One of Gracie’s ballet helpers texted me last week to let me know that both she and the other helper would be out of town during ballet. She wanted to know if she should try to find another student to cover the class. Because Gracie had been sick, and because I didn’t want to have to explain everything to a new person, I told the helper not to bother, that I would do it.
Being Gracie’s ballet helper was a great experience. I got to see a whole different side of my little ballerina. She is a great student! The teacher would call out a move in its proper French name—plie, tendu, arabesque, rond de jambe—and ask who knew what to do. Gracie knew all the moves. “Who knows what First Position is?” Gracie put her heels together and toes out. “What’s Fifth Position?” Gracie put her feet in a “seven,” heel to toe. “What is it called when we just do a little plie?” “Demi plie!” She knew it all.
Through the whole class, Gracie was the one who knew all the moves, who listened best to the teacher, who was the best student. True, she was not able to keep her balance while doing many of the moves. True, the other students were better at leaping across the floor. But she was the one who knew all the answers. She was the best listener. When it was time to do the recital dance, Grace was the one who remembered it. She knew which move came first, then second, then after that. She called out the answers in a strong and confident voice each time the teacher asked what was next. She did so well.
It did my heart so much good to see how incredibly well Gracie did with at least the study of dance, even if the movement itself eluded her. And I got a new perspective on those awkward little leaps she did across the floor—even though the other girls leapt across the room unfettered, Gracie is learning how to do them too. She has her own method, holding onto the barre with one hand while her helper holds the other. She does the arabesques across the room with only hand-hold support, the teacher on one side and her helper on the other. It’s actually really impressive, considering how ataxic she is. Ballet is helping her. She is developing balance and coordination.
Gracie will never be a prima ballerina at the Joffrey, but she does pretty well for herself. For a kid who can’t feel the floor under her feet, she’s a pretty good little dancer. Frankly, she’s amazing. ❤