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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