“Everything was beautiful at the ballet.
Graceful men lift lovely girls in white.
Everything was beautiful at the ballet.
I was happy… at the ballet.”
A Chorus Line, 1975
In 1973, when I was four years old, my mother enrolled me in ballet classes at Pamela’s School of Dance in Dearborn, Michigan. Little did I imagine that I would continue to study ballet for the next eleven years with classes twice a week, annual recitals, countless rehearsals, and membership in the local ballet company. During these years of training, I learned grace, practiced excellent posture, acquired a discipline for expressing and paying attention to my body, and gained a broad exposure to the performing arts of not only ballet but classical music as well. We even had a live pianist in the dance studio in those days long before MP3 players as we practiced our barre exercises!
Ballet was a big part of my world. The Turning Point was THE big ballet movie and Mikhail Baryshnikov, Gelsey Kirkland and the dancers of American Ballet Theatre were our inspirations. I even read novels about ballet.
Today I am an avid balletomane and frequent attendee of live ballet performances. I am very fortunate to now live in Pittsburgh, home of the professional ballet company, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. Since moving here in 2010, I’ve enjoyed The Nutcracker, Coppelia, and Giselle and I’ve already got my tickets to next April’s Cinderella–can you tell I prefer the classics?
While I never achieved the perfect turnout required to become a great ballerina, I still fondly remember the lights hot on my face, the thick heavy makeup, and the scratchy costumes whose sparkly sequins fluttered across the stage. But all that faded once the lights dimmed, the crowd hushed, and the music began…