Today, E is taking her Grade 7 Cecchetti exam. This is a “last” for a few reasons: 1.- her last one before the majors 2.- the last one before her summer intensive at a non-Cecchetti program 3.-the last one that she will be taking with her studio-mate/partner in crime (as she is graduating high school in a few weeks). This round of exams is very bittersweet – it’s a huge stepping stone in Es ballet life but losing a dear friend. As you may have read in previous posts, our studio is very small, but mighty in talent and instruction. E has had her partner in crime (MG) as a studio mate, close friend, confidante, and dance partner for over 8 years. Although E is 2 years younger, that never phased them. E was encouraged to join an older girls class when she was 8 years old – most girls in this class were 2-5 years older than E. It took over a year for her to be comfortable in this more difficult class, but E and MG became best buddies. They have shared their big milestones together – going on pointe, first boyfriends, injuries, saying goodbye to their contemporary teacher, all the inside jokes that only a fellow dancer can appreciate.
They started partnering in dances in 2008 with “Portraits of Degas” (they still mimic their Degas pose to this day). They have such a rapport, they know where each other is going and what to do to compliment each other. I even let go of the strings for this “final” exam today, and they drove down to their exam at our 2nd studio all by themselves – a chance for them to have a few more precious memories together.
As a ballet mom, I have gotten extremely close to MGs mom as well. As E was being challenged entering a new level of ballet 8 years ago, I was learning how to navigate the more experienced “ballet mom” terrain. I was comfortable with the group of moms that my little 8 year old class had. Now I was the newbie, mixed in with moms of teenagers: puberty, pointe shoes and the parent leaders of our studio. MGs mom and I hit it off, as our 2 girls were the youngest. We grew together just as our girls did, learning how to sew pointe shoes, navigating the world of Cecchetti, performing emergency surgeries on costumes, painting props together, and cheering the loudest for both of our girls. I hope to maintain that close friendship, but as she fades out of involvement with our studio (MG is not continuing ballet in college), I wonder if that season is over – I hope not. I want to encourage other moms in both mine and MGs mom’s situation – cherish the friendships that your dancers have from their studios, and cherish the times that you can be close friends with the other ballet moms. Sometime you will be the experienced parent, imparting words of wisdom to that wide-eyed newbie parent. Other times, you will be that newbie parent seeking a friendly face, a helpful piece of advice and companion to sit with through many, many classes and long rehearsals.