Thursday, October 25, 2018

Movement and Grace: Scenes from the Ballet Classroom

Syd has been dancing ballet since the age of four. It's one of the governing passions of her life. It's the only extracurricular, other than Girl Scouts and our volunteer work, that she chooses. She loves ballet, and I love watching her dance.

Indulge me in the matter of a few photos, then. Syd's ballet program only invites parents into their classroom for one week every semester. I agree with this policy (me!!! Who NEVER agrees with anyone else's rules!!!) because Syd, at least, finds the presence of parents, in particular her own, super distracting and does not enjoy Parent Observation Week, but for me, it's the only week each semester that I get to watch my kid in class--AND take photos and videos of her!

You're luckier than my friends and family, in that here I'm only going to #mombrag with the rare photos that I could catch of Syd without her peers identifiable in the frame, an especially challenging strategy in that I highly suspect that Syd chooses her placement during Parent Observation Week to be as far from her Mom's giant camera as possible.

As if there aren't three other Moms with giant cameras sitting right next to me. She's not the only embarrassed kid, I assure you!

This is one of Syd's ballet teachers this year. She was her sole ballet instructor last year, and Syd and I were absolutely thrilled that she got her again this year, too. Honestly, out of all of the ballet teachers that Syd has ever had in this program, both faculty and college ballet majors, this college student is the best teacher that Syd has ever studied under. She is the best teacher, in any subject, that I have ever seen. She's extremely demanding but still encouraging, she motivates the kids, is quick to correct and to praise, gives each of them tons of attention, tells them stories about her own ballet experiences, and teaches them the choreography that she's learning for her own performances. She hands down leotards that she thinks might fit them. Sometimes she even does their hair. She advocated with the head of the program to cancel pre-pointe class on Halloween so that the children will have time to trick-or-treat. Every time she interacts with the children, it's easy to observe what a gifted teacher she is, and how invested she is in the kids' growth and well-being, and how she enjoys their company and really sees them for who they are as individuals. She is exactly the mentor and role model that you would want for your tween girl in the world of ballet.

Also, my kid is the best stretcher in class. Just saying.

Excuse how grainy and blurry my photos are. You would think that a ballet studio would be well-lit, wouldn't you? Well, I'm here to tell you that it most certainly is NOT.

Jazz is a new class offering this year. Syd does not prefer it, and likely wouldn't choose to go if I didn't encourage her to, but I LOVE it. They dance to music that has a drumbeat! And guitar! And a melody with words! And I usually know the words! Because it's usually Weezer!

Ballet at this time of year is even more exciting, because we are well into rehearsals for the university's yearly production of The Nutcracker. Syd will be dancing the role of a party guest this year, and although she's pretty bummed to be cast as a male character for the second year in a row, meaning that she has to wear pants and a wig instead of a beautiful dress and her long hair styled into ringlets, the silver lining is that I don't have to learn how to use a curling iron yet, and my well-practiced performance bun is a thing of beauty and majesty.

And even if she's not dancing the part that she most wants, she's still dancing--on the big stage, to the music of a live orchestra, in front of hundreds of people, and with her friends. It's the thing that she most loves to do, and whether I'm backstage or in the audience, I'll get to do what I love most, too, which is watch her being happy.

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