In addition to the two roles my daughter has been rehearsing for months (Waltz of the Flowers and Spanish Corps), her best bud broke her left foot and Al filled in, learning a third - and very long - role in one day, the day before dress rehearsal, one week before show time.
This is also her first year performing en pointe, which was so exciting. As a seasoned ballet mom, every year I think it can't get more challenging or thrilling. The early days she was a honey fairy, a snow flake, a candy cane, and putting on her makeup and gelling until absolutely not one hair went astray and organizing snacks between shows were the monumental tasks. Now she is doing is doing her own make up (except the eyeliner and mascara, she is only eleven after all) and I hardly hold her hand back stage. But instead of getting easier, as her job becomes harder my work has become far more challenging. Now it's quick costume changes, sticking bobby pins in hair pieces and tacking tutus, steaming and stitching in the ESR (emergency sewing room); also the need for navigating the politics and personalities of nearly a dozen pubescent divas...
Alice has always been a natural on stage, every drop of performance ability in her DNA coming from her father's side (jazz singers, musicians and extraordinary hams - Jim played Mother Ginger for three years:) I never had to calm her nerves but little girls rely on us moms to ask if their lipstick is dark enough or the skirt fastened in the center. One year as we waited in the dressing hall (now they have graduated to dressing rooms, which acquire a definitive odor after six performances in two days), I photographed mothers and daughters, a series of ten or twelve friends with their daughters in various sages of preparation. While waiting our turn on stage, they sat and colored pictures and played games on the floor while we sat around them, gabbing and laughing. We've been a ballet family for more than six years, with a very few changes.now it's tradition to attend the after-final party at a favorite Mexican restaurant that reserves two rooms - one for the adults and the other for the still-shrieking dancers, The load lifted, there are pitchers of margaritas and salsa as the adrenaline simmers down.
After days of not dancing a single step my feet are killing me and it takes more than a day or two to recover - every moment of which is one of my primary reasons for being a mother. Spending this kind of time, watching her grow and develop as a seasoned, committed dancer and beautiful young lady, and knowing that I had just a little bit to do with it is more than gratifying.
On her toes, Alice is nearly as tall as her brother, who hasn't missed a show in six seasons.
The costume for the Snow dance is befitting a princess; she is with my very proud mother and my sister after the afternoon show.
She loved wearing the Spanish Corps costume, which accented her looming maturity. A few years ago it was hard to imagine her in these roles, let alone the costumes, or twirling and leaping across the stage in pointe shoes. The bond is still there, but it has changed, as has every facet of our relationship; her growth and independence, the spreading of wings that have been nurtured since the earliest days of pinning buns and wrangling with tights.
One of her first roles was a black ant in a recital; she's hugging her best friend, Maddie, the same one who broke her foot this past Thanksgiving Day and turned the pointe shoes over to Alice, the director - and I - knowing that she'd pull it off. Just like always, that in spite of the technical and other difficulties, all ends well when the curtain closes, even if I am more than a little crackers.