Hip Hop in a Pink Tutu
By a Fairy Ballerina’s Mama (Guest Blogger)
“We’re all faced with great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations” – Dr Joe Dispenza. COVID-19 Auckland 2021 is one almighty great opportunity then. The incredible Miss Marguerite invited me to share my perspective as a mum during lockdown, including what it’s teaching our children and how of course dancing helps. I love to write, but I am a very private person so this is an uncomfortable leap for me which I will do with love for a gorgeous dance school and it’s community which includes you dear reader.
I believe that we are the writers of our own stories. The facts can be shaped into stories that will vary depending on your perspective of life. I could tell you a story of lockdown heartache. In early September my Dad died in the South Island of an unexpected heart attack. We had our exemptions declined to attend the funeral. Our 6 year old little lady who was very close to her Grandad watched her cousins play in the backyard on the day of the funeral via Google meetings. One could say from these facts that she learnt isolation instead of community when her magical Grandad passed. That she was deprived of the bittersweet joy funerals can bring when family come together to grieve. That would be a sad story for sad people. My husband and I choose not be sad people. We don’t want our daughter to be sad either. Sadness is a normal emotion, but it should be energy in motion, something you move through, it should not determine your day nor your personality.
Instead we consciously choose to find greatness, and refuse to be talked out of it with the countless excuses our minds are very good at finding. So when Dad passed on, I wanted to honour his greatness. He was truly magnificent. What would Dad have done? I was very very close to my Dad. The shock of his passing was so immense that I was unable to eat nor sleep for five nights and days. I must of dozed off at some point but it felt like I didn’t. I wanted to eat, I wanted to sleep and every time I would go to do either the grief would arise. So it was not like I was some superhuman immune to grief. However, I was still able to ask these questions. What would Dad have done? What would he want? He would want his family to be together. Well that’s a dead-end as we can’t be together especially with my older brother in Canada…but what if? Dad would have found a way. I kept asking questions as Dad had role modelled his whole life, and eventually I found a way. We ended up hosting the celebration of Dad’s life from our home in Auckland using Google meetings. There was a small family gathering at the family home in Carters Beach which had a big screen set up outside in a marquee so we could all see and hear each other. People joined from all over the world, including my brother and his family in Canada. My husband MC’d the gathering from our house in Auckland. We all sang Dad’s favourite song together then there was a list of speakers.
What happened? Magic. No one cried. There was so much laughter with stories of Dad. Stories heard before and some never spoken out loud. My face hurt from laughing and smiling. All of the speakers could talk without getting too overwhelmed with grief, including my mum who was married to Dad for over 50 years, he was her best friend and soul mate. Our 6 year old little lady saw everyone laugh, so she laughed. She heard her parents, Nana, and Uncles and older cousins speak with strength and love so she asked to speak during the formal part too, so she did. She said “I love you Grandad” and everyone applauded. She was proud as punch and so she should be. She learnt that Grandad made his family strong, that no matter how bad things seem, magic can happen. None of us felt isolated or limited in any way. We felt extremely connected and filled with joy.
After the celebration, my husband drove us to a west coast beach nearby. It had black sand just like at Carters Beach, I felt even more connected. Watching our little lady run around on the beach at sunset with joy was more magic then I thought could be possible. My husband wrote ‘Grandad Terry XO’ in the sand about 20 metres from the water. But an almighty wave must have rolled in as it stretched all of the way up to kiss the feet of the ‘XO’ just as he finished writing. The three of us were speechless and just looked at each other in awe. Then in the wake of that beautiful wave about a metre underneath the writing a bunch of flowers was left. I am not kidding you. They were white lilies, the kind used for Catholic funerals. Even tied with a ribbon and all. They were a little sea weary around the edges but were otherwise in amazing condition. I am really not kidding you. One of my brothers was determined my husband had done this, but I assure you as I did my brother that he did not. As our little lady said “must have been the fairies.’
Did our daughter miss out? No she didn’t. She just had a very different experience to her cousins that’s all. Not worse nor better, just different, equally magical.
COVID, famines, wars, floods, earthquakes, financial pressures etc., these significant events alone do not teach our children anything. We believe children learn from who we decide to be in response. As parents when faced with such circumstances, do we hide under our beds, in our routines, in our social media feeds, in our complaints? Or do we rise to meet the circumstances with a smile, a good song playing and a swing in our step? We are far greater than we ever think.
So what’s dance got to do with this? I am a scientist by qualification. I believed in the power of science not the arts. You can measure effectiveness in science not the arts. But then I met my husband. He helped me to see that the arts are equally powerful. When I was little I too scared to attend dance classes and of being on stage. But I married someone who loves to dance and loves being on a stage and our daughter takes after him in this way which I am forever grateful for. Dance during lockdown has filled our house with laughter in the same way as Dad’s life enabled his loved ones to laugh on the day of his funeral. I do not say this lightly.
The other day I was having some me-time and my husband connected our little lady to a zoom dance class with Miss Caitlin. When I walked into the living room after the class had finished, she ran over to me and grabbed my hands with so much joy it was impossible to say no so we danced and danced and danced. Her joy was infectious. She was overflowing with it. It was a memory that will stay with me forever. Last night, as my husband cooked dinner as I was a bit tired he put on a tango and whisked me around the kitchen while I laughed and laughed and laughed. I wasn’t tired anymore after that. Another day recently when it was pouring with rain, I noticed our little lady looking sad, ‘What could I do here I thought?’ I ran outside and started dancing in the rain. She ran after me and we laughed and laughed and laughed in the rain as we got wet and muddy while dancing. She attended the international dance workshop recently. She loved it so much she performed the hip hop routine to family around the world in a Google meeting. They were all telling their friends all week how they had seen their 6 year old grand-daughter/niece/cousin do hip hop in a pink tutu. When I tucked her into bed during the week I was able to tell her that she had made people she hasn’t even meet smile at just the thought of her dancing as far away as Canada, Queensland and and as close as Levin, Westport and Christchurch.
We won’t remember all of the times we boiled the jug to make a cup of tea. We won’t remember all of the times we sat on the couch and scrolled through social media on our phones, peeled the potatoes, figured out what to cook for tea, the washing, beds or grocery shopping. We don’t remember these everyday things. But we will always remember dancing with our family, the song playing and the joy on everyones faces and the joy we felt.
Thank you Miss Marguerite and her fabulous team of dance teachers for creating wonderful opportunities to engage in dance during lockdown. The energy you guys have poured into reaching out and connecting with your community has reminded at least our little household of the value of dance and we have had so many more beautiful memories because of this.
Celebrate What’s Right With The World: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gD_1Eh6rqf8
The Great Realisation: A Bedtime Story of How It Started, and Why Hindsight’s 2020: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nw5KQMXDiM4