Sunday, October 16, 2011

Tiny Dancer: The Bonus Footage

Bella loves her Saturday morning dance class, but her favourite part of the ritual by far doesn't happen until her class ends. She bursts from the studio, flushed and smiling, proudly showing me the stickers she's earned, then takes off at a run to the end of the hall where a ladies aerobics class is just getting underway. She stands just back from the doorway and stares with eyes wide, mouth agape, at the women as they grapevine and high-kick themselves into shape. And she's totally and utterly riveted. Before long she's moving and shaking right along with the work-outs. And. It's. The. Cutest. Thing. Ever. FACT.

This is a video I caught during the first time she ever watched the class, she'd never seen aerobics before so she was mesmerized by the music and movement. She's gotten quite good at the moves now so me thinks an updated version is in order. Karen Kain she may not be, but Jane Fonda? I think perhaps yes.

Tiny Dancer

Top 40 (before 40): #18 - Put Bella in Ballet classes (to see if she likes it) - Check!

Giving me a giddy grin just before her first ever class. 

It was March when I enrolled Bella in her first dance class. Creative Movement and Dance is run through the City of Toronto and it's a precursor to Beginner Ballet which, at our community center, doesn't accept kids under 4 years old.

Feeling special after surviving her first class.

I decided to go with city classes for her first time because I was skeptical that she would even participate given how shy she can be and I was not about to drop hundreds of dollars on private dance classes if she was going to refuse to enter the studio and instead cling desperately to my legs the entire time.

Warming up at Nana's before class. 

To my surprise and delight my worries were unfounded and Bella left me in the hall and ran into her very first class without so much as a backwards glance. It was one of those moments I like to call happysad. She danced there all spring and then we took the summer off because the class was not offered at our center. We have just started classes up again for fall and will continue right through until spring, when if interested, she'll be eligible to start the 'real' ballet.

Mary McCormick Community Center dance studio - charming and full of light.

I am completely impressed with the studio, the teachers and the excitement Bella has for this class and I can't think of any reason not to continue with the city-run classes, until Bella outgrows them or decides that she's really serious about ballet or dancing. For now, this is exactly her speed and mine.

At her first recital. 

Bella is not the most active child. She's content to sit quietly for hours playing with her toys, books, arts and crafts. Or she'll get lost in her own head inventing worlds for her stuffed animals and dolls - taking them on a train, to the beach and now sometimes to her imaginary dance studio. She's also completely obsessed with TV. OH TV YOU ARE A BLESSING AND A CURSE. She will always ask for TV before anything else. I'm not against it and do allow her to watch when I think unwinding is called for or a lazy morning is in order but her predisposition to vegging means we have to play a big role in making sure she has other activities and pastimes available to her.


I am determined to maintain a Saturday morning activity that ensures we all wake up and get out of the house before the glowing box presents her with even a whisper of an option. Swimming didn't work out so well when I took her last fall, not because she didn't like it but because I didn't like it. At her age a parent needs to get in the pool and I hated going in the pool. I already KNOW how to swim, thankyouverymuch. And so we (I) chose dance.

Waiting for her turn.

One reason I want her to dance is because it's at once creative, cerebral and athletic, but in a non-competitive way. At least not at this stage. Though she doesn't exactly show signs of being the next Karen Kain, she's not a complete bull in a China shop either. She watches the teacher and emulates as best she can. And she absolutely shines with pride later when she shyly shows off her new moves to friends and family at home.

 Mimicking her teacher and exploding my heart into shrapnel of happiness.

The other reason I want her to dance? Because it's one of those things that I have always wished I was good at. I look at graceful, strong dancer-types and wish that I had the genetics, the training, the what-ever-it-is that allows a dancer to move with precise control and utter abandon at the same time. I never had the drive or desire to pursue it when I was young, and now I look at my daughter and think, maybe she will? Or maybe not and that's totally okay. Because for now I can sit back and simply absorb the utter joy I get from seeing every tutu, every twirl, every hokey pokey.

Name me a mother of a daughter who can witness this without melting.