Have you ever witnessed something that you immediately realized could only be experienced, and never adequately described?
I did, and let me describe it.
It was the end-of-the-year dance showcase that my youngest son just happened to be a part of. This dance extraveganza is a long-standing tradition for our neighborhood dance school and likely similar to shows in any town with a tap class and a kid with a dream.
Or maybe any town with a jazz class and a kid from one county over, where dancing isn’t allowed – so when Kevin Bacon the kid isn’t angry-dancing in the barn to the cassette in his tape deck, he’s sneaking over the county line to blow off steam the only way he knows how – with a kick ball change, pivot, barrel turn.
As for our 6-year-old, he simply wanted to unleash his hip hop moves onto an unsuspecting world. Just like most little boys are sure they are born naturals at martial arts, they are also “natural” breakdancers.
The first week in class, Zach realized his “natural” abilities could use some guidance and fine tuning, so week after week, he would run excitedly into the dance studio with his new buddies to grapevine, learn the snake and spin an imaginary record to JJ Fad’s classic, “Supersonic,” after the teacher with-the-patience-of-a-saint explained what a record was.
And week after week, the hip hop parents stood squished together in the hall watching every rehearsal through a window while complimenting each other for being way more chill than those other dance parents, like, oh I don’t know, maybe the ballet moms down the hall.
Weeks turned into months until the big day finally arrived.
With the costumes on, the hair done, and audience packed into the theater, the rest of the afternoon was uncomfortably out of our hands. There would be no last minute hugs or gentle reminders of which foot was in fact, the left one.
My older son Jacob sat next to me fidgeting in his seat undoubtedly uncomfortable with the acute lack of texting that was about to happen for him.
Every grandpa, uncle, neighbor, and big brother who flipped through the program, likely said, “Forty routines!! What the – can’t we just leave when MacKenzie/Avery/Abby is done?”
I couldn’t believe it either. I would not have exactly been first in line for a ticket if my kid weren’t in it. I have no patience for talent shows on TV. As a kid, I could hardly sit through an episode of “The Gong Show,” without having to leave the room when things got weird or uncomfortable. The embarrassment I felt on behalf of the contestants was simply too much to bear.
But, as the curtain rose, my breath caught in my throat, and in true Colleen fashion, the tears came. I was overwhelmed with emotion, and my own kid wasn’t anywhere in sight. He wouldn’t be for quite some time; his 3-minute dance was 33rd in the line-up, near the very end of this 2+ hour operation.
But I didn’t have to know these kids to tear up for them.
From 3-year old cowgirls, to 10 year-olds tapping to Lady Gaga, and to the ethereal, lithe ballerinas who’d been training since they were the pint-size cowgirls – they showed the lucky ones in the audience what happens when you mix joy with talent and hard work.
These little stinkers were amazing.
Every dancer was shining up there. Jake, perhaps once the grumbliest of them all, sat transfixed. Maybe he was trying to understand the mechanics of tap dancing, or popping and locking. Maybe he was just noticing for the first time that a girl he’d known since 3rd grade, was not just a face in his class, but a truly talented, and graceful dancer… who was in like, 15 numbers. Jake leaned over during her 11th dance and whispered, “imagine how much money her parents had to drop on costumes.”
And there, close to the end, was Zach’s little group. They were an instant hit, and danced their way through cheers and whoops and hollers. Sure, the Gen X parents went immediately bananas when they heard JJ Fad’s signature devastating beats; but these kids were not just cute, they were having a blast, dancing their little hip hop-loving hearts out.
We didn’t buy tickets to see a parade of dance prodigies – the chances of these kids growing up to be professional dancers, were likely similar to those of the kids at any baseball field growing up to be Buster Posey. We didn’t even come to be entertained. We came to support our sweet, regular, goofy kids who happen to work very hard at their fun hobby – a hobby that also happily counts as exercise. We came to cheer and encourage and support. We came to be nervous for them, then excited, then relieved.
We also came because most of these kids can’t drive, and they needed rides.
13 thoughts on “tiny dancers: the show must go on…and on”
This is wonderful! Thanks for writing. Always gives me a few minutes of smiling.
Thank you Stacie!!
So cute – thanks!
Oh my gosh that was so funny and brought back many memories from my dancing days!
Oh, how fun! Thanks for reading!
Sadly, I have no idea who JJFad is, a sure sign of my “end of baby boomer era-ness”. But I sat through a few ballet recitals to understand exactly what you were experiencing.
Ok, sorry for the delay on this, but Patti, your immediate homework – JJFad on your ipod. Thanks for reading!
“Step to the rhythm step step to the ride
I’ve got an open mind so why don’t you all get inside”
Way to go Z-Boy!
Great stuff, Colleen.
So sorry for the delay Doug – but I’m super impressed with your hip hop prowess. Thanks for reading!
Hey Colleen! Speaking of “busting some moves” (if that’s the correct GenX “hipspeak”), unless it was just the rum down in Nicaragua, I think I saw an incredibly gifted and graceful dancer who could be in the arms of Patrick Swayze (wasn’t HE the one who jumped in the pool at the end of the dance).
Peace & Love,
Chip (father of the bride)
Hey Chip! Thanks for reading and your fun note! I’m still having flashback moments that go something like this: “Oh, no, I think I did the robot? Did I do the robot? I cannot believe I did the robot.” *blush* Thanks so much for checking out the blog Chip! Cheers!
Your blog is AWESOME, and i plan to spread it around the St. Paul’s Episcopal network back here. Also, if you get a chance, ask Lauren about the time she was in a talent contest (around age 7 or 8) and her chosen talent was jump roping. So her Mom recorded a song (can’t recall title offhand) and sang as Lauren jumped in front of everyone. It’s wonderful when kids have the courage to just do their best, regardless of what anyone thinks — and Lauren has always shown that same courage. THOSE are the kinds of memories I have that I can’t fully describe. But you capture the thrill and agony of these kinds of events, and loved your older son’s role in the piece. Love to John and all the fellow Dancers in Granada.
Chip (stuck in Twist-land)
I think this one is one of my all time favorites.