26 April 2010

Threads of Her Journey

“If you want to make your dreams come true, the first thing you have to do is wake up.” ~J.M. Power

My daughter is a dancer. And a good one, I am told.

She dances at a studio called Dance Education Center. She has been dancing there for six years. And I expect that she will dance there for at least six more. Her studio has had its fair share of ups and downs. In the fall of 2007 a fire destroyed the center. Everything went up in smoke one fateful September afternoon.

But the students and parents rallied. We salvaged what we could. We made do with a temporary home for over a year. And finally we moved back in to a new and better space, one that was made just for dancers.

Miss Tori is the Director of the Dance Education Center. She is a renowned teacher, having received numerous National Dance Educator of the Year awards. But more than that, she is beloved by her students.

2004 - Tiny Dancer and friend

I remember the very first dance recital that my daughter participated in. There was the flowy royal blue dress. The hair pulled back into a bun. The stage make-up. The bow in her hair. There were pointed toes and a huge black stage that threatened to swallow them up. But they were fearless. They swayed to the music and twirled around that big stage. And never once looked frightened or apprehensive. My daughter and her classmates were such natural talents.
{In contrast it took me 24 years to get up the courage to step foot on that same stage. I can't believe how comfortable my daughter is with performing on stage. A skill that will carry her well beyond her performing years.}

I remember that once her little chums skipped off stage, that the next level dancers were already moving into the scene. And then the next level. And the next. By the end of that one part of that first dance recital they went from the littlest dancers to ballerinas on pointe. I recall sitting there mesmerized making the connection that one day my daughter would get to that level. She is not there yet, but she is well on her way.

The Dance Education Center recitals are like none that I have ever witnessed. And with 4 other nieces, I have witnessed a lot of dance recitals over the years.

Miss Tori runs a tight ship. The Act I is about an hour. The Act II is about an hour. And you only need to have a ticket for the one that your dancer is in. {My dancer is almost always in both, but I hear that is a nice thing for those who only have to sit through one act.}

Two years ago Tiny Dancer was invited to join the Training Program. This is the fast track to those pointe shoes. She must take two ballet classes per week, and then all the others that she likes. This year she is in two ballet, and one each of tap, pop, jazz and modern. {Needless to say, we are on the unlimited plan.}

A perk that the Training Program students enjoy is a special performance group show on Friday and Saturday nights of the recital weekend. Last year, Miss Tori and her staff held auditions, complete with requiring all dancers to submit a head shot and resume {it was kind of short for someone who danced for only 5 years}, assigned them a number and treated them as if this were a real audition. That was a great learning experience.

Three years ago the Performance Group did an entire show featuring Harry Connick Jr songs in every style of dance imaginable, with a story line.

Two years ago the Miss Tori got permission to use a children's book called "The Dream" with a lovely and moving poem and beautiful illustrations as the inspiration. Throughout the show portions of the book were read. It was a very moving theme of "Never Surrender Your Dreams" especially since we were just coming off the devastating fire. But out of the ashes comes something even more lovely.

Last year, Dance Education Center took on Broadway. There were selections from The Music Man to The Heights and Billy Elliot to Thoroughly Modern Millie. It was a rousing show.

And this year might be the most ambitious yet.

Last year Miss Tori went to Las Vegas and saw eight different Cirque du Soleil shows. That inspired her to create an epic worthy of the big top. The show is called "The Journey" and features some 70 dancers in very Cirque-esque costumes complete with face paint and very dramatic make-up. And Tiny Dancer is part of a special quartet in the Fabric World, one of several featured dancers in the show.

I have only seen snippets, but I can tell you that this will be a show to remember.

Here is how Miss Tori describes "The Journey."
Sometimes life and choices are clear
(Black & White World).

Sometimes life and choices are multi-faceted
(Jewel World).

Sometimes we encounter things unknown
(Rainforest World).

Sometimes problems seem too big to handle but we always have each other
(Tall World).

Sometimes we discover new layers of ourselves and others
(Tutu World).

Sometimes its about finding the play within the work (Business).
Sometimes we need help just to TRAVEL ON.
And sometimes we take all of those experiences and struggles,
weave them into a stronger version of ourselves
and end up right where we were meant to be
(Fabric World).

I was so excited when Miss Tori asked me to create a special, one-of-a-kind necklace for her to wear to the performance. I wanted to honor the spirit of the journey that Miss Tori has taken herself, but also the one that she is leading my daughter and all the dancers in her studio on. To share her beauty to all those she meets. To ground the dancers with a great root system of knowledge and a strong interwoven compassion for each other. To allow their multi-faceted talents shine for all to see. To give them wings to soar as they leap across the stage. Miss Tori has given them so much, and I hope that this piece gives her that sense as she watches the beauty that she has created in each step those dancers take.

The Journey

Recycled Sari silk
Gold plated soaring bird link
Vintage chain, hand-stamped and colored with "The Journey", "Dream", "Wonder"
Swarovski crystals
You know how there is always one performer that your eye just gravitates to during the show? There is always one, and my Tiny Dancer is one. {Okay. I am a bit biased. But I have heard that from others too.} There is such joy in her movement and confidence in her body, and that inspires me because I never had that.

There may come a time when Tiny Dancer will have to choose, and it may come sooner than I would like. Softball starts soon. And in the winter she enjoys Basketball. Softball or dance. Basketball or dance. Or so many other things that could compete with her time and talents. I hope it doesn't have to be an either-or choice, I hope that she can have it all. But Tiny Dancer is devoted to dancing now. And she is good at it. No matter what may happen down the road, I will relish all the days that I have to see her shine there in the spotlight.

2005 - Tiny Dancer the ballerina

I couldn't be more excited to watch my Tiny Dancer as she has grown from such a wee one into such a powerful and strong young lady filled with dreams and wonder. She amazes me with her grace and poise and confidence every day. And I am so glad that I can get her started on her journey and watch her weave the threads of her tapestry no matter where it takes her.

2010 - Tiny Dancer leaping for joy!

"You need chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star."
~ Friedrich Wilhelm Nietsche


Threads of Her Journey by Raymond A. Foss

A tapestry is being stitched
story by story,
step by step, thread by thread
Pictures of her life come alive
with threads of gold,
of silver, of royal purple,
of hope, of faith, of love
her story unfolding
in the fabric, the knitted
tapestry of her life

Where are you on your journey?
What thread of your tapestry is a constant woven through your life?
Are you where you are meant to be? or are you still traveling to an unknown destination?
Have you had the opportunity to witness the journey of a child? to support the tapestry that is being woven for them?

Do tell!
There is still time to enter the Inspired by...Before & After challenge. You have until Friday, April 30th to upload your photos to the Flickr account (see the link in the sidebar). The winner will have the choice of the prizes shown here.

What are you waiting for? Go and be inspired!

Enjoy the day!


Judy said...

How wonderful your beautiful dancer is blessed with a talent full of expression just like her Mom. How lucky to have Miss Tori in her journey, she sounds like a wonderful teacher.
Have a wonderful day!

Cindy said...

Erin, I loved reading the history behind the studio and Tiny Dancer's journey. She sounds incredibly gifted...I would love to see her dance! She is a pretty little girl and looks so much like you. What a tough call between softball and dancing. Don't you wish there were enough time in life for everything we love?? The necklace you made is a knock-out...WOW! I am sure Miss Tori loved it! :-)

steufel said...

Your daughter is adorable and so is the necklace. regards Stefanie

The Empress said...

That necklace is so beautiful it made me cry.

Your work is really tangible poetry.

Denise Yezbak Moore said...

Hi Erin
My little girl also dances. She is only five but I love to watch her shine. My opportunity to witness the journey of a child has taken place this year with my son Garrett. He loves baseball but has always been just an average player. My husband Rusty is the has worked hard with him this year and has woven Garrett into an All Star baseball player. This little boy (12 years old) has worked his butt off. He should be an inspiration to all - if you work hard at your craft you will blossom!

I absolutely love your bracelet you designed for Miss Tori. I am obsessed with Sari silk right now. The bracelet is absolutely beautiful.

Lance said...

What a beautiful daughter you have shared today! And the necklace - so colorful - I LOVE it!

Life is a journey for each of us. That journey can sometimes feel crystal clear, and then other moments - all sorts of fuzzy. And I think that's all okay, especially if, through it all, we are listening to our heart...

Alice said...

Tiny Dancer is beautiful! Mom, just remember, even if she chooses ball over dancing, and later, boys over ball, and later work over boys, she is still on the same journey.

I just love the piece you made, and I'm sure Miss Tori will treasure it always!

cjvierow said...

Beautiful---Your daughter and the bracelet!! How wonderful to see her blossom like a rose, slowly unfurling before your eyes. CJ

stregata said...

Your daughter is very lucky that you are giving her the encouragement and support to follow her bliss. She is learning so much more than dancing!
Love the necklace you made for Miss Tori!

Esther said...

what a beautiful tiny dancer!! love the last picture .; she is beautiful!! erin love your necklace too!! bravo!

Christine said...

Oh my goodness, Erin! What a wonderful, love-filled post! Your daughter is beautiful and that last picture just about sums up the joy in dance.

At my 40th b-day party on Saturday, I had on display a HUGE album that my mom put together of all the photos and keepsakes from my 22 years as a dancer. It's such an emotional thing. Keep everything; someday the dance may be done for your dancer, and she (and you) will want to remember it all.

Julie Pishny said...

Erin, Thank you for another great read...your little girl is growing up - it happens so fast. I am sure she will navigate the choices that begin to creep in at her age with your loving guidance. I would love it if you would YouTube the performance for us...

The necklace you created is perfect and I am sure that Ms Tori will love it. I saw a Cirque performance in LasVegas years ago and I still see that performance playing out in my mind whenever I hear or see an advertisement for an upcoming performance.

I constant has been busy hands - I use my hands to be my voice.

I had the priviledge of watching my niece go from a little dancer to growing up to become the valedictorian of her class, graduate from college with honors and now to be a grown woman who is married and happily settled in life. (She danced until she entered High School and then became a cheerleader and play softball.)

Hugs - Julie

Michelle said...

Hi Erin!
Loved the history of your daughter's dancing. I hope that Miss Tori loves the necklace as much as I do. What a great inspiration to us all...you, your daughter and Miss Tori.
Bead Happy!

mairedodd said...

where to begin? wonderful post and thank you for sharing it in detail - because a watered down version would have left me thirsty for more knowledge... what an incredible woman miss tori is and what a gift... i know i try to surround my kids with other adults that promote their growth and stretch them... no matter what she chooses, i wish her well... if she is serious about dance, she will need to choose to focus upon it... and if not, who knows? she may miss it... this years show is sure to be moving - i was moved by the description... miss tori is something - even if the kids don't completely 'get' the journey, their grown ups certainly will... and maybe they will come away better for it - not just having enjoyed a beautiful show, but learning something... and maybe that something will become a part of how they live, and in doing so weaving it into the fabric of their growing children... and like ripples on a pond... there is more love and kindness and tolerance... do enjoy erin - this is one special ride!
and the piece you created is gorgeous... hope there are maybe some detail shots on your flickr acct...
have news to share with you about the dr. seuss piece as well...


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