Becoming a Ballerina
May 27th, 2014
Miss Mouse participated in her first dance recital this weekend. Before the big event, she was manic with excitement. On stage, she was sassy and expressive. Afterwards, she glowed – tired but immensely satisfied.
I am so proud of her that I struggle to find adequate words to capture the depth of the emotion.
Miss Mouse’s dancing journey this year was long and often arduous. Although she had begged to take dance lessons, she had a lot of trouble settling in to the class. Miss Mouse tends to be really shy in new situations – particularly in structured activities led by an unknown adult.
I tried hard to support her and give her space, but it was tough for us both. Week after week, she would waffle between enthusiasm and melodramatic despair at the thought of going to class. I occasionally bribed her. Once I had to physically pry her out of the car. Often, I promised (although it sometimes sounded more like a threat) that she never had to dance again after she completed the class. (I believe in following through on commitment so I wouldn’t let her quit mid-way through the class.)
In December, we almost threw in the ballet slippers. Her class is divided into semesters and I had to decide whether or not to continue into the spring. On Decision Day (which also happened to be Parents Visit Class to See You Dance Day), she threw a particularly impressive fit…but then ultimately calmed down, danced beautifully, and cheerfully announced her desire to continue.
So we pressed on.
Winter turned to spring and slowly – so so slowly – the boycotts grew less frequent. She started talking about friends she had made in class and about steps her teacher had showed her. By the time the performance rolled around, she was sprinting up the stairs to class ahead of me, barely acknowledging my departure in her haste to see her friends and start class.
But I still worried about the recital. Would she get performance anxiety? Freak out and refuse to go onstage? Collapse into a weeping puddle if she missed a step?
None of the above.
I dropped her off backstage amidst the gaggle of girls clad in froth and ribbon and she waved happily. She pranced and sashayed through her routines and came bounding into the hall afterwards to graciously receive flowers from her adoring fans.
She was poised. Confident. And incandescently happy.
Her class is off for the summer but she is already talking about the fall. I don’t anticipate a fight this time.