Tiny Dancer

Does Dewi have an 18 year old sister!?! Grabbing my camera, I make no pretense of a polite, “May I please…!” I dash across the lawn my finger clicking shots as I go. Barely acknowledging the presence of her mother and grandfather, who are watching her in stunned silence, I ask the tiny dancer to pose. She cooperates with the poise and practiced perfection of a seasoned veteran.

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This child is five years old. She is learning the traditional Balinese dances and this is her first full regalia performance. She has already spent hours with makeup and hair, and as soon as I have the courtesy to go home, they will be off.

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Her mom tells me that Dewi sat absolutely still through it all. This child who is perpetual motion embodied, sat still? For hours? I try to visualize a Dewi at rest and it’s a stretch. But as I ask for pose after pose, she complies without protest. Here is a star in the making, a true lover of the art of dance.

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Extracting a promise that I will be invited to any such future events, I grudgingly let them go. The next day I’m given a blow-by-blow of the evening’s wild success. Dewi shows me photos on her mother’s camera. Her hands form the precise mudras that accompany complex footwork. She twirls and her beaded scarf blurs in the photo. She is a vision! And she’s only five…years…old…!!!

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17 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lottie Nevin
    May 16, 2013 @ 20:59:44

    Ah, she’s so sweet and she sounds very talented for such a young lady. Balinese dancing is something to behold.

    Does she really need to wear all of that make-up though? That’s the bit that troubles me. It reminds me a of those children beauty pageants in the States.
    (Think ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ and Sherry, If you haven’t yet seen that movie it’s a must!)

    I find it a bit worrying when young girls are made up to look like grown-ups. They are beautiful enough already. Just my thoughts!

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    • writingforselfdiscovery
      May 16, 2013 @ 21:16:23

      Didn’t your daughter go through the beauty queen phase? Mine did. They soon tired of it and went back to volleyball and track and other wholesome activities! I knew if I denied them their “princess fantasies” they would be all the more determined to follow that path!

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      • Lottie Nevin
        May 16, 2013 @ 21:32:19

        I can’t say that they did Sherry! they were allowed to play around with my make-up and do dressing-up and stuff at home but they were rural kids who played outdoors in the woods and talked to the fairies! They had wonderful imaginations. We had no TV for years so they made their own entertainments I guess. I find the sexualisation of young girls upsetting. They have plenty of time for that when they are older. Maybe I’m just horribly old-fashioned and dull!!

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        • writingforselfdiscovery
          May 16, 2013 @ 22:08:36

          Mine shared some of that during their years without TV in rural Texas. But this isn’t a two-sided coin…good/bad, right/wrong. It’s more like a multi-faceted crystal. I embrace the cultural benefits of teaching traditional dance to the young Balinese boys and girls. The art form is exacting and incredibly complex. To master the endless numbers of dances requires a huge commitment of time and energy. On the other hand, the beauty pageant scene is something entirely different as are movie stars, super models, and certain ‘boxed’ singers that are groomed to appeal to the insatiable sexual appetite of the media. It’s the old ‘throwing the baby out with the bathwater’ dilemma.

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    • Karin Grouf
      May 16, 2013 @ 23:37:49

      I tend to agree with Lotti too much too soon. It’s not about just the dance but the trappings and I think only the future will tell

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      • writingforselfdiscovery
        May 17, 2013 @ 00:27:23

        I love it! We have an opinionated group here! And we are certainly entitled to our own (opinions that is). Rearing children is the most difficult task there is. If someone would just sit down and write the fail-safe, how-to manual…

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  2. Nanci Froemming
    May 16, 2013 @ 21:19:21

    Thank you Sherry, for sharing your photos and your experience witnessing Dewi, the tiny dancer, as she embarks on her first dance performance. How I wish I could’ve been there to see my granddaughter perform. Thank you for allowing me to be an armchair participant.

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    • writingforselfdiscovery
      May 16, 2013 @ 21:53:37

      Nina took many photos and she’s working on an internet album that I’m sure you will see very soon! What a little firecracker your granddaughter is! Tonight Dewi will be playing Uno with the adults at my house. She is transformed during these games into an intensely focused, fierce competitor! Last time she won, and we didn’t cut her an ounce of slack! She’s too good!

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  3. Nanci Froemming
    May 16, 2013 @ 22:01:32

    That’s my Dewi! I take great pride in knowing she can keep up with the adults. I once taught her a “child’s version” of Uno, but Nina tells me Dewi now plays according to the rules. Keep challenging her!

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  4. shanemac
    May 16, 2013 @ 22:48:04

    Lottie, the girls are always dressed and made up in exactly like Dewi is in this photo for dance performances and it doesn’t have any more negative influence than playing with Barbie dolls. I remember wearing lipstick and mascara for dance recitals when I was a young girl a very long time ago but I was then and still am a tomboy. It takes a lot of discipline for those girls to learn the Balinese dance. My hat’s off to them.

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  5. Gigi Gloria Heitkemper Cullins
    May 17, 2013 @ 00:01:22

    She is so beautiful! Last night on Dancing with the Stars they had a tiny little 10 year old dancing with the pros and she was phenomenal! It’s amazing how much talent some have at such young ages! I find that amazing! Thanks for sharing this, Sherry!

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  6. Diane Struble
    May 17, 2013 @ 00:20:48

    She is lovely.

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  7. pat grimsbo
    May 17, 2013 @ 14:10:25

    What an adorable little charmer! ! ! Makes me remember many years ago when Shirley Temple first started her career. The years go by, too fast lately, but Dad and I are both doing fairly well. Activities keep coming up but we have to just choose which ones we can handle nowadays. Keep in touch, Love, Mom

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