My daughter tells me the morning of her dance recital that she doesn’t want to
go. “I’m not going to dance for the mommies and daddies because I
already did,” she says. She’s watching me to see my reaction.
“I’ve never seen all your dances,” I tell her. “I always have to leave
in the middle of your class. I really really want to see all your dances.”
This is what she wanted to hear, I think: she wanted me to beg a little.
She wanted the recital to be as important to me as it was to her. “Hmm,
all right,” she says. “I guess I will.”
“Oh, good,” I tell her. She wiggles a little, excited.
We arrived early enough that we sit on the front row, my baby’s stroller
parked in the aisle. Now the girls are lining up as their teacher
introduces their warm-up dance. My daughter and the other four girls wear
simple black leotards and black footless tights. I’ve pulled her pale
blond hair back in a ponytail, but it can’t restrain flyaway hair from
creating a halo around her face.
The girls run in a circle, arms wide, nearly crashing into each other a
couple of times. And then the near-miss becomes a hit, and Norah falls.
The other girls run past, and then Norah gets up and starts too. Her
chin is trembling and her eyes are wide. She keeps going, but she wants
to cry. Soon, though, she forgets the fall and becomes caught up in
skipping and twirling.
The music changes. My daughter follows along as the dancers plié and circle;
she’s familiar with the way her body is supposed to move. On her face I
see concentration and joy in what her small body has learned.
I’m so caught up in watching my daughter that I haven’t noticed my baby. He’s laughing. He’s delighted by the way the girls twirl and spin, and he just laughs. This is their free dance, when they can do whatever they want to. They want to whirl around and prance on tiptoe. My baby giggles, enthralled. I want to laugh to, laugh and cry at my dancer, her bare toes pointing, her hands outstretched.
Jennifer Hoi Yin Jensen’s essay “Improvisation” talks about the
vulnerability and joy of dancing. Initially scared of improvising in a
modern dance class, Jennifer discovers the joy of connecting body and spirit.
I feel that same joy in my daughter’s dance recital. It’s something I experience vicariously, but I know it’s real.
What is your experience with dancing? How has it
blessed your life? Do you see dancing as a fundamental part of the
Gospel or of Mormon culture, as the PBS segment in “The Mormons” discusses?