You know when you ask kids what they want be in their life? You often get doctor, nurse, singer, lawyer. Well Delphine has always said ambassador. Since she was little. I don’t even know where she got the idea from. It’s not like we’re surrounded by embassies in Mid-Wales. Then, not long ago she asked me what an ambassador did. I told her it was a representative.
Her eyebrows raised. ‘A representative of what?’
’What do you want it to be?’
She shrugged. ‘I don’t know yet.’.
And there it was. Like a window. As everybody else was setting the bar at trades or respectable professions, Delph was going her own way. And I am her guide. I definitely felt like her guide driving the 400 miles to the dance seminar yesterday. For the last talk, the high-powered players of inclusive dancing gave a talk about funding. The chairperson of the ISTD sat directly in front of us. Boy, did she have good posture.
Delph sat next to me and watched TV. Look, it was The Greatest Dancer! And she was the only child at the seminar. I had a dose of pushy parent. Enough to stop me asking questions about funding. But maybe that wasn’t my job. Maybe I was just there to listen. And of course to be Delphine’s guide. Can’t forget that part.
So, two mornings later, why have I woken up feeling bittersweet about the whole thing? After all, the artistic director of Candoco, of which Delphine is a member of their youth group Cando2, spoke directly to the audience saying they were actively looking for disabled dancers.
I looked over at Delphine who was on episode 5. It was hard not to stand up and cry out to the room, ‘I’ve brought you one! Don’t worry!’ Even the head of Dance Science of the conservatoire Trinity Laban – the largest contemporary dance school in the world (where Delphine dances in Greenwich with Candoco) was there. They want disabled dancers, they have funding coming through the system and this is the beginning of inclusive dancing on a national and international scale. That’s what they said.
It was a pinch-me with barbecue tongs moment. If Delphine stays, then it appears she’s here at exactly the right time. I didn’t see it coming. We only started her in dance so she could be tricked into doing physio. No one counted on her love for dance. Now I see it like a knife – it’s not surprising that dance makes disabled people feel good about themselves. It’s the most obvious thing in the world.
Why then, do I feel so sad this morning? After all the excitement of meeting these interesting people. The simple fact is we’ll have to let Delphine go. In order for her to live as a disabled, dancing ambassador.
When she was six-weeks old, Grandpa declared her special. We’d no idea then about cerebral palsy or visual impairment. It still makes me laugh when I think of six-week old Delphine looking at him. Grandpa. He was so full of it sometimes. Twelve years later he might not be here anymore but it turned out the old bastard was right. His words, not mine.
We were also told yesterday that professional dancers need GCSEs in Maths and English. This means I’m definitely not finished with Delph yet. But make no mistake. I saw the people. Delph joined the Magpie Dance Company workshop. Composed of disabled dance members and the dance teachers who attended the seminar, Delphine was by far the youngest.
They went round the room and asked each person to say their name with a little dance. Delphine broke her name into two distinct syllables and arm twists. My heart fluttered,
I know! I know it. If she was a normal kid I would of course be gearing up to letting her go. In order to frame her disability around the working world, she has to be considered the same as any other child. I’ve just never done this before. And I think it’s fair to say I’m a pretty possessive person. I mean it says so in my astrological chart of Gemini sun and Scorpio moon so it must be true. I’ll prepare Delph for her independent and successful life as a beautiful young person, but the bit about losing her sucks. That’s all.
Hold on. I guess I could stalk her?