Goodbye Ballerina Phase: It Was Fun While It Lasted

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A few months before her 4th birthday, my little girl, all dressed in pink, started her very first ballet class.  And she loved it!  I was thrilled!  A little ballerina!

I saw years of recitals in our future.  Visions of Plies, Jetes, Pirouettes, toe shoes, the lead role in the Nutcracker and Swan Lake, danced in my head.

Granted, this Pre-Ballet class was a lot of hop like a bunny, leap like a frog.  But it was a start.  Siena’s pony trot would someday be replaced with a graceful brisé.  And, she was killing that crab walk!

Ballet is one of those things I’ve always been in awe of.  I took ballet at different times in my life – as a kid, a teen, a young adult.  Not consecutively.  Never consistently.  Never to the point of being “on pointe,” but still I dabbled in it.  I even used to teach children’s ballet (and tap and jazz) classes for a while.

I always loved ballet.  Understood it.  Appreciated it.  The art form.  The athleticism.  How hard it really is and how much strength it takes to execute each move.

I’ll always love going to ballet performances.  And, I’m really hoping that a Barre Method studio opens up in my town (I will join).  Ballet is a killer workout!

My husband and I soon considered ourselves ballet parents.  We became friends with other parents with whom we spent every Saturday morning in the ballet studio lobby, while our little ballerinas twirled off to class.

At that time, my daughter was all about ballerinas.  Ballerina dolls, ballerina bedding, shirts with ballerinas on them, and more tutus than any one girl would ever need.

For her 4th birthday, we threw her a ballerina-themed birthday party, with pink tutu’d everything.  Even our dining room table wore a tutu (that I painstakingly made by hand).  A real, live ballerina came as a special guest and gave the little ballerinas a show and a lesson.

Ballet continued to be a part of our life for the next year and a half.  We got to know the ballet families more and more, and even started hanging out together outside of the studio lobby – attending each other’s kids’ birthday parties, barbecues at each other’s homes, even the occasional ballet parents’ nights out.

Then, one day, my daughter and one of the other girls in her class were asked to move up to the Level I Ballet class, which took place right after the Pre-Ballet class.

The next week, wearing blue leotards instead of pink, they joined the more advanced class.

Immediately, the other little girl chose to go back to Pre-Ballet to be with her younger sister who had just started.  Her parents had no problem with not having to hang out at the studio for two hours every Saturday.  Siena stayed in Level I.  She plodded along.

She had to adjust to the changes.  The bunny hopping, frog jumping, and pony trotting had been replaced by things with fancy names, and lots barre work, floor work …  more “work” in general.

Over time, Siena was reluctant about going to ballet.  She’d say, “Can we skip ballet this week?”  We urged her to continue, to not give up.  But before long, she stated, “I don’t like ballet.”

We gave it a few more weeks and lots more pep talking, but she wanted to quit.  She assured me she was absolutely sure.

So, we let her quit.  After all, it was supposed to be something she enjoyed, not something we forced upon her (she had enough of that with school, homework, having to eat vegetables, etc.).  Plus, summer was beginning and we had things like swimming, the beach, and outings to focus on.

A part of me is a little sad Siena’s not in ballet anymore.  Maybe I let her give up too soon.  But then again, she’s only 6.  Who knows?  Maybe she’ll return to it someday.  And, if not that’s OK too.

There are lots of great things out there for her to try – soccer, tennis, gymnastics, and more – and it’s good to expose kids to several different activities.  So, come fall, I’ll see what she wants to try.

Plus, the friendships we’ve made with the other families live on.  When with them, we still consider ourselves ballet parents.

Oh, and by the way, I’ve signed Siena up for a 6-week Tap, Jazz & Hip-Hop class.  I’m sure she’ll love it.


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