The only constant in life is change. Accept that simple fact of life or spend your life railing against the inevitable. You’re only asking for disappointment if you expect things to remain as you remember them.
That is not to deny that it’s heartening when you come across a part of life that remains as you’ve remembered it. This afternoon, I attended the late spring rite- of- passage celebrated around the country, called the dance recital. The anticipation, the glamour, the competition, the adoring audiences and the sweat and tears of this event seem unchanged since my own childhood.
I was a true Star of many a dance recital in the Western Massachusetts town where I grew up. Looking back at the old programs I still have, I see my name listed on the programs about a half dozen times for each recital, each listing announcing a different solo. The recitals went on for hours, as I remember, requiring at least one if not two intermissions. Parents (particularly fathers) faced it as a tortuous ordeal, while those of us performing excitedly went from one spotlight and beautiful costume to the next!
I still remember the heartaches and the triumphs of many a recital. My worst recital disaster occurred when I was supposed to perform a tap solo en pointe on top of a wooden stair box. It was a popular, if somewhat ridiculous and frightening, form of tap entertainment of the day. It was a Novelty Act. The night before the recital, my toe slippers were dyed bright red to match my red costume. Unfortunately, just before my “number” I discovered, to my horror, that the pointe shoes had shrunken at least two sizes during the dye process. There was no way I could stuff my ten year old feet into them, hard as I tried. After a period of tears, my dear mother convinced me that the show must go on. I had to swallow my pride. I dutifully performed a very simple beginner tap dance solo, on top of the small wooden stair box. Much like the box below.
It was technically way beneath what I was capable of doing, Performed en pointe, it might have caught the eyes of the audience as a gimmicky little dance diversion. Performed by a ten year old in tap shoes, it was my first major humiliation in life.
Today’s recital was mercifully well under one hour. The smallest kids stole the show, as always. Whatever they did or didn’t do was just plain cute. Wave to someone in the audience? Get pushed offstage by the girl standing in back?
Tug at a slipping costume? all adorable! Forget a step? There’s no such thing as being wrong at this beguiling age!
The six to ten year olds begin to show some proficiency in technical training by their second or third year of performing. They’re more self possessed. Their routines are a bit more complex and they’re still damn cute. Below, my grandkids! Lulu and Silvie ( the brunettes.)
The cuteness factor all but disappears by the time the dancers have entered puberty. You can feel their awkwardness and their desire to get this moment over, asap.
One dancer in twenty appears to have anything resembling enough talent and inner passion to continue this kind of annual display. However, the home grown audience is unfailingly supportive and generous. You gotta love it.
The kids collect flowers and hugs and cookies in the post performance rush to reconnect with friends and family. It’s an old tradition and one I hope never ever changes, despite what I know about life!