When I saw a flyer advertising Baby Ballet classes, I was determined to find out the details and apply for my two-year-old daughter, Fern, to join the class. That leaflet sat quite comfortably in my drawer of ‘things that require fairly immediate attention’ for weeks. I did Ballet when I was a child, for years. I loved it. I suppose it has always been a dream to take my own daughter to Ballet, so that she could experience the joy of dance the way I did. (Sort of mostly giggling, with my friend Sam. Also spending my pocket money in the tuck shop, on 10p a packet salt and vinegar Puffs and Cherry-ade). My first memories of Ballet (perhaps some of my first memories at all) include the dusty smell of the hall and being slightly scared of the teacher. She was quite old and wrinkly. At the time if I had been asked, I might have guessed she was 100 years old. She had impeccable posture and her hair scraped back into a very neat bun. She smelled like talcum powder and she spoke a little bit like the queen. I think she was tall, but then again, it could just be that I was only four years old and everyone towered over me.
When I first started ballet we had to wear a uniform, a pink leotard with a little skirt attached, a pink wrap-over cardigan and leather ballet shoes. Nowadays, the little girls taking Ballet, can wear a tutu if they want to. All of the girls in Fern’s class wear one, including Fern. It is the cutest thing ever. She has a very pale pink leotard with a tutu attached by a gold sparkly elasticated waistband, it is nothing short of fabulous. I’ve asked my sister to knit (she gets annoyed when I say that), or crochet a pair of leg warmers for Fern. We are doing this, Flashdance style.
I sort of expected the class to be quite free and involve a lot of prancing about. But it was quite structured, much to my little one’s disobedience. I was overwhelmed with emotion, so many emotions, including bursting with pride and yet at the same time, distinct embarrassment. At one point the teacher produced a bag full of gymnast style ribbons and asked the children to wait their turn while she called their names, one by one. Each girl sat on her mat and waited angelically. Fern was inches away from the teacher’s face before the first name had been called. Fern was elegantly ignored for at least two minutes, not by myself as I pathetically asked her to come and wait her turn, but by the teacher who eventually called Fern ‘up’ to get her ribbon. I wanted a ribbon. When I’ve finished writing this I’m going to Google gymnast ribbons and order one that I can twirl when nobody’s watching.
Then there was the bubble time. Some kind of magical bubble solution was used to fill the air with beautiful bubbles, they floated and occupied all of the air around and up into the vaulted ceiling. The Ballet dancers had to tippy toe and gently catch bubbles to the sound of twinkly music. It would have been quite a special moment, if it weren’t for the fact that Fern was stomping around, jumping clumsily and clapping her hands together in an effort to squash the pretty iridescent spheres. When she did catch the odd few, she ate them. Yes she ate them. Why? I don’t know. She loved her first class and I will definitely continue taking her, I’m not convinced she will be the next Darcy Bustle but I am 100% certain that she looks every inch the blossoming ballerina in her tutu.