Martha Graham famously said "Great dancers are not great because of their talent. They are great because of their passion". As I reach far into memory; long ago and far away, to my first dance recital, I distinctly recall 10 bumblebee tots with costumes befitting the Queen Bee; tiny hand-sewn yellow satin bodices with alternating black and yellow tulle netting, embellished with streams of sequins, carefully designed and tailored to each child's 4-year-old physique. Hundreds of costumes were created each year by the studio's head seamstress and her legion of parent volunteers, long before costume companies took over and sewing became a lost art. It was an end of the year extravaganza, with months of classroom focus on the dance.
It was the biggest day in my life and then POOF! it was over until the following September. Though dance is a performing art and should be performed for an audience, the year of study and growth is not about the show. More importantly, it is about the continued daily or weekly classes reaching towards an unattainable perfection that drives the passion in the dancers i know and watch on stage. You can see it even in a 4-year-old, the one that your eye catches and holds, your attention. It isn't always the one that came in everything in the right place. It's the one with the gleam in their eye, the one practicing a step over and over, the one with passion.
My mother required daily summer "class" on my own, at the barre in my bedroom, yet it was a waste of time. I didn't know what I was doing or should be doing, yet I complied because Mother knew best. I missed class; the routine, the friends, the teachers whom I worshiped and moreover, the dance. And for most of that time, the music was playing, and I simply danced to my own tune.
I loved summer with no school, no homework and outdoor play. Michigan summers consisted of late sunsets, climbing neighborhood trees, playing in the street until after dark when our parents, somehow collectively knowing it was time to go to bed, called all the kids home at the same time. I think the timing had something to do with the bridge game being over and their evenings end. In those halcyon days of golden moments wrapped in nostalgia - pre-play dates, helicopter parents, and no M-rated video games - there was comfort in a certain predictability, and I accepted this schedule without question. Everyone I knew, followed the same calendar.
"Change brings Opportunity" Nido Qubein
Fast forward to 2019 and dance has changed. Gone are the days when parents scoffed at the idea of continuing dance in University. Adjunct careers in dance and dance education were not readily accessible or fostered in the late '60s, when I was filling out college application material. Yet today there are a plethora of dance-related degrees as well as post-professional dance career counseling.
It seems most of my tradition and comfort in its routine, has been challenged. Any given day we are confronted with options in thinking; anti-vax or vax, year-round education or traditional, home school or conventional, college or a dance company.
It might have been easier to decide when I was younger, yet l am envious of the opportunity our children are offered, allowing them to make life choices with critical thinking tools fostered by arts education. It is a rich and exciting time to be embarking on life's journey and I adore hearing about the summer plans of travel, study and especially about the future from the soon-to-be graduates.
This year's recital is a change. Instead of the June Showcase, your children will perform for you, your family and friends, neighbors and community, in early April. It is a day to celebrate success and the following days to return to the classroom.
Dance is not instantaneous gratification, it is waiting and working hard, it is continuous repetition. It isn't fueled by modern devices where patience is not a virtue. It is driven by the machine that is a dancer's magnificent body and mind. It is the perfect machine yet if not used, can lose. This is not to say rest is not important. It is vital to the health of the body, the mind and the creative spirit. Yet months without dance is counterproductive.
Your dancers will continue regular technique classes at CAPA until June. Many will travel across the county and around the world to study their passion, for the summer. This year your dancers will have the opportunity and the gift of returning to their classroom to share the recital memories with their friends and teachers. They will talk about the best, and what can be achieved with more effort. They can download their experience in a positive learning environment. They can mingle with the familiar and test the new, working with patience, excellence in training and the passion in their heart for their love of the dance.
See you in class this summer!