The Strongman and the Dancer

After months of practice, the Little Miss appeared in a big dance recital held on Saturday at a local high school. In the days leading up to the event, the Little Miss was calm, collected, and completely unconcerned about performing in front of an audience of a few hundred people, and television cameras for the local cable access channel. If she was nervous, she didn’t show it. Kelly helped her get into her costume, a bright yellow dress. The Little Miss’s hair was pulled back in a pony tail. That, combined with some light makeup make her look absolutely adorable.

The Little Miss might not have been anxious about the upcoming performance, but I was. We arrived at the theater nearly an hour before the performance and staked out seats at the front of the theater, center-right. There were a total of 18 performances, and the Little Miss’s came third after the intermission, well over an hour into the proceedings.

I watched the performances with slight detachment. I kept thinking about how my little girl was brave enough to get up in front of this audience and dance. In kindergarten, I played the role of the strongman in the class circus. I had to stand in front of the audience and lift a pair of yellow balloons separated by a cardboard tube over my head and pretend it was so heavy. I remember arriving home afterward and bursting into tears. At the time, I had no idea why, but looking back on it, I think it was the stress of performing, and doing it in front of an audience.

There was a solo performance that preceded the Little Miss’s class. And then, the curtains were opening and the Little Miss was the first of her group out onto the stage. She smiled and showed no fear. They danced to “Put On A Happy Face.” The Little Miss was absolutely wonderful. Her expressions were perfect, a mixture of joy and careful concentration.

Partway through the performance, the dancers end up in a line running along the center of the stage, back-to-front. The Little Miss was second from the front. Each dancer makes some funny move with their arms, and then runs to one side of the stage or the other. The Little Miss was first to dash to the left side. Once there, she watched her fellow dancers do their move, and as each did, she vibrated with joy and urged them to their spot on the stage beside her.

As the audience applauded, I was once again that young kid, just finished lifting two balloonfuls of helium. Tears were running down my cheeks. This time, however, I knew why. My little girl was happy, and I was so proud of her. That’s what it is all about.