The day of the rehearsal for my daughter’s first dance recital, the rain was as close to a monsoon as it gets on Long Island. My 14-year-old put her 4-year-old sister’s hair up into a bun and arranged her tutu just so. We left an hour before our assigned rehearsal time; with a seldom-used umbrella I carried my little ballerina to the car so she wouldn’t have to step in any puddles.
With my windshield wipers on their highest setting, I could barely see. A truck threw gallons of water on my windshield. “Freakin’ truck!” I complained.
In her toddler seat, my little girl repeated, “Freakin’ truck!” The kids laughed as I reprimanded myself.
I found the entrance for the Stellar Arts Center and entered the parking garage, much dismayed to see that I would have to pay $4 for the privilege of parking. I sent my older daughters ahead to look at the sign which mapped out the university’s buildings. Once they were sure of the path, they led the way and I carried our little girl to the proper doorway.
The dance teacher was a half hour late, which gave more latecomers time to get into their places on time. The studio owners grumbled about how their schedule had been jumbled by her lateness. We all knew she had been suffering adversity other than the weather. The girls played about happily in the front row, the last time they would be able to see each other all together other than at the actual show.
Finally they were ready for us. The girls went up, ages 2 through 5, with no problems because they were so comfortable with their teacher. They took their places, laying in a sleeping position. They danced to a number from one of the original save-the-rainforest animated movies, “Fern Gulley”. I was glad this class got to do a real ballet number, because the other “combo” classes were doing tap, and my daughter wants to be a prima ballerina.
My other children were with me, partly as a way to save money so I wouldn’t have to pay $25.50 for each of them to see their sister’s number on Saturday, partly because I was not sure if their ball game schedule would interfere with their ability to come that day. They got to see it twice, and were happy with that. I got all the pictures I needed.
The studio owner came to the edge of the stage and said, “They could use a touch of color.” To me, a touch of color means a little sun. She meant makeup.
“My daughter can’t wear makeup,” I said, “She has allergies.” The other mothers knew what I meant, because it had come up in conversation recently. Some of us were okay with a little makeup and some of us were adamantly against it for girls so young.
“Well, for those of you without allergies, I recommend a little blush and lipstick. Their faces get washed out onstage and they come up better on the video with a little makeup.”
A video I would not be buying anyway. The recommendation made me a little upset.
Saturday came, and all their games were canceled, but we decided just Kevin and I would go with her. Audrey did her hair again. Sans makeup, I thought she was the most beautiful ballerina I had ever seen.
It was a beautiful day, and parking was free that day. We walked to the center together. I was forced to hand her over to the studio owner backstage. “Will she be okay?” my husband asked.
In the dance arena, she is totally at ease. I knew she would be fine.
The show opened with a ridiculous “artistic” number; then the curtain opened on the little girls. The audience oohed and aahed at the precious little ones “sleeping” on the stage. They “awoke”; the littler girls followed the older girls, who were following the dance teacher offstage. They missed a few steps (I had seen this in practice many times in the studio) and came off their assigned places, but that did not detract from the performance. I cried of course.
I had to go back to retrieve her. She was all smiles when I handed her a light pink carnation. Most of her friends were going home, and she wanted to do the same.
“But I thought you wanted to see the rest of the show,” I protested, “Daddy is waiting for you in our seats.”
She got increasingly upset as we entered the dark theatre. She insisted she wanted to go home. The music was too loud, she said. She was obviously overwhelmed at the enormity of the experience. So we went home.
And she slept, this time for real, wearing her purple tutu.