My friend and gifted photographer, Jessica Rice, did amazing work capturing the beauty and magic of the day we spent filming #graceandnorasworld (being released tomorrow!) Last night Becky Dean (Grace’s Mom and the foundation of this project) and I enjoyed pouring over –and yes– crying over– these beautiful photos from Jessica. We spent last night reflecting together (via text because #momlife) on how special and incredible this project has been for us, for our girls and for the many creative people who brought their talents and gifts to this project (Mitchell Dong and Jessica Rice). We especially enjoyed reflecting on the special connection and relationship between Nora and Grace.
Nora lights up when she is with Grace. She smiles at Grace, sits up tall and leans towards her to engage, or give her a kiss. Nora loves learning from Grace, dancing with her and simply being with her. It is beautiful to see them dance together. As I look through the collection of photos from this day, there is something special in each image for me as Nora’s mom, but also for Becky as Grace’s mom and Nora’s dance teacher. I love how Becky shares their world through her artistic eyes,“ I love how in the pictures, when we go back to stillness, where Nora excels, you see their unity and synchronization. When we are caught up with too much distraction it’s easy to miss. But you can’t miss it in these images. Those two are locked in. tight.”
One of Nora’s challenges is communication and language. It can be easy to miss pieces of her nonverbal expression or even her technical skills. When I watch Nora dance, in a classroom with her peers, or on stage with Grace, I love watching how she connects with the music and all those around her. The chair is a platform for her, allowing her to move and connect with the motion and movement of the music and dance. This seemingly “restful” position takes all of Nora’s strength, concentration and trust in the person moving the extension of herself that is her chair.
If you are unfamiliar with the way Nora moves, or how much energy, concentration and motivation it takes for Nora to simply sit upright and independently, the detail of Nora’s leg extension in reaction to the music and motion, or her control and balance as Grace moves her across the stage, and her focus on Grace, might be easily lost or confused with an everyday ability. But these small movements and her immense concentration is something Nora works for–fights for. Daily. But this video, these images are Nora’s fight song and a piece of her victory.
You will most clearly see a piece of Nora’s victory at the end of the duet performance– in the moment Nora is carefully lifted from her chair by Grace. Nora is cradled and eventually– very carefully brought to her most vulnerable position– laying on the ground. The audience can see her fragility — infant – like in movement and ability, completely unable to move even her head up from the floor. But as Nora’s Mom, I see it as her victory–her shining moment– because it is her chance to tell you– the audience— just how much of herself and her abilities she shared throughout the performance. Her moment of triumph is a moment of complete fragility and surrender. Her strength and beauty is in her ability and willingness to share this piece of herself, with Grace and with you– the audience. There is so much beauty in this final piece of Grace and Nora’s duet– and beauty in my daughter’s soul as she surrenders herself to rest and contentment, in the simple act of laying side-by-side with the friend she loves.
I am so looking forward to sharing this special video with you tomorrow! I want to invite you into this project and this conversation. I would love you to consider sharing this project with your circle through social media. So much conversation, creativity, talent and time went into this project — it would mean so much if you were willing to share this special story in your community or circle of friends. Thank you for considering our invitation and as always, thank you for reading and joining the journey!
Photo Credit: Jessica Rice Photography