Saturday, June 5, 2010

Performing Children

This year in Ecuador has often been focused on Maya's activities, which means nine or ten hours of ballet practice weekly and daily violin practice, including orchestra, lessons and concerts. The hours of work of the past year culminated in a nationwide dance competition today. Our wake up call came at 6, no different than a school day. Maya was nervous, so the screaming began when doing her hair and of course I could not do anything quite right. I am determined never to do her hair again, it will have to be her responsibility from this day forward. We arrived at the dance school by 7 (where Maya had her hair done yet again, and no better than it was before) for an hour of warm up. I sat with Patti, mother of Maria, who stressed about all manner of things, and I learned that both Maria and Paula (Maya's ballet buddies) were crying this morning, and unable to eat or hold themselves together. So nerves are frazzled for everyone. Paula's mother was frantically sewing her daughter's dress together; I was sure there was more for me to do, but I used the time to try to find the ballet shoes Maya had lost two days ago, and figure out the agenda for the day.

Maestra Nina showed up with Maya's two costumes. Melanie (another friend) arrived late, having slept in, but joined the warm up for the last few minutes. I had sent Eric to the Colegio 24 de Mayo, which is near the Olympic Estadio near our apartment to stand in line to get tickets. When he returned, we piled into the truck for the short ride to the theatre. They were not letting spectators in yet, so Eric stayed in the car and worked while I entered the chaos of the back of the theatre where the performers were getting dressed. I was not allowed in, but pushed my way in anyway. Maya was dressed in one of her outfits (she is in two categories/dances) and will perform with a group of younger girls in the 'Infantil Group'. I took the initiative to look at the roster and discovered that Maya would dance first in her solo, and the group dance would be two dances later, so she would have to change quickly to be ready for the second dance. We dressed her again, and her teacher put all sorts of jewels on her arms and her hair and her ears. Melanie's Mom had made Maya up in somewhat garish pink eyeshadow, but the other girls had fake eyelashes and even more outlandish colour combinations on their faces, so I held my tongue. Maya had lent her toe protectors to Maria and complained of sore toes, but it was too late to make a change. She practiced her dance with her teacher amongst the throngs of young girls running about. I found myself with less and less to do, so I joined Eric in the audience.

Gluing on Earrings

The event was to start at 8, but of course, we are in Ecuador, so it was closer to 10 when things got underway. There was of course the requisite talking and talking and talking at first. The judges were from Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Columbia as well as Ecuador, so the competition billed itself as truly 'international'. Eric was working on his grant while waiting and continued when the theatre was dark. I am not sure what 'neoclassical dance' is; perhaps it is ballet but not as strict; the entire first ten or so dances were 'quasi' ballet. Maya was the 12th contestant, in the 'Ballet Solo Infantil' and appeared confident and comfortable. I am always in awe when I see her dancing onstage, amazed at what she can do with her body. She did a quick change and and was back on stage performing with her group of munchkins. Eric left immediately after that, so that he could work more effectively, and I stayed for more than forty more dances, both solo and groups, and ballet and contemporary. After a while, it went on far too long.


Finally, after some awkward perfomances at the end, the morning dances came to an close and the judges wrapped up their decisions and came to the front to board the stage. There was a long period of confusion, when the announcer realized that the winners were identified by numbers and the master list had to be found so that the names of the winners could be announced. The noise and the chaos mounted, and finally, the commentator went through the list of bronze, silver and gold winners, but very quickly so that those handing out medals and trophies could not keep up. The confusion mounted. It was difficult to understand who had won, and I am not sure those that did received their medals. Maya was happy to win a silver for her category of 'Solo Infantil' and it appeared that her group of ' Group Infantil' had won a bronze as well, but the medal went to her Dance school and not to the individual children. I congratulated her on winning two medals, but she did not understand that she had won the second category despite not having the medal around her neck. All of her friends did well and won something in their categories, so the 'Fundacion Danza' was very pleased. There is another school in Quito called the Escuela Metropolitana de Danza, which was much larger than the Fundacion Danza and did even better.

Maya was exhausted, as was I, and I questioned why I commit to these sorts of things; why do parents do so much for their children? I can think of so many other activities I would rather be doing on a Saturday in Quito!!!! Yet, once home, both Maya and I took naps ( I am not quite right yet, am still recovering). There is one more ballet performance (C0ppelia on the 19th) and another concert and then we are done for the season. Whew!

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