So many girls start their imaginings with the basics... What do I want to be when I grow up? There was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to be a ballerina.
I watched PBS incessantly hoping to wander upon a ballet that they might be showing. I would settle for modern dance, but it never held the same mystique as the fluffy Tu-Tu'd dames that sprung across the stage in those amazingly shaped toe shoes. I would beg to watch the "Nutcracker Suite" each Christmas and I would mimic the steps and the over dramatic poses if left alone in the living room to play. At one point in my childhood, I even cut up my security blanket (saving back one small square for emergencies) to fashion slippers, complete with wooden alphabet blocks for the toes. It was then my family began to take my desire very seriously....
My mother indulged me by purchasing ballet lessons for me. I was quite the little diva, too busy making sure that my leotard and my leg warmers were just so, rather than practising technique that might push me into an actual sweat. The lessons were held in the classroom of a local school and I know it cost my mother dearly to watch, week after week while I wasted time tugging and pulling and bending my accoutrement, rather than learning the steps I so desperately needed.
Amazingly, I did have some natural talent, although it took some years to become mature enough to realize it wasn't about the outfit. My dad caught me one afternoon in our wooden floored dining room practicing my craft. He stopped me and told me right out loud that he thought I was talented, and a little later sat me down with my mother and discussed another round of lessons. This time I would be studying in a proper studio, taught by a proper Madame, with the tell-tale gnarled toes of a dancer poking out of her black footless tights.
It was more Modern Dance than traditional ballet, but I was well suited to it. I enjoyed it and the few friends I made. Awkward as can be and gangley fit right in for dance. I was disappointed when after two session of Modern Dance I was not accepted into the folds of the traditional ballet class. I remember it being a technique issue as I often had my bum slapped for it's offensive sticky-outy-ness. (I suffered from mild scoliosis as a pre-teen.)
I loved the nights we would walk to and from the studio and I felt so glamorous in my leggings and dance garb. The most wonderful thing of all was knowing that it was because my dad recognized I had talent and desire that I had been afforded another chance at my dream.
While I never looked back after completing my last recital with the small troupe, it gave me a verve to pursue my dreams. I realized then and there, ones dreams must always be explored. Even if I try and fail, at least I have tried and know what it felt like to see it through. Thanks Dad, for believing in me and showing me how to pursue my loves.