I’ve recently developed the habit of watching the Princess’ dance classes while sitting in my car. I usually can get a parking spot right in front of the studio. I bring a book, or my iPad to pass the time, but I find I spend much of the 1-2.5 hours Tuesday through Friday watching her.
It’s a strange feeling to watch without hearing the music, without being inside the room. She’s been dancing since she was three years old, more intently the past couple of years. When there’s no sound, there’s just sight. It’s beautiful, too. I see her hands, so graceful. I see her head tilt to follow her hand as it moves. I see her legs reach to the side, to the front, to the back, and up above her head. I watch her turn and leap. She is a dancer.
She has been working so hard the past six months or so. Some of her friends have moved up to the next level. An inner-ankle sprain last year sidelined her for over two months, just after she got her pointe shoes. It has taken her this long to be fully recovered, even though she has been back dancing for ten months. I see the determination on her face to be what she knows she can be, what she knows she wants to be. I am so proud, watching her.
I can be critical, in my mind. She will look to me if I am in the room, or just outside, which is another reason why I sit in the car. I am not the expert. But I see….after all these years, I see….a foot not pointed, a leg bent when it should be straight, a turn that fell out, a leap that went forward rather than up. But she is learning. And she is beautiful. I am so proud, I’m sure she can see it on my face, in my eyes which often tear up watching her dance.
I see the girls move across the floor, turn their heads to listen to their instructor, practice the moves as she continues to explain what she wants, this all from within the cocoon of my car, in the silence. There they are, all dressed in black leotards, pink tights, tight ballet buns, pink ballet slippers. They are all so intent, so purposeful. They take correction, they adjust, they try again. Some fall – they all fall at some point. They are tired. They are sore. But they go over the new parts of their dance again and again.
My Princess will finish her class and take her time changing her shoes, putting her sweats on while chatting and laughing with her friends. Once class is over, they are all just young girls again, giggling and being silly. The seriousness of class has ended. And they all traipse out the studio door, calling out goodbyes to each other, until the next day. And I watch, from my car, in silence.