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Monday, 17 December 2012

Silent Night

I've been thinking about children this week, and not saying much--it's hard to know where to move in the face of so much grief.  Recently, I've taken to making Sunday a day where I record my day in pictures, and I share those photos on various social media outlets as I see fit.  The Sunday of this particular week, I paused.  These quotidian things, what place do they have in a world shown in such startling negative image, I thought.  I decided, eventually,  to carry on, to give myself a gentle push and expose my film, and my little world to the light; in a picture of my girlfriend's child on her fifth birthday, wearing the crown of silver leaves I sent her, in a picture of the dough I rolled out to feed to my friends, in a picture of a poem that means something to me.  These little joys are my way to leave space for hope, for beauty, for kindness in the face of injury.  
Children have surrounded me this week--in each instance, an act of creation; I watched children perform in a play, I looked on as my little cousin and her friends presented a puppet show at a Chanukah dinner, I saw that little girl put on a crown and become an ice princess for the day, and I was in the audience of The Nutcracker, surrounded by children, on stage and off.  I've danced in Nutcrackers too numerous to mention but even after I hung up my pointe shoes, the ballet beckons me; it's a celebration of sorts for me when I go--of youth and memory, of dance and the treachery of ageing limbs.  I wear my hair in a bun.  I wear a dress.  I wear ballet flats.  And so do the little girls around me with their mothers and grandmothers--all of us celebrating.  We think of  The Nutcracker as a holiday story, about a toy soldier, and a seasoning of ethnically inspired dances.  Sometimes that is indeed all you see.  But I have a favorite Nutcracker; it belongs to the American Ballet Theatre, and it is rather new as ballets go.  In it, I see the real story: the struggle and the bittersweet of growing up.  A girl has a doll, and the doll becomes a live boy.  He is her cavalier, and she loves him.  They travel together to a land where they meet their adult parallels, and we watch the woman Clara and the man Cavalier dance as only men and women can; they partner.  He supports her, lifts her, carries her as she soars through her life.  When Clara wakes up from her dream--a little girl in a little bed with a little doll, she wakes to find both men, young and old at either end of her bed.  She makes her choice, and runs, arms outstretched for the grown man, who quickly disappears.  She is too young.  She turns and finds that now the boy is gone too.  The time for men and love is still the stuff of dreams for her, and she holds her soldier doll as she returns to sleep.  It is precious, this life of hers; what she holds and what she dreams and what she dances.  And so I look around the children in my life and in my own dreams, and dance for them and with them, still seeing fairy doors in tree trunks while looking both ways before we cross the street.    

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