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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Ballet Balancing Act

Posture, balance, grace.  These are but a few of the reasons why I feel every young girl should take ballet lessons.

But what happens when your daughters come home from Russia at an older age and beginners’ classes are not available?  Well, that’s where things get tricky.

Mashenka and Sashenka are 13 and 11, respectively.  Too young for adult classes, too old for beginners’ kiddie classes.  No teen classes for beginners in our area.  Yet, they expressed their undying interest in ballet over a year ago, at a time when I seriously considered slightly rearranging our family schedule (a massive undertaking) simply to accommodate that request.

Am I ever glad I didn’t-!

Instead, this is the way it went down:  I purchased leotards, tights, and ballet shoes for both, plus a DVD overview of the five ballet positions, along with other basics.  Check, check, check, and check.

Six months passed.

I inquired about this once-burning desire of theirs?  Various excuses emerged.  At last, they tried on their outfits under robes and showed them to me.  They deemed them too form-fitting to be prancing around in front of our men-folk, to which I agreed.

Nine months later, I devised a plan.

“You know, girls, all of the guys will be gone tomorrow morning.  It will be just us.  Would you like to wear your ballet outfits and watch the DVD?”

Bingo.  They jumped at any opportunity to be giggly girls with Mama.

The morning came and we got them arranged in front of the bigscreen.  Naturally, high tech person that I am, I have no idea how to play a DVD in this particular machine.  We somehow figure it out by pushing every button known to humanity, while the girls debate their hair.

“You need to put it in a bun,” I inform them.  “That’s what ballerinas do.”

But my girls are hair-challenged, so ponytails it will have to be.

The instructor reviews and demonstrates each position.  It doesn’t help that she notes a possible starting age of three years old.  One demonstrator looks to be maybe five and the other, ten. The girls try valiantly, yet each classical position morphs an animal-like move, not the grace and beauty for which we were aiming.  The Scottie dogs watch from underneath their bushy eyebrows.

Second position:  ducklike feet.  Demi-plie’:  like a frog preparing to leap, Sashenka is hunched-over and doing leap-frog.  Then, when the leg is supposed to slide to the side along the floor, they inevitably raise it, like dogs sidling up to a hydrant.

“No, no!” I attempt to keep a straight face, but they dissolve in laughter, as well.

The Bolshoi will not be calling anytime soon.  The girls cannot get their feet to cooperate, so I swoop in, placing feet, sliding the front the foot up the leg to the knee.  On one of these rescue missions, I’m the one losing my balance.  I fall backwards into a small table full of books, which tips over.  Grisha the younger jumps three feet in the air in shock at such a display (can dogs do ballet?) and Misha the elder does not rouse from his nap two feet from Sashenka’s feet.

At least I’m the only casualty.  So much for imparting my own grace to the next generation.

“De’gage’, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, de’gage’ 2, 3, 4, plie’ 6, 7, 8.”

We couldn’t pause the DVD as the high-tech boys were out, so the three of us suffer through to the very end—the girls lifting legs… “Arabesque—back to first….”  When we finally turn it off entirely, I call to the rapidly-retreating girls, preparing for their brothers’ and father’s soon return.

“Don’t try any of this in your room!” I shout, fully knowing that they would.

I hear loud laughter and crashes for the next 30 minutes.  Ah, the beauty of ballet.



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4 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Mindy says:

    Great story! I can completely visualize how this played out and I’m sure it created a good memory for all – except maybe the dogs.

  2. avatar Sybil says:

    Hysterical! Love your line, “The Bolshoi will not be calling anytime soon”.
    Your story reminded me of the time when my oldest daughter was a cheerleader at college. She had to make up a routine while she was home on break. She wanted me to practice along with her to see how it looked when more than one person was doing it. I couldn’t do even the most basic steps. Dad was filming it so she could review it. We laugh and laugh over it now.

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