By Jerry Zezima
When it comes to dancing, my granddaughters Chloe and Lilly have more talent in their pinky toes than I have in both of my size-11 feet. And it doesn’t help when I try to improve my fumbling footwork with something inspirational — like wine.
So it was fitting that the girls’ recent recital, in which they were dancing stars, was held at a vineyard.
They didn’t perform in the tap room, even though they had a couple of great tap routines, but they did wow an audience of about 250 dance fans under a tent on the grounds of Peconic Bay Vineyards in Cutchogue, New York.
The show was put on by Inspire Dance Centre of Southold, New York, where the girls take lessons. And where I should, too.
“We have adult classes,” said artistic director Meagan Grattan, known to the students as Miss Meagan.
“I can’t cut a rug, so you’d have your work cut out for you,” I told her.
But that could wait because the focus was on the performers — the best of whom, in my totally unbiased opinion, were Chloe and Lilly.
Of the 18 dances on the program, they were in five — Chloe three and Lilly two.
The third act was “Dumbo the Flying Elephant,” featuring the pre-K ballet class.
Lilly led the way, prancing out on the large stage and standing at the far left in the front row. She smiled and waved to acknowledge the smiles and waves of me and my wife, Sue, as well as our younger daughter, Lauren, and her husband, Guillaume, the girls’ parents. We were seated on folding chairs about halfway back in the tent.
My main contribution to the show was to giggle, clap and exclaim, “That was great!” I got what I hoped were appreciative looks from the people around us.
I certainly appreciated Lilly’s performance, in which she crossed her arms and swiveled her hips to the beat of the song “Baby Mine.” She grinned broadly as the class exited the stage to a big ovation.
Chloe starred in the eighth routine, “Magic Carpet Ride,” featuring the first- and second-grade ballet. She sat cross-legged in front, then got up and showed off perfect jumps and fluid foot movement to the strains of “A Whole New World” from “Aladdin.” Chloe flashed a big smile at the end and, with the other girls, got an enthusiastic round of applause.
“Oh, man, that was wonderful!” I chirped.
A young mother in the row in front of us turned around and smiled.
Chloe came out again in the 12th act, “Journey of the Little Mermaid,” with the first- and second-grade tap class. To the strains of “Under the Sea,” she moved flawlessly, from left to right in the front row, then to the back and finished up in front again. The choreography was terrific. Chloe smiled as she and the other girls exited the stage, making way for the next routine, which featured Lilly.
She was the most animated performer in “The Seas With Nemo and Friends,” featuring the pre-K tap class. Lilly flashed a big smile when we waved to her at the beginning of the song “Just Keep Swimming.” She just kept dancing until the song was over and waved as she left the stage.
Three routines later, Chloe came out with the first- and second-grade jazz group to perform “Splash Mountain,” featuring the song “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah.” My, oh my, what a wonderful dance! Chloe did perfect leg lifts, jumps and arm lifts, exiting with hands on hips in the big finish, waving and smiling as she went off.
At the show’s end, Chloe and Lilly were presented with flowers from Lauren and Guillaume and from me and Sue. They posed for pictures and said they had a great time. Then we all went to the vineyard and sat at a table outside so the girls could eat chips and the adults could savor refreshments.
“This wine makes me feel like dancing!” I remarked.
“Please,” Sue said, “stay seated.”
Later, Miss Meagan told me that Chloe and Lilly were among her best students.
“Maybe they can be on ‘America’s Got Talent’ and wow Simon Cowell,” I said.
“You never know!” Miss Meagan replied.
“Should they get an agent?” I asked.
“Chloe for sure,” she said. “Lilly will be Chloe’s agent. Chloe knows all the routines and Lilly is the line leader. They even correct my mistakes.”
“What about me?” I wondered.
“You could be in our adult tap class,” Miss Meagan suggested. “We have a few ladies who are retired. They danced when they were younger and want to get back into it.”
“To me, a tap involves beer,” I said. “Or wine. Which wouldn’t help me dance better. I bet Simon Cowell would agree.”
Copyright 2021 by Jerry Zezima