Tired Dancer

The dancer is tired. The dancer doesn’t want to play right now. 4pm and she is ready to go home. I took her for a pizza along Greenwich High Street – a little place with a stone oven and old-fashioned dumb waiters. A marguerita to share for 8 quid. Delphine ate it and afterwards, I could see her torso slacken. Sometimes food is a good thing and sometimes it backfires.

’I think I need to puke,’ she said.

Ahh the joys of motherhood. I took a breath. ‘You don’t need to move tomorrow Dudu. Or all week. Let’s just get this done.’

Dance will be two hours long. Right now it’s killing her. Once she gets started – if she doesn’t hurl that is- I know her experience will carry her through. I love the way both my girls go into automatic discipline mode when they start dancing. It’s my favourite part of their dancing lives. What, not the actual dance? Well, ok that too but to be honest not really. My thing is how my girls are indoctrinated. Only a childhood years-long hobby can do this. I love the way their shoulders square and their eyes glaze over with work. They don’t see me anymore.

We’re at the Laban building early again. It’s busier this time round. The cafe is bustling with people – and not just dancers. People studying at the tables, teachers preparing papers – it has a proper university feel. Delph just got changed and we’re mooching around waiting for her class. We found a large library on the first floor – a dance library? The academia of dance is an actual thing.

We’ve settled in the middle of the building to wait. We do some reading until Delph’s dance teacher comes towards us.

She’s giving Delph a wide smile. ‘I’m so glad to see you again. Tell me, do you ever dance without shoes?’

Delph looks down at her ballet shoes. ‘Uh no.’

I’m looking at the dance teacher, impressed. Here she is, treating my 11 year-old as a fellow dancer, she which of course she is, but still.

I explain about the lack of sensation in Delph’s right foot. When she was little, she’d stub her toes and often, she didn’t feel it. I’d catch little puddles of blood on the floor and discover Delph playing happily with bleeding toes. She doesn’t lift her right foot as much as the other foot either, so she also tends to catch it on things. Not fair for her doubled.

‘No problem,’ the dance teacher says. Still, that’s all talk. Really, I can tell she’s watching Delphine carefully.

She starts again. ‘The only thing is that we do tend to dance barefoot. Do you think you could give it a go sometime?’

Delph does that thing where she nods but looks  as if she’s being asked to jump out of a fourth storey window.

I jump in. ‘Delph has holes on the bottom of her tights. She can take her shoes off and turn them into leggings.’

At this, Delph smiles but throws me a glance which clearly says, ‘I’m going to kill you later.’

The dance teacher smiles wider. She doesn’t  miss any of it. After the class, she comes straight up to me. I’ve been sitting outside the studio with another mum who comes every week from Birmingham. She’s been telling me her story. Her 18 year-old daughter lives to dance. Just to dance. Not the research, essays or any of the theory.

Candoco is proving to be a way of making this possible, she explains. I’m soaking it all up. The dance teacher approaches again like soft candlelight.

‘Delphine got straight back in to it.’

Delph is right behind her. Still tired-looking, yes. But she’s happy. ‘Next time,’ she says, ‘next time I’ll take my shoes off.’

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