Planes carrying babies and children are being shot down from the sky. And terrorists shell Israel. And Israel invades Gaza. And babies are dying, bloodied and burned from missiles and rockets. I don't know what is happening in our world except it's all so wrong, so wrong, so wrong oh Jesus, hear our prayer. For peace in this world, we pray to the Lord.....
And yet, still there is Beauty.
A ballerina dancing at the unprotected edges of passion, pain and determination. There is blood and battle and the incongruity of war. But there is also beauty and music and dancing.
Some members of my fundamentalist family have scoffed at her pursuit of classical training..."For what?" they say. "And why? A dancer's life is short-lived. Where is the eternal value?"
And to this, my daughter has answered only through dance. To practice, practice, practice. To spend the hours--the years--disciplining herself to perfect an art form which will never make her rich, which will probably not pay the bills....and why?
Because Beauty. Because this desperate, aching, broken world is crying out for Beauty. Because there are bombs and blood and dying children. And yet---there is still Beauty. Beauty which resonates of Heaven, which whispers in our ear of Hope, which tells us there is Something Better, that even here, in the midst of unanswered questions and wailing grief--there is Hope because there is Beauty.
And so she dances.
She dances even when we can't afford to send her to American Ballet Theatre or Ballet West--companies which both offered her spots in their intensives this summer.
She dances even when she pulls a hamstring and can only dance on one leg while the other one heals.
She dances even when she has to stay up until 1am doing homework because after school she goes straight to ballet and dances until 9pm.
She dances because God gave her the body and the legs and the facility. God gave her the gift of dance.
And she intends on using that gift.
She dances until she is good enough to compete at the international level at Youth American Grande Prix--the most prestigious international ballet competition in the world.
This past week, Jewel's teacher granted Jewel permission to dance "The White Swan" variation from Swan Lake. Jewel is now mature enough dancer to handle the artistic expression that is Odette, the White Swan. This is the variation she'll be dancing:
But are we able to handle the cost? I don't know. "The White Swan" means more private lessons, a new tutu and new pointe shoes twice a month.
And so, I come to you.
My husband and I clean Jewel's dance studio in lieu of partial ballet tuition. I work as a waitress to help pay for costumes and entry fees. And lest you think being a published author makes one rich...well, allow to say, there's a reason why there's such a phrase as "starving artist." ;-)
And honestly, I'm fine with that. I wrote the book because I knew it would help others. I wrote the book because I had to speak, to share my story. I would have written that book even if I never got paid. (Also, I STILL haven't gotten a royalty check!)
And yet, Beauty.
There is a small window of time for a dancer--a small window when a dancer has the chance to make it. Or not. And Jewel is in that window of time. This year she will compete in the senior category at YAGP--the most prestigious, international ballet competition in the world.
I come to you today not for myself, but for my daughter. For my ballerina.
If my writing has helped or inspired or touched you in any way, would you kindly consider giving a donation to help Jewel prepare for YAGP? All donations will go directly toward new costumes, pointe shoes, private lessons, entry fees and physical therapy (to keep her strong & healthy).
This upcoming year, Jewel will be performing TWO on-pointe solos and TWO ensemble dances at YAGP. Every little donation helps. Thank you for loving me by supporting my daughter, my ballerina.
I love you all so much. xoxo. EE.
DONATE TO JEWEL'S YAGP FUND HERE: