GRB Junior Company delivers to a packed house at the Dogwood
By Ken DeLaat
“Is it time yet?”
“Can we start getting ready?”
“You and me and Grammy are all getting dressed up, right?”
It was Saturday morning and the weather started getting a bit dicey and icy. I had pondered aloud that unless things got better outside there might not be a ballet today.
That led to frequent glances out the window with Harper declaring several times, “It looks like its getting better Papa! That means we’re going, right?”
It wasn’t getting better at all of course, but once it was confirmed that the show was definitely on we were most certain to be going. After all, what’s a little winter storm when it comes to taking an enthusiastic young lady to her first ballet?
The anticipation must have been a bit tiring since after the excitement of getting dressed, including the selection of my tie (a bluish sort with small Winnie the Pooh’s sprinkled about), H. conked out enroute to the Dogwood Center requiring an awakening upon arrival when being extricated from her car seat. The usual period of disorientation that accompanies short unexpected snoozes wore off rather quickly as she explored the Dogwood lobby, posed for a few photos, and received an apparently much needed wand from the table of Oz-inspired wares the ballet had set up for a pre-show sale.
Then Lil (aka ‘Grammy’) handed over her ticket and the small one lit up as if just granted the most wonderful of all possible gifts. Harper cradled it in her hand like a treasure and proudly offered it up when we reached the usher.
We settled into our seats just down the row from a gathering of young folks dressed as the familiar Oz characters, a scene that seemed to fascinate yet puzzle the youngest of our trio. In the minutes before the ballet began our little Ms. spoke a bit about the stage and the lights and the feet moving underneath the curtain, but mostly just sat in rapt anticipation.
Once the introduction was delivered and the curtain drew open she was mesmerized.
Because it was magnificent.
The Grand Rapids Ballet Junior Company came in like the tornado in their storyline and whisked a huge Dogwood crowd to the land of Oz. To see the way this talented troupe transformed the classic tale into a compelling choreographic retelling was to witness artistry in motion. The performers took to their roles with enthusiasm and panache and the dancing was sheer delight. From the bright and smooth steps displayed by the principals to the sweet and stylish synchronicity of the Corps de Ballet the performances unfolding on the Dogwood stage proved most pleasing to an enchanted audience. The music, the set, and the imaginative lighting all added to what was a memorable afternoon at the Dogwood.
And Ms. Harper was absolutely smitten.
This was the irrepressible three year old’s first dance performance experience from the audience section having cut her dancing chops on a stage at her debut recital last year. Lil and myself were honored to accompany her for this most treasured annual visit from the GR Youth Ballet.
And while the ballet itself was superb, the real magic took place in the eyes of Harper and the scores of young ladies (and a few young gentlemen) captivated by the action on stage..
There were many glances exchanged by ‘Grammy’ and me as we took in both the ballet and the exquisitely expressive face of the three year old who sat in her seat between us eschewing either lap because, as she stated succinctly with ticket stub in hand, “This is Harper’s seat”.
Yes indeed, Ms H. thoroughly enjoyed the show as she did the pizza supper and ice cream dessert that followed. Though a bit fatigued at day’s end it proved to be a most enjoyable day for her.
But I believe the experience may likely have been even more cherished by her chaperones.
And certainly just as tiring.
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