Monday, January 14, 2013


Two weeks ago the girls started ballet. They've been begging for lessons for a while and we've been hunting around for a studio but everything seemed so out of our league. Then Rachel came home from school saying that her kindergarten teacher was also a ballet teacher and she said that she'd give Rachel lessons and her first class would be on Saturday.

I didn't hear anything from her teacher, though, and so I passed it off as the ramblings of a five-year-old.

The next day I was surprised to find a flyer for a dance studio (with a 15% off coupon for the first month!) stuck in Rachel's homework folder. Her kindergarten teacher was indeed a ballet teacher and she'd just invited us to check out her studio.

We toured it over Christmas break and it was just lovely. We met the owner, who is so kind and wonderful. She took time out to meet us and struck me as a very genuine person—she reminded me of my old gymnastics coach Darlene (that will give at least my mom an idea of what she's like) and, frankly, we could use a Darlene in our life. The studio is rather small and the beginner classes in particular are struggling.

Both Miriam and Rachel have Rachel's kindergarten teacher for their ballet instructor but they meet in separate classes. Miriam meets with her first and is the only one in her class. They both do 45 minutes of ballet and then 15 minutes of tap.

Rachel meets with her second and she has one other girl in her class. Needless to say they get a lot of attention.


So far they seem to love it.

Rachel really wanted to do gymnastics until she learned that her most beloved kindergarten teacher was a ballerina. She enjoys but doesn't love ballet. She's perhaps a little less naturally graceful and more naturally rambunctious than a typical ballerina, but I assured her that ballet (and dance in general) is not a wussy sport. She's figured that out the past two weeks, coming out of class feeling well-worked.

Miriam lives and breathes ballet now; she wants every day to be Saturday.

This past Saturday their teacher asked them if they were going to audition for the production company. I'd seen an email about it but ignored it because I figured they'd only had a couple of lessons and were in no way ready for auditions. Rachel begged me to consider it, so I talked with the head...ballet lady (I obviously need to learn some terminology here) and she gave me the run-down which was basically that the girls would need to commit an extra hour for rehearsals on Saturday afternoons.

Andrew and I talked it over with the girls. As parents, we're always very nervous to commit to activities. Getting Rachel off to kindergarten everyday is a drag at times. Committing our Saturday mornings to ballet was really difficult. Giving up our Saturday afternoon sounded impossible...

But, it would give the girls a goal to work toward—a real accomplishment!—otherwise lessons would just end at the end of the school year and that would be all. They'd get to wear costumes and dance on stage and be real ballerinas—and isn't that why we were doing this: to give them experiences? was basically an extra free hour of ballet lessons for each of them per week, which economically speaking is a killer deal.

But would they do it? Would Miriam be brave enough to dance across the stage on performance night? Could they learn the routine and execute it well?

"You don't have to worry, Mom," Rachel assured me. "I will be with Miriam the whole time, I promise. She won't be scared if I'm there!"

And so we let them audition.

They got to pin little numbers onto their chests and then they had to go into the studio in front of the judges and follow a new instructor as she led them through a sequence of steps. And they both did just fine.

We found out tonight that they were both cast as "flower fairies," roles which I think they'll love.

Andrew, who took them back to the studio for auditions, looked over the list of flower fairies and said, "Yup—that's how many little girls auditioned with Rachel and Miriam."

So every little ballerina made it into that number, which is just as it should be, I think. We weren't expecting a solo or anything like that. Just the experience of "being" a ballerina.

They're both excited to devote their weekends to this project, so I suppose their parents ought to be as well, even if it's a bit of a sacrifice...

It makes me rather appreciative of all the weekends our family spent at swim meets while my parents cheered for us, ushered us through our heats, timed us, and acted as stroke-and-turn judges when they probably were thinking about the laundry that needed to be folded and the lawn that needed to be mowed. Somehow they made time to do all those things and support their children in their activities.

We can, too.


  1. Oh, and we did dance class with the older girls. Kelli was a dancer in "The King and I", which I will be posting about soon (it was March 1983). And we did judo with Kelli for about five years before Abbi started swimming. And I would have LOVED to do dancing with you again, but we didn't have the greatest studios around in PoCo, and you were not amenable to the ones close by...

    The teacher even resembles Darlene a bit. She was SUCH a wonderful coach!

  2. Sounds awesome, and it gets worse as far as time and money go :). I wouldn't trade any kids but it is not for the faint of heart ;-)

  3. Those are some of the most adorable pictures.