Yesterday was a very exciting day for my family. It was my youngest two nieces’ spring dance recital and I went to watch along with my sisters, mother, brother-in-law, and two oldest nieces.
I always find these performances emotional. I beam with pride and the tears flow as I watch our girls twirl and kick and point their toes with the best of them, like they’ve been doing it since they were four years old.
The truth is they haven’t been taking classes very long, two years at most I think, but they had been training themselves at home for a few years before that. And by training I mean these girls watched videos online and stretched relentlessly until they could contort their bodies into various positions. They taught themselves to do the splits, arabesque, plie, and much more. They competed against each other to be the first to reach a certain flexibility. When they started I thought it was likely a fad, that they’d be all in for a few months but then move on to something else. Not many kids have the focus and determination to work so hard on their own.
So when I watch them dance now on a stage with a bunch of other kids who likely have a lot more professional training, it’s hard to keep it together. Because I know they made this happen. Traditionally my family hasn’t been one that’s been able to afford dance classes. Growing up, the only extra-curricular activities I was involved with happened at school and didn’t cost a dime (other than my time fundraising). I grew up with the idea that only the rich kids got to take music lessons or learn dance. Maybe this idea is less so for my younger sisters, I don’t know, but it is deeply entrenched in me. To my way of thinking it was the girls sheer determination and unflinching commitment to the art and practice that persuaded their parents they needed to tweak the family budgets to accommodate dance classes. They were enrolled in a dance school but on a casual level not on a competitive level. Competition is more expensive, requires more training and much more travel.
Every time I watch them perform I am overwhelmed with pride. Yesterday was no exception. This was the first recital I had attended where the girls were very visible in a small group of dancers and positioned in the front line. They both had solo positions within the group performance that put them in the spotlight. My eyes watered the whole time. They did so well!
But of course, I am the biased auntie.
The overwhelming highlight of the day came at the very end, after the performances were over, when all the students came on stage and sat down to listen to their instructor’s final remarks. She presented dozens of awards to students from all classes recognizing them as Students of the Month, students who go above and beyond, who are kind and helpful to their fellow classmates. She thanked all of the parents and students who assist her in teaching and fundraising and organizing recitals. After all that she said that every now and again there are students who come along and show great talent and potential, and this year she had two. Then she presented both my nieces with full scholarships into the competitive dance team. This includes tuition, competition fees, and two costumes each. I wasn’t the only one shedding tears when the girls got up to receive their scholarships. I am still leaking a bit now as I remember and type this.
So yes, I am the biased auntie, but I’m not the only one who sees their talent and potential.
I am so proud, Abby and Anna! I can’t wait to see what this next part of your dance journey brings.