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Ballet Camp

Cora wanted to start taking
“big-girl” camps this summer, and since she’d
just turned three, the world was her oyster. With Cora’s deep
love for ballet and longing to be just like her big sister, ballet
camp seemed like a natural first step, and we signed Cora up.

Alas, Cora was apparently the only three-year-old in the area who
longed to spend a week immersed in the Prokofiev ballet
“Cinderella”, and the camp was canceled for lack of
enrollment. Cora was so crushed that I promised her I’d make
her own ballet camp for her, and last Friday I delivered.

You can’t have camp with only one
camper (as Cora’s almost-school learned to their chagrin) so
we invited Maddie and her pal Elise to come along as well. Both
took ballet together and would fit right in to Cora’s
preconceived notions of how ballet camp should be. Elise’s
mom agreed to head up snacks and crafts (what camp is complete
without crafts?) and we were all set.We started out in the camp
“bus” – my mini-van. My theatre studio kindly
allowed me to use a couple dance rooms for our camp, and when we
walked in and Cora saw that she’d be in a real ballet studio
with mirrors and even a small stage, she was quite excited. The
girls were all dressed in their leotards and tights and practice
skirts, and Cora had insisted on putting her hair in a bun with
hair-spray “just like the big girls”, so I have to tell
you they were all adorable.

All camps start with a good warm-up, and ours was no exception. We
stretched; we plied; we danced across the floor. Then came
“free dance” time, as the girls created fanciful
characters and danced around the room with abandon. Just as eyes
began to glaze over, we switched to a small studio for craft time
– and let me tell you, there were CRAFTS.

The girls were set up at a table, and each one made their own
princess tiara for later in the ballet. Then there were princess
picture frames to decorate in preparation for the future
end-of-camp photo, coloring sheets to color – oh, so much. I
saw Maddie sitting happily at the table next to Elise, joyfully
diving into stickers and markers, and realized how much she’s
missed this kind of school activity since summer started. Cora, of
course, tired more quickly of the finer crafts, and settled
contentedly on the floor, lying on her belly as she colored a
coloring sheet.

When the girls finished with craft time, they returned to the big
studio for movie-and-snack time. I’d set the Cinderella
ballet DVD up, and had pre-screened it to find a few highlights in
the two-plus hours of the ballet. The girls watched, enraptured, as
they munched on grapes and pretzels. Cinderella dancing with her
broom; Cinderella meeting the fairy godmother; Cinderella entering
the ball; Cinderella dancing with the prince.

After the DVD we had time for one more thing – the final
performance. I’d set out several tutus, ballet skirts, props,
and costume accessories for the girls to choose from, and told them
I needed to see three scenes: first, Cinderella dancing sadly by
herself with the broom in her dirty dress. Then, Cinderella meets
her fairy godmother and all the fairies dance. Then, Cinderella
goes to the ball and dances with two other princesses (remember,
three campers).

The older girls had been warned beforehand that this was
Cora’s camp, so they were to let her be Cinderella, and Elise
and Maddie worked together kindly to have fun and stay out of
Cora’s limelight. Cora started out onstage by herself, an
apron tied around her chubby belly, her toy broom in her hand. She
danced all over the stage, periodically stopping to hold her face
in her hands – indicating sadness, of course.

Suddenly, the fairy Elisemother appeared onstage. Corarella was so
happy she gave Elisemother an impromptu hug – with an
arabesque, I might add. Elisemother danced a solo, then called a
Spring Maddie fairy onstage. While the spring fairy danced, Elise
changed into the Winter fairy and returned for another solo.
Meanwhile, Cora was offstage yelling, “I’m in my
dressing room getting into my ball dress!” as she stripped
naked to get into her white ball dress.

Act Three: two beautiful princesses (can you count the number of
costume changes thus far?) danced happily at the ball. Cinderella
arrived with a long flowing train, which was removed so she could
dance. The curtain came down on all three princesses dancing

I’d post the video on Youtube, but it’s about fifteen
minutes long and probably a bit hard to see, since I was shaking
with laughter half the time. Just trust me, it’s quite a

As you can guess, the ballet camp was a huge success, with the
highest praise I could possibly receive: Elise saying, “Can
you do this again next year?” Cora’s telling everyone
she went to a real camp, and I’ve got the photos to prove it.

Next week: art camp. In my house. I may have bitten off a bit too
much this time.


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