I had a great time tonight watching some of my family members, as well as others, dance in the annual recital for Turning Pointe, the performing arts studio where they have been taking dancing lessons all year.
First, the obligatory parental bragging. My eight year-old girl, Lexi, was just brilliant on stage. She was the youngest in her lyrical class, and I was told that she struggled to keep up all year. But from all I could tell, she was dancing right with everyone else. She is one of those rare little girls who can make dancing, drawing, singing, and goal keeping all things of beauty.
Then there is Rachel, my oldest girl, who danced with her pointe class, with an advanced ballet class, and with her ballet company. She is quite accomplished and impressive at her art of choice, classical dance. And in just a little over a week, her company – called Ballet Eleve – will begin touring in far West Texas and New Mexico.
I can’t describe how happy I am that Rachel is doing this. Just a few months ago, I was blogging about how I wish she would find opportunities like this. There isn’t enough time to do the company program justice. It is based entirely on old, mostly familiar hymns. They are all wearing “Little House on the Prairie” dresses, and the whole thing feels like a nostalgic trip back in time over 100 years. They will perform largely at nursing homes and assisted living facilities during their tour. These girls are using their art form for ministry rather than their own glory or gain. I predict that there will be lots of tears, hand clapping, and singing-along during their performances.
Even my wife Sheila got into the act, grooving across the stage to Billy Joel’s Still Rock n Roll to Me with the teen-adult jazz class. Was it just me, or was she absolutely dazzling on stage? I could hardly keep my eyes off of her.
Finally, I can’t say enough about Anna Gilette, the studio director. Turning Pointe is a small studio with many classes that include no more than two or three students. I’m not privy to what the studio’s books look like, but my guess is that – as a business – Turning Pointe is not a major profit-making venture. But I get the feeling that Anna’s not real worried about that. She’s there for the kids, and the art form, and the ministry opportunity.
I guess that was why I was almost moved to tears at Anna’s solo performance tonight, backed up by MercyMe’s Gotta Keep Singing. Just before the performance, her husband announced that she has been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, a condition that will eventually make it impossible for her to continue to perform. The Bart Millard lyrics, reminding us of how our only choice in times of despair is to continue to praise God, perfectly underscored the testimony that she silently offered during her performance.
The flowing white dresses that followed Anna, twisting and gliding to the beat of Days of Elijah, were the perfect punctuation to the afternoon.
I realize that there are many performers who are finding ways to glorify God in this art, even in dance companies and studios that do not include a desire to pursue God in their mission statements. Who knows? Many of the girls I watched tonight may one day be in those places. But, for today, I couldn’t have been happier to experience dance that expressly seeks to find its place in the presence of the Almighty…