Monday, April 3, 2017

Musings on Ballet

A pleasant Sunday afternoon was spent here in rivertown attending a Birds and Ballet program by the Missouri Valley Chamber Orchestra and Northern Plains Ballet.  My housemate grumbled a wee bit when we got there.  "You didn't tell me that there would be ballet."  Guess he didn't read the announcement in the Bismarck Tribune as closely as I did. Oh well.

It was a charming program and we got to watch Claudia Purdon (daughter of our friends Carmen Miller and Tim Purdon) dance as The Broom in a performance of The Kitchen Review (by Bohuslav Martinu).

It got me to thinking about my days studying ballet in El Paso, TX (see photo below, I was about eight).


After school at Terrace Hills Elementary, I would walk to the ballet studio.  Eventually, I achieved the elevation to "pointe".  I still have my pointe slippers in my mementos box.  All of the costumes my parents invested in are long gone so far as I know.

Ballet lessons ended when my father retired from the United States Army and we moved "home" to the Slope County, ND farm & ranch in June of 1970.  Summers on the ranch are busy times and, other than the neighbor children, I had not yet had a chance to meet my new peers at the Rhame school when the word came down that there would be a USO Show at the Legion Hall in Rhame.  My mother and my Aunt Junette Henke thought it would be a terrific idea for me to dance a ballet number for the Show.  Innocent I did as I was told.  I guess I was nervous backstage, but nothing prepared me for the reaction of the boys (soon to be my classmates) sitting on the floor in the front row, who howled with laughter when I danced out in my costume and ballet slippers.  I think it would be fair to guess that they'd never seen anything like it, and, well, boys will be boys.   Probably that didn't get me off to a terrific start at Rhame Elementary School that fall.  Oh well.  I guess that's why they say "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger".   Certainly, ballet gave me better posture.

As I raised my daughters in Dickinson, I made sure that Chelsea would be in ballet, and she was blessed to study under the inimitable Susan Robbins at Susan's Academy of Dance.  I spent many hours brushing her hair into the perfect bun and sitting with Rachel in the car in the parking lot during lessons.  You don't get a Perfect Attendance medal as shown here without some parental sacrifices.

I'm glad that Chelsea had that experience. She has all of the photos that were taken from those years, but here is a snapshot of one of her portraits.  Love the tiara.


Nowadays my local YMCA offers a class called "Barre Fitness" which I thoroughly enjoy.  I channel my inner ballerina.  Don't let the word "barre" scare you off if you are considering such a class.  In no way does it require ballet experience.  It is, however, a very punishing workout. When I'm lifting the hand weights over and over and over, I motivate myself to push through the pain by telling myself I'm working on my Michelle Obama arms.  Works like a charm!

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