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Ballet Crazy

I’ve got a girl obsessed with ballet, and it’s not even the one taking the classes.

For whatever reason, Cora simply adores all things ballet. Her favorite day of the week is Tuesday, when Maddie takes her ballet class. Cora now has her own “dance bag” with her own ballet shoes in them, because she sobbed uncontrollably when Maddie put her shoes on and Cora had none of her own. So every Tuesday Cora brings her bag to the studio, and the teacher generously allows Cora to play in an empty studio.

On go the ballet shoes, and into the practice room she goes. Cora begs for music, and we’ll turn on a ballet class cd. She’ll then get out all the props the teacher uses in Maddie’s class – scarves, mats to sit on, flowers to mark their spots – and sets them up in some mysteriously perfect way that only she understands. And then she dances, a sort of dragging limp that looks like a butterfly whose wings are still wet, not quite able to take off and fly. You see a shadow pass over her face and realize that in her mind, she’s Anna Pavlova and dancing like an angel.

I’ve never seen anything like it; she’s transformed when the music turns on. She’s begun to dance with her arms and will sway side to side dreamily with the music. And of course, she works hard to imitate her sister and does her “arabesque” and such very seriously.

dsc05041.jpgEvery once in a while she’ll run to the door of Maddie’s studio and watch her big sister work, with a longing I’ve only felt as I stared into Jacques Torre’s chocolate store before it opened. She’ll sit in the door frame and gradually begin to creep in, inching her way forward as far as she can go without a reprimand. Occasionally she’ll throw out a “Hi, Maddie!” as her big sister gallops across the floor, but mostly she stays quiet and drinks it in. And then, of course, runs back to “her” studio to practice what she’s seen.



dsc05148.jpgThis love of ballet spills over into our everyday life – it definitely doesn’t stop when we leave the studio. Every day she begs us to put on ballet music, with an inexplicable Russian accent – “Ballyet, please!” She’ll grab one of the half-dozen tutus the girls have, insist on her ballet slippers (yes, they do make them in toddler 5, if you can believe it!) and then stand pleadingly in front of the cd player. And my child, barely 20 months old, has quite specific tastes – to date, she’s refused to do ballet to anything except Mozart and Chopin.

We’re hoping to break her down on the Tchaikovsky front, since it’s pretty hard to be a ballet dancer and avoid him.

We took Cora to see her Gamma make a cameo appearance in a local Nutcracker, and she sat transfixed throughout the entire first act, only speaking to yell, “Gamma! There she is!” when she spotted her grandmother. And ever since then, she begs to see Nutcracker again. I can only imagine how long the next year and a half will be, until she’s finally old enough to take class herself.

So if you’re wandering by our local studio and look in the front window and see a toddler shuffling around a dance studio, clad in overalls and ballet slippers, don’t snicker.

There’s serious work going on here.


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