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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Swan Lake/Shrek or Duck Duck Goose

“Swan Lake/ Shrek” or Duck Duck Goose
By Jody Worsham, All rights reserved to buy camouflaged tights!

My four-year-old has taken ballet all year. His dance instructor wanted to infuse some culture into our little community so rather than do the customary recital of disjointed dance numbers, she chose to introduce them to an actual ballet, “ Swan Lake”. Swan Lake is the story of a beautiful princess who has been placed under a spell by an evil countess who is afraid the princess will be more beautiful than her daughter and thus win the heart of the prince. To prevent this, she turns the princess into a swan each morning at sunrise. Only at night can the princess be a real person.

“What’s a swan?” asks the four year old after hearing the story line.
“It’s a big white bird”, I replied.

At first he seemed confused; then his eyes lit up. “Oh, I get it, like in ‘Shrek’ only she’s Big Bird during the day and a pretty princess at night!”
His teacher cast him as the squire to the prince. “Like Donkey in 'Shrek'. I’m the donkey.”

"No, you are not Donkey. You are a squire. You carry the bow and arrows for the prince”, I quickly told him.

He told everyone that he was a squire and he was supposed to shoot all the baby swans with his bow and arrows. His father was thrilled! The mothers of the baby swans were in a panic! I was disappointed that after paying for all those lessons, he wasn’t going to get to dance. To please me and reassure the swan mothers that no swans would be harmed during the ballet, she put him in the Russian Dance, very athletic and not gender specific to appease his father.

Rehearsals began, and costumes were ordered. Obviously the Chinese do not recognize our system for sizing. Every costume for one class was the same size, only the labels had been changed to read XS, S, M. L. I took three of the costumes home, cut them in half, and added two inches to each one so they would come close to fitting. The other set of costumes must have come from Overstocked Midget Strippers. To bridge the plunging bodice gap for the no-cleavage five-year-olds, I took nine costumes home and sewed scraps of green boa feathers across the front of each costume. My sewing room looked like a flock of green parrots had molted there.

At least his costume fit; I had made it myself in January, but by May he had grown two inches and gained two pounds. His trousers became knickers. I spray painted pink ballet slippers black. He drew the line at wearing tights so I told him they were really soccer sock-tights. He was ok with that.

Dress rehearsal arrived. There were 95 assorted swans, ladies of the court, Russian dancers, prospective brides, a prince, and his little squire. The majority of the dancers were under the age of seven. It was like herding ducks. Feathers were flying everywhere as the swans swooped and twirled. After the first scene, the stage looked like we were doing Dr. Zhivago, all white. I was recruited to help change scenery and sweep away any loose feathers between acts. Amazingly, everyone remembered their entrances and their dance and most of the feathers were still attached to the costumes by the time the rehearsal ended.

The full length “Swan Lake ” usually takes about two and a half hours. We were doing the Cliff Notes Version and with three intermissions, it only took an hour and fifteen minutes. To their credit, everyone danced their best. My four-year-old danced the first part of his Russian dance with great confidence. The second half of the dance was a lot faster with much slapping of knees, heels, and hands. He ceased looking at the audience and stared at the feet of the young lady on his right as he followed her every move, and just one beat behind! This, of course, made him the last person still moving after the others had stopped. His own solo at age four! The audience was most impressed as evidenced by their applause, hoots, and shouts as he finished.

The curtain call had been carefully rehearsed but the excitement was too much for the Russian Dancers, still heady from their almost standing ovation. The Red Menace charged the stage to take their bow early and was only briefly halted when the dance instructor grabbed a little Russian Dancer under each arm and bodily blocked their way. Not to be stopped, the remaining Russians made an end run around the teacher and took the stage and bowed, and bowed, and bowed. And my little Russian was right in the middle. Move over, Baryshnikov, you may have competition from one little Texan!

Our “Swan Lake / Shrek” with overtures of Duck Duck Goose may not be Bolshoi quality…yet, but we are getting there! Merde! And on to next year’s ballet.

I wonder if a five-year-old is too young to play Romeo?


Anonymous said...

Ah, at last, an explanation of the motivation behind those interminable dance recitals. I am beginning to understand. But what keeps the instructor going?

Marti said...

Sounds like a hoot! But I'm glad those days are behind me :-)

Great writing! Hope you get a chance for a little break.

Anonymous said...

Jody, good post, nice use of dialogue! Joanie

Joanne said...

I thought I was through with those days but with 9 grandchildren......

Great blog Jody. The old terror came back to me!

Dianne said...

Great post Joanne. You have more energy than I do. Maybe that will improve if I stick with Zumba.

Sharon Dillon said...

So funny, Jody! I usually try to miss such events, but would love to have seen this one.