With the end of summer and the beginning of school comes the start of a new ballet season – hours in the studio for my daughter; hours of donated time for me; and the anticipation of the latest and greatest Nutcracker performance. Each performance, is different and dependent upon the skills of the dancers. I have not shared the story below with many – but after reading Aileen and Katie this morning, I wanted to share the beauty of my daughter – how it sown during one of her Nutcracker performances.
“She’s crying.” My mom says from the seat to my left as we sit in the front row watching my daughter perform in her eighth Nutcracker. It is the party scene – a scene she loves, and one she has anticipated for months.
“She’s crying.” The family friend says from my right. She sits in her green dress with classmates attempting to comfort her as the scene continues.
Tears drip from her eyes as she dances. She hits her moves, does her part, and performs the best she can.
I sit in the audience watching and wondering what has brought my dancer to tears. She loves being on stage and has since her first performance years ago. Curls in her hair, I remember her making her way with the other tiny dancers, attention focused more on mom in the audience over the moves or the music.
I have watched her perform many times. Watched her transform from soldier to duckling to gingersnap. Witnessed her transformation from a bouncy toddler to a dramatic dancer with wonderful lines. She sparkles on stage, reveling in the art as much as the costumes and the theater craft.
Yet this year and this performance… tears. She didn’t sneak a wave or delight in the swirl of her skirt. She cried silently and left the three of us in the front row wondering and watching.
Party scene completed, she dashed off to become a soldier and to find a bit of a smile and the comfort in a new part a bit more removed in time and place from the events of minutes passed.
Intermission found me weaving through parents and guests, rushing to her side to give her a hug. She smiled from within a new costume, a new hair piece arranged in her hair, a new attitude ready for the second half.
And I hugged her.
I pulled my nearly ten year old daughter and my favorite dancer into my embrace and held on tightly.
Tears crowded the corners of my eyes as I told her just how beautiful she is; just how proud of her I am.
“But they made me go on stage.”
“They encouraged you to go on stage. You chose to walk out. You chose to dance. You chose to do your best despite the frustration and the tears. You chose!”
Big eyes looked at me as I peered down. Beauty, beauty of spirit, beauty of courage, beauty of professionalism.
My daughter went on to perform beautifully for the rest of the night and the performance that followed on Sunday. She smiled and charmed and delighted as only she could. She looked beautiful on stage – just as she did off stage.
I found myself proud of her throughout both days, but the test of spirit and the beauty of her soul shown most brightly that Saturday night.
Beauty can be found in everything – from the natural to the created to the inspired. Sometimes we have to look a bit harder and open our hearts a bit more to see it, but beauty is everywhere. That Saturday night, as over a hundred people watched, my daughter demonstrated beauty of another sort entirely – courage, professionalism, and teamwork. She exhibited beauty that inspired.