Conversation with a Ballet Kid

Eleanor A couple of years ago, I was taking class at a dance studio where I got to know quite a number of kids.

One day we were rehearsing for a school recital, and I was warming up outside the rented studio by doing some barre exercises while holding onto a bookshelf.

A girl called Eleanor, upon hearing the music I was playing on my mini speaker, came to me and asked what I was doing. Then very quickly she installed herself behind me, holding onto a lower layer of the bookshelf, and tried to copy my exercises. When we came to the rond de jambe exercise, I asked if she had done that before. She said “no.” After doing the right side, we turned around, and I observed that she was already able to pick up all the movements and do them on the left side.

We were both getting sweaty after a while and it was obvious that she was enjoying this warm-up a lot. She said to me, “I think Miss X will be super happy that we come into the studio well-prepared!”

What a pearl she is! Then suddenly, she asked me: “What kind of work do you do?”

“I’m an editor.” I replied.

“Oh, are you not a dancer?”

“No,” said I, with a tiny hint of a smile on the edge of my lips. While a kid may not be able to discern the difference between a professional dancer and an amateur one like me, the innocent question nonetheless represented a kind of flattery in my mind.

“Why not?” she inquired, wide-eyed.

“Well… It’s too late,” I told her, knowing that this was not really a satisfactory answer, neither for her nor for me. But what else could I have said? That I had found my passion too late in my life to be able to develop it into a profession? That my parents had not truly acknowledged my love for dance and encouraged me to pursue it? That academic studies took precedence over every other hobby that I had in my childhood, so that all my artistic dreams fell by the way side? That if I were to live my life all over again, I would make sure I follow my heart and insist on pursuing my artistic dream, no matter how hard it might seem to be?

It was time to go into the studio and start the rehearsal. I watched Eleanor dance the pas de trois in The Nutcracker with a sense of excitement and joy, seeing how she had improved over just a few months’ time, and secretly wishing in my heart, that she would be able to live out her dream and her joy to the fullest—no matter what life brings her.

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