The Dancer and the Dance

My daughter recently took part in a show organised by the dancing school, of which she is a (minor) part. The particular troupe of Irish Festival dancers regularly attend shows abroad showcasing their undoubted talent. And each summer they put on an event in the local theatre offering parents such as myself the opportunity to pay and watch their little treasures dance to their heart’s content.

And so the last eight weeks or so of the summer have been occupied with the logistics and time of running these would-be stars of the stage back and forth to rehearsal. Among the casualties of that particular exercise were either my points-free driving licence or my wife’s points-un-free licence. Those eagle eyed boys in blue or their camera operators clocked our car doing the wrong speed in the wrong place but for some reason sent the ticket to the guy we bought it from over four years ago. Time will tell if efficiency rules among the Traffic Wonks and it gets sent to us. Let’s see how efficient you are boys!

Anyway I digress. The tickets for the aforesaid show were £11.00 each, not a lot you might think but steep enough for a troupe of amateur dancers. When you factor in the in-house marketing job my daughter did to unsuspecting aunts and grannies seven people were signed up to go. No discount was offered to those parents who had already paid for the lessons to enable their would be Jean Butlers to take part in the show, having paid in time and Speeding points to get them there and back. Is it too simplistic to suggest that without our children there would have been no show or is that a tad curmudgeonly?

We duly took our seats in the second row for the marathon two plus hours of Irish dance, and  various other tunes from the shows and pop hits given the same  treatment. At times the dancing was absolutely brilliant, in particular the sequences of tap.

Girls in their twenties, teenagers, prepubescent and early primary school kids whirled, jigged, reeled and tapped round the stage with great vigour some looking positively miserable, maybe they were thinking of all the time and money their parents had invested to get them there. Others jigged, juggled and wobbled their stuff with great abandon. Some had more to wiggle than others whilst some of the younger dancers seemed to wish forlornly that they could thrust, wiggle and jiggle just like the older dancers. We just wished they wouldn’t try.

Frankly there was something disconcerting and overly three dimensional  and dare I say it in your face, about the serried ranks of dancers heaving and thrusting about on the stage, embonpoints all a shudder. No doubt some lads would have enjoyed it –  I found the sight of the younger girls acting older decidedly uncomfortable and incongruous, especially set alongside some of the innocence of the very young dancers. These ones of course will have been looking up to the older girls and the way they conducted themselves.

The highlight for me was when one girl’s hair grip flew off, landing on the stage. And as we watched for one of her colleagues to stand on it and possibly injure herself, one of the stars of this year’s show, and last year’s, swept across the stage, feet a jigging and expertly hoofed the offending accessory sideways stage right at a rate of knots, before karooming off in the other direction in a flurry of black tighted legs skipping an intricate jig with the odd buck lep thrown in.

What was it like then? Well, with some judicious editing of some of the more self indulgent pieces that went on, and on, and on. . . it would have been a tighter and more enjoyable show. But sadly in most cases each production piece was emphasised, over emphasised and reinforced and consequently went on too long. And the main dramatis personae were always the same which became a bit tedious and over familiar.

Anyhow, in the end my daughter enjoyed her five or six minutes on stage each night. I couldn’t help but think she isn’t one of the in-crew in many ways. She loves her dancing and skips about our kitchen without a care in the world. She goes to classes and rehearsals and seems to like it. But. . . hard to know.

After the latest show it’s much easier to separate the dancer from the dance. The former is an innocent wee girl who loves to perform and dance. The latter? Too knowing. Too adult. Too grown up. Too self indulgent. And probable a dance too far. Won’t be there next year, that’s for sure.

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