When I was a little girl I used to dance nearly every day.
I spent hours with the CD player blasting Strauss waltzes or Tschaikowsky ballets like The Nutcracker and Swan Lake. I pretended I was a prima ballerina. It was supremely satisfying. We had a little television set used to play VHS tapes. One of those tapes was a full length recording of the New York City Ballet’s version of The Nutcracker. I watched that over and over again and was inspired. I think that was the genesis of this fascination with nimble leaps and precise pirouettes. But the physical movement and finesse was just a part of it since I also loved the music of the ballet. It woke up my imagination in passionate ways that could only be expressed by my six year old heart in dance.
I didn’t take any lessons. I would have liked to, probably, but I don’t think I even knew they existed. I did have the vague notion that there were dancing masters in the world and they would be looking for talent. A very clear memory I have is of practicing some scissor-kick kind of move that demonstrated my powerful leaping ability down the aisles of a grocery store. My Mom and younger brother would have been examining the MJB coffee cans. I don’t know what my Mom thought of me doing that, but I remember thinking that there surely was a world renowned dancing master in that grocery store. He would be nearly 77. He would be from Poland or Russia, and would have immigrated for a better life to quiet Hoquiam, Washington on the west coast of the United States. One day he would be at the Thriftway buying beets. He would glance up to see me leaping down the aisle and he would stop in amazement.
“I have never seen such incredible form! Who is that young lady? I must meet her. She will be my new prima ballerina. The world will be in awe!” He would speak in English with a rich, exotic accent. I would blush as my Mom claimed me as her own. My brother would watch dumbfounded as his sister’s talent was announced.
I waited for years for that event to happen. And funnily enough, something like it did just last week. These early ballerina longings have laid dormant in my heart for over thirty years. I still dance. At home. With or without my two children. The magic of the ballet and the sheer joy of physical expression still makes my heart pound. So do the extra weight and aging knees. I see this joy of moving to incredible music in my daughter and son, both. My little girl is nearly four years old and she will dance with deep emotion. You know, like it matters.
We went to a concert at a local hall especially for children. It was designed for dancing to the live classical music. It’s also a lunch concert, so after eating her cheese, crackers and banana, I told her that she could go up and dance if she liked. At the front of the room was a cleared space for the young children. No one else had started but Sammi walked gracefully and quietly up to the front.
A flute trio was playing some delightfully frothy piece and she began to move around to the sounds. It really was humorous and delightful to me to see how freely she began, and how she didn’t mind the rows of adults seated behind the dancing zone. She continued on through the rest of the concert, as eventually other children went up and danced too.
During the last piece of music I was standing on the sidelines when an older gentleman motioned to me.
“Is that your little girl, there?” he asked, pointing to Sammi. His accent was richly exotic. Definitely eastern European. Something nudged the ballerina dormant in the background of my mind.
“She really is incredible. I think she could be a wonderful dancer.”
Doesn’t that just beat all? I am not making this up. And no, I didn't confirm that he was a retired ballet maestro. I also didn't register her immediately for dance classes. I think it’s enough for her to find her way in our dining room, and the occasional child’s concert, for now. But this vignette makes me happy! And really, isn’t it incredible how our Father does these little things to make us scratch our heads, smile, maybe even grow a little sad, and yet see our way to keeping joi de vivre?