First Dance

My daughter had her first dance with a gentleman on a ballroom floor this weekend. It wasn’t a moment I was expecting to see, but it was the moment I kept re-playing in my head later: Clara’s gold and white satin dress catching the light, her patent leather Mary Janes searching for rhythm on the dance floor, her shy 7-year-old grin, and her breathless excitement after the dance when she raced over to tell me, “Mom, I got to dance with the mayor of Champaign!” She was Cinderella at the ball, caught up in the wonder of such a glamorous evening.

The event was a wedding reception-themed fundraiser for a theatre group in Champaign, Illinois, where my husband and I lived for many years. My longtime theatre friend Ann Marie and I came dressed as a bride and bridesmaid, our daughters were all flower girls, complete with bouquets. The girls – who had become instant friends even though we don’t see each other often – tore up the dance floor all night. But once the “groom” at the fake wedding (Champaign Mayor Don Gerard) and his “best man” invited the girls to dance, they turned from wild and crazy little dancing queens into little ladies. With many eyes on the dance floor, they tried very hard to look graceful and grown-up. It worked.

The evening was filled with great conversations with theatre friends, especially Ann. Our friendship began in the theatre and has lasted through weddings, children and career changes. Watching our little girls twirl on the dance floor reminded me that someday, Ann and I will undoubtedly catch ourselves standing side by side at a real wedding, raising our glasses in a toast, as we watch one of our little girls dance with her “prince.” I wonder who will be first. I hope the prince is truly charming.

I also hope when that happens we will still remember this night – when little girls in tights and ruffles first discovered how a simple dance can leave you breathless.

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