Friday, June 12, 2009

Dance...like no one is watching...

Johnny Cavelle has retired after 40 years of teaching. The Cavelle Dance Studio was the dance studio in our community. There are other programs that promote themselves as recreational dance programs, but Johnny Cavelle was professional. You got there on time, went to the bathroom before class started, did not talk or chew gum. To graduate you needed to study and pass exams. Johnny would bring in examiners from the National Cecchetti Council of America. Here are the girls with Johnny, now 72, and with Miss Vickie, his #1 assistant, who will open her own studio this fall. This was performance week and oh, so many sweet memories.
During Performance Week, our life was all about dance...practicing in the living room and preparing the costumes. You see, the costumes were ordered and distributed to the girls in a baggie about the size of a bread bag. At home, we would take out the contents...a tutu and lots of extra parts...head pieces, chokers, arm bands, flowers, bows, etc. And it was up to each mom to guess how to put it all together. Often we needed to be prepared to make changes right there at the dress rehearsal.
So, the Costume Preparation...pressing yards and yards of netting, making barrettes out of lace and silk flowers, attaching clear elastic to hats, stitching straps in place, shortening pants, cleaning shoes...
Finally...Dress Rehearsal Day...This was an all day affair...One had to wake early to pack a Mommy Bag...safety pins, bobby pins, dippity doo, hair spray, mascara, eye shadow, lipstick, a stapler, healthy & not messy snacks, water, extra tights, the rehearsal schedule, the rules, the checkbook and camara.
The rules...Johnny put on a professional show because everyone was expected to follow the rules. Hair in a bun, no bangs, no part, if you wear a part, it was to be centered...no exceptions...Shoes were to be polished (with toothpaste) and tap shoe ribbons were to be washed...and pressed...and bring a pair of dad's old socks to wear over your shoes in the hallway...no flash photography...dancers need to stay in the dressing rooms..with no food and clear beverages only...stay in your seats (this rule for moms and dads)...leave dancers in the dressing rooms till end of performance... Now, while all of this sounds strict...I realized the importance after attending a recreational dance recital and the Johnny Cavelle Dance Performance. There was a difference. Johnny put on a show.
Independence...when girls reach middle school age, they don't need their moms and the Mommy Bag anymore. They pack their own stuff and ride with older sisters and they all help each other out. The Moms were left at home to worry if they would have the right stuff at the right time...pink tights, black tights, nude tights, fishnet tights, hats, arm bands, scarves, canes, ballet shoes, tap shoes, jazz shoes, character shoes, both shoes...
Johnny Cavelle Dance...it has helped shape the lives of over 24,000 young men & women. It is a large part of who our daughters are today. They are self-disciplined...they are graceful and poised...they are creative and expressive.
They are Johnny Cavelle dancers.

5 comments:

Busy Bee Suz said...

He sounds quite wonderful and such an impact on your lives. Love the pictures...you and your girls are so pretty!!!
Linds is in her 5th year of dance and her teacher is very strict too with the classes and the shows...and it is proven to be a good idea as everything always comes out really professional!

MSM said...

I love the outfits y'all are wearing! Great pics!

Valley Primitives Gift Shoppe said...

He sounds like a wonderful man that has touched the hearts of many! You and your girls are so beautiful!
Kim

Carol said...

Dancing was a big part of my childhood so I know from which you speak. I love the photo of you with your girls. Beautiful women all of you!

Igneous, Wanton & Veritas said...

I was taught by Johnny Cavelle as a young girl. I had to quit by the age of six or seven because my knees were not dealing with the stress of dancing well. But, I will never forget him, in his all black unitard, his grand piano and bear skin rug. He called me his Little Swan, and I was featured in an ad for his classes which aired briefly on Aberdeen television.

I reveled in these memories last night as I danced about my apartment, entertaining no one but myself and my cats, the muscle memory of twenty five years prior still intact...