There are two different companies in the city I dance in. I have friends in the company I’m not part of, and their Nutcracker is this weekend. Since I didn’t have rehearsal yesterday, I got me a ticket to see them dance. 😊
I found out that if there are two seats directly center, and you only want one of them, they won’t sell it to you. Instead, I got one at the end of an aisle. The seat row are super small, making having an end help with my knees. Because clearly I’m 87.
I ended up sitting by the family of one of the company members, specifically by her Grandpa. He was a nice man, and didn’t talk much. We joked a bit at the beginning. I offered to switch seats or rows since they’ll family was split between two rows, but they had it three on one row and three on the other, so it was okay. I introduced myself to grandpa, and the show began.
I had a few friends in the first scene as party parents, so it was really fun to get to see them have such a great time.
When they brought out the boxes with the dolls, I faintly hear a voice say something. Then I hear from next to me, “darlin’, that’s my granddaughter.” He had the biggest smile on his face.
She has beautiful feet and perfectly hyperextended legs and did a really great job of the role. He told me how her feet have been raw for weeks and of all the long rehearsals she’s done every day. He was so proud.
As her part ended and the show went on, I found myself choked up a bit as I realized I sat next to someone’s grandpa, watching proudly as his granddaughter danced. My Grandpa was a stoic old war veteran, often saying cold or hurtful things without batting an eye. I remember him making me cry as a child. But I also remember how proud it made him that I danced. He lived in Kansas and didn’t get to see me often, but he made it down for a recital, and anytime we went up to visit, he would ask me if I was doing that toe dancing. He’d call me twinkle toes. He passed away my junior year of high school. I was his unspoken favorite granddaughter, and I didn’t get to go to his funeral because of exams. I often wonder what he’d think of me now. I was pulled out of ballet as a kid before I could get pointe shoes, but he’d still ask me about it. When I got older and thought of things I wanted to accomplish before I die, I realized how badly I wanted to actually do “toe dancing.” The “twinkle toe” stuff that somehow bonded my grandpa and me. So I started classes, got shoes two years later, and here I am still dancing. I wonder what he’d think about it. If he’d be able to come down and watch, if they’d have to drag him or if he’d want to go. If he’d lean over to the stranger next to him in the audience and say, “darlin’, that ones my granddaughter.”
Holidays make me feel lots of things. A lot of times they’re a struggle for me. I find ways to get through anyway, but it doesn’t make it easy, really. Having the friends I’ve made that are like family to me has become more invaluable than words can really express. My grandpa may not be here, and I may not have any special part, I may hardly even be seen in the crowd of other dancers, but I know I have people who love me, even if I’m just me. My dad is coming to see me, which means more than I can say. He couldn’t care less about ballet, but he cares about me more than the pain of sitting through an endless ballet he’s seen more times than he’s cared to and that he wouldn’t go to if I wasn’t in it. But I am. So he does. And he does so gladly.
These little things really make a world of difference. So if you’re out there feeling like your life doesn’t matter much, just remember that the little bits of kindness you extend means more than you’ll ever realize.
And as I have Nutcracker music playing and popping on my record player as I type this out, I can’t help but think of my grandpa, and how he would feel seeing me doing all this at my “old” age.
There’s magic in the ballet. And I’m honored to get to be a part of it in my small way. I love getting to witness it and support my friends and all their hard work. I love having this thing that bonds us in ways we wouldn’t have had we not danced. I love the world this opens me up to.
I’m so grateful.
(Proud of you all! Great show last night! You’ll be beautiful snowflakes tonight!)