My four-year-old daughter had her little dance recital in late June. This was new territory for me, so the ferocity with which her dance studio approached the rules of show participation surprised me. They held no less than five rehearsals, plus two performances. Miss one, and you’re outta there.
So I spent a week immersed in all levels of dance (though I declined the invite to be a backstage helper-mom – good Lord, one step at a time). As I sat in the audience watching the dancers give their respective all, I got to thinking about my own creative outlet: writing.
For so many years I believed my writing had to be perfect before other eyes beheld it, that I had to have something Big and Important to say, and I’d better say it in exactly the right way. I still struggle with this but, as I watched so many sequin-clad dancers move about the stage, two in particular showed me a thing or two about “the right way.”
The first girl performed a ballet solo. Toe-shoes and all. She also held the prestigious title of Jr. Miss Dance Michigan. She glided onstage in a luminous lavender gown and danced to a dreamy version of John Lennon’s Imagine. Her limbs stretched impossibly and she leaped and flipped and pirouetted until I felt dizzy. On my lap, my enchanted daughter sat still for the first time in six months. Mommy, I want to do that. Indeed, the girl’s hard-earned technique, to my untrained eye, was perfect. At fourteen, she possessed the poise of Grace Kelly, with her litheness and her proud ribcage and her princess smile. Her name will be in lights. I want to write like that, babygirl.
The theater went dark to awed murmurs and polite applause.
The spotlight flared, and a new girl in black materialized.
This girl was not a ballerina. Her powerful limbs ended right where human limbs should…and then she began to move. She pushed into a folksy song about love and broken trust and solace-seeking. At seventeen, she managed to channel emotions she hadn’t lived long enough to feel. She managed to become the song. As the music built to a crescendo, she grasped and fell and pounded the floor with the desperation of the danger of loss. My heart ached for her and yet, all the while, she exuded joy. The joy of freedom, of a fearlessly displayed heart, of body and soul and music. She commanded my heart to reach for hers and, gauging from the audience’s response, she commanded theirs, too.
No, I want to write like that.
In the span of ten minutes, two lovely and diverse young ladies reminded me that, when it comes to art, as long as it’s heart-filled, there is no right way. There is only the way of the artist, and there’s room for us all.
Image courtesy of sattva at FreeDigitalPhotos.net