a treat! With that one performance the die was cast. We went every year after that while we lived in Delaware.
After that initial event, Paige begged to take dance lessons and we enrolled her in a local dance studio for several years. She showed great promise and her teacher was wonderful, but then we had to move back to Georgia. Between finances and not finding the kind of dance classes we were used to, ballet lessons were shoved onto the back burner. But at Christmas time, there were a few times Paige and/or her sisters were treated to a visit to downtown Atlanta to see the Nutcracker. But the best times in her (and my) mind was the little company's productions in Dover, DE.
Now Paige has a daughter, my oldest of the Fab 5. Since she was 3, Erin has been taking ballet lessons. And is she ever talented. Last year, she switched dance schools and is now a student at the Carolina Ballet Theater in Greenville, SC. Part of the pleasures of being a grandmother is making sure you go to performances that occur throughout the year. For the past 6 Christmas seasons, we have made the trek to South Carolina to watch her dance in the Nutcracker. It has become a family tradition and kicks off our holiday happenings!
Last weekend was Nutcracker weekend. Erin danced in 4 performances -Friday night, Saturday matinee, Saturday night and Sunday matinee. On Friday night, Paige and I went to pick her up at the Peace Center in Greenville. Apparently we were running early or the performance was running late. We sat in an empty lobby on some steps, watching the monitor showing the dancers onstage and the strains of music were barely audible from the auditorium. After just a few moments, one of the lady ushers offered to let us sneak into the back of the theater to watch the remainder of the performance. So there we were, Paige and me in the dark of a back theater, sharing the Nutcracker, just like when she was 5 or 6 or 7. And then it happened.
The pas de deux of the Cavalier and the Sugar Plum Fairy. For those not familiar with French ballet terms, a pas de deux is a duet performed by a beautiful ballerina and a strong male ballet dancer. He supports her, lifts her, twirls her and it is usually the most wonderful part of any ballet, especially if the two are well matched and equally strong. There are many that stand on their own merits, but this particular pas de deux in the Nutcracker is enchanting and mesmerizing.
By now, Paige and I are so familiar with the music and the order of the Nutcracker that we knew before the music started what was coming. The music began and Paige grabbed my hand. Cold chills ran down my spine. She and I are swept away by the beauty of it all.
And now I confess -by the time the music swells and reaches its climax, I am crying. We are both crying. Crying with the loveliness of the moment, of the dancers, of the magic of the Nutcracker. My daughter whispers into my ear, "Mom, I can't believe we are sitting here together alone watching this just like when I was little, just me and you. Thank you for taking me way back then." And I whisper back, "I am so glad that I could give you that experience and memories."
So even though I am hopelessly awkward and cannot dance a lick, my daughter has been the recipient of a lifetime of love for the ballet. And she has passed that on to HER daughter.
Could there be any better gift than that of an experience with wonderful memories? Yes, being thanked for that memory thirty years later.....Priceless.
Make your own magic memories with someone you love today. Don't wait...time is fleeting.