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The magical thing ballet does for a no-hoper freed from ...


The magical thing ballet does for a no-hoper freed from childhood pumps

I have come a long way, since clonking around in pink satin, to a delicious appreciation of the artform

Senior science reporter

Perhaps I am not qualified to comment on the technical prowess of a pirouette or pas de chat, but if you’d like to know if I had a rollicking good time at the ballet on Saturday night, I’m all yours. You see, when I was a child, my mother dragged me off to the local scout hall twice a week. The leotard was prickly, the hall was chilly, and the ballet mothers were a sight to behold. I think that was one of my earliest experiences of taking an anthropological view of the world around me. The moms would coach their children from the sideline in bossy voices while I tried my best to pin down the very basics like lifting one’s foot off the floor.

My mother never gesticulated from the plastic chairs behind the white line, but she was affirming all the while as I clonked around on the wooden sprung floors. My two older sisters had gently worn the same path in resin-powdered soles, but with a greater degree of light-footedness and success. I recently found my old report cards from the last ballet exams I managed to do. The one simply read, “Tanya has a lovely smile – she now just has to work on her timing, poise, footwork and armwork.” Another – the last one in the archive – simply read, “We suggest Tanya takes two years instead of one to complete the next grade.” That was my mother’s Waterloo and she let me quit.

I hadn’t been scarred by my lack of success, mind you, nor by the absurdity of having to wear pink satin ballet pumps for the exams – with the velvet ribbons glued to my stockings – and a bun so stiffly full of La Pebra’s that I could have moshed for hours in a mosh pit without a single strand coming loose. With this freedom came an ability to appreciate the exquisite artform that is ballet, without having to wish I could do it myself. In fact, having been such a no-hoper, I acquired an even greater appreciation for those who can fly through the air with such immense grace, and then land without making a sound other than the soft puff of a pump on wood. ..

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