13 June 2009

Dance recital

Gee, I know it is a serious cliché, (and what exactly is the cliche I wonder now? ) but I spent the afternoon at a dance recital for school-age children. My child was one of the performers. The performance began at 1:30p (a half-hour late) and we left at 4:30p with still some dances yet to be performed—at least 1/3 of the show, with the permission and in the accompaniment of our daughter. It was the first Spring-like day here in weeks.

The cliché concerns mostly the younger dancers, those say, from four to seven years old. Oh, they appear on stage in their costumes and incredible smiles—forced embarrased—and I cannot help but smile. And they flutter about the stage (one choreographed arrangement was entitled “Butterfly) flapping their arms and turning about awkwardly and stumblingly in only half-remembered steps. Its almost painful, but I think the pain is all in the adult who knows that most of the movement is hardly part of the routine. The music ends and each child bows proudly. And the adults applaud in pride and in boredom. Everyone looks at the program: 22 more to go!

The older children (ah, my daughter) look heading toward grace. As far as I now understand it, dance is all about movement of the body—movement of the body with and in grace—and even as this performance, there were moments of real beauty as the body moved gracefully and in grace. And this form of grace in my daughter is not familiar to me, and I felt wonderment and pride at her movements. It’s like when she plays for the violin recitals: I recognize the flat notes, but I don’t hear them.

I think those of us in the audience are uplifted more by the effort than by the product. About the product, we mostly couldn’t care; I don’t think I expect to be transformed by the art, but it is possible that our children’s effort changes us.

Maybe schools should follow this model.


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