My mom put my in dance for the first time when I was 3 (mostly because Nana volunteered to pay for it.) I was socially not ready to be away from her and a cried and cried until the teacher told my mom, “Please don’t bring her back anymore.” It’s not uncommon for kids to take a few weeks to warm up for class, but I wasn’t making any progress at all. Mom tried again when I was 4, and had about the same results. It wasn’t until I was 5 that I was ready to be in a classroom without Mom by my side.
From ages 5 to 8 I took combo classes – classes where you learn two or more kinds of dance within the same class. Our First Steps, Petite Performers, and Rising Stars are all combo classes. I really liked the jazz and tap parts of my classes because they were fast and flashy. I thought ballet was soooooo boring – but Mom’s rule was that if I was going to dance then I had to take at least one ballet class so that I’d build a good foundation for a dancer.
My love for ballet started around age 10. Suddenly ballet class was no longer about being a pretty princess (I was kind of a tom boy) and instead class was full of muscles, sweat and hard work – and I LOVED IT. My favorite part of class was always the end when we got to do leaps and I would fly.
I stopped doing tap and jazz and focused just on ballet. I begged my mom to let me take as many classes as possible and she joked that if you put keys in the mini van it would drive itself to the dance studio out of habit.
I loved it, but I wasn’t particularly good at it. Dad talks about those early recitals. He says he wanted to cry as he sat through a 4 hour show wondering, “What are we even paying for?” but over the years he became my biggest fan. Things started to really click for my around 15 and I was no longer the bottom of the class. By the time I was in high school he really was crying through my recitals, but of pride instead of pain.
Ballet became my love, and my passion. It’s taught me so much more that plies and pirouettes over the years. I’m so thankful my parents were patient through those first few (many) years and didn’t give up on me even though I was shy and I wasn’t the most talented kid in the class. Every dancer develops at their own pace and yours will too.