I sat at the piano in the very first ballet class for the youngest beginners, no older than 4 and 5. I watched quietly as the teacher tried to settle the girls who explored the large room with excitement and wonder. They wore their brand new pink leotards and white tights, just taken out of the package today. Their mothers had brushed their hair into a ponytail, then twisted the loose ends into a pink, sparkly hair wrap. Bobby pins held the wispy hairs tight to their heads. The girls wandered inside, taking notice of their elegant appearance in the wall-sized mirrors, as if today was the ultimate of all “dress-up” days. They grasped the wooden bar, and mimicked the movements they’d seen ballerinas do on TV.
The girls jumped up and down like popcorn when they finally took notice of the teacher, tall, sophisticated, and graceful. She wore a chiffon black skirt around her waist that gently swayed with each movement, and satin pointed shoes with pink ribbons that laced up around her ankles. To them, she was the epitome of beauty and all they wanted to be when they grew up.
“Listen up girls!” She said as she gathered them into a circle and motioned for them to sit down. “First thing’s first. Before you can be ballerinas, we have to learn how to prepare and stretch.” She explained how to stretch the legs while sitting on the floor. “Bring your knees to your chest and then use your arms to pull them in as tight as you can.” She walked around the room, gently correcting the girls when needed. “Pull! Tight, tight, tight!” She coaxed.
“Like this, teacher?” asked one small girl, whose leotard still hung loose on her, despite purchasing the smallest size available.
“Yes dear, just like that!” the teacher encouraged.
“I knew that was right,” the girl explained, “This is how I hug Teddy Bear.”