…the person…not the label…

IMG_5221While my daughter’s away auditioning for a job with a contemporary dance company, I’m keeping busy putting Christmas away. Yes. Shame on me. It’s March and the ornaments, trees, tinsel, and holiday vintage collections are only now finding their way back into our garage. It usually takes a week or so to get them all up in the first place, so I’m in no hurry to reverse the whole process. And thankfully, my family is fine with the holidays lasting until spring. Then again…they’ve got no choice.

So as I’m organizing my house for the new season, I’ve a lot of time to think about my daughter’s work status which, for the moment, is in a holding pattern. Although not really since she’s a busy, little bee looking to join a new hive, so to speak.

What continually springs to mind is my daughter’s beautiful face, and with that, her great personality. They shine through despite the fact that she’s not yet landed her dream job with a contemporary dance company.

My daughter would’ve loved dancing with Staatstheatre Nurenberg Ballet in Germany. She found the movement quality and the director equally amazing. It seems Goyo Montero would himself demonstrate the choreography if he felt it would help the dancers. At an age when most directors would have stopped dancing, evidently he could still master the moves. That’ll get my daughter’s automatic respect every time.

Although she didn’t get the job, out of 94 from around the world who were invited to audition, my daughter survived the first cut as one of 12 who went on to the final round. Of those only 2 were kept. Since the director was looking for soloists, he was obviously scrutinizing every little detail with regard to their appearance, technique, and performance. That my daughter got as far as she did is a testament to her talent. The competition for jobs in Europe is even stiffer than here in America. 

Last summer my daughter auditioned in NYC for a premier Chicago contemporary dance company. Of the 300 dancers, she was one of 2 remaining. Because auditions had taken place elsewhere in the country, there were a few others being considered for the job as well. A couple of weeks later the director called to say my daughter had not gotten the spot, but that she should try again in the future. And so she’s currently in Chicago taking classes at the company’s studio, gearing up for the audition on Saturday with a call-back on Sunday.

Meanwhile, a job with a Canadian company is also on the back-burner. Its director promised to notify those in whom she expressed an interest at the Toronto audition last week. My daughter’s “holding her breath” for that one, even as she’s moving on to the next possibility. 

Of course as her parent, I would give anything for my daughter to achieve her heart’s desire. That’s every parent’s wish. And yet what I’ve learned from this whole process is that I will love her no matter the outcome. 

It’s difficult, I think, to separate the person from whatever labels we’ve assigned them throughout the course of their lives. My daughter was a ballerina, but chose to leave that position for another more personally satisfying dance job. Yet whatever it is she does, she will remain exactly who she is. And I really like who she is.

Ours is a society which labels people. We’re either upper, middle, or lower class. We’re either rich or poor. We’re either educated or illiterate. We’re either Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal. We’re either Black, white, Hispanic, Asian, or middle-eastern. We’re either northerners or southerners. We believe in God or we’re atheists. We’re either “in” or we’re “out.” We’re either employed or unemployed. Even housewives like me insist upon the fact that we’re earning our keep.

Parents can get caught up in society’s labeling game so that if our children don’t “make the grade,” somehow that’s a bad reflection upon us. Against our better judgment we tend to turn against our own, siding with society’s expectations. Until we come to our senses, our offspring are emotionally set adrift to figure life out for themselves. Sometimes they do; sometimes they don’t.

Some children who can’t make it on their own for whatever reason, decide to avenge themselves against the society that labeled them as outcasts. I’m certain I needn’t remind you about all the recent shootings.

Accepting our children for who they are and not what they achieve or don’t achieve in life is often difficult. But it surely makes no sense to turn against them because others do. Who are these other people that come between you and your own? Complete strangers when you come right down to it. And if they’re so-called friends, then it’s best to get new friends. With friends like that, who needs enemies? And even if they’re family…

…i’d do what i feel is best for my own child…

………hugmamma.

i hope you dance…

Early this morning, 4:30 a.m. to be exact, my husband drove our daughter to the airport for her flight to Toronto at 6:55 a.m. She’s off on a whirlwind tour of job auditions. After a couple of days in Canada, she heads to Chicago for a week of dance classes at a prominent studio where she will also audition for a position with the resident company. From there she heads to Atlanta where she’ll take classes with a company with whom she might want to work.

There’s a sign hanging in our dining room which reads I Hope You Dance. It’s occupied the same space for quite some time. Regardless of the changing decor to suit the seasons, that sign stays put. It reminds me, and my daughter, that as long as she has a passion for her art my husband and I will do everything we can to support her. 

It takes a lot on all our parts for my daughter to realize all she desires with respect to her profession. She must continually hone her talent and skills; and we, her parents, must be willing to pick up the slack financially. As long as she continues to draw the attention of people at the top in dance, we feel she has a shot at doing what she wants, where she wants, for as long as she wants. Because of our faith in her, we’re willing to forgo luxuries for ourselves in order to sustain our daughter’s dream of dancing until her body gives out or her passion for performing wanes.

What greater gift can we give ourselves than to have our daughter push past obstacles time and again to occupy the place God meant her to have on His earth?

Since neither of us was born into the lap of luxury, my being the youngest of 9 and my husband being the eldest of 12, we want for very little as adults. The fact that our daughter blest our marriage after 16 years is a miracle for which we have never ceased being grateful. That we can celebrate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day is a gift that keeps on giving.

As any parent of an athlete intent upon making his or her sport a lifetime commitment will tell you…it ain’t easy. I talk to myself, a lot. I argue both sides of every issue. Of course I’m always prejudiced in favor of my daughter. What parent isn’t? Nevertheless I also look at the greater picture and I never, ever ignore reality. At the same time, I choose my words carefully so as not to snuff out the flame that burns within my daughter’s heart for what she loves. And I always remember that she’s an adult, almost 28. She must live her own life. If my husband and I support her endeavors it’s a choice we make freely…no strings attached. Ever.

The greatest lesson I learned as a result of both my mother’s and my mother-in-law’s parenting is to never expect anything in return for what I give my daughter freely and willingly.

My mom’s love came with an entire flotilla of spider webs; my mother-in-law’s love welcomed me back time and again like a sparkling, refreshing fountain from which I could drink whenever I thirsted.

My daughter probably saw both tutus (Hawaiian for “grandma”) a little more than a handful of times. Her fondest memories are of my mother-in-law. Of my own mom, my daughter retains sketchy remembrances of a depressed, frustrated old woman.

Because my mom was all I had growing up, my love for her cannot be severed. She and I shared one another’s lives the longest, most of my older brothers and sisters having left home while still young to make their own way in the world. So while I don’t condone how I was raised, I don’t fault my mom for doing what she needed to survive after my dad died. I only knew that my own daughter was going to go her own way with all the love and support I could muster.

And whatever she does with her own life……is for her to keep…or share as she sees fit. Knowing her as well as I do, I’m certain…

…she’ll always share her life and her God-given gifts…without reservation…

………hugmamma.

...one of my favorite shots of my precious daughter...by martin o'connor photography

…one of my favorite shots of my precious daughter…by martin o’connor photography

nurturing thursdays: believe in yourself

My daughter’s decided that her 2014 New Year’s resolution includes…ferocity.

As she moves forward in her quest to become a contemporary dancer, my daughter’s inner voice is at the helm.

In ballet, dancers are taught to fit within a standard. Rigorous training reinforces discipline which, in turn, often engenders a relationship similar to that of a parent and a child. On the one hand it is highly effective in perfecting a ballerina’s technique; on the other, it may be difficult for the ballerina to grow comfortably into her own skin.

Along with everything else, a ballerina must find a balance between what is expected of her and what she wants for herself. Unlike puzzle pieces, the two sides don’t always fit together neatly. In fact, finding the balance between the expectations of others and her own are most likely an ongoing effort. At some point, she either acquiesces and dances on auto-pilot…or moves on.

Every ballet dancer at each stage of her career, from student through professional, must decide whether or not the journey is worth the sacrifices and commitment. No one is holding her feet to the fire unless, of course, she’s the product of a stage mom. God help her if she is.

Change is not easy no matter the profession. A ballerina, however, once enamored of the classics…Romeo and Juliette…Sleeping Beauty…Swan Lake…finds it very difficult to sever the ties that bind her to the beauty she can spin as part of an ensemble.

And as any ballerina will tell you, it ain’t easy getting hired by a company in the first place. It’s true what they say. For every one there’s probably twelve more nipping at her heels, eager to have their go at it.

My daughter’s experience, while not perfect, was promising. Had she waited around another few years, she might have been challenged to do more solo roles. But with the passing of years, 11 to be exact, she finally decided it was time to sever the “parent-child” relationship. It had outgrown its purpose.

Moving into contemporary dance has been freeing. There are no father figures; there are no children. All are artists. The difference lies only in their abilities, their experiences, and their passion for dance.

My daughter feels she can get to the top of her game, no longer hindered by the trappings of the environment in which she dances. Rather than be told “when” and “how,” she’s been asked…”show us what ya got!” And she’s only too eager to comply.

Believing in herself and her passion for her art, my daughter is excited to be auditioning. This week it’s Los Angeles, next month it’s Germany, and in March it’s Chicago.

Fierce is my daughter’s new mantra. Nothing’s impossible since…

…she believes in herself!

………hugmamma.

“hope springs eternal”

My daughter continues to progress well in her recovery from health issues. When I first posted of it last September in “It’s a Good Morning, there’s always hope,” I wrote that “Every new day is a good morning, the opportunity to right what’s wrong.” And as 2011 gets underway, the hope that my daughter continues to flourish grows with each passing day.

Not only did my daughter return to work as a professional ballerina after a 2 month medical leave, to solo in a piece staged by an internationally recognized choreographer, but she also won a second coveted role in another piece. Two couples are the principal dancers in Twyla Tharp’s “Short Stories,” and my daughter is one of the partners. She and the others were selected by Tharp’s representative, after a brief audition of all the company dancers.

If you’ve watched any of TV’s reality dance shows, you’ll understand how intense the competition can be. It doesn’t let up even in the professional world. But once a dancer has proven herself repeatedly in talent and work ethic, she’s rewarded with good roles. Those values, along with patience and hope, are the mainstay of longevity, and self-satisfaction for a job well done, not only in dance, but in life.

it’s true what they say…hope does spring eternal…hugmamma.