When I was a little girl, I wanted to dance like the Mouseketeers…I watched Jimmy, Annette, Karen, Cubby, and the rest daily, and dreamed dancing dreams. But Daddy had always wanted to play the piano, so I got piano lessons. I don’t know where my parents found her (I know paying her required some sacrifices), but Beatrice Tupman Prothero was an amazing mentor — and a story for another day. As I grew older, I wanted to dance like the cool teenagers on Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand”. Who wouldn’t love to do the Twist with Chubby Checker? But San Bernardino, California, is a long way from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, so Bandstand was out of the question.
When my daughter was little, she wanted to dance, too. We signed her up for Saturday morning ballet, and although she loved the dancing and the costumes and the fun, she hated getting up and out on Saturday mornings. She had to get up early every weekday morning for preschool, and was at her sitter’s all afternoon, so Saturday mornings were sacred. Dance lessons didn’t last.
Lily, my oldest granddaughter (now a grown-up seven), has been “doing ballet” around the house since she could walk. She puts on her ruffled tutu skirt and tights and leaps around the living room with great enthusiasm. Often she conscripts her little sister to help with her performances while I, the proud grandmother, serve as the audience.
Last week this grandmother had the pleasure of enrolling Lily in dance. Beginning ballet is on Wednesdays, and tomorrow she will have her first tap and jazz class. When she slips on her pink leather ballet shoes, her eyes begin to shine, and her smile gets so wide it almost makes me cry! I am amazed at how much better she looked tonight, with just her second lesson. She is already walking taller, and holding her arms with grace and charm. Tonight after class we dug through the boxes of gently used shoes and found a pair of white patent tap shoes for $5.00! She needs tan ones for class, but the lady behind the desk said, “Just buy the white ones, and spray paint them tan!” so that is what we will do.
Although it took us three generations, it looks like we are well on the way with this little dancer. My prayer for her is that she will be able to keep the enthusiasm and joy she has always found while “doing ballet” as her skills grow and develop. I am looking forward to her first real “performance” in class at Christmastime, and many more to come.