In honor of the fact that I'll later be attending a dress rehearsal for Pacific Northwest Ballet's production of "Jewels", I'd like to share the memory of my first ballet recital during this week's "Walk Down Memory Lane".
I was 10 years old, a little older than my ballerina-daughter, Abigail is now. Our dance was called, "The Princess's Birthday" and I had to play a Lady in Waiting with the 4 other girls in my class.
I remember how we'd practice our steps over 'n over 'n over again during class. Our dance was very simple, and our steps were very few. But I was in rapturous delight.
For the first time, I was going to dance on a real stage, in a beautiful ballerina costume. Oh, I couldn't wait!
Our costumes were white with a lavender ribbon tied around the waist. The cap-sleeves rested just off the shoulder, and the skirt rested just above the knees. We didn't wear our hair up in a bun, but rather down in a half-ponytail. (A style I wear far too much even to this day!)
Although I felt so lovely, so "ballerina-like" in my costume, I remember feeling terribly jealous over the "star's" costume. She was about 15 years old, if I remember correctly, and her costume was multiple shades of pink and rose, with a hint of lavender in the skirt to match our ribbons. It was so beautiful! I wished I could've danced the role of the Princess instead. (Sigh) Oh well. At least our costumes had long, flowing tutus and weren't stupid looking. ;o)
The day of the recital arrived, and I felt ready. In fact, I didn't feel even the slightest twinge of nervousness whatsoever. (Which I thought was due to the fact that I was meant to be a dancer, and therefore I was immune to such feelings of fear and insecurity. Boy, was I wrong!)
Backstage the air was palpable. Several young ladies and their mothers were all skittering about, applying heavy makeup and coating our hair with cheap hair spray (Aqua Net; the only kind that works on stage!). The fumes alone were enough to induce migraine headaches, but we didn't care. We were about to perform for our friends and families, and nothing was going to deter us!
As I watched the others fuss and primp, I stood back and took it all in. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life, I thought.
Finally, our teacher entered the room and said it was time to head to the stage. A cheer erupted from the room, followed by several voices exclaiming, "Break a leg!" The mothers scampered out to their seats in the audience, while the rest of us fell in line and walked swiftly to the wings, stage right.
The music begins...the audience falls silent...and after a 4 count introduction the lovely Princess slowly, sadly enters the stage.
Why is the lovely Princess so upset? Because it seems everyone has forgotten her birthday. Even her mother, the Queen and her Father, the King failed to acknowledge her special day. All in the castle seem too busy to pay her any attention.
Feeling very unloved, the Princess walks to her throne, sits down and weeps softly.
However, unbeknownst to the Princess, everyone is actually preparing a Surprise Party in her honor. ;o)
*Enter the Ladies in Waiting*
The music changes again, and I realize this is it. My big moment! All of us Ladies in Waiting are to enter the stage in a line, one by one, and my cue is just about up.
Suddenly, I have the overwhelming urge to go potty. Like....BAD! With anxious eyes, I turned toward my teacher who was standing next to us, ready to give us the "go ahead".
"I think I have to go potty!" I whispered. She smiled down at me and said, "Oh don't worry, it's just nerves. Now, get ready...and a 1...2...3 and a GO!" (YIKES!!!!!)
Out we went, with me feeling dragged against my will. But then once I got out on stage, the feeling of "I have to go potty!" left me completely. I quickly regained my composure, and once again felt confident and eager to dance.
The Ladies spy their beloved Princess and feel compelled to cheer her up. Yes, they're a part of the surprise celebration, but seeing her sadness is too much to bear.
The Ladies gather around the Princess, each taking turns primping and pampering her. Lady 1 adjusts her crown. Lady 2 adds a little make up to her cheeks. Lady 3 (that's me) brushes and fluffs her hair. Lady 4 smooths her skirt in front. Lady 5 holds a mirror to the Princess's face, who now seems happier than before.
Ladies 2 and 3 (ahem...me again) break from the circle, and walk in front of the Princess, eager to dance for her majesty's pleasure.
Ok, now the the steps here were very simple. Holding our leg in attitude position (straight out in front; then bend at the knee, then turn out the knee--there ya go!), we were to brush hop left, brush hop right, brush hop left, curtsy. Then brush hop right, brush hop left, brush hop right, curtsy. Fall back in line.
I had this entire sequence down in class. Truly I did. I could do it in my sleep! It was so easy.
But it was at that moment that I chose to look out into the audience, and locked eyes with my mother who was proudly beaming back at me.
GULP! (There was that feeling of "I have to go potty!" again...)
Suddenly the steps that had been permanently engraved in my head (or so I thought), vanished. And on the second set--brush hop right, brush hop left, curtsy--I flubbed. I repeated brush hop LEFT instead of right. (DOH!)
Realizing my mistake, I quickly changed feet (because the Lady next to me obviously had it down and I looked like a total spaz), but of course I was now 1 beat off the music, which looks just as bad as missing a step. UGHHHH!!!
I felt awful! I knew everyone had seen my mistake. Me the "chosen" one, the future prima ballerina of all primas, freaked out and messed up. I wanted to run off the stage and cry, I was so embarrassed.
But thankfully I didn't give in to those feelings, and I managed to make it through the remainder of the dance without any further mistakes. (Whew!) Maybe no one noticed? I thought. Yeah, right.
Now, fast forward to last summer. It is now Abby's turn to dance her very first recital.
She didn't make one mistake, I'm proud to say. :o) In fact, the other girls watched HER so as to not mess up! And she looked absolutely beautiful in her sparkly pink costume.
After her performance, I went backstage to help her change and congratulate her. We squealed and hugged, jumping up 'n down for joy. "You looked so beautiful, Pookie!" I said.
"Thank you," she smiled. "Oh, and Momma? I wasn't nervous at all, but right before we got on the stage? I umm...felt like I had to go potty really bad!" she giggled.
A smile crept across my face as I put my arm around my girl. "Trust me, sweet pea. I know exactly what you mean!"