I was three when my parents enrolled me in ballet classes offered at a nearby elementary school gym. For my first ballet recital I was a hopping bunny I still have the pink bunny ears. I wore my hair in pigtails and had a pink fuzzy leotard with a furry tummy and a cotton tail on my butt.
My second year of ballet I was a sailor, with red sequined tutu and a matching red and white sailor hat. I was wearing so much red lipstick I looked like a tiny trollop.
My third year I was a piece of popcorn and the majority of the choreography included me and my friends jumping up and down frenetically. During our live performance, I remember bouncing enthusiastically, and at one point wondering why people in the audience were roaring with laughter. Then I happened to glance down and realized amidst all that bouncing my leotard had come undone and I was totally flashing the audience with my little girl boobies. Unfazed, I tied my straps back on while continuing to bounce along, being my best little popcorn self. That was my first experience with the stage adage, “the show must go on.”
I continued with ballet for the rest of high school. Some of my performances included dressing as a hobo clown for a Mary Poppins themed recital (I don’t remember any hobo clowns in Mary Poppins but that’s essentially what our costumes looked like…thank you, Miss Marian), countless fairies, a deck of playing cards, and my piece de resistance, my senior solo to Seal’s “Kiss from a Rose.” I thought I was so new wave and awesome, choreographing what I considered a superb piece of modern dance. I was certain I was the next Twyla Tharp. The video of that recital will forever haunt me.
My experience with ballet gave me much more than just exquisite posture and a tub full of tutus (which I still have and put on every once in awhile). I learned to love all kinds of music and theatre and dance. I learned the value of expressing my emotions and personality through my body. I learned what it looks like to be in a state of confidence and grace from the inside out.
…which is good because one needs all the confidence and grace one can get when this happens.