Mabel’s Debut

Mabel stands at the crossroads of Ballet and Badassery

The list of things I never thought would come to pass in my life is getting longer with each passing year.  I never thought I’d be a mother, for example.  I never thought I’d ever stomach the sight of pink outside a bottle of Pepto Bismol.  I never thought I’d find myself surrounded by a hundred hip-high, shrieking ballerinas who were not the swarming side-effects of mind-altering drugs or too many slices of jalapeno and bacon pizza before bed.  My daughter Mabel, by her very existence, has shown me the limits of my imagination and made the inconceivable, a dazzling reality.

So when we walked into the Chicago Cultural Center and were confronted with what can best be described as a horrifying pink abyss, it was just another day at the disco.  Mabel has been cultivating a love of the ballet ever since she saw Baryshnikov in The Nutcracker on DVD.  For several weeks now, she’s been compelling me to don a skull-festooned hat and take up arms with a plastic sword and participate in her own choreographed creation “The Princess and the Pirate”.  Naturally, she takes top billing.

When we learned the Chicago Cultural Center was hosting The Dance Along Nutcracker, Kate and I were thrilled.  The event is gay-friendly (it’s sort of like San Francisco’s answer to England’s campy holiday pantomimes and, as an added right-on bonus: the Lakeside Pride Symphonic Band would be performing Tchaikovsky), and it presented the perfect opportunity for our tiny dancer a chance to take the stage.

The ballet is a gentle and delicate art form.  The Dance Along Nutcracker, as it turned out, was no place for the gentle or the delicate.  It was essentially the world’s shortest mosh pit.  In taffeta.   Mabel’s “please and thank you” upbringing put her at a distinct disadvantage, and for a moment there, the scene was becoming a mini reinactment of that nightmarish Jane Fonda danceathon-as-existential-horror movie “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?”.  But with a little help from Kate, Mabel traded pirouettes with a member of the Ballet Chicago troupe.

I never thought the ballet could be so beautiful.

4 Responses to “Mabel’s Debut”

  1. Ronald Dodge Says:

    beautiful story, Melinda. loved the ‘They Shoot Horses, Don’t They’ analogy and use it myself frequently although not nearly as well. do keep it up as you are one of the few voices of reason that i even pay attention to anymore.

  2. Kelly Says:

    Great story, and what a lovely experience for little Mabel. I’m sure that will be all she talks about for days.

  3. Jeff Carroll Says:

    It’s such an athletic endeavor, and it’s also brutal for anyone who wants to go beyond amateur. I have a friend who was a professional ballerina in Canada, then New York. She’s told me stories of the cattle calls that are auditions. Bodies are judged so stringently. It left her with many issues. Unfortunately (luckily?) she was seriously injured when her partner blew the timing for one of her leaps, so she became a European history professor instead. But before she did, she had the chance to star with Rex Smith in this classic:

  4. Lars Says:

    Awww…. Sweet Mabel. Love her, love her, love her. Wait till I tell Henry about this! Give my niece kisses from her Aunty and tell her I am very proud of her.

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