Dance recitals and introverts: Dante’s seventh circle of hell
My eight year-old daughter, B, loves to dance. This passion of hers makes me smile, and I don’t mind our weekly drive into town for ballet class, where she practices all sorts of poses and postures that would likely snap several of my joints. It’s a low-key studio, with a kind but no-nonsense teacher, and it works for us.
Until recital. I somehow magically forget (kind of like childbirth) that we must annually devote an entire weekend to makeup and hair shellac and glitter and tulle. B adores this special time, in which the studio rents out a city theater and they all invest every ounce of themselves into putting on a show worthy of highlighting all the hard work they’ve done.
Putting on such a show requires “mom helpers.” This is where it gets dicey for me; I’m an introvert. I watch other moms awaken and glow amid the sparkling chaos. Me? I’m certain my eyeballs will explode when I descend the stairs into the 6 – 11 year-old corral. Every color assaults my vision. Squeals and giggles x80 threaten to short-circuit me. Things are shiny and yellow and fight-or-flight kicks in, and I have to concentrate to understand my daughter’s words. Something about needing more lipstick. I scribble on her lips, squash down the voice that’s raging against the idea of my eight year-old in lipstick, and I flee.
Somehow this year I manage to weasel my way out of working in the Dazzling Dungeon. God bless the mothers who thrive on that energy. I instead sign in and out the Tiny Tots and Sugar Babies (2 – 5 year olds) to and from their holding room as their harried and euphoric mothers race back and forth from the theater. There’s still glitter and chaos, but I’m in the lobby and its mostly blessedly quiet.
By now I’m sure you think I loathe this dance experience. And I do – most of it. But when I hear the Spanish Gypsy Dance begin, I slip into the theater and watch B tendu and chene and passe and pirouette, and for a moment she is a stranger. This experience ignites her little spirit, and she soars on her own, needing nothing and no one but the music. I am both frightened and proud.
The music ends, and my girl’s back, peering into the darkness for me. I wave and, though she cannot see me, she knows I am there.
So, is it worth it to me to trek across town to immerse myself in all things glitter, in this annual barrage on my senses?
You bet it is.