About Me

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Yilan, Taiwan
I'm a Social Studies teacher and single mom from Colorado and have lived here for 9 years. Taiwan is an excellent base for us explore Asia, while living in relative (gun free) safety, while benefiting from a cheap and efficient national health care system. The people are amazing too. I have friendships that are 14 years old and I'm always making new ones.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Ballet Homecomings and Second Chances


Tainan 2012 at my daughter's first and only recital
A breakthrough, answered prayer hit me this evening. After my ballet class (I recently started again after 25 years) Z says to me she really wants to take ballet!

 I forced her for a few years during preschool and kindy (Read Biker Ballerina) I started when I was 3 and it was the best thing my parents ever did for me. Of course I wanted her to feel that magic. 

Her paternal grandmother danced with the most  prestigious Academy in Paris. It's in her blood. Even on a physiological level, she's built for it more so than I am with her long legs, creating these long lines. (At puberty I stopped growing tall at 14 and just grew wider). 

 This  studio around the corner from my home requires the girls to take 2 hour classes twice a week. And its not cheap. It will make a serious dent in monthly finances. She already takes flute 2x a week  (her choice).

 But I'm not worried, my Dad was the best example of Providence and juggling bills in action.  With 5 kids, 1 whom is disabled and constantly under the knife; somehow my Dad paid for 13 years of dance classes (ballet, tap and jazz) 4 nights a week. I was a better tap dancer than ballerina but I could still do endless pirouettes and I loved to jump. What joy!

My first tap recital

When I turned 16 my folks said I had to choose between a car (and thus a part time job) or dancing. Obviously I chose the car (and worked at Subway). Its a decision my mother now regrets (they never asked my brother to give up basketball). So at this age I was pretty much was smoking weed and partying with my friends. Looking back I was probably filling the massive void of not dancing with ganja and hiking. I made "growing up" synonymous with quitting ballet, and I didn't exactly "grow up" particularly trouble free . I wasn't going to be professional after all.

Ever since, ballet was like this sensitive, painful area I ignored for years. I dreamed about it all the time, dreamed about pointe shoes. Of course I never quite dancing entirely, When I was 18  I started to take Nigerian dance with this little old man from Nigeria (who happened to be my father's coworker) and this amazing drum circle, as well as Flamenco and Mexican folk.  When I moved to Tainan my gyms had some amazing teachers for Latin and Striptease (there's nothing worse than a terrible yoga or dance teacher). But they moved on and I never did.

I pretty much gave up hope that my daughter would want to take classes again. I cant say I inspired her in anyway either. But last night an older jiejie (sister) was practicing in the lobby where Z does her homework, and she got bit by the bug. Its never too late. There's some University students in my class that are complete beginners and they keep coming back for the same reasons I do.

Tutu time, 5th grade

The teacher speaks in Mandarin with occasional English, but it isn't necessary, all the ballet terminology (in French) is the same. Dance teachers are all the same, they demonstrate visually and we visualize what our bodies must do until muscle memory takes over. 

As for me, I still remember all the steps, but the little muscles that TRX or yoga can't get to are having to work after many years of neglect and I'm dripping in sweat, sore the next day. If only it was twice or three times a week, and some tap classes, my body would change dramatically. That alright, my spirit is being fed. Now that I'm dancing again, I am connecting with the most jubilant part of my childhood. For that 90 minutes I'm in this intimate sanctuary, like people must feel at church. I can't believe it took me so long to restore what was once so meaningful.

Closing, "Yee-haw" to our country inspired tap dance

Now that my daughter is impassioned to start (which is nothing short of divine intervention, a miracle) she will try her first class Monday night. I just hope she gives it a chance. I am going to stand back and not live vicariously through her. I am already back in ballet slippers myself, I got my own thing going on.  I just hope after Z playing her recorder for 4 years and graduating to the flute she has the maturity to realize anything worth doing well, takes intention, time and loyalty.

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