Thursday, September 8, 2011


2. hair gathered into a round coil or knot at the nape of the neck or on top of the head in certain coiffures

When J and I were in Tobago, communications with home were scarce.  There was wi-fi at our hotel, but it was Caribbean wi-fi, of the laid back, it might work, it might not work variety.  We did receive one e-mail from my in-laws during our stay and I was amused to read my mother-in-law's report that she had put A's hair in a bun for ballet class and that it had stayed up.  Once upon a time, it was stressful for me to get my daughter's hair into a bun that was sleek, neat and ballerina-worthy.  Not anymore.

I know how to get A's ponytail tight, wrap the hair around and stick it up into a bun without a single bobby pin.  It looks nicer with a hair net or bun cover, but we can make do without.  Putting hair into a bun is a skill I've acquired as a parent that I never knew I was lacking.  This facility with hairdos doesn't come natural, but I've had to keep up with A.

Three years ago, I entered a whole new realm of parenting.  Then-8 year-old A auditioned for Nashville Ballet's Nutcracker youth cast.  It was the first time in her short life that she had wanted something that I had no control over whatsoever.  And she really wanted it.

Our plan had been to visit Disney World for the first time that year.  I wanted to miss the Christmas rush by skipping a few days of school and going the week before the holiday.  That way, we could celebrate Christmas at home and share Disney with our girls.  The problem?  The Nutcracker ran through the weekend before Christmas.  A weekend I had anticipated spending in Florida.

Luckily, I realized this conflict before the audition.  I went in to talk to A about it and will never forget her reaction.  I laid out the problem and asked whether she wanted to wait a year to audition for The Nutcracker.  Her reply? "Could I maybe stay with someone while you go to Disney World?  Maybe Uncle J and Aunt A?"  Her stance could not have been more clear.  When faced with choosing between Disney World and being in The Nutcracker, the girl wanted to dance.  Needless to say, I let her audition.  She got a part.  We moved the Disney trip.

That first year, I was stunned by the whole experience.  The rigid audition procedures.  The stress of waiting for a letter to arrive.  The complete helplessness.  The crazy rehearsal schedule.  The rearranging of family commitments, large and small, to get one daughter to where she needed to be when she needed to be there.  The hours and hours of rehearsal for minutes onstage.  Minutes.

Was it worth it? A's response would be an enthusiastic yes.  She performed on a large stage in front of hundreds of people.  She shared that stage with professional dancers.  She got to watch backstage while the Sugarplum Fairy danced her solo.  Meanwhile, I got to hear A's sister B tell everyone seated around us that her sister was dancing in the show.  She told them her sister's name and role.  She beamed with pride.  It was sibling love at its best.

Last year, A auditioned for the third time for The Nutcracker.  She was given a part.  And then J and I pulled the plug.  She was in a fall production at her ballet school and we felt our family simply could not go from one set of rehearsals straight into another.  A handled our decision fairly well.  She wasn't thrilled, but she understood.

I'm not sure who will be more nervous next Sunday when A auditions this year.  Will they penalize her for our decision to not take the part last year?  Is her body too tall, too developed, too something, not enough of something else?  The good news is that I think A is resilient enough to handle it if she isn't cast this year.  And, believe me, her bun will be perfect for that audition.  It's just about all I can do to help her.

Year one

Year Two
This Year's Audition Photo

1 comment:

Kat said...

Oh, I remember all that as it happened to me! And it was so worth it at the time! Unfortunately, as you hinted, the ballet world is so strict and demanding and judegemental, which is harder on the mother sometimes, I think. My mother was constantly worried about my eating (looking for signs of anorextia etc). But I am sure you feel a much pride seeing her on stage a she feels being up there. Perhaps even more!