Monday, April 06, 2015

Conversations with the ballet student

I never had very much luck with ballet exams. I would get sick, my toes would get infected and my toe nails would fall out. Thankfully, Jordan seems to have better luck. She took her Grade 2 exams today. Unlike the previous time she took it, she understood the gravity of the situation and the stress that went along with it.

She's been nervous for the last week and it showed with short tempers, being rougher with her brothers and tantrums and fits about stuff unrelated. But at the same time, she was very amenable to all the extra sessions that the ballet school lined up for them to fine tune the little things.

After she was done and the look of relief had fully flooded her face, I thought to ask her, over lunch, what she thought about the whole experience. After all, she is almost eight year old and extremely astute so she would have lots to say.

What did you dislike most about the whole experience of preparing for the ballet exam?

The hairspray. (The hairspray is something part of any ballet dancer/ school's arsenal. It's industrial strength and the very reason why ballet dancers can be drenched in sweat and on stage for hours nary a hair out of place).

Was there anything that upset you while practising for the exams? 
The teachers yelling at me. It made me want to cry sometimes. Sometimes, it made me want to give up.

Do you think the teachers helped you by yelling at you? 
I guess so. I can remember all my steps and I can do them very well now. But I don't like yelling teachers.

What do you think if the teachers didn't yell so much? 
- with a big grin- I won't be so deaf. 
- becoming serious- I wouldn't be so good. 

What were your favourite steps in the exam? Why?
I liked the dances, especially the character dance with the skirt and flowers. You can look cheeky and proud at the audience when you do it. 

What was the one reminder that everyone kept saying to you that helped you through the exam?  
To smile and to let the music flow to the tips of my fingers and my toes.

What did you do just before you started the exam? 
I looked at my toes then I took a deep breath and tried to smile. It was quite hard because my heart was beating very fast.

What was the most important thing you learnt from taking this exam?
It is very important to have courage.

And what was my take away from this?

1. Kids understand stress, even at this age. They fear performing, making mistakes and failing. They really don't need us to add on any sort of stress onto them. They pretty much do that all by themselves.

2. There is a fine line between keeping the child eating healthy and keeping the child happy. With the many hours at ballet and the amount of time she spent away from home while her brothers vegged out in front of the television, it was about plying her with nice cookies and allowing her to eat the Easter eggs she got to keep her her spirits and mood.

3. While my eyes were fixed and they work pretty well on a day to day basis, the technique wasn't aimed at allowing someone to sew silver buckles that reflect light and black press studs with black thread onto a black waist band at night in yellow lighting.

4. My daughter's a pretty tough cookie.

So while we hope that she does well, just going through it was all worth it.


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