My little girl loves ballet.
And by loving ballet, I mean the idea of ballet. She’s never actually seen a real ballet (she’s only 3). But she’s seen her older friend and role model dress in leotards for ballet class. She may have even picked up a few “moves” from her friend. And of course, there’s the tutus — the sole reason I think most girls are first attracted to this elegant form of dance.
For more than a year, Cassie has donned her own little tutu and flitted about, singing, “Ballet, ballet, I’m gonna do ballet.” She even has the humble bow and “thank you, thank you” part down after her audience claps. It’s pretty cute.
So when I heard that her friend’s dance studio was starting up its preschooler/beginner class this fall, I knew we had to enroll Cassie. She seems destined for ballerina greatness (or at least, destined to enjoy taking classes — she doesn’t exactly come from a long line of graceful dancing folk).
Her first class was this Monday night. Cassie was all ready, with her little pink leotard (handed down from her friend), pink tights and pink ballet shoes. I even put her hair up so she’d look more “proper.” When we got there, I sat down with baby James in my arms and observed Cassie “warming up” by practicing her favorite moves in front of the mirror wall (which I do believe blew her freakin’ mind) and chatting up the other girls. The other parents were smiling and laughing at my cute kid.
Then the tall, thin lovely teacher, Miss Tatyana, started the class with some jump roping. Uh, jump roping? This should be interesting, I thought. Cassie went and got a jump rope, along with the other girls. When it came time to jump, the other girls knew what to do (they were older, ages 4 and 5, and had attended the first couple of classes while we were on vacation).
Cassie was clueless, poor thing. But she didn’t let that stop her. She just jumped and flung her rope around, acting like she owned the joint. Of course, she completely ignored Miss Tatyana, who was trying to show her how to really jump rope. I knew things would be downhill from there. You see, my kid “walks to the beat of her own drum.” In other words, she likes being in her own world and not conforming to what someone else tells her to do. Not terribly helpful in a classroom environment.
For the remainder of the class, she tried valiantly to keep up her positive attitude while doing her version of “ballet” and looking entranced by her reflection in the mirror. If only that darned teacher and other students would quit bugging her! There were a few minor breakdowns, as well as a complete retreat from the class (“I wanna go home!”)
I just sat there with innocent little James, encouraging Cassie to keep trying and listen to the teacher. In between, I was wringing my hands and wishing she could just be like the other girls, dutifully listening and dancing on command. At one point, when Cassie had come over to sit with me and sulk, the teacher explained, “This is why most teachers don’t let parents stay for class.” Ohhh. Gotcha.
So our first ballet class was kind of a bust. But we’re not giving up. I’m going to buy Cassie a jump rope and attempt to get her to use it properly (God help me). We’ll go through the moves and talk about proper ballet class etiquette. Next class, I’ll drop her off and go home, so I don’t cause any added distraction.
Maybe I’m crazy or stubborn to try to get a 3-year-old to stick to this — is she too young? But I guess I feel like she needs to learn now that this is how you learn a skill. It’s hard at first, but you have to pay attention and be tenacious until you taste a little success. I keep picturing how proud and happy she’ll be at her first recital. I hope I’m right!