It was the first auditions for So You Think You Can Dance, a show I have grown to love; but the real action starts when the top 20 young dancers have been chosen, so it was tempting to skip for now. However, It is also one of the few shows John and I enjoy watching together; so I chose to at least give it a shot.
Now, I can become easily distracted by an incomplete chore, an upcoming event, a niggling worry, something else I'd rather be doing. My mind wanders, I fuss and fidget. I get up during every commercial. Last night, thankfully, I stayed engaged and was rewarded by examples of grace and commitment, of kindness, dignity and sensitivity. And pure, unadulterated joy.
There were, of course, the young dancers, many delusional, I fear. Some quite talented, and a few AWESOME - with a combination of talent, skill and passion. They are why I watch this show and am never disappointed. Last night, however, it was a judge who captured my attention and my heart (for other afficianadoes - Nigel). Quite unexpectedly, too, as I have an historical bias against him shaped by what I have considered to be past inappropriate behavior and comments. Last night, he blew it all away with three exchanges.
One, with a young autistic man who has a desire to dance, but alas, neither talent nor skill. Nigel let him down gracefully, treating him with great dignity and respect, commending the young man's courage in performing before a crowd and encouraging him to continue dancing. It was a demonstration of kindness and consideration we could use more of.
The second, when another young man said he was auditioning so that his mother, in the rear of the audience, afflicted with a rare eye disease that was destroying her vision, could see him perform on stage before it was too late. Nigel brought her forward, gave her his seat and held her hand. Whatever else happens in this competition for her son, they will have that moment etched in their memories. And so will John and I.
The last, the moment I most treasure. A young mother of two, also in the audience, was to perform. Nigel call the youngsters, aged 2 and 6, up front to watch their mom. When she finished, quite successfully, she commented that her two-year old daughter also loved to dance. Well, even if you didn't see it, you can guess what happened next. Up on stage the toddler hopped, resplendent in her little pink tutu, - and proceded to twirl and dip and point a tiny toe. To dance with joyous abandonment, present only to the music and some inner imperative to move. An infectious joy that touched the judges, the audience and the two of us.
I've thought of that toddler frequently today. Of her delight, her complete absorption in the moment. Of the parents who have obviously encouraged and nurtured her. Of what it might feel like to dance with such abandon, such joy, such presence.