By Raphaele de Boisblanc
|Jane before The Nutcracker|
I am a staff member here at BAM. I’m also the mother of a five-year-old girl, Jane, and a two-year-old boy, Charles. I grew up in Paris and was lucky enough to see shows at an early age thanks to the many young audience programs that were offered by various theaters and concert halls. Performing arts have been part of my daily life thanks to my work, and when my daughter turned five (the minimum age to get into most venues in New York) I could not wait for our first outing together.
We started with Donka:A Letter to Chekhov at the BAM Harvey because I thought she would enjoy the music, the movement, and the poetry of a nouveau cirque piece. She was scared—which at first made me ashamed of myself for taking her out—but also fascinated. At intermission she did not want to leave and we stayed til the curtain closed. The following day she asked me about the acrobats in the show. How come they didn’t hurt themselves? Were they real? Was the show real? I found her questions more challenging than I had expected, and I loved it. She forced me to think harder about what we had seen together.
Then in December, I got tickets to see American Ballet Theatre’s The Nutcracker. I had seen the production in 2010 and 2011, but this year to be in the audience with my daughter meant something else. She enjoyed seeing the kids onstage, and she loved the costumes. She was scared by the rats, impressed by Clara’s courage, and breathless during the principals’ solos. At intermission, we went to look at the musicians in the pit. She was delighted when I showed her the harp with its gold decorations. We even talked to the woman who was managing the sound booth. It was truly wonderful to see her so receptive to everything that was happening onstage and in the theater. Seeing her in such a state of wonder made my heart melt.
This week, I will take her to the BAMkids Film Festival for the fourth time. I love the shorts programs, and hearing her talk about her favorite films when we vote for the BAMmies.
Like so many parents in this city, I am grateful for the many opportunities to bond with my children through the shared experience of performance. If you have some recommendations for performances you loved seeing with your child, please share them with us!