"Laura is dancing in the Nutcracker in December, and she's actually Clara, which is a dream come true for her. Since all of our family is in England, we were wondering if you would like to come to the performance and see Laura dance. It would really mean alot to Laura and us. I can get good tickets for you if you'd like."
Twist my arm. I was so excited for Laura, who I have gotten to know over the last year and a half, and excited for the idea of having a special outing with Michaela, and excited to see a real ballet performance- of the Nutcracker, no less, whose music I have adored since I was a child-and excited to have this holiday-ish outing to look forward to. We were in.
So that night, December 18th, Michaela and I headed into Albany to The Egg and eagerly awaited the start of the show. The theater where it was staged is a beautiful one- all curves and soft lighting and contrasts of wood and concrete.
As promised, we had wonderful seats and browsed through the program as we waited.
And then the curtain came up.
And we were completely blown away.
I am almost crying now just thinking and writing about it.
First of all, it was beautiful. The dancing was gorgeous, the set- made to look like a grand parlor in a huge home- was amazing, and the costumes were jawdropping: velvet in every color, swirling and rustling, filled with richness and light.
And there was Laura, our Laura, who has been to our house countless times, who is a great friend to Michaela, who has stood in front of my pantry and announced, "THIS IS MY FAVORITE ROOM IN YOUR HOUSE!", who is creative and dramatic and sweet and just as bouncy and energetic as my Mimi, Laura was dressed in a filmy nightgown with layers upon layers of gauze with cotton bloomers underneath and perfectly tailored to be worn by a little girl.
And Laura was the star of the show. And she danced with such confidence, such grace, such a beaming smile on her face, without a bit of hesitation or anxiousness, like she was born to be up there, born to be Clara, born to be dancing this huge part in front of hundreds of awe-struck people.
She was as natural as could be and perfect in every way. Not one missed step.
And all I could think of was how I know her, and her lovely family, and how they drive her to ballet practice every week, and all the time and energy that goes into having your child take on that kind of responsibility, and how long she has been dancing, year in and year out, all culminating to this moment when she is on stage, dancing with the Nutcracker, hair perfectly curled into little blond ringlets as she sashayed around the stage.
I almost exploded with pride.
The second act was just as magical as the first, with the spotlight more on the older dancers- the Snow Queen, the Sugar Plum Fairy, the Waltz of the Flowers, and during the Pas de Deux I was so overcome with the beauty of it all that I started weeping. The music, the dancers, the precision, the hours and hours and hours of practice and time and sacrifice these dancers have made to make this performance, this very moment, so breathtaking.
We clapped as loud as humanly possible when the show was over and I tried to regain my composure. But I just couldn't: I was so totally blown away by the whole experience and all I wanted to do was congratulate Laura and her family and somehow begin to process what we had just seen.
We left the theater and waited outside for the dancers to arrive. Laura first ran to her father, who picked her up off the floor and hugged her. I could not imagine the joy and the pride and the love he must have felt for her at that moment. Here they are: