Another surprise hit me last night – Delphine’s penchant for pathos. We came to London to attend her last dance class for Candoco’s Cando2 youth group. After a number of years dancing in the famous dance university, The Laban Building, Candoco have made the difficult decision to close the Greenwich-based group down.
The parents were invited at the end to watch the dancers perform a piece they’d been working on. Us parents rolled in slightly late from a good-bye coffee session in Costa, followed by a rushed buying of gifts for the teachers at Waitrose. Meanwhile, Delph had been thrown in the deep end – the rest of the class had been practising a month and Delph showed up on the last day. You could see it in her face as she danced; a solemn, almost angry seriousness.
Besides the face, she did well though. Actually she did amazingly well. I’m not just saying that either – she know where to move, and they did a lot of contemporary-based moving. No panic, no rustle; Delph cruised around the room with stern mastery. Then, after us parents had finished clapping and hooting, the lead teacher asked us all to sit together in a circle.
She said, ‘I’d like to invite everyone to speak starting with the words “I remember when..” We’d like to hear about your memories of this dance group.’
This group had been running for approximately six years. Six years every Monday meant there were memories to tell. The first parent started out with how much her daughter had changed from attending classes. From not taking part at the beginning to becoming a fully-fledged member who danced with complete confidence, it made my skin tingle. Next was a pupil with a cool, independent spirit, then another parent who spoke about the challenges they’d faced before her daughter had started to attend, a grandparent (my mother) who remembered how she’d been blown away the first time she’d seen Delphine dancing with Candoco. A teacher explained how, every week she’d been exhausted on public transport all the way to class, and afterwards every time she’d felt completely revitalised. Then one of the heads of Candoco explained how she was so sorry they had to shut the group down. ‘I’m sure this won’t be the end though,’ she said, ‘rather “a see you later.”’
Then it was my turn to speak. I hoped to talk about how it felt to experience this gift of inclusive dancing. Finding this group had become a life-changing experience for us. Only Delph was weeping prodigiously and had gone a dark shade of crimson. I started worrying about making it worse for her. Delphine wasn’t the only one crying, but the intensity of her emotions took me by surprise. For six months we’d been coming once a month – except for the dance intensive where we’d spent most of Easter break in The Laban Building. When the main teaching co-ordinator had called me to break the news of the group’s closure, I’d assumed we could join the other group in Central London.
‘Unfortunately that’s not a group you can just pop in on,’ the co-ordinator had explained over the phone, ‘Delphine will need to attend the class every week in order to qualify for this group.’
Hmmm. We’ll see about that.