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Recently, I took several photos of Evangeline during a ballet class and posted them on Facebook and Instagram. They garnered a lot of likes – enough to make me wonder if I had been motivated to post them because of some misplaced mom vanity – look at my beautiful daughter! – but I don’t think that’s the case. Sure, the only time Evangeline consents for me to pull her hair back is in preparation for ballet, and sure, most of the time her desire to dress in what Sam and I like to call bag lady chic overrules my desire for clothes that at least moderately match, but I rejoice in the Evangelineness of Evangeline all of the time – I am as likely to post a picture of her in her current favorite outfit – a “flower” dress and “flower” pants that together bring to mind Mimi from the Drew Carey show as I am as she appears in ballet class. No, I posted the pictures because the space simply lends itself to great photos, wonderful late-morning sun streaming onto hardwood floors, plants in every corner, mirrors around the room.

And Instagram makes things look so fancy.

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But I did have to answer “why dance?” and “why now?” My in-laws are visiting and when it comes to the arts, the practice of a musical instrument is of paramount importance to them. They have offered a few times to foot the cost of relocating their piano to our house, and also offered to pay for any music lessons my children take. I am not in any way adverse to music lessons, and will probably take them up on their offer down the road, but I always chafe at the suggestion that music is the only true art form worth pursuing. But I didn’t choose dance classes to annoy my in-laws.

I chose to enroll Evangeline in dance because I think learning to understand how your body moves and operates is one of the most valuable skills a person can master. I want her to learn, before she begins to think in terms of too fat or too skinny or to tall, the joy is that is trying to pirouette, the grace found in grand plie. Before sore necks and achy backs, before too much homework and not enough sleep, before proper schooling and social obligations and the dreaded girl scout cookie sales, I want her to understand her core, physically, because for some reason I can’t explain I believe it helps you understand your metaphorical core, as well.

Of course, I believe this because it was true for me, and I realize for Evangeline, learning to trust her own sense of self might happen in swim class or at the easel or on the soccer field. The music that moves her heart might begin with the first soft attempts to blow air into a French Horn, or it could be the smell of oil paint that sets her heart ablaze. As much as i am able, I hope I can support her interests until she finds the few that fire her imagination and fuel her soul. Until then, though, the ballet pictures sure are pretty!

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2 thoughts on “

  1. What memories of my own ballet and tap classes you’ve evoked. I don’t remember how it was that I started dance classes, I don’t remember when they ended, and I don’t even remember the recitals that surely came along. But I have photos of me in my tutu, and I still remember some of the positions, and even in my slower, older, just-slightly-off-balance body, I still remember the joy of movement.

    You’ve reminded me of one of my favorite dance videos. Farah Canale was a principal with (I think) the Anchorage ballet, and taught ballet in Alaska. I suspect you’ll enjoy this.

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