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Whenever I receive several rejection letters in a week, or feel the need for an extra dose of creative motivation, I read this story, which is adapted from an old folk tale.
Each day, ten-year-old Miranda put on the pink tutu that Aunt Amelia had lovingly created for her, and danced around the house. She was a beautiful and graceful dancer, and she was determined to play the role of Sleeping Beauty.
On the day of the audition, Miranda set off with her mother. When they arrived at the studio, she took her place alongside the other girls.
She would be the first dancer to perform for Monsieur LeBrun, the famous dance teacher from Paris. Miranda’s heart fluttered as she walked to the center of the stage. When she looked out into the audience, she was reassured by her mother who blew kisses.
Miranda waited for the music and then threw herself into the role of Sleeping Beauty. After barely a minute, a male voice shouted, “Enough. Next.”
The music stopped and Miranda stood frozen in place.
“But I haven’t finished dancing!” Miranda said.
“You’re wasting my time,” called out the voice. “Next.”
Miranda’s mother rushed to the stage and hugged Miranda. “We’ll go to Dairy Queen and treat ourselves.”
Miranda looked up and saw tears flowing down her mother’s cheeks. Something was wrong, terribly wrong. And then it dawned upon her. She wasn’t good enough. She ran toward the door.
Her mother followed and caught up to her. They didn’t go for ice cream. Instead, they went home. Miranda went straight to her room and pulled off the tutu. She changed into her pajamas and crawled into bed. For three days, she stayed in her room, refusing to go to school or join the family for meals.
When she finally came out of her room, she kicked a large box outside into the corridor. In it, she had neatly packed all her dance clothes, slippers and gear.
Her mother gasped, “Miranda, what have you done?”
Her father shook his head. “You can’t give up just because one rude guy didn’t like you.”
“I will never ever dance again!" Miranda said. "Never!” She threw herself into her school work and extra-curricular activities. She went on to win scholarships and pursued a career as an elementary school teacher. She married her high school sweetheart and had three lovely children, two boys and girl.
While the boys enjoyed their sports, her daughter Emily dabbled in art and drama. One day, she went to Miranda and said, “I want to be a ballet dancer.”
Miranda’s heart stood still. Almost 30 years had passed, but the memory of that spring afternoon still haunted her. She tried to distract Emily with outings, but Emily was adamant that she wanted to be a ballet dancer.
Miranda gave in and watched from a distance as her lovely daughter embraced the world of dance. One afternoon, Emily came home waving a poster. “I made the final cut! Mrs. Clarke said I could audition for the summer ballet in Toronto.”
On the afternoon of the audition, Miranda took a personal day and accompanied Emily to the studio. While watching Emily practice with the four other girls, her mind raced with negative thoughts. She jumped when she heard a familiar masculine voice.
“Is this seat taken?”
Miranda turned and came face to face with an older, grayer Monsieur LeBrun. She gasped.
“Are you all right, Madame?” Monsieur LeBrun asked.
Miranda took several deep breaths. “I don’t imagine you remember me. It’s been a while since I danced for you.”
Monsieur LeBrun shook his head. “I’m sorry but I don’t remember...”
“You didn’t let me finish dancing.”
“And you took it to heart.”
“Why wouldn’t I?" asked Miranda. "Dancing was my life!"
“If you quit so easily, then you weren’t a real dancer.”
“How could you even tell after barely 60 seconds?”
Emily appeared and sat next to her mother. “Good afternoon, Mr. Brown.”
“It’s Monsieur LeBrun,” Miranda whispered.
Monsieur LeBrun focused his attention on Emily. “What is your name, child?”
“What if I don’t like your dancing, Emily?” he asked. “What will you do then?”
Emily shrugged. “I’ll dance for someone else.” She turned and ran back to the stage.
Monsieur LeBrun nodded in approval. “Now there’s a ballet dancer.”