my tiny dancer

With so many exciting activities over the summer, it was difficult to discuss with Caroline that she could choose just dance OR gymnastics this fall. Clearly in July it was ALL gymnastics with the Olympics. Aly being from her home state almost sealed the deal. I called some gyms because I was imagining they were being peppered with calls from parents wanting to sign their little ones up and classes were sure to be filling. They weren't taking registration yet, but they reported an influx of calls and were anticipating record number of enrollments. One was even adding classes for the littlest ones. In essence, 2012 is a great year to be a gym. I still had difficulty getting a commitment from Caroline. She wanted me to decide for her and I refused to do that. I explained that this was her choice because she was the one who would need to go each week, listen, learn and then perform. I reassured her I would support whichever decision she made and that if it was not working out and she was not enjoying it, she should just talk to me about it. Rest assured, this will in no way affect her learn to hockey which she is firmly on board with. You will still see cute photos of her braids under a hockey helmet later this fall and winter.

As time ticked away and the days started to get shorter, I started reviewing the class schedules for both options and it looked for a bit that dance was going to be off the table because we needed a class that met after school mid week. We are still in denial that our weekends will soon be filled full tilt with the kids sports and extracurriculars. Steve is still in denial that he only has a couple more seasons of unintterupted BC Football. I got an email from a studio I had contacted in the spring notifying me of an Open House during the last week in August who also just happened to have what they were touting as a "Full Day K class" in the middle of the week after school. We hit the farmer's market and walked down the street to check it out.

It reminded me of my own dance studio. It was simple, with wooden floors, a small waiting area. There were no competition trophies or plaques on the walls. This was a simple studio where the goal was to learn and have fun. There was a very simple but strict dress code. The owner and teacher has owned the studio for thirty years and is nothing like that terrible Abby Lee Miller from Dance Moms. (Isn't that show terrifying!?) Girls were trying on dance shoes in the first studio and Caroline leaned away from me to peek in on them. So we tried on ballet shoes; she did some spins and admired her beautiful self in the mirror. We tried on tap shoes; she lit up like a fourth of july bonfire, "high up heels, Mommy!" and she refused to take them off. I asked her if she had made her decision and she replied, "yes! yes! yes! I want these shoes."

I have to admit, I've been fighting this for awhile. I have vivid clear memories of my mother asking me if I wanted to dance when I was about four years old. (Four? mom?) She asked me what kind of dance and I knew it had to be ballet. She asked us to fetch her the phone book (yes, the phone book!) and she began doing research for a local school the way they did it in the 80's. I recall leaping on the couches in our family room, filled with such excitement because I was going to be a ballerina. She observed classes and dismissed schools that were too flexible, with little structure. She sliced her way through her phone book list until she found my dance school, the one I would attend until I was sixteen. I can still remember the first class, just a handful of us, learning how to hold our hands like ballerinas, how to hold a beach ball with our arms for what would someday become a port de bra. I loved it, I lived it, I breathed it in great big Cecchetti Method gulps. I never lost an audition, save for one bad experience at Boston Ballet (of all places) where I was so utterly confused that I couldn't tell if by calling your number you were in or out.  I heard my number and just walked off, stormed off actually (Don't be mad Mom). I experienced the joy of a second set of friends, I danced in so many Nutcrackers that I still can recall some of the coreography, and I even considered being a ballerina when I grew up for real, not as some childhood fanstasy.

This holiday will mark the third time we will take Caroline to the Nutcracker. Last year we got crowns with my cousin (and fellow dancer) Kristen to wear each year because why wouldn't you want to be the Sugar Plum Fairy one night every year. I am also trying to teach her young that an event which a crown is considered an appropriate accessory needs to be taken advantage of. Last year, on our way home, I explained that all the children she had seen were learning ballet, that her mommy had been one of those children a long time ago, that she had even been Clara. It's hard. It's hard to not press your own positive experiences on your kid. I avoided it for so long for fear that I would just be signing her up to be me, but I also started to see that I was holding her back from deciding for herself if she wanted to try it.

We bought the shoes, we found a dance wear shop to buy a black leotard and pink tights. I pulled her hair back into a bun and boy, did she remind me of a little girl I used to look at in the mirror.

We may not have a ballerina, but we might have a tapper. This video was shot for Nana on Wednesday after her class.




1 comment:

  1. What is the cutest about that video is that Connor is paying absolutely no attention to his big sister. It's like he couldn't care less...don't take a man away from his golf!

    It's gymnastics for us, precisely because of a lack of a schedule to accomodate working parents at the dance school. They looked at me with a mixture of disdain and sadness when I said there was no way I could leave work at 3:45 to make a 4:30 class. I think I was more dissappointed than she was because I wanted her have that dance experience since I never had it. Funny how we project on to our kids, isn't it? It turns out that gymnastics is a much better fit for our little ball of energy. It really is all about her and not me right?

    I'm holding my breath until third grade when they get to start learning instruments...I still have all my flutes up in the closet...no pressure there!

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