Emilie has been dancing since the day I enrolled her in a pre-school combo class with Miss Rochelle at Turning Pointe–A Dance Studio in Longwood, Florida. I had been recommended to check out the class, and the teacher, by another mom I ether knew, or bumped into in the local grocery store with toddlers and tutus in tow.
That’s how it all started. The kids got to tumble and dance together once a week while the moms sat outside the one-way mirrored glass and watched, donning big smiles and beaming with pride. In those days we wouldn’t think of dropping them off to run errands, we were glued to the glass.
As the years went by, the weekly classes went from one, to two, to more–some days there was even enough time to run through the adjacent grocery store. Emilie’s favorite teacher moonlighted as our babysitter and by the time she was in kindergarten she came to me and said “Miss Heather said that I could be part of the Twinklers,” she went on to explain, “And you can’t just be a Twinkler, you have to be invited, Mom.” I think she had her hands on her hips as she looked up to me and said, very matter-of-fact. “And Miss Heather invited me.“
And there it was.
I remember it just like yesterday. A Twinkler, the entry level to the competition dance team. Soon she would be a Dazzler, then a Rising Star, and ultimately a Turning Pointe STAR. She never looked back, she never said she didn’t want to go to practice, or that she was too tired to put on her dance shoes. Never.
Today I am looking back. I am remembering that teeny girl in her even smaller tutu at her very first recital, dancing to Puff the Magic Dragon. Through the years, she has blossomed into an amazingly talented and beautiful dancer who moved just like a butterfly on stage in Atlantic City this week. Somehow along the way my baby girl grew up, spread her wings, and flew.
Just like that,
I had shared the above photo of Emilie with my friend Irma in Italy and she replied “la farfalla — just like a butterfly.”
Irma had described her perfectly. Emilie’s beauty in life and on stage reminds me of my favorite Haiku by 16th Century Japanese poet Arakida Moritake — The Falling Flower.
The falling flower
I saw drift back to the branch
Was a butterfly
La mia farfalla, my butterfly, is spreading her wings and going off to college to pursue a degree in dance. I wonder if Miss Rochelle, or Miss Heather could have seen it coming? Maybe not at age three, but surely as the years went by it became more and more apparent that Emilie had found her passion, her one true love.
It is with a heavy heart and moist eyes that I have watched her on stage this week. Dancing, and sitting on the sidelines supporting her fellow dancers. Performing as part of a team, performing as a solo act, being a friend and acting as a mentor. I have watched her accept awards with grace and cheer just as gracefully when others have achieved the awards she and her teammates had hoped for.
She has come a long way. Sometimes I feel like it happened when I looked away just for a minute, or was running through the grocery store.
Isn’t that the way it happens?
Everyone told me back in the days of three, “they grow up fast.” Somehow I thought we would be different, that our time might move at a leisurely pace, might even linger. Now she is drifting, the wind is changing, and I am learning to let go. I had hoped that I could let go gracefully at this very last childhood dance competition, but there have been a lot of crocodile tears on my part.
My Butterfly, I love you more than words can say.
for being a part of
My Art Journey,
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