Unexpected Gifts

For years, some or all of my children have been involved in modern dance. At 9, #1 Son was in a play with some choreography (as a dancing raccoon with a Bart Simpson personality), and he liked the choreographer a lot. When we learned that she was opening her own dance studio, he was among her first students. For quite a few years, all three children danced there, and the student show in late spring was a much-anticipated event in our family life. Many of the compositions still stand out in my mind, as do some of the costumes and at least one dreadful wardrobe malfunction The Princess would rather forget.

#1 Son retired after 11th grade, and his brother stopped after that year, too. At the time I was sad, but a little relieved, since we were going to the studio four or five days a week, at the same time I was beginning my ministry. The Princess went on for one more season, then winnowed dancing out of her busy schedule. But last fall, after our doctor diagnosed her with tension headaches and recommended yoga, I said, “How would you like to start dancing again?” The next Tuesday, she was back in class.

This week her class danced on the stage where the show will take place on Sunday afternoon. The parking is iffy around the City By the Sea Performing Arts Center, so I picked her up at school and drove directly downtown. We were there early and walked in as an adult dancer was on the stage. There is a whole dance festival this weekend, including dancers from two colleges, a different program each night, with the student show wrapping up the festival on Sunday. Her teacher greeted us and invited us in to watch while the adult dancer did her piece for the lighting designer.

I have to say I have never before seen a dancer like Sarah McCormick (at center in the picture below).

For years I have watched my children and thought, “If I had known dancing could be like that, I would have wanted to do it myself.” I envy their freedom in flinging themselves around, running and leaping, expressing whatever it is that goes on inside them, simply being in their bodies.

The Princess and I sat in the dark and watched her perform. Sarah’s dance was intriguing, more contained, compelling. I’m not sure what she meant by it, but I do know what I received. Watching her dance was a gift. We don’t have to be pencil people to be expressive with our bodies. Thank you, Sarah. Thank you.

As we left after class, The Princess said, “Mom, since I started dancing again, I haven’t had one headache.”


13 thoughts on “Unexpected Gifts”

  1. I was a liturgical dancer for two short stints at Across From Seminary Church. You know what I look like.
    It was both frightening and freeing at the same time. I miss it.

  2. Lovely to read this…I’m one that can’t imagine myself dancing so that anyone would ever want to look at it, but to read this…

  3. I danced in college. Wish I’d kept it up but since I wasn’t interested in performance, I let it go.
    The liturgical dance at the Festival of Homies was the best I’ve seen.
    Thanks for the picture of the dancer. What makes us think we have to be pencils to dance other than our sick-about-the-body culture?
    I’m glad the Princess is headache free.
    You are a great Mama.

  4. What a beautiful thing to hear from your daughter.
    And here’s something funny…I clicked on your blog because I thought it said, “Unexpected GRITS.” Only a southern chick would make such an error. Sorry!

  5. Dance is a gift beyond description for me — liturgical and otherwise. This year I’ve sung two anthems with dance-related lyrics in the worship band, and for the one we did Easter morning, I snuck in a jig during the fiddler’s solo! Even amid the somewhat physically restrained mood of our congregation, it just couldn’t be held back. And I heard comments to the effect that it enriched the worship experience…wonder of wonders…

  6. I enjoyed the obits recently marking the passing of Katherine Dunham, a groundbreaking African American modern dancer who was a social activist as well. One of the obituaries noted her physique, which was not sylph-like, though a tad thinner on top than the marvelous Sarah, and how she advocated for women with a variety of body types to dance. A friend from high school, who was pretty heavy from the waist down, danced with Miss Dunham for several years. Watching her grace and strength reshaped my image of beauty. We need to be reminded of the joy of our bodies more often.

  7. Ok…don’t kill me…but I fully thought you meant there was a stripper on stage when you said ‘adult dancer’.
    I, myself, am one of the most uncoordinated fools on the earth…I have always wanted to dance…but have never made it past the stretching and reaching your toes concept.

  8. I did not have the opportunity to dance, no money. But my sister did get the chance, there was money. My girls dance, and dance well, I love it. So glad your children including your sons had the opportunity.

  9. chickpastor, I would love some unexpected grits! (I’m a Virginian by birth.)
    Dogblogger, that sounds like fun! We had a combo on Easter Sunday (sax, drums, stand-up bass) and my folks were pretty nearly dancing, too. I loved it.
    mibi, cool! I’ll have to look her up!
    And Girl, too funny!
    And thanks, St. Casserole.

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