When our kids were younger and we lived in Nashville, they all took dance with Patricia Hill. (Eventually they would take with teachers who had trained with Ms. Hill.) An annual tradition at recital time at TPAC (Tennessee Performing Arts Center) was for all the current capable tappers to do an ensemble number called “Spaghetti Rag”. Dancing with them would be whatever Patricia Hill alumnae could make rehearsals. They’d deck out in pink Patricia Hill Dance Studio sweatshirts and for three minutes the stage would be crowded with up to five lines of tapping, grinning devotees of dance. For some students, dancing “Spaghetti Rag” was bigger than being in the ‘Big Ballet’ at the end of the night.
(There is, in fact, a Facebook group for those who ever danced or aspired to dance the Spaghetti Rag with Pat Hill.)
Things happen, and times change. The twins are graduating this year, and we are no longer at Pat Hill’s in Nashville. However, their Fayetteville high school also has a tradition. Both girls have been in chorus and/or show choir. The South View High School concerts always end with a rendition of “Lord Bless You and Keep You”. And at the Spring concert in particular, chorus alumnae are invited to join in. This time next year, when our young freshmen (sophomores, actually) come home, they will be eligible to go up on stage as alum to begin the tradition of harmonizing with their former choristers.
There is a lingering sweetness about it all for my husband and me. We have watched our children perform in many venues; sometimes we’ve been honored to join them. Now our younger children are on the brink of having a history. The children we set upon their toddling feet those years ago are now setting out into the world itself, for better or for worse, good times and bad. They are crossing into adulthood, and we welcome them as (near) equals.
The years run together over time; toddlers, youngsters, young men and women. Our own family traditions will tie us together and create a thread to tie more generations in. Our children will have their traditions binding them to their pasts. Some of them will be among the dancers who remember the thrill of Spaghetti Rag, some will be vocalists singing sweetly about the Lord being gracious. My husband’s and my connection to it all is a little blurred and run-together, too. As he put it, “You, too, can sing the Spaghetti Rag.” It’s an idea that sets my feet tapping and my heart humming, a very pleasant thought indeed.