Recitals always worth a pain in backsideWhen our daughter started ballet as a grade-school girl, the annual spring dance recitals were held in the Pierre City Auditorium, a rather drab place with a scarred wooden floor, plenty of metal folding chairs and no air conditioning. I played basketball in the place as a high-school senior back in 1962. Even then, the lighting at one end of the court seemed a bit dim.
By: Terry Woster, The Daily Republic
When our daughter started ballet as a grade-school girl, the annual spring dance recitals were held in the Pierre City Auditorium, a rather drab place with a scarred wooden floor, plenty of metal folding chairs and no air conditioning.
I played basketball in the place as a high-school senior back in 1962. Even then, the lighting at one end of the court seemed a bit dim.
That wasn’t a problem for the dance recitals. The Forney-Cronin recitals had stage lights, great music and many, many young dancers. A body grew weary of the metal folding chairs by the time the music faded and the company took its bows. Sitting there watching my own child dance was more than worth the discomfort, and I got to whisper back and forth with my father-in-law. He kept wondering why in the world the studio didn’t have his granddaughter in every dance and why all of those other girls got to share the stage.
He didn’t mean it, of course. Well, yes, he did, but in a good-natured way that made me chuckle softly through parts of the program. We were a couple of classical dance lovers whose expertise consisted solely of thinking our dancer was the best of the bunch.
By the time our dancer was a junior in high school, the Pierre community had built a magnificent theater addition to Riggs High School. The last two or three of the spring recitals took place in the theater, which had nearly 1,000 cushioned seats, great lines of sight and acoustics and a stage the size of the landing deck on an aircraft carrier. The air conditioning wasn’t a bad feature, either.
I watched two recitals from the comfort of the cushioned seats. It was pretty amazing to see all that space up on the stage for the dancers, and my father-in-law would have popped his buttons with pride if he’d seen his granddaughter perform a solo to Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” It was absolutely riveting, and if he’d been there, he’d have told me in a loud whisper that his granddaughter was the best of the bunch.
He died late in the fall before that recital, though, so he missed her junior and senior dance programs. I thought about him each year as I sat in air-conditioned comfort in a padded seat with plenty of shoulder room and no straining to see around the people in the row ahead.
I also thought, after our daughter’s senior recital, that I might not be back in a theater watching dance programs ever again. I thought wrong. I’ve been to a bunch of them.
Just last week, I found myself in the armory in Chamberlain. Nancy and I drove out on a Sunday afternoon to watch our youngest granddaughter’s first dance recital. The wood floor of the basketball court was polished to a high shine and the temperature was comfortable for a light sweater or jacket. The metal folding chairs, though, they were just as uncomfortable as I remembered from way back in the Pierre City Auditorium.
Other than the chairs, it was an enjoyable afternoon of dance, featuring girls and boys ranging in age from pre-school through fifth or sixth grade. The dance instructors clearly loved their work, and their students for the most part seemed to enjoy both the dancing and the public attention.
Our granddaughter was among the youngest of the dancers, and she spent quite a bit of her time on stage in a world of her own. My hearing isn’t that good, but I picked up the accompaniment just fine. Granddaughter Sage obviously was moving to the beat of a different drummer.
And that’s fine. She didn’t seem to throw the other dancers in her group off their strides, so that was good. Besides, she was adorable. I’m not just saying that, either. Both of her grandmas said it, too. So did her parents and her great-grandmother.
While she has a few moves yet to perfect — such as not kneeling down in the middle of the dance and licking the floor — she clearly has built the foundation for future improvement. I can almost hear the opening strains of “Rhapsody in Blue.”