Last year I got to chatting with a neighborhood mom, and discovered she taught dance at a local middle school. Dancer's ballet school had been looking for a way to do some outreach, so I offered to connect the mom and the school. Unfortunately, by the time I did so the mom had been laid off.
This September the mom started a new job in an elementary school in the South Bronx. It's a tough neighborhood, the poorest in the nation. This time I succeeded in setting up a meeting to see if her school and the dance school could develop a partnership.
In November a group of our ballet students trekked out to the South Bronx to do a lecture-demo for 3rd, 4th and 5th graders. Dancer loved doing it; the kids were fascinated by the demo, and Dancer said they were funny and charming and totally entranced. The ballet mistress who went along said it was a magical experience.
On Monday night, 38 of the kids came into Manhattan to observe a dance class, have pizza, and watch the final dress rehearsal for Nutcracker. Most of them had never been in a theater before; none had seen a ballet. It was fabulous. They cheered and giggled and smiled and smiled.
Sometimes the best gift in the world is to be able to give to someone else. Monday was a gift.
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Dancer has feet that are hard to fit for pointe shoes. Last year one of her teachers, who used to dance with a major ballet compay, noticed that Dancer's feet were similar to her own. Miss Natalia gave Dancer a few pairs left over from the days when her company had them custom made for her. Lo and behold, the shoes fit better than anything else Dancer had ever tried.
Standard pointe shoes cost a good $80. Dancer goes through a pair every few weeks. Miss Natalia had a closet full of the specially-made shoes, some of which she graciously sold to us for $30 a pair. Even that has been brutal on our non-existent budget. And Natalia is reaching the bottom of her bottomless closet.
I don't write much about our financial hardships. I'm adept at making-do; I'm good at bartering services; I know how to stick to a budget. Dancer is blessed with scholarships at both her high school and ballet. Over time I have learned to pull my attention away from the things that seem unfixable, and to focus on doing whatever the next thing is that I can do. There's a lot I can contribute to the world even if financial ends don't meet.
Tuesday while I was working backstage -- something I can do -- Miss Natalia came over to me, smiling widely. She showed me an email on her phone from a famous ballerina who happens to use the same custom shoes as she does. Natalia had written to her about our pointe shoe dilemma. The ballerina wrote back, "Of course I'd be glad to donate some of my shoes to your student!"
Sometimes the sheer goodness of people astounds me. Stunningly beautiful things happen when people choose to live generously. Some of those people read this blog, and have done beautiful things in my life. I cannot begin to say how thankful I am.
|Dancer on opening night|