Dance is the hidden language of the soul.
It’s warm—uncomfortably warm. There is no air conditioning in Vanier Hall and it seems that this last weekend in June is always warm. Nevertheless, we gladly endure the stuffy heat in the auditorium to watch our granddaughter’s annual dance recital.
We’ve got the same seats that we’ve had in precious years—row D, close to the front with a stellar view of the performers—so we make our way to them easily as Laurinda takes Makiya to check in backstage. Her two performances are in the second half of the show so she’ll be able to sit with us and watch the first half. I get almost as much joy watching her watch the dancers as I do watching her dance—well, no, I suppose not, but you understand what I mean.
A wide eyed girl, in full makeup and costume, sitting between her mom and I, sparkling eyes fixed on the stage, leaning toward one side or the other now and then to whisper—“That’s my teacher”, “That’s my friend in the corner”, Watch! She’s going to do a back flip”—fully engaged in the performance and not at all nervous about her own upcoming Jazz and Hip Hop numbers.
Anyway, we find our seats and settle in as the hall continues to fill. I take note of the row in front of us: a young couple and their little dancer are on the end next to a woman who looks to be my age. Next to her, three empty seats that are soon filled with two woman and a dancer wearing the same Hip Hop costume our granddaughter will change into after her Jazz performance.
An avid people watcher, my attention is captured by the grandma-type. I assume she is part of the family of three sitting next to her, but she doesn’t engage with them. Instead, she looks around the auditorium casually, people watching like I am doing. I wonder what the story is. Is there some kind of rift between her and her family? Is that why they’re not talking to one another? Maybe she isn’t with the three on the end after all. Maybe the rest of her party is yet to arrive and they will sit in the now-empty seats on the other side of her. Or maybe she is alone. My musings pass the time while we wait.
It’s not long before Laurinda and Makiya join us and the house lights go down. As usual, it’s a fun evening with performances in Jazz, Hip Hop, Tap, Musical Theatre, Acro, and Break Dance from the tiniest dancers up to a woman my age I recognize from previous years. She’s amazing.
At intermission, we head outside for some fresh air while Laurinda escorts Makiya backstage to join her class. I notice some people are leaving. It takes a certain kind of rudeness and inconsideration to leave a production at intermission, after your child has performed, instead of staying to support the rest of the dancers—but that’s a rant for another day.
When we return to our seat, the family who was sitting in the row in front of us is no longer there, and the grandma is by herself. I’m beginning to suspect that she is, indeed, alone.
Before long, Laurinda rejoins us, the lights go down, and the second act begins. Makiya’s numbers are both spectacular. We see her dance every time we’re together because she’s a born performer, with music in her soul, and who loves to show us new dances she choreographs for herself. Seeing her with her class, in costume, gives us an opportunity to see how much she improves from year to year though. It’s a sweet delight.
When the recital is all over the entire ensemble returns to the stage for a final curtain call. Laurinda pulls out her phone, as do many around us, to capture an image of the moment. On stage, Makiya beams and gives a little wave in response to ours to her.
The woman in the row in front of us is definitely on her own now. She waves at someone on the stage. I wonder if she’s the grandma to one of the littlest ones, or perhaps one of the seasoned dancers. I wonder why she is by herself. I wonder if she’s feeling a bit melancholy in this sea of families.
For the briefest of moments different scenarios flit through my mind, then my attention returns to the wide smile and delight on the face of my granddaughter. It’s another magical night for her—and for us.
It looks like it is for this grandma who is enjoying it by herself too. I feel a little bit of something at her solitude and tuck it away to ponder later.