Friday, September 16, 2011

The Beginning....Ballet or Bust!

So many kids, both girls and boys get signed up for extra curricular classes, the rights of passage from child to adult. Piano, dance, horse-back riding, swimming, karate....the list goes on and on. The question is, how many of those oh-so-fortunate children truly appreciate the time, effort and cash that their parents shovel out for them on a weekly basis?! I remember as a kid and early teen, hearing so many of my friends complaining and literally being forced my mum and dad to attend these incredibly enriching activities. I myself will admit to a few complaints along the way, but NEVER EVER about my dance classes (or horse-back riding for that  I believe there is a very low percentage of people who take these childhood lessons and turn them into a lifelong endeavor, mine have and I am so very grateful to my parents for making sure I had the chance to learn all I did.

Ballet was my outlet, my passion and all I could think about.  While other kids were listening to Rap and Break Dancing in the halls at school, I was humming Mozart and pirouetting in front of my lockers. To this day, I would rather listen to Classical music and choreograph a ballet in my head as I drive in my car, than listen to Rock or Pop. I stopped taking formal ballet classes nearly 20 years ago, and yet the movements and the elegant flow of body and soul still haunts my mind, awake or asleep. 

Why, you might ask, did I name this Post....Ballet or Bust?...well here is my story of my love of Ballet and my struggle to continue though everything seemed to be against me.

As I had mentioned in a past post "Lil' Miss Twinkle Toes", I started to dance as soon as I started to walk. Where there is music to hear, there is always room to move! I danced as if no one was watching and dreamed of dancing for everyone to watch.

My parents started me in Ballet classes at the age of 3, at one of the top local dance schools, Judith Lee Johnson's Studio of Dance. From there, as I grew older, I was enrolled in more and more classes, adding Jazz and Tap and later Lyrical, Modern and Ballet En Pointe. My thirst for knowledge was insatiable, my dedication to dance and performing formidable. I could never get enough and danced all the time. I quickly rose to become one of the top students at my School and though I loved the high ranking, it was not what drove was the pleasure and ecstasy of dance itself.  

Near the age of 12 a very exciting thing happened...the Tampa Ballet had sent scouts out to our school. Everyone who was interested was allowed to have an audition. I didn't tell mom and dad, I thought I'd surprise them if I was accepted....and BOY did I want to be accepted. I was terrified and thrilled! I barely made it through the dance audition and mumbled and stuttered through the private interview. Somehow, someway, I made an impression. Myself and another dancer, a young man who was a classmate of mine, we both were offered spots in this highly acclaimed school of dance, to have the opportunity to study under some of the best teachers in the nation.

Sadly I didn't take into account our religion. My parents were adamant, I was not allowed to become a professional dancer. I was to finish my required education through 12th grade and then find a good husband and dedicate as much of my time as I could to God. End of story. (As far as they were concerned.) It wasn't too long after that, that I was given the parents could no longer afford both my Equestrian habits as well as my Dancing, I had to choose one or the other. Well, by this time I owned a beautiful, spunky pony by the name of Fire Cracker that had become my best friend, how could I sell her and keep dancing? Never! My dance classes ended. 

I spent several years not taking classes, oh how I missed my dancing! I missed my teachers, my friends, the twice yearly performances on the big stage. I counted the days and the hours till I could take lessons again. I didn't stop dancing though....I still danced all the time. I made up my own choreographies and danced whenever and wherever I could.

I got my first paying job at the age of 14, I started saving money to one day be able to take lessons again. Then finally at 16 I got my drivers license. So without telling anyone, I found a studio and a teacher and started studying again. I could only afford once a week classes, but I was in heaven. I did not get to perform in recitals any more, I had to have my parents sign waivers and release forms and couldn't afford the expensive costumes. It only lasted a short time started spending more and more time with a certain young man and my dancing took another hiatus.

There is a lot more to the story of when and where I got to dance, and whom I learned from, but suffice it to say, my dance education and experiences were definitely what you would call eccentric.  

Maybe someday I'll write about the Talent Shows I my few appearances on local television as a dancer. Phew, those were interesting times.