This Christmas, I was browsing Amazon to find a book for Em, who generally doesn't LOVE to read unless the word to page ratio is a certain number or less. This would break my heart more, except that she adores the Betsy Tacy books. I can live with that. Anne will come when she's older.
So. I found this book, and got it, thinking: "Emma will love it because it's so full of pictures and it's about dance, and Bill won't care because it's a comic, for crying out loud." I was right on both counts, but it turned out to be so much more. It is a beautifully written and illustrated book which gives a clear glimpse of a young girl attending the American Ballet Theater during the end of Balanchine's life. When it came in the mail, I opened it to check to make sure it was appropriate, and read the whole darn thing while sitting on the floor of my closet, hiding from the kids.
Emma loved it as well, and read it through three times before we finished our Christmas trip to Baton Rouge. It not only entertained her, but it lit some sort of fire in her regarding ballet.
I know this feeling. My ballet-o-mania was rather short lived, but it was real. We had seasons tickets to the Fort Worth Ballet. I rented Barishnikov and Gelsey Kirkland's Nutcracker and The Children of Theater Street from the library about four times. We saw the Moscow Ballet at SMU. The only result of all this is that a) I'm quite star-struck with Emma's ballet teacher, who is a principal with Metropolitan here in town and b) I daily question whether I'm pushing Emma too much, or living vicariously through her.
When this thought plagues me, I remember these things: I never have to drag her to dance. She loves it. She wants to go. She works hard. When she started the team last year, she couldn't do the splits. She worked every night. She stretched and pushed herself for about three months. When she finally did them, she jumped into my arms and tearfully said "I did it! I just said to myself: 'If I want to look professional, I have to act professional.' and I practiced and I did it!" She takes correction (even from those of us who know less about dance, but say what does or doesn't look quite right) without getting pouty. This is a huge lesson, and one that every child would do well to learn. She thinks about it long term. She thinks about what will be best for her own training and future. She isn't the best. She knows she's not going to be on a tv reality series any time soon or ever, if I have anything to say about it. I'm sure she daydreams about being a super-star, but she doesn't talk about it.
So am I a pushy parent because I correct her when she acts up in class or because I help her practice at home? Maybe. But I do the same for Bo in violin, and for both of them in schoolwork and chores around the house. It's what parents do. Yes, I showed her the website of Evgenia Obratsova, but she stayed there and watched all the videos on her own. (PS. She is amazing and so darling!)
If it's just a temporary thing, I'm happy. We have that in common. But if it's more than that for her, than I am happy to keep encouraging her. In the meantime, I think we are both enjoying it.
Anyway, ballet is just so pretty!
Em's ballet teacher, Marina and her husband Andrey. See why I might be star-struck?
and of course, Margot Fonteyn.
So lovely and graceful.