I remember one time, years ago, we went to our friend’s house and Girlchild happened to have braids in her hair. My friend expressed her great relief that she has two boys and didn’t have to deal with things like braids.
I laughed. One of her boys is very much into hockey. My boy is not. I expressed my great relief that I don’t have to deal with hockey equipment. So many laces and straps and stuff.
I couldn’t help but think of this conversation as I volunteered on Friday night at Girlchild’s dance recital.
For the past four years, Girlchild has been a student at Arts In Motion-Perth School of Dance run by Svetlana Timtsenko. The year of lessons culminates in the whole school participating in a great stage production – an elaborate affair complete with fantastic costumes. Svetlana and her team develop the show over many months.
Girlchild took ballet with Svetlana and Alize Abele for her first three years. In her first recital she was an adorable chick, complete with fluffy yellow feathers. In the second one she was “Austria.” Last year she was a snowy owl, wearing a shimmery white body suit, a white tutu and a feathery headband – she looked like a real ballerina!
This year Girlchild decided to try highland dancing at the school with Samantha Shaw, which delighted our Scottish-rooted relatives on all sides of the family. For this year’s recital, “The Adventures of Mary Mitty,” she was a Loch Ness Monster – wearing a slick body suit complete with a ridge of scales and a long tail. She loved it.
For the last few years I have volunteered for one of the two nights of the recital. Until this year, I helped in the cafeteria at Perth & District Collegiate Institute, where all of the primary students congregated until it was time to go on stage.
The primary area was always interesting. We helped with final costume adjustments, led group expeditions to the bathrooms (which, depending on the complexity of the costume and the size of the child, could be quite a process), administered snacks, helped with crafts, organized video watching and consoled nervous little ones.
Eventually another volunteer would come to the cafeteria to retrieve whatever group was next to dance.
It was always a busy night.
This year, Girlchild’s class was grouped in with the older classes, so I got to spend the evening in Gym 3, which is much closer to the backstage area.
And that was really cool!
I’ve never been involved with stage productions in the past, so beyond knowing a good show takes a tremendous amount of hard work and coordination behind the scenes, I didn’t have much of a clue.
I stand in awe.
From my new vantage point, I was able to see how the dance behind the scenes made for the show onstage. It was like a well-oiled machine, with quick changes and hairdos and make-up and things to keep little people busy in between. (One of my big jobs involved pinning tails on Funky Dragons.)
Watching how the things came together behind the scenes on Friday night made it all that much more interesting to soak in the show on Saturday night.
I remember standing in the hallway near Gym 3 at one point while another volunteer was quizzing one of the senior students about what hair-do she was supposed to be wearing. Meanwhile, “Twisted Fairies” were walking in and out of the area with their jazzy costumes and their freaky hair standing up all over the place. (My hair looks that way most mornings, but they had to work at it.)
I couldn’t help but think of my conversation with my friend about braids. Braids are easy! Heck, with this costume all Girlchild needed was a pony tail and some hairspray because her hair was tucked into a hood.
For a moment I wondered what I would be doing a few years from now if Girlchild continues to dance – could I handle Twisted Fairy hair and Funky Dragon tails?
Congrats to everyone at AIM for yet another awesome show!
Published in The Perth Courier, May 31/12