Sunday, May 21, 2006

Recital 2006

Before the Friday Show
Last weekend was recitals for the kids, the result of months of preparation. Both had performances on Friday, hip-hop for Moody and something called creative movement for Tala. On Saturday Tala had another show. They did a terrific job, and it was a very nice experience for them and us!

The school is called Generations, and it is a non-profit started by two sisters who teach there, along with a daughter of one and a whole lot of other volunteers. It is in an old building in uptown Westerville, and whenever I go there, the place is like a beehive with kids running around peacefully to/from classes, and parents steering them through. Over time you get to know the kids' faces, some of the names, siblings and parents. But you don't really see them doing their drills, except on the designated Parent Observation day.

Orderly bees on the bleachers! All smiles before the show

Likes the flowers, but still pouting
Ahmed had been in a recital last year, but this was Tala's debut. The show was held at a nearby highschool theater, and Friday evening was standing room only! We had to sit all the way in the back, which meant the kids wouldn't be able to see us. Moody was just fine, and he actually did his finest performance, waving his arm in the air, sliding on his knees and all. But little Tala came out on stage, starting out OK, then she started looking for us in the audience. By the end she just froze in place, looking out with a major pout! I had been telling Hana about my stage fright experience in 5th grade, the only time I ever took part in a stage performance like that, unless you count lecturing and such! I was the youngest in the dance group, and I had the spotlight in one part, which I always did fine except when I had those preshow jitters. I ended up OK, after encouragement from teachers, but it sure helped me a heck of a lot to see my father and my brother in the audience. Poor Tala was really stressed on Friday night. She came back out onstage for the finale. But after the show, we went to get the kids from the gym, and Tala just unloaded! She cried hard for a while, just releasing the stress, then she was able to relax and enjoy her cute flowers.

Getting ready for Round 2

On Saturday, we knew to get there early and grab the best seats in the house: center front row. Moody was sitting with us, and as it happened, also next to one of his dancemates, Alex. This was Moody's first experience watching the performance by kids he knew in the trenches. He'd seen the rehearsal and that helped him a lot with concentration in his number, but watching the recital really made the whole idea sink in even more for him. This time, Tala came out and she greeted us right away with her beaming smile. She was much more relaxed, did a charming number with her group, and was throwing kisses by the end!

Before this experience, there was soccer, ice skating, swimming, etc., but somehow the performance arts are so different. I don't know what it is, maybe the lights, the special clothes, makeup, crowd, or maybe it is all of those things. There were skinny kids, chubby kids, tall, short, white, black, kids with round heads, square heads, glasses, just all sorts of kids... It all hit me in the middle of the first show that they all had one thing in common: Just working their little big hearts out, and I told Hana that the whole thing was all about doing their best. It really works, and it is such an impressive sight to see, especially when you know how hard they trained. The amount of self discipline is just amazing, even among the three-year olds! Of course, there were lots of moments when they just kinda forgot what was going on and the'd just chat on stage, etc. lol lol But as soon as someone backstage gets their attention, theyd go back to performing-- with a passion! I can't wait to get the video of the shows, so I can watch them all over again. It's tough to resist the human spirit at its purest.

My fifth-grade show was in 1969, in celebration of Libyan Unification Day (April 1964?) when the Federation of three Libyan provinces evolved peacefully into the Kingdom. We used to practice after school in the unfinished theater of the Secondary (high) school behind my elementary/middle school. That year, 1969, was the last time that Unification Day was celebrated. In the summer break that followed, I learned a new word: revolution! That year was the year the music died for Libya. By the time I got to high school, the theater in which we had practiced was being used by gangs to sell moonshine! I wish all kids in the world get the opportunity and encouragement to do their best, even if it happens once a year, or even once in a lifetime. And thanks to all who helped me; in particular, I remember Kamal Buhidma, who was just a highschool student and a boyscout at the time, and our dance instructor. Thanks also to Mr. Ibrahim Majdoub, the music teacher at Zawiet ad-Dahmani school, when the music was still alive there...

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