There was a very interesting family that lived near us when I was small. They were far more cosmopolitan than anything I had seen. They didn't even have a kid my age but that didn't stop me from showing up at their house (I was a weird kid). Beverly was around my brother's age and took ballet lessons and played the flute. I found all of this fascinating and wanted to take ballet because she did. Plus I loved seeing The Nutcracker on TV. I hounded my mother long enough and at the beginning of fourth grade I was FINALLY enrolled in a ballet class. It was one of those beginner kid classes with tap, jazz and ballet. I LOVED the ballet, had great disdain for the tap and merely tolerated the jazz. My first performance was a sad little number where we wore skating leotards (with the skirts) that our mothers had sewn bells on, where we wiggled our hips to "Jingle Bells." I knew right away I was in the dance with the losers. I knew I had to try harder. My next performance was a little more advanced. It was a tap dance to "Singing in the Rain." We even had umbrellas! There was a girl named Margaret that drove me insane. We were supposed to enter the stage from each side. I led one group and Margaret led the other. Everything was in counts of eight. We were to come out facing each other then turn and go toward the audience. All of this tap walking out took 24 counts. The teacher had us turn on the 6th beat of the second 8 count. Then 2 forward, then 8 more. Well Margaret was so stuck on the 8 count thing she did not turn until the 8th beat. To keep our lines uniform, I sort of stumbled and and followed her. I was furious that she made me look bad. I HATED her. A few weeks after our recital, our dance teacher told us we had been invited to perform at the Goldsboro Country Club. I knew this was my chance to redeem myself. Sure enough, as I turned on the 6th beat SHE stumbled to keep up with me. HA! After that year I begged my Mom to enroll me in a ballet only class. I was so happy to be in a ballet only class. After only one year of that class, the teacher put me en pointe and I'm pretty sure I wasn't ready. The picture above was taken through the dance studio by some dude that knew nothing about dance. And the teacher pretty much let us do whatever. I mean the pose? It is awful. My back toe is not even pointed. And the hair? Not very ballet-like! I was either 10 or 11. The set of pictures we bought had 5 different pictures and I was not en pointe in one single picture!
In the middle of my 7th grade year, we moved to Durham and for some reason I did not get right back into dance even though I asked about it a lot. I did not take dance again until my senior year. I took ballet from a girl who had just graduated from UNC-G and her parents bought her the little studio. I thought, "I could do this!" So I went into UNC-G as a dance major. (Yes, we are all laughing now.)
After my sad one-year adventure at UNC-G, I did not run across a ballet class until I was looking for one for my daughter. I enrolled her, at age 5, with a poor old lady who was apparently no longer in the early stages of either Alzheimer's disease or serious dementia. The woman was really pathetic and after a very frustrating year I found "Crazy Patty." Yeah, Patty was weird but she was a great teacher. She must have picked up something from me because she kept telling me to come to a weekday morning adult class. I finally did and that was the start of 5 years of dance. Lots of dance. After Patty moved to her new studio with two classrooms, I somehow ended up teaching a dance fitness class one a week. I also took modern and an occasional jazz class. Between Kate's classes and my classes, I practically lived at the studio. But not as much as Patty. I once showed Patty's 2 or 3-year-old daughter a picture of myself in dance clothes and asked her who it was and she said, "My Mommy." We had an Olan Mills package to have pictures made once a year, so Kate and I decided to have one made in our dance clothes, me in the ballet, she in the jazz. The best one was too large to scan. It's always been one of my favorites. I suppose I could take a picture of it sometime.
This picture was taken while I was sleeping one Saturday afternoon after a ballet class. Probably in either 1993 or 94. I do have two normal feet. I have a bad habit of tucking my foot. That's also probably not good for my knees. Oh. That's my left foot. Yeah I can do a weird thing with my left foot. I'll get a picture of that sometime. Oh, and I'm not stupid. I did not buy a white couch. That was a hand-me-down from my Mom.
After several years of dancing at Patty's studio, she finally talked me into trying a belly dancing class. I seriously did not think it was something I'd have the least bit of interest in, but I LOVED it. That picture was taken at my very last performance in 1995. It was at an outdoor festival in Lake Worth. It was a lot of fun. I still can't believe I was in all of those public performances. And not just the yearly recitals. I performed at Mayfest and Octoberfest each year. I will have to figure out how to transfer some of the dance videos to DVD and then to the computer. There's a ballet I was in when we did Grease, that's really hilarious, not to mention my "Spider Woman" dance at a belly dancing convention. So, Lone Grey Squirrel, did I fulfill my duty as a taggee?