E’s dad & I had a rare night off/out. We have been huge UConn basketball fans (mens & womens) for years and was able to get to see a terrific game last night. While sitting among the thousands of Husky fans yelling at the players & coaches for good and bad plays, my mind went to this thought: what if ballet was “coached” and attended like this basketball game? Seeing how fans yell and flip out at their home team athletes, I pondered how funny it would look to see the same reaction to rising ballet semi-professionals in class or on the stage.
“If you don’t get that arabesque, you are going to do 50 more pirouettes.”
“C’mon, you missed that easy grand jeté.”
“My mother can plié better than that.”
Or what if the dancers reacted to nailing a combination like a player hitting a 3-point shot: high-fiving their teammates and pumping their arms in celebration? Or if they roll their ankle, they dive to the stage and stop their performance?
Then I pondered what if basketball was more like ballet? The crowds would be hushed and smiles of approval when a slam dunk happened. When the game was over, both teams would bow while fans tossed flowers onto the court. Before a game, everyone would wish each other “merde” (well, maybe that happens in a different context).
My daughter considers ballet her sport (it’s hard work and when done right, looks easy). When someone asks her “what do you do for school activities?”, she proudly tells them “I’m a ballerina, and that’s my thing.” But it’s more than just a sport – it’s a passion and a commitment. It’s looking flawless, weightless and effortless while putting your body through moves that it wasn’t naturally meant to do. It’s seeing all your short-comings while others see your positives. It’s putting on pointe shoes when your feet are hurting, putting on a smile when your body is sore and pushing yourself past your own personal comfort zone every time you enter the studio or stage. It’s athleticism, artistry, determination and focus all at once. Oh, and usually not getting recruited by colleges nor the million dollar contracts. To our family, ballet is not “just dance” but it’s a way of daily life for us.
As a ballet mom, I completely enjoy being E’s #1 fan. I may not be cheering on the outside when she lands a difficult combination, but on the inside, I am jumping up and shouting. I may not be yelling “Let’s Go Ballerinas”, but I show my support by being there for her day in, day out, through the accomplishments and defeats, the injuries and personal disappointments, with much delight of being a very small part of a huge winning team.