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Friday, August 26, 2005

My Ballet Shoes

Karnival of Kidz

When I was 4 my mother signed me up for ballet lessons with the city ballet in my town. I loved ballet but in the beginning I did not like to practice at home. After awhile I got into my mother's routine. Go to class 2 days a week and then practice for an hour at home in the mirror on the other days. I began to get pretty good. When ever we had recitals, we had to go to class on saturdays also. When I turned 6 and entered the first grade, some of us were old enough to dance in the Nutcracker Suite at Christmas time. We had to audition of course and be selected to dance.

I tried out and was selected to dance in the teapot scene. Was I ever proud and so was my mother. I was in first grade and not only did we perform for the public at night, but we also performed for the schools during the day. Just about all the local schools took field trips to see the Nutcracker.

I felt like a real ballerina "star" because I had to miss school to practice and perform for the local schools. Now behind the scenes there were some real divas who were katty and some were very stuck up. But that did not matter when it came to the dance. All that was put behind when the curtains rose. We had had a very busy week performing each night and during the day. On the friday before the last weekend of the show I was at practice at the auditorium and a few of us were joking around. Playing. We were only 6 yrs. old or so in the teapot scene.

Well some of us were running and I somehow ran my right toe into a wall. The pain was unlike anything I had felt before. The 3 other girls running with me stopped and gathered around. We all looked scared as we were not supposed to be running any way. I tried to walk. I had to limp. How could I dance? Luckily we were at the end of practice and were waiting for parents to pick us up. We heard some of the older girls who were sugar plum faeries coming into the dressing room where we were and I had to recover and quick. Noone could know I was hurt or it would ruin the show. We did not have a replacement or alternate for my part. The alternates were already being used because some of the original girls chosen did not participate.

I steeled myself. My other friends with me knew better than to tell what happened. We would all be in big trouble. We all kept silent. Somehow I walked very slowly and deliberately with my ballet bag out the door to meet my parents without limping.

When I got home I told my mother what happened. I was still in extreme pain and I told her that I thought my toe was broken. To this day I know that it was broken. I told her that I could not walk and that she needed to call the school and tell my teacher that I was out of the final saturday performance. My mother was very upset. She was mad at me and mad that I would not be in the final show. I told her I had danced a show every week day during the day and had danced several night shows but I simply could not dance. She refused to call my teacher. She said I must dance.

Well, with that she began to do all sorts of home remedies to make my toe get better so that I could finish out the week. She had me soak it, apply heat, ice, topical medications like Absorbene Junior and all sorts of creams and other ointments. Nothing really worked. I needed to be seem by a doctor and most likely needed some crutches. I saw no doctor and was told to stay off it and walk just to dance. I was going to dance. There was no way I was not going to according to my mother.

Well Saturday came and I was still in pain. After taking many pain pills and wrapping my toe, I was able to walk without a limp even though each step casued me extreme pain. My face could show no pain either. I was a dancer. My mom said that to be a great dancer I had to dance through the pain. As this was going to be the final show, I felt that I would be able to make it. I had to. I had no other choice.

The curtain rose and the performance began. I waited and listened with my friends for our musical cues. We got into position and danced the teapot scene. All was good until the very end. I was able to make all my steps until the very end. When we were exiting the stage, I was about one step behind all the others due to pain. It was a flawless performance until that exit. At last it was over and I was happy with being one step behind. I had made it through until the exit. It was over. I would be able to rest and not dance until my toe heeled.

After the show, one of the very stuck up prima donna sugar plum faeries came up to me and told me that I was not a good ballerina. She said that because I was one step behind I had messed up that scene. As noone except my friends and mother knew that I was really suffering in silence, I was crushed by her words. Really crushed. Those words hurt me to my soul. I still have that wound today. In the end it was okay because I had to tell myself, I was injured and not at 100%. Granted noone knew that, but it was true. I did not bother to tell that to her. She was not worth it.

After the performance, the ballet school was on holiday break until January so I had time to heal. I did heal and in January we had awards for the holiday performances. All of the girls in my class and scene got a wonder silver engraved pendant on a silver chain. It was engraved with our names and the dates of our performance. That to me was the greatest gift of all. It validated to me that I was indeed a good dancer. And I really was. I still have my pendant and today I have it on a silver charm bracelet. It is one of my dearest possessions.

I did continue to dance for the city ballet school and just when I was learning point, we moved to the suburbs and it was too far for me to get back to that school to dance. I did not dance any more as formally as that anymore, but I have taken many other sorts of dance classes in school and college. It was not the same though. Once we moved, it was on to new and better the violin. ( I started with it in 4th grade and took regular classes until I graduated college. That is why dirty fila is taking violin now. She is using my violins.) I still play.

Now as for my mother, I have always had an issue with the fact that she made me dance with an injury. I did not think it was right then and I still hold that opinion now. I guess she was just doing what she thought was the only option.

In my heart of hearts I am still a prima ballerina. I love the ballet and I normally try to see the Nutcracker every year. It makes me just a little misty when I see myself dancing the teapot scene flawlessly, exit and all. That is what I see when I see that scene. I see me and every step is perfect.

Here I am. We took these pictures in December just before the performances. The school had photographers brought in and we all had a chance to put on fancy toutous and have our pictures taken in a variety of ballet poses. You can tell this picture is very old. My parents had it in a scrap book but it has become yellow with age. I did try to restore some of the color with the HP color program. I used the program to make it a black and white and with that the aging is not so pronounced.

Needless to say, these pictures of me are also some of my most prized possessions.

What I do is kick them in the pants with a diamond buckled shoe!
~~Aileen Mehle~~

6 Broken Heels:

ChickyBabe said...

They are gorgeous pictures! You look so graceful in that pose. You should be proud indeed :).

Deirdre said...

You look so cute in you ballerina outfit:)

I came across your blog through princessdominique and the shoe caught my attention!! I LOVE SHOES!!:)


Shirazi said...

Tightly focus and cool blog.

Joann said...

Your running...the reaction of your mother...and now the way you are with your daughter (different)...
Interesting how a tiny mistake can make a big impact on your life.

Holly Desimone said...

Dear Tinker,
Thank you for sharing a part of your personal side, your beautiful inside and out! Your unique and you bring a smile to my face! ONCE again thanks for the memories, joy, and great taste in shoes!
take care your blogger friend

Tinker said...

Thank you chickybabe and dee-dee!

Please come again any time shirazi.

Joanne you are so right about things that can influence your life.(Cool picture!)

Thanks Holly! :)