Dance of My Sugarplum Fairy


After more than a year of donning 2T tutus in the living room, cranking up the classical on demand channel or the Prima Princessa ballet DVD and thinking that would somehow suffice for my whirling, twirling, leaping little girl, we gave in. Yesterday we took Thalia to her first real ballet class.

It was the most singularly poetic scene you can imagine – a dozen little four year-old girls in pink, lining up to show “Miss Patty” how they walk on tiptoe.

(I do admit the “Miss Patty” thing kind of freaks me out for some reason. Why not just Patty? Or Miss Johnson? All I can hear in my head is “Miss Scarlet.” Eep.)

I was pretty much choked up through the entire thing, four being the same age that I took my own first ballet class. Which lead to a second. Which led to a millionth, at which point I graduated college and realized that my 17-year hobby wasn’t going anywhere. Watching Thalia line up wave her arms up and down and fly around the room, I had the most vivid flashback of my own pre-K ballet recital, and the one adlib moment of the piece in which our teacher called from the wings, Run! Run wherever you want to!

We flapped our arms as the flowy yellow sequined fabric attached to our wrists waved and undulated, and by God if we didn’t feel like we were actual butterflies.

It was magical.

Looking through the photos the next morning, the one thing that strikes me is not that Thalia was the most poised or the most talented. (Although if the teacher were to come over after class and rave about her natural ability, suggesting that she’s on track for a walk-on in the Lincoln Center Production of the Nutcracker, I wouldn’t push her away.) No, what stood out most is that Thalia had the biggest smile of any of the girls through the entire class.

That’ll do.

{32 Comments}

32 thoughts on “Dance of My Sugarplum Fairy”

  1. Maybe the teacher is from the south, or had southern friends or something. My friend from Maryland teaches her kids to call adults “Miss (or Mr.) _____ (first name)”

    Slightly different setting, but I'm guessing I'll feel exactly like this when I watch my daughters complete their very first cross country race someday. :o) (probably not quite as cute and with a lot more sweat, etc. but still beautiful.)

    Thanks for sharing this.

  2. I've been desperately trying to hold the line on classes–whether I'm trying to save her infancy or money or a little bit of both, I'm not sure.

    She likes the idea of ballet, but more so has been clamoring for gymnastics classes. I think I will give in once the weather is too cold for the playground.

    Beautiful post.

    And having finally met you (briefly) in real life I am not surprised you spent so much time in ballet class.

  3. i remember my first ballet teacher. i was six and she was this older lady with a thick german accent. i didn't like her much, but it still makes for good memories.

  4. I wish Iris's ballet school let the parents watch but instead they curtain it off like an illegal sentate meeting and scold you if you come too early to pick up your kid. I can't wait to go to the four hour recital in the spring to see just WHAT they've been up to behind that curtain.. (FOUR. HOURS. I tell you… FOUR!)

  5. I remember my first ballet teacher, too. If memory serves, she was Miss Last Name though. I was four, and I called my lessons “kal-lay”. I was very serious about it. I kept it up for TEN years. The tutus, the music, the smiles. Those were great years. Take lots of videos!

  6. We live in Ohio, but observe the southern tradition of “Miss or Mr. First Name”. For really close friends, we use “Aunt” and “Uncle”. I'm just not comfortable with my child calling an adult by their first name. It's too familiar and casual to me. I always called adults by their titles and last names and that can get a little sticky too. I'm 44 and still call the next door neighbor lady “Mrs. Last Name” – even though she's like family. I don't know how to break the habit!

  7. My 3yo just started her first classes and they call the teacher Miss Mandy… and we're up in Canada :) I just assumed it was a dance thing…

    She loves the dancing and twirling and bouncing…. I think as long as she likes it, I will keep supporting it…

  8. I'm with you on the missfirstname…really, let's just do first names or Miss/Ms/Mrs whomever. But I realize this is a losing battle, as it creeps up from the South.

    I don't like being called it, either.

  9. I'm so glad – and slightly jealous – that Thalia's first class went so well. I was sure my four-year-old was going to love ballet but instead went into sensory overload – cold floor, loud music, bright lights, all those mirrors and the first activity involved kids hanging on to each others shoulders. She flipped at her second class and refused to go back in.

    Your post described what I wanted for my little girl – for her smile that big. Luckily, I still got that smile, it was just at soccer instead.

  10. Very sweet. I'm sure Thalia will be as wonderful a dancer as her mommy.

    In her ballet class here, Rowan's class has been working on Sleeping Beauty. My modern daughter has been learning how to smile when she sees her Prince, how to sleep “forever” daintily, and how to wake up when the Prince kisses her and be whisked off to be married.

    I've been thinking of pulling her out.

    :)

  11. I thought Miss (firstname) was pretty universal for pre-school teachers of any sort (except the male sort, I guess.) and after-school teachers too. Basically, any non-parent in charge of a herd of kids who isn't 'Coach' or an actual teacher, is Miss/Mr (firstname).

    But then, I grew up in the south, I have no idea what it's gonna be like here in California.

  12. Nope Nil Zed, so far all authority figures have been first names here in NY, with the occasional Mrs. _____.

    Guess we're just rude? Or friendly? Probably both.

  13. I live on Long Island and my kids frequently use Miss _______. Teachers are always Mr., Mrs., or Miss. A lot of times, we use a case by case basis. There are a couple teachers at school who are unmarried AND have super long, hard-to-spell, and impossible to pronounce ethnic names…..so they've decided to be called “Miss D” or whatever their initial might be. By my kids friends, I've been referred to as Miss Chris, Mrs. Casalo, Miss Casalo, Chris, and Nick's Mom. I answer to all of it and don't see it as a sign of disrespect.

  14. None of the adults I know want to be addressed as Ms/Mr Last Name. So we stick with Ms/Mr First Name. Or Auntie/Uncle First Name for very close friends.

    Very sad I will probably not get to experience the first ballet class with my little boy. Hopefully soccer or t-ball will elicit the same sort of smiles!

  15. I love the photo.

    These are the kind of posts that make me wonder what I'm missing by not having a daughter. Not that my sons can't take dance, but that you have memories of doing something as a little girl that you're now watching your own little girl enjoy.

    Enjoy watching her enjoyment!

  16. Love this post…makes me even more excited for Grace's first class on Wednesday! Oh, our kids call all their female authority figures “Miss”/”Ms.”…for them, it stemmed from daycare centers and they have naturally started calling their babysitters that, too. And we have been teaching them to call the neighbors by Mr./Mrs. and the first name, since, well, it seems to be the thing to do in Kentucky :)

  17. That's the most artistic photo you've ever posted. You should enlarge and print for posterity. Or at least for the colicky adolescent years.

    Also? My friends just informed us that Miss {First Name} is the way they've decided to coach their children to address their adult friends. The mom is from the south. They have nominated my name as their fave example so far (Miss Whitney).

    Of course, my daughter, having been named Scarlett, already gets addressed with the “Miss” by her adoring fans in the 60+ crowd. They can't help themselves.

  18. Day-care experience for me in southern New England has been Miss First Name as well. It took some getting used to at first, but I think it is easier on the kids than remembering last names.

    My little girl just turned 4 and has just started to show interest in dance. I see something like this in her future, and I can't wait! So sweet.

  19. What a beautiful photo. I must say though that after years of dancing myself, I'm glad I have boys. (Who seem more interested in baseball than ballet shoes. At least for now…)

  20. I can't wait to put Peanut in ballet! She's so tall and thin (okay, she's 6 months old, whatever) and I just KNOW she'll be a natural! And also? SO CUTE.

  21. Every time I watch my daughter at dance class I feel like the smile of unbridled joy on her face makes it worth every penny of that expensive year-end recital costume! It's priceless.

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