Thursday, October 30, 2014

Love Letter To Canopy

When we first come in, Jude is sleeping in my arms. She has had a long day of therapies, and she's beat. R dances in as she always does, her shoes coming off with a quick swipe as she rushes to the floor. She loves her teacher, and eagerly gets on the mat for a quick warm up before the extra fun begins. Myself? Well I love the studio as well. It pleases my aesthetic eye. The way the fabrics in the back drape down from the ceiling to the floor, or the cross of ropes sweeping beneath the black steel beams on the ceiling. More importantly I feel safe in this place, or perhaps I should say I feel like my children are safe in this place. This is an important thing when you are the mother of "biracial" children most who have a disability. In this place, my girls soar and fly and not just because they are dancing on trapeze bars. They are accepted for who they are in this space.

Jude wakes up the moment the bars are lowed from ceiling to floor. She yells out happily as R's teacher begins to help R through a series of moves. R is a bit timid on the ropes, and her teacher knows just the right amount of pressure to use to push R out of her comfort zone but never too far. It's amazing watching R going from tearfully afraid to smiling with pleasure at an accomplishment. Jude claps for her every time, a big smile on her face, usually laughing. No longer content to be in my arms, she squirms down, and thus begins our dance. She keeps moving towards the mats, and I keep sweeping her away. 

Towards the end of the class, one of our favorite people, Ann, comes to work. She sees Jude walking and she is immediately setting her things down, and squatting to get Jude to come to her. She's been waiting for Jude to walk for a while now. Jude has been an added passenger to trapeze classes since she was an infant. We have sat through many sessions watching the big girls learn to fly. And along the way she's acquired a few admirers. Ann picks up Jude, and brings her over to an empty bar. Jude's face is marked with incredulity. Finally she's allowed onto the forbidden mats. Ann sits down with Jude facing out, and pushes them into a gentle swing. She gently places Jude's hands on the rope, and Jude? Jude is smiling, her face is glowing as she too begins her first lesson in what it is like to fly.

When I think about leaving Athens, I am sad in ways that I didn't imagine I'd feel even last year. While I love our new adventures, and know that we're a tight enough family unit to be happy almost anywhere, I love this town. And I love Canopy. I know it sounds a bit silly to be sad to leave one studio but this place has come to mean so much to us. The respect shown to Camille, the careful patience in working with her not against her, and then the joy when Jude takes her first step (this means she can now do the toddler's classes) has made this place much more than just a place to take lessons. It has made it a place with people we can call friends. A place where I can entrust my children. 

Last Sunday, the big girls and I  finally got to see a show done by the repertoire company. I am not sure if I can begin to describe the beauty. A beauty combined of grace and strength. A beauty made stronger for the fact that everyone was so different and perfect in their difference. This was not a dance with bodies that all looked alike but a dance with bodies of many sizes and shapes. As the women (and one man) , twisted their bodies into what seemed like impossible positions, I teared up a little at the wonder of it all. I was taken back to when I was a child and magic was so very real, just outside of my small grasp. Vampires and monsters abound but they danced and seduced us into feeling safe inside a studio magically metaphorized into a dark forest. And the look on my girls' faces was even more magical. They were carried away not just with the power of the show but with the power that someday they would be the ones dancing with fire, dancing with others high above the ground. 

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