we continued a family tradition of going to the nutcracker last night. truth be told, it's only been a tradition for two years - ever since our daughter had a part in the children's cast.
we always try to just be very matter of fact about it all, but its my blog so i can gush for a moment. this isn't your run of the mill recital sort of thing. it's the real deal; with the city ballet at the big theater downtown.
she had her opening night three weeks ago, but we went to officially see it last night. i say "officially" because i had already seen her perform twice while watching from the wings when my chaperoning duties included 'stage escort'. i mean, being hair and make up mom to a bunch of flower fairies in the dressing room was nice, but being stage escort was way cooler.
we'd listen for our cue - as soon as we heard the first russian dancer hit the stage once he landed from his leap down the flight of stairs, it was time for the flower fairies to line up and head down the hallway to wait to get onstage. as soon as those russians came bursting out the door into the hallway breathing as if they had just sprinted for a finish line; the fairies went back stage and lined up in the wings, tightly packed together, in between their own wings. a little line of fairy sardines. when the girl with the big hoop skirt and all the children that were hiding under it came off the stage, they went onstage.
it is an amazing, fascinating little world back there. and when i wasn't catching a glimpse of annabel as she flitted by my tiny line of sight in the wings, i was distractedly watching all the stretchy, twirly, jumpy warmups.
the equivalent of racers on their trainers i guess, only its way prettier with all those fancy tutus and sparkly tiaras. actually, i suppose 'cross has its share of tutus and tiaras in some circles. just not here. yet.
it's exciting to see how it all comes together backstage, but its all business and listening and watching carefully for a cue. these little girls knew the precise moment and note at which to step out on stage, and annabel knew that the moment the woman came down from her partners' shoulders and her toes touched the stage, she was to lead everyone off.
but sitting in the audience, just listening to the orchestra, knowing what is to come, and remembering her nutcracker debut last year - i start to get all teary before the curtain even goes up. the waltz of the flowers fairies was not until the second act, and when annabel stepped out onto the stage, my eyes welled up and it was hard to see; and henry let out a little gasp, and moments later as he watched her flit about the stage with the other fairies, he whispered "annabel is awesome'.
later, he denied it of course. and i suppose, what self respecting 12 year old wouldn't retract such a statement. i imagine there must be some sort of 12 year old boy code that he had violated. but still. his dad and i heard it. sweet little proof that despite all the torture, he really does love his little sister.
annabel was indeed awesome. equally awesome was watching lulu's face at the end of act 1 when she realized it was snowing in the audience and then seeing her light up when annabel came onstage - all the while she was clutching the little nutcracker that i had purchased for her during intermission - after she brought home a letter, a poem and a picture of the nutcracker with a speech bubble that said: i want to be lulu's. what can i say, i'm a sucker. she's been carrying the thing around all day.
and then of course, there was the post performance trip to see the tree downtown and the requisite pleading with the kids to please try to give me one good shot for a Christmas card which is too late to send now anyway - and the evening was complete.
on the drive home, we kept asking annabel if she had seen us in the audience from up on stage, cause as her dad said right after the show - he really thought she was looking right at him, he felt a connection - and she got all giggly and said she couldn't see anyone. but lulu and henry were convinced that she saw them too - they thought she was looking right at all of us.
all i know is that during the waltz of the flower fairies, she was the only one we all saw.