Mar 22, 2015

In Which Eloise Appears on Stage with the Crème de la Crème

Today was the climax of Eloise's Ballet Awards thingy. She's been to a few rehearsals, made a few friends, learned a few dance steps, and most importantly bagged a Tutu, all in the name of a bit of a dance on a stage at an Awards ceremony at which she was not going to be awarded.

As I understand it, and I'm not sure I do, the point of it all was for the crème de la crème of Queensland Ballet talent to perform for the judges from the Royal Academy of Dance in order to compete for scholarships, presumably to attend RAD, whether that be in the Glorious Motherland or some other more local location - well, who knows.

The upshot was that we, the proud parents, and Lyra, the indifferent sister, attended the performance at a posh snazzy private school in the city to watch Eloise do her turn, hopefully a quick couple of hours, in and out, no trouble, just a glowing feeling of pride at the natural talents of our firstborn.

Apparently, in the ballet world, echelons of hopefuls must jump through whalebone hoops, dropped at the slightest infraction. No wonder they develop eating disorders. If Eloise missed or (reportedly) was late for any of her practices it would be a - no doubt polite but firm - see you later.

And - of course - we had parted with money to secure our tickets to this star-studded event (not to mention having had to fork out for the costumes and all that).

So we were not to be late!

A morning of getting ready and made up with five eyes on the clock and three eyes on the sky culminated in Eloise with a refreshingly conservative amount of Slap on, in her midnight blue leotard and tutu, prancing around with Lyra, before the heavens opened and we felt the need to high-tail it downtown under potent punctuality pressure.

A GPS disaster was narrowly averted due to the GPS map not being up-to-date enough to navigate us around the newly built Lady Cilento Children's Hospital, a subcomponent in the architectural web that contains Somerville House, the school (and not resembling a house at all) at which we were to attend.

In order to avoid the extortionate parking fees of the multi-storey I dropped everyone off outside the Performing Arts Centre where the Arts were to be Performed, and parked le voiture elsewhere in the expansive grounds before dampfooting it up, free-climbing style, to the aforementioned venue where I barely made it in time to see the back of Eloise's receding hair as she, along with her cohort of little performers, was whisked off to prepare for the concert and have photographs taken, and all that.

Hopeful that Eloise's little dance would be up first and we would be able to make our escape, we loitered around for an hour waiting to be let into the hall, a happy hour spent basically chasing Lyra around as she explored the no-doubt excellent facilities that Somerville House had to offer: the astroturfed playing field, the concreted apron, the haut-urban stairwell, the underside of the trestle table where surly and self-important dance-world ladies kept track of things and perhaps even people and attempted to sell things to people, whilst glancing askance out our little Thuggernaut as she attempted to tickle their ankles.

Eventually we were permitted to enter the Auditorium of Dancing Delight. Nicole was keen to sit at the back, probably as a damage limitation exercise. I thought that, as we had parted with money, we should get ourselves down the front, in order to stand at least a chance of recognising Number Three.

We found ourselves pretty near the front, in an otherwise sparsely occupied row of seats, and as the lights dimmed, in true larrikin Australian style, the rules were announced, which were that we would not be permitted to leave the auditorium, that we should be perfectly quiet, that we should not move around, and that we should carefully meter our appreciation for all the competitors to avoid any unwitting influence of the judges, who were sitting X-Sphincter style at a gently illuminated desk at the front, looking terribly serious.

Fine, I thought, bring on the daughter, we'll take it from there.

So first up was a performance of some sort of Jazz thing by some kids from local dance schools, a group presumably organised along the same lines as our Eloise's. Then a musical theatre group of kids from local dance schools, presumably organised along the same lines as our Eloise's.

Should be Eloise next then.

But oh, no. Now it's time for the Juniors to do their performances to compete for their awards. One at a time. Ten of them. Doing exactly the same dance. To exactly the same music. Ten of them. One after the other. No moving, remember? Thirteen claps each was what I decided to grant them.

Lyra wasn't a big fan of the rules, and who could blame her. It was like being caught in some sort of groundhog thing where you have to relive the same two-minute segment of time over and over again with just the colour of the costume changing and perhaps some subtle nuance of footwork. Before long Lyra was breaking the rule on moving around, and breaking the rule on remaining silent.

"What's that noise?" she would say. "What's that noise?" Along with various identification chores, mostly to do with costume colours.

Should be Eloise soon.

Oh no! Now it's the Intermediates. Rinse and repeat. Ten more dashing hopefuls, a different dance this time, hooray!

Should be Eloise next?

Oh no! Now it's the seniors. Still at least for this next batch of ten, there's a bit of a change: it's Contemporary Dance this time which involves throwing shapes to funky didgeridon't music and as actually quite entertaining. The first few times.

Should be Eloise now?

Oh no! It's the seniors again, this time classical ballet. Ten more.

By this time Lyra is running up and down our row and physically molesting the people sat on the row in front. I've had to chase her as she headed down the aisle for front-of-house and earned a tannoyed indirect reprimand.

We choose to move back a row, to avoid annoying our elders and betters.

And, finally, Eloise and her troupe of long-suffering companions take to the stage to perform a nice dance in which Eloise, once I manage to recognise her, appears to comport herself with grace and perfection, making no mistakes and dancing very nicely.

And then it's over! We! Leave! Relieved!

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