Friday, March 26, 2010

Dancing Queen

Jim Baker: "That’s why they call them crushes. If they were easy, they’d call them something else.”

- Film “Sixteen Candles”

Since she as a baby, my daughter has loved music and dance. I don’t know if it’s because she’s grown up in a city with loud music blaring out of neighbor’s windows or because I used to play "The Rockafeller Skank" by Fatboy Slim when I was pregnant and in the delivery room. Whatever it was, she’s has a rhythm I’ve only dreamed of possessing.

I try to encourage it. My daughter started taking ballet classes when she was four-years-old (something I wasn’t allowed to do when I was a girl), I’ve taken her to Boston Ballet performances, and (even cheaper) I’ve brought her to several high school dance recitals. This is our third year we’ve attended the Cambridge Rindge and Latin high school performances. The first year, when my little girl was five, there was a teenager with blonde, curly hair on the stage. My daughter was smitten with her. The second year, we saw the dancer again. During intermission, my daughter told me, “When I go to high school, I want to be in the performances too!”

After this school year began, my daughter constantly asked when there would be another performance. Gently, I explained, “We don’t know how old this girl is. She may have graduated.” We had to miss the first show and I was careful not to mention it. When I was subbing around that time, I saw the dancer in the hallway. I told my daughter that I’d seen her. Brightening, my daughter said, “If you see her again, tell her I want to dance at the high school because of her!” Hmmm, that would be embarrassing so I hoped I wouldn’t see the dancer.

Within weeks, a teenage girl walked into my Social Studies class*. In case I wasn’t sure it was the dancer - she sat down and pulled out point shoes from her backpack. Reluctantly, I walked over and relayed my daughter’s message. I added, “I think she likes you because both have similar hair. “You have a fan!” one of her friends teased while I showed the dancer a picture of my daughter.

Last Friday was the next performance, which, because of the high school construction, was moved to a Harvard Theatre. We ate dinner at home and headed to Harvard Square. When we got to the box office, we were told, “It’s sold out.” Apparently, it’s a much smaller space because the high school never sold out.

Without looking at my daughter, I knew that her eyes were already welling with tears. I’d have to act fast or she’d be hysterical, so I pulled her to the side of the window and hugged her. “We can try to come tomorrow,” I soothed. Except that my in-laws and nephew were visiting the next day, so I didn’t know if that would work. I tried calling my husband to see what he thought about going the next day. A woman saw my distraught daughter and asked if everything was okay. I said that my daughter was disappointed. “Can’t they make an exception?” she asked. “Fire codes,” I reiterated.

I returned to the box office window and asked what time I could come to get tickets the next day, since I couldn’t (inexplicably) get them the day before. Then I happened to mention that my daughter was anxious to see the show because she had a favorite dancer. “Who’s the dancer?” she asked. I gave the name (I only knew it because I had the girl in my class that one time). “That’s my daughter!” the woman exclaimed, surprised and flattered. She asked if my girl would take her ticket and then she’d smuggle me in, since she was thinking of sitting backstage anyway and she still had to man the ticket counter (to tell people that they couldn’t get tickets). After a couple of minutes of working out seating, my daughter and I were seated and we watched the show.

My daughter made me check the program to see which dances would feature her favorite dancer. As each dance with her favorite dancer would begin, she’d whisper, “There she is!” or “I see her!” During intermission, the mother asked if my daughter wanted to meet her daughter after the performance. I think you know that answer to that.

After the show, we waited in the lobby, and my daughter was in awe of all of the dancers who milled about - they were easy to spot because they had on more makeup than everyone else. Finally, the dancer came over. It was a little awkward for everyone. The curly-haired girls shook hands. My daughter said, “You dance great.” I was relieved that she forgot to ask for an autograph.

Little girls have crushes. Adult girls have crushes too. One of my blog friends, Lora has a crush on someone she sees at the bus stop and she wrote the funniest post about it:

There are the females we wish to be. Perhaps they’re a prettier version of ourselves. Or maybe they’re so different from us that all we can do is look on in awe. Has this happened to you?

My female protagonists are always awkward (I wonder where I get the raw material for that idea?) and there’s always some fabulous female that either coaxes them out of their shells or they play the perfect ice princess. Girls - big and small - observe other girls, strive to be like other girls, envy other girls, compete with other girls, dismiss other girls. Do these complicated relationships between females appear in your manuscripts?

I didn’t analyze the dynamics between girls’ relationships I'd created in my manuscripts until the “situation” at the performance. In this female dancer, with the blond, bouncy curls, my daughter sees an appealing older version of herself. And it’s not a bad or unattainable goal. My daughter’s crush dances well, does well in school, and seems like a nice person. She’s a pretty good role model.

Here’s a post that demonstrates what a mess I can be:


  1. That is such a precious story. You daughter has someone to look up to and the dancer knows she has had a big impact on someone. And that is a great gift you gave her.

  2. That's amazing! I wish my mum had been up to doing that.....

  3. What a beautiful story! My mom took me and my sister to dance classes for about nine years and then I decided I'd rather do flute! But it is a great dream for a little girl. I'm glad she got to meet her idol. :)

  4. Southpaw, thank you. We'll be going back to the next performance in May and I'm glad the dancer has one more year before she graduates.

    Hampshireflyer, I wish my mom would've been up to doing that too.

    Aubrie, it's great that you were exposed to both dance and flute. It was a big night for my daughter, to say the least.

  5. What a beautiful story. You are such an awesome mom to have gone through all that so you daughter could see her favorite dancer. When I was growing up, my mother did those kinds of things for me and I have never forgotten it. Your daughter will remember it as well.

  6. Hi

    Awwww this is a lovely post! So good to know that your daughter has a proper role model - a wonderful artiste doing great! And also a wonderful mum encouraging her to fulfill all her dreams and potential!

    And again, art imititating life as always - what more do you need to create complexity and multi-layered characters and situations than in observing those closest to you?

    Oh just read your blog link - you and closed doors again!! LOL!

    Oh and great tips on how to cross out a word! I've always wanted to know how to do that! Thanks rr.vlorbik!

    Take care

  7. What a lovely story. I'm thrilled your daughter got to meet the dnacer and that it went so well. It's nice to see and remember that girls can be nice and supportive and look up to other girls. Not all of them are mean.

  8. This is a sweet story.

    It's so nice to see young girls looking up to nice older girls who do something worthwhile. I bet you couldn't be happier!

    I also read Lora's post. It is so funny!

  9. What a wonderful story :o)

  10. Aww I enjoyed the story about your daughter and the dancer. My female protagonists are also socially awkward, and I usually have one or two other girls that they look up to, as well as others that they compete with. Funny how that is.

  11. A lovely post Theresa. And a much better role model for your daughter than the tabloid types. What a relief!

    We are twins, I wanted to take ballet too, but my mother wasn't up for it. Imagine we both might have been prima ballerinas.

  12. Choices, thank you. I hope my daughter remembers this.

    Old Kitty, I have all those instructions from rr. vlorbik and (obviously) I haven't used them!

    That old blog may have been my first closed door saga of the school year.

    Thank you for the nice words.

    Sarahjayne, there are a lot of nice girls in the high school, which gives me confidence about sending my children there. Hopefully my daughter makes good choices about which girls to befriend. I've already seen issues in second grade.

  13. Tiffany, it is nice to see girls in positive situations. I'm sure you understand after the school you subbed in this week.

    I'm glad you read and enjoyed Lora's post.

    Thanks, Niki!

    Shelley, it sounds like you understand how girls operate, which probably makes your manuscript stronger.

    Ann, I'm glad that my daughter is looking up to real life people instead of tabloid girls (for now).

    Oh no - you didn't get to dance as well. Prima ballerinas? I'm sure you would've been, but I think I would have had just a little more coordination.

  14. What a lovely story. I'm so glad your daughter got to see her favourite dancer! How exciting for her.

    I had a girl-crush on Nadia Comaneci when I was nine or so (I was obsessed with gymnastics at the time!). Your post reminded me of that! ;)

  15. Talli, thanks for the comment. Nadia Comaneci - the world loved her. Then she appeared in the press over a decade late and life hadn't been so kind to her.

  16. thank you for the link, and also thank you for the story!
    I can't wait for AUgust when we can be "IRL" friends!!

  17. Lora, you're welcome. I love your blog - especially that post. See you in August, (G)IRLfriend.

  18. Happy Birthday. I am reading this blog on 3/27 so I should have posted the Happy Birthday yesterday. Now you are that big birthday plus 1 day.

  19. I love this post... looking up to someone as a role model (or even a crush) is one of the precious experiences of childhood and adolescence. Also - I'm envious of your writing - really, REALLY powerful. :)

  20. Thank you for the compliment about my writing, Halpey1. I guess we all had our crushes/role models.

  21. Sheila, I skipped you. Sorry! At least you called yesterday. Thanks for the belated birthday comment.

  22. Theresa,

    I have no doubt that your daughter will one day be that dancer on the stage if she is anything like her talented Mom! I tagged you in my blog today (Saturday). Hope you don't mind.

  23. Hi Theresa, Belated Happy Birthday !
    Lovely story and my daughter a 'dancing queen' as well, has loved dancing since your little one's age and still doing at nearly 13, so am sure your girl will be the same. Great role models the older girls for them as they work hard to get that good.

  24. VKT, my daughter has way more grace than I do!

    That's nice that you tagged me. I haven't seen it yet, so I'll check it out.

    Brigid, thanks. How nice that your daughter has been dancing so long. It's a great skill to have.

  25. What a sweet story - I love that you are so devoted to helping your daughter realize her dreams.

  26. Thanks, Susan. I'm glad she gets joy out of it.

  27. This is a beautiful post! I love how children aren't afraid to say what's on their mind. :)

  28. I loved reading this entry and remember feeling the same way when I was that age.

  29. Danyelle, thank you. It's true - children aren't as reserved as adults.

    Elouise, thanks for the comment. I guess we all had the people we wished we were, to help us figure out who we were.

  30. What an endearing post...I am quite certain that your daughter will grow to be a fine person in her own right because she has such a caring thoughtful mother like you. Dance On & Happy Writing!!

  31. Thank you, Slushpile. I'm glad she's able to pursue what she likes.

  32. I LOVED this post! Your daughter reminds me so much of myself when I was young. I remember an Aunt taking me to "The Nutcracker" when I was 4, falling in love with ballet and fixating on one dancer in particular who truly inspired me. Your children are so lucky to have you as their mom - you support their dreams and that's an amazing thing.

  33. I remember seeing The Nutcracker for the first time when I was ten. I prefer these modern dance vignettes instead.