Sunday, June 19, 2005

True Inspiration

So, I went to my four-year-old’s dance recital last night and though I’m not usually a big fan of watching dance routines that don’t involve a shiny metallic pole on the stage and a generous amount of rolled up $1 bills, I have to say that it was a pretty good time. My daughter did great (though I am admittedly very biased) and I can not adequately put into words how proud I was of her. There was another girl there though that I was incredibly proud of also, even though I have no idea who she was and am not related to her in any way.

She performed several acts after my daughter. The routine was played out by seven girls. Six of them were what you would typically expect of someone who had studied dance for several years. I would guess them to be about 15 years old, svelte, incredibly pretty and obviously extroverted and comfortable being on public display. They were cheerleader girls, undoubtedly popular in high school and I would guess likely members of the type of clique that were not very forgiving towards those not blessed with the level of physical beauty that they themselves enjoyed. I know the type well. When I was a punk rocker, these were the types of girls that dated me to get back at their parents.

The seventh, positioned front and center during the length of the routine, was pretty much the exact opposite of the others. She was short and squat, about as physically unattractive as you could imagine and morbidly overweight. Dressed in what appeared to be a black, one-piece bathing suit covered with a glittering white tuxedo jacket with tails and a bow tie, she looked less like one of the “A Chorus Line” understudies and more like an under-aged dominatrix concubine to Batman’s arch-villain The Penguin.

Now I have to admit, I immediately suspected the intentions of putting this girl in the lead of this particular routine. If one of the other girls slipped on a wet spot on the stage and flew careening headlong into the crowd, she would be met with gasps of horror and bombarded with a rush of well-wishers rushing up to see if she was OK. If the large girl did the same thing, she would probably be barraged with hysterical laughter, would have to live with the guilt of having caused several spectators an unplanned trip to the emergency room of a local hospital while getting top billing on both the eleven o’clock news AND America’s Funniest Home Videos. I suspected that something sinister was afoot and was betting at some point during the routine, she would fall victim to some sort of heart-wrenching, demoralizing prank akin to that suffered by Sissy Spacek’s character in the movie “Carrie”.

Once the routine got going however, something happened that I just could not have comprehended. She danced. She danced really well. In fact, she was utterly spectacular. She approached her routine with incredible enthusiasm, maintained a genuine smile that stretched from ear-to-ear throughout the performance and moved with a poise and grace that I would have thought absolutely impossible for someone of her size. After a couple of minutes of watching her, I could not help but realize the amount of work that she must have put into learning her art. I bet that she expended a hundred times the effort of the other girls to reach that level of perfection and she deserved every second she had in the limelight.

My daughter is very lucky. She’s a really cute kid and I can see the advantages she gains from this. People are drawn to her, the teachers spend more time with her and she is surrounded by individuals that are constantly reminding her of how pretty she is. Things will (admittedly unfairly) come rather easily to her. My challenge in raising her will be to somehow instill at least 10% of the drive, ambition and character that the large girl in the bowtie had. I have no idea what her parents did to her but I sincerely hope that I meet them one day so that I can unlock some of their parenting expertise.

I can not over emphasize the level of respect I held for that dancer as I exited the recital. Sadly though, I probably would have still laughed my ass off if I was watching the film of her falling off of the stage on America’s Funniest Home Videos.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only good thing about not going on the internet for a few days is that the JepReport will be updated when I get back on.

Nice story, I'm sure your daughter was simply fabulous! I have a very simliar sounding cousin, she's 6, unbelievably cute, blonde, and just garners (deserved) attention and praise wherever she goes.

As for the seventh girl, maybe her drive and ambition comes from the fact she is so different. If you have something to prove then I suppose you would work your hardest to be the best and challenge people's opinions. Whoa...what a serious post.


11:01 AM  
Blogger JEP said...

Hannah, you're probably right.

As a side note, my daughter was great. At the end of the show, we gave her flowers which she got REALLY excited about. She then asked if she got them because she was the best dancer there. Another father, who was behind her with his teenaged daughter said, "You sure were! You were the best one out there!"

She looked at him and, with her best diva voice said, "What-EV-eeer!"

8:39 PM  

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