I’m about to take E to her first ballet class of the new term. She’s been going to weekly classes since her third birthday and she’s loved it ever since. The lady who taught her until recently has run her school for decades and taught many of the mothers of children in E’s ballet class. She is a fabulous mixture of sweet and strict and the children all love her for it. Several pupils have gone on to dance with professional companies or in West End theatre productions.
We have taken the children to watch ballet since E was two. We’ve been lucky enough to see performances at the Coliseum and Covent Garden and the Opera Bastille. I never went with my parents – it just didn’t figure in their minds – but I would have loved to have gone to dance classes. Ballet is such a discipline. It’s wonderful for posture and strength and self awareness and I’ve been pleased to go the extra mile to ensure that E attends her classes. Currently I pick her up from school after orchestra and fight back home through the rush hour traffic rather than making her catch the late bus home so that she’s got a chance to relax or start her homework before her class starts at 7.
When we spent two years in Paris, I even hunted down ballet classes for her there. The first was with a dreadfully mean woman. We had to go and buy over-priced demi pointes and a special leotard from the Repetto shop in Paris. The teacher eventually arranged for the children to have an exam in front of Patrician teachers from the Paris ballet academy without even bothering to go over the routine with them. Luckily, we had help from a fiercely competitive fellow mummy, who put the girl through their paces but E was never ever going to be as good as her bratty girl.
The following year E went to a much more modern and gentle teacher a little further away. Goodness, driving her to that no parking zone in Rueil 2000 and hoping that I wouldn’t be clamped while I saw her to the ballet school was yet another weekly stress event.
So when we returned to London, E was 2 grades down but soon made them up and arrived eventually in the Grade 6 class. Sadly at this level, ballet involves a bigger commitment than in the past and E’s Saturday morning music school commitments mean that she can attend only once a week. Due to her concerts, her participation in the sixth form’s Anything Goes production and her debilitating dizzy spells, even that has been a stretch recently.
She’ll have to carry on going to ballet until the end of the school year as she’s going to use it as her Physical Activity towards her Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award but she’s decided that she’s not going to get any further given the rest of her commitments. The time has come when she can no longer cross her fingers and hope things will work out. She has to prioritise and that means making some hard decisions about the things she must let go.
The realisation of that has made this a tearful end to a generally unhappy day. I hope she continues her interest in dance and maybe she’ll even take an adult ballet class later on. But at the moment she’s spread herself too thinly, there have been consequences and my heart aches a little for MsDD tonight.