Monday, February 25, 2013

Ballerinas, Bravery and British Accents

When my youngest daughter,  Ellie, was in preschool she took ballet downtown in the same building that the ballerinas that put on The Nutcracker and Dracula and Swan Lake rehearsed.

We could watch them through the glass door while we waited for our class to start.

It was beautiful to see them

with their pointed toes 

and straight backs 

and strong legs.

Ellie's class was everything you'd want for a little girl. A huge room with high ceilings and big windows with lots of natural light.

Miss Kathy was the teacher who had the most calming voice and disposition of anyone I'd ever met.

She made me want to dance ballet.

And I'm more of the kick boxing type.

There was a live piano player

named Miss Somethingorother 

that the girls had to say "hello" to 
and "thank you" to 
in unison 
each class. 

They got to play with the props that the ballet company had at its disposal.

No buying expensive recital costumes.
No garish make-up.
Just ballet.
Thank you very much.

There were little recitals every few months that showed off what they had learned but nothing stressful or high-pressured.

No chance for a stage mom to emerge.

Thank you very much.

One such recital was in the middle of day (when the class ordinarily met) and my husband, Monte, couldn't get away from the office.

My older daughter, McDaniel, was home from school with the tail end of a cold.

I took her with me to the recital.

The little girls showed off their new moves as a group.

Ellie is 2 in from the left.

Ellie is back row last one on the right. Smiling her face off.

It was precious.

Then Miss Kathy had them line up to the side of the room and asked them

one at a time

to dance across the room like a princess ballerina

light as a feather


ever so softly

tippy toe

tippy toe

tippy toe.

Can you hear her calming voice?

Could put me right into a smiling face sleep.

Each little girl jumped and twirled 

and other ballet terms that I can't think of right now.

They were whisper quiet and graceful.

It was precious.

Then it was Ellie's turn.

From the look on her face, she knows EXACTLY what she is about to do.
Check out her underwear hanging down below her leotard.
Wait! Are they ZEBRA PRINT?! 

I got the video camera ready to record.

I may or may not have squeezed McDaniel's hand in excitement.

Ellie, with chin jutted out, head held high

and the most determined look of

"I am a princess ballerina hear me ROAR"

spread her arms out wide

stuck her right leg straight as a board out in front of her

somehow or another squatted a bit down on her left leg

and did a Three Stooges kinda shuffle across the room.

Can you picture it?

I imagine if Walt Disney's Goofy character did ballet
it would've looked very similar.

As if nothing could phase her, Miss Kathy calmly said,

"Princess ballerinas come in all shapes and sizes 
and do all sorts of moves and motions."

God bless her.

McDaniel and I gasped in, 
well, shock 
and honestly, 
extreme curiosity.

"What in the world is she doing?" McDaniel asked.

I had no earthly idea.

It seemed forever for her to hobbity hoy

all the way


the room.

The look on her face was one of
brave determination 
"I dare you to say this isn't what princess ballerinas do".

In my curious disbelief

I forgot to record the event.

I am so glad McDaniel was there as my witness

or Monte may not have believed the story.

This was Ellie at 4 years old.

Now, at 10, she asked to be signed up for a drama class that was being held after school.

She is in the 5th grade and has never asked to take a drama class before.

The class will put on Roald Dahl's, "BFG," the big friendly giant.

Most of the kids are 3rd graders taking the class.

Ellie is fairly tall.

See where this is going?

They asked her to be the BFG--the giant.

After reviewing the parts, Ellie said,

"No thank you--I want to be Queen Elizabeth."

Who knew but Ellie that you could just turn down a role.

Ellie has been chasing crowns all her life.

"Is my crown crooked?"

The director--

eccentric with wild red hair, 
a kind face 
and loud dramatic voice--

told me, as she recounted Ellie's pursuit of the crown,

"I love working with divas!"

Ellie is a diva now.

Ellie as Miss Piggy.


The director did say that Ellie needed to work on her British accent.

My friend recommended YouTube for tutorials.

Ellie and I watched some very informative videos on how to pronounce vowels and hold our lips and open our throats.

Fascinating, dahling.

I told her to take her script and go upstairs to her room,

with no distractions 

and practice her lines 

applying what she had learned from the videos.

I didn't expect her to be so loud

or sound so much like Mrs. Doubtfire

or, oddly enough, Paula Deen.

McDaniel and I looked at each other with eyebrows raised.

"What in the world is she doing?" she asked.

This time I knew.

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