Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Dancing our way through Christmas

Our grandkids love to dance. ViMae will tell you she wants to be a ballerina, and she can show you her best moves and her several tutus. She wanted to take classes, but around here you have to be four to enroll. So in the meantime, she twirls and spins and practices raising her leg to there. Augie joins in by grabbing her arm and swinging her around until one or both fall down. Then they laugh and do it again.

This fall Peter and I took them both to some free noontime presentations by the St. Paul City Ballet. The sessions graduated from barre exercises to snippets of a ballet-in-progress, and finally fully costumed excerpts from the company's holiday production. The Enchanted Toy Shop borrows some music from The Nutcracker; Augie recognized it as being from Disney's Fantasia. They love the Nutcracker Suite portion of Fantasia, and Augie can hear two notes of music and tell you exactly what it corresponds to--for example, the dancing mushrooms, the turnips, or his favorite, "the flowers that fall down over a waterfall."

We explained that the music was first written for a ballet, and the kids said they'd like to see it. Cue another great opportunity. A local dance school was presenting a 20-minute version of Act 2 of The Nutcracker at Rosedale Mall on Wednesday evenings before Christmas. We met the kids and their parents for dinner and then found the performance just as it began. The kids made a beeline for chairs up front and watched every step. This was no virtuoso performance, but it was up close and lively, and the kids thoroughly enjoyed it.

A few days later, we watched parts of two new DVDs--Act 2 of the Nutcracker followed by the corresponding segment of Fantasia. They loved both, and they danced around the den the whole time we were watching.

On Christmas morning at their house, The Nutcracker was playing as they opened gifts, and again they danced. Look at that picture of Augie, wearing his elf hat and red pajamas, dancing like the "action elf" he claims to be.

It will be some time before they are old enough to sit through a full-length performance, but a Christmas Nutcracker is definitely in their futures.


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