There are some things we do in our lives that seem to define us. For me, ballet is one of those things. I danced from when I was three until high school, and a little in college. So much of who I am stems from my dancing. The way I walk, the way I move, the way I hear music, the way I stretch.
I was never particularly great, but I didn’t know that. To me, my dream of being a real ballerina was a possibility. A real possibility. I loved all of ballet, but I especially loved the leaps. I would do leap turns around and around the studio, trying to get higher, faster.
When we finally learned to do fouette turns, and I felt like I was finally a real ballerina. I could hop onto pointe, use my other leg to send me in turn after turn after turn.
My dance recitals are some of my favorite memories of childhood. I loved the preparation as our teacher would choreograph and teach us the moves. We would pour over the costume catalogs and memorize our music. Then we would practice. Those days were the best. We would do our barre work, then rush to practice.
Dress rehearsals and photographs meant the recital was almost there.
Then the day came.
We would go in the stage door of the Hult Center (like real ballerinas). We would go to the dressing rooms (like real ballerinas). We would go up to the wings and wait for our music to start (like real ballerinas).
Then, for a few minutes, with the stage lights shining, we were real ballerinas. The audience was watching us, counting our fouettes, cheering us on.
Those things, those experiences, made me who I am today.
Those things are helping make my children who they are today.
Last weekend was Alma’s first ballet recital. Those moments that I experienced over and over in my childhood were upon us in Alma’s young childhood. I was backstage with Alma and her group. I got to watch her experience those same things. She watched as the big girls got their hair done. She had a woman put her crown in her hair. She posed for the photographer. She was silly with her friends. She went into the wings. She watched the dancers. She saw magic happen before her eyes. She heard her music and went on stage. She heard the audience react to what she was doing. She was a ballerina.And the whole experience is making her into a person, a girl, a woman, a ballerina. And it’s changing who I am, too.
The things we are doing are defining who Alma will become. It’s magical.
(Alma is second from right, at least in the beginning… I told her to jump up and down if she forgot the steps…)