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My Glory Days as a Ballet Dancer

At the Age of Twelve, I Envisioned Myself the Next Anna Pavlova of the Ballet World!

All kids have dreams of what they want to be when they grow up--and I was no exception. I envisioned myself the next Anna Pavlova--a Russian dancer considered by many to be the greatest ballerina of all time.

Here is my recurring daydream: On a gargantuan stage with romantic setting, I dance to the most beautiful music the world has ever heard. Dressed in my delicate tutu and satin toe shoes, I appear otherworldly--my feet barely touching the floor, my arms as graceful as the wings of a bird. The audience, overjoyed by my performance, are unable to hold back the tears. Thunderous applause and Shouts of "Bravo! Bravo!" echo from every corner of the theater.

Ahh--such are the dreams of the very young. . . .

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Ballet Opinion Poll

Ballerina Dreams by Clement Micarelli

Ballerina Dreams by Clement Micarelli

Ballerina Dreams by Clement Micarelli

Anna Pavlova as the Dying Swan

Anna Pavlova as the Dying Swan

Anna Pavlova as the Dying Swan

Anna Pavlova Performs the Dying Swan

Anna Pavlova

A Day in the Life of a Ballerina

Studio Rehearsal by Christina Mavaracchio

Studio Rehearsal by Christina Mavaracchio--Photo credit: AllPosters.com

Studio Rehearsal by Christina Mavaracchio--Photo credit: AllPosters.com

My Very First Encounter with the Wonderful World of Ballet

Through the eyes of a seven-year-old:

It all started when I was about seven years old, and my mother enrolled me in the local Ballet school. We were living in Illinois then. The only memories I have (and they are very hazy) is learning what tights, leotard, and ballet shoes were. I thought they were fun to wear.

I don't think I did very well in class, though. I really couldn't comprehend what I was supposed to be doing, and I have a feeling I was little more than an annoyance to the teacher.

Believe it or not, I still own one of the black slippers I wore way back then. What happened to the other one is the million dollar question. Hard to believe this ballet slipper is close to sixty years old!

My First Ballet Slipper

One remaining shoe is all that remains of my first ballet slippers. Very old, and it looks it!

One remaining shoe is all that remains of my first ballet slippers. Very old, and it looks it!

Dance Recital--Five-Year-Olds--These Little Girls Are Much Better Than I Was!

My Second Encounter with the Wonderful World of Ballet

Fast forward to the age of eleven:

In 1968, I was living with my family in Stuttgart, Germany. It was the second year of my dad's three-year assignment to Deutschland (Germany) as an officer in the United States Army.

Mom decided to enroll my sister and me in a dance school on post. Because of our different ages, we attended separate classes. I enjoyed my ballet classes, but was a bit self-conscious of my skinny body, so I wore a bulky sweat shirt over my leotard. This didn't set too well with my ballet teacher, and neither did leaving my hair loose. I was ordered to lose the shirt and tie up the hair. Oh well--at least she did praise me for my elevation, which spurred me onward.

One day, while entering the classroom, I did a double take: conducting our exercises was a strange woman. Not strange in the usual sense, just strange to a kid who was used to the same teacher day in and day out. The substitute teacher was Russian, and had a thick accent. All of us students gave each other sideways glances, responding to what we perceived as "weird" teaching methods. In actuality, she was better than our regular teacher; we were just unaccustomed to her strict teaching methods.

My favorite part of dancing, I was to discover, was performing in dance recitals. Wearing a costume and showing off my ballet skills to an audience was a thrill I had never known before. My teacher put on a short and sweet recital featuring not one, but two ballets: the Nutcracker and Peter and the Wolf. In the Nutcracker, I played a girl at the party, and wore a pink satin dress with white eyelet lace on the sleeves and neckline.

I was a bit disappointed in my costume, as I was hoping for a feminine tutu with fluffy tulle skirt. My older sister, however, wore an elegant blue tutu in the Waltz of the Flowers dance (also from the Nutcracker) with a matching tiara. I was green with envy. I don't know how my mom felt about it, but she's the one who had to sew our costumes. I'm sure it wasn't easy, especially when it came to my sister's costume with the multi-layered gathered tulle skirt. Mom was a good sport about it, though. She sewed other clothes for us as well.

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One thing I was happy to discover during this time was I could finally do something better than my sister, Melanie, who was two-and-a-half years my senior--ballet! Mel, who early on proved to be artistically gifted, was perpetually immersed in some project--whether it be drawing, writing, or composing music on her guitar. I was forever in awe of her talent and innovativenes, and was surprised to learn that ballet, which I took to like a duck to water, didn't come easy for her.

My Sister Mel and I on Our Way to Our First Ballet Recital in Germany in 1968--I Liked Mel's Costume Better!

Isn't my sister lovely in her graceful tutu?

Isn't my sister lovely in her graceful tutu?

On our way to the big event!

On our way to the big event!

Me (at 16) Wearing Sister Mel's Ice Blue Tutu

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Another Photo of Me in Mel's Tutu, Which She Later Gave to Me

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Mean Girls Attempt to Stop Me From Attending Ballet Class

Oh, brother!

One day (while still living in Germany) I was minding my own business, strolling along to my weekly ballet lesson, when all of a sudden two older girls jumped in front of me chanting, "You're not going anywhere!" blocking my path. When I tried to dodge them and find a way out, they became even more persistent. "What should I do?" I thought. On impulse, I quickly grabbed both their heads and butted them together. Determined to get to my ballet lesson on time, I hurried away. When I felt myself at a safe distance, I looked back and saw that the two "mean" girls were on the ground--clutching their heads, moaning, and writhing in pain. "Did I do that?" I thought to myself. I never saw those girls again.

Visions of Ballerinas Danced in My Head

A Few of My Childhood Ballet Books.

A Few of My Childhood Ballet Books.

Mattress Ballerina

When I wasn't dancing, I would flop down on my bed and read, read, read. I took a special delight in reading ballet books. If there were lots of pictures of girls in tutus, so much the better. I hate to admit it, but I liked the pictures of the ballerinas in one library book so much that when I returned the book back to the library, it was missing a few pictures. Oops! They're still around somewhere; I promise to add them to this page should I happen to stumble across them in the near future.

I learned about great ballerinas, famous choreographers of ballets, and famous composers of great ballet music; I read stories about girls like me who danced the ballet; I read educational books about ballet positions--I read everything about ballet I could get my greedy little hands on.

Whenever I read a story, I was whisked away to another dimension. I became the ballet heroine who overcame insurmountable odds to achieve her goal--that of becoming the world's most beloved ballerina.

Susie Ballet Books by Lee Wyndham

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The Beginning of a Life-Long Love Affair

As a child, I absolutely adored Lee Wyndham ballet books, especially the "Susie" series. I bought my first Susie book when I was around nine or ten years old--that would be in 1966--'67. My mother took me, my younger brother, and older sister, to a Halloween carnival, held at the school my sister and I attended. I remember they had games for prizes, such as the cake walk and fishing game, where you threw your line in, and the person behind the wall (we weren't supposed to know that, though) attached a small paper bag to it filled with candy and small prizes.

There was one room there that really captured my attention: It was a thrift store of sorts. Apparently, people had donated their unwanted items so that they could find new homes with the Halloween carnival attendees. My eyes zeroed in on a book with an illustration of a young girl up on her tip toes in a ballet pose. It was appropriately titled, "On your Toes, Susie!" by author Lee Wyndham. Needless to say, I found my mom and asked her if she would buy it for me, along with a delightful satin-covered one-room dollhouse (that a doting mom had once fashioned for a dear daughter) with a vanity with mirror inside, both beautifully covered in the same white satin material. My brother found an item or two as well; I can't remember what he bought, but I'm willing to bet it had four wheels and rolled!

My second Susie book, "Susie and the Ballet Family," I was pleasantly surprised to find during a book fair at the school I attended in Germany. I didn't pay much for it--fifty cents tops! During this time, I was twelve years old and enrolled in a wonderful dance school on post.

"Susie and the Dancing Cat" and "A Dance For Susie" I purchased in recent years online. And yes, I have read them--at least two or three times! I adored the Susie books as a child, and still feel the same way today! Lee Wyndham had a way with words--she really knew how to inspire and captivate a young audience. She wrote many other books as well--stories about the ballet, candy stripers, traveling to other countries, growing up, and all sorts of adventures! I feel very fortunate to have grown up reading Lee Wyndham books and they have always been a special part of my life.

My Third Encounter with the Wonderful World of Ballet

The Slacker Ballet Teacher

My next encounter with the wonderful world of ballet took place after my family and I left Germany and moved back to the states. We were now living in the small town of Jacksonville, Alabama. Shortly afterward, my dad was sent to Vietnam; it was 1970, and the Vietnam War was still raging.

A new dance studio had just opened up in the neighborhood, and I was very excited! The teacher taught ballet and baton during her one hour lessons, and I would get to participate in dance class once again. On my first day in class, my teacher said that we would get to perform in the Jacksonville Christmas parade as baton twirlers. If we would provide the money, she would purchase the material for the costumes, and our mothers would sew them together. I had never been in a Christmas parade before, and I was ebullient.

On this first day of class, while we stood there eager to start our lesson, our teacher spent a minimum of thirty minutes sitting cross-legged on the desk while chattering away on the telephone, oblivious to her frustrated students. "This is just a one-time thing," I thought to myself. "It will get better." But it didn't. Just like the movie, "Groundhog Day," every class was a repeat of the last. As a matter of fact, the phone chattering got even worse.

When I told my mother what was going on, she was livid. Rather than pay good money to a teacher who had rather talk on the phone than conduct class, Mom took me out. Such was my short stint as a baton-twirling ballerina at the age of thirteen, and I never got to perform in a Christmas parade, either!

Don Quixote--Daniil Simkin

My First Ballet Concert

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An Evening of Magic

In 1971, when I was just a few weeks shy of fourteen, My mother took me to see my very first live ballet performance at the Anniston High School auditorium.

It was a magical night, and I was bedazzled and starry-eyed by the spectacle unfolding before me. The National Ballet performed Swan Lake to perfection. Even though the dancers were handicapped by such a small stage, the performance was just beautiful, and it greatly inspired me.

Although I still had no ballet school to call my own, I continued to practice at home almost daily, to a wide selection of ballet music from my parents' musical library. Watching the National Ballet in concert pushed me to try even harder, and I kept my hopes up that I would attend ballet school again in the near future.

Later on, my mother talked a merchant into giving her the poster (which was in the shop window) advertising The National Ballet's concert. Mom of course, handed it over to me, and I tacked it up on my bedroom wall. There it kept company among all my other ballet-related ephemera for many years. About thirty years later, I had it framed; it has been on my wall ever since.

Ballet Poll

My Fourth Encounter with the Wonderful World of Ballet

Lola, Lola, Lola!

In 1971, after my dad returned from Vietnam, our family moved to Daleville, a small southern Alabama town adjacent to Fort Rucker. It was here that I discovered a shabby dance studio known as "Lola's Dance Studio". A quick hop-and-a-jump from Daleville High School (the school I would be attending), I could easily walk the short distance to my lessons, which would be held twice weekly during after school hours.

The ballet mistress was, of course, Lola, a chain-smoking, bleached blonde with bright red lips and bold eyeliner--wearing black ballet slippers and unashamedly flaunting her rotund belly in a form-fitting leotard.

Our dance routine consisted of fifteen minutes of barre strenghtening and stretching exercises, followed by fifteen minutes of floor exercises. During the last thirty minutes of class, we worked on our dance numbers for the annual dance recital. Lola also tested our knowledge of ballet terms, which are in French. While I wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed at picking up new dance routines, I took solice in the fact that I had a great memory for ballet terms, and I was able to answer almost any question Lola threw at me with accuracy. Funny, but I don't remember Lola calling anyone by name; It was always,"Hey--Dingbat!"

At the end of every year, Lola would hand out trophies to everyone--and I mean everyone. Even the kids who were pretty rotten got a small "participation" trophy. For my first year, I got a "Most Improved" trophy. Although the trophies were cheaply made from plastic and pot metal, I was pleased as punch to get one. During my last couple of years with Lola, I received a large "Best in Class" trophy.

The high point of my ballet career was receiving my long-awaited pair of white satin toe shoes at the age of fourteen. I couldn't wait to perform in them--just like my idol, Anna Pavlova. Unfortunately, dancing on pointe also meant dealing with corns, calluses, aching feet, and bleeding toes. I spent many hours soaking my tortured feet in Epsom salt.

During my last year at Lola's, I was an assistant ballet instructor, helping Lola with the beginner class. The majority of kids were so young they basically just hopped around like hyperactive toad frogs, but there were a couple of students that showed promise. I didn't make much money--only nine dollars a month, but it was something to occupy my time, and a good experience for me.

Treasured Trophies

My only surviving ballet trophy, minus placard. Unfortunately, the others were either broken or lost in all the moving I did over the years.

My only surviving ballet trophy, minus placard. Unfortunately, the others were either broken or lost in all the moving I did over the years.

I found this broken trophy I thought had been thrown away in the drawer the other day.

I found this broken trophy I thought had been thrown away in the drawer the other day.

Tickets From My First Ballet Recital at Lola's

Photo credit: Blonde Blythe

Photo credit: Blonde Blythe

Toe Shoes!

Yes, I still have my old toe shoes. These aren't the first ones I wore, though; the white satin ones are long gone.

Yes, I still have my old toe shoes. These aren't the first ones I wore, though; the white satin ones are long gone.

Pointe Shoes

Learn to Dance on Pointe

This Learn to Dance on Pointe DVD is a great way to help your child or grandchild improve their technique at home and master the art of pointe dancing.

The Weird Kid in Tights

Practicing at the ballet barre in my bedroom.

Practicing at the ballet barre in my bedroom.

Eat, Drink and Sleep Ballet

Since my ballet lessons were right after school, I wore tights and leotard (the leotard was actually the body suit you see in the photo above) under my clothes so I could walk straight to Lola's without changing clothes.

I'm sure I must have been a peculiar sight to the other students, strolling down the halls in my strange attire (most noticeably when I wore dresses), but ballet took precedence in my life, and I pretty much wore blinders when it came to non-ballet things. I can only imagine what the other kids must have said about me behind my back! Lol!

At home, I spent countless hours stretching and practicing at my ballet barre (which my dad made for me for Christmas) as well as pirouetting and leaping to the music of Swan Lake and The Nutcracker Suite, to the chagrin of Melanie, who shared a room with me.

I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for ballet. It provided me with exercise, a purpose in life, excitement, and pretty costumes. Ballet also gave me an appreciation for classical music: I developed an acquired taste for Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, Camille Saint-Saens, and Debussy. Most important of all, ballet kept me out of trouble during those turbulent and troubling teenage years.

Ballet on the Brain Syndrome

I'm at it again--totally oblivious to the "hecklers" in the background!

I'm at it again--totally oblivious to the "hecklers" in the background!

Ballet on the Brain Syndrome Results in a Fight!

During my ballet heyday, I pretty much thought of nothing but ballet--I had "ballet on the brain" syndrome. I had my mind made up that I was going to become a great ballerina, and nothing was going to stop me from attaining that goal. I was constantly dancing like a complete idiot around the house, whirling, spinning, and leaping. I figured the more I practiced, the faster I would get to those bright lights, huge stage, and audience who worshiped me! I'll tell you one thing--worshiping me was the furthest thing from my family's minds!

I not only danced in my costumes and leotards, I danced in whatever I happened to be wearing, whether I was in shorts, pants, or dresses. I have no doubt that my constant performing was a blight on our family unit, especially on my sister, Melanie, with whom I shared a room.

Since I resided at the front end of the room, and Melanie at the back, I would often be in her way (to the bathroom we shared, or in and out of the door) while practicing at the ballet barre. Needless to say, a few choice words would be hurled back and forth, and we even got into a few physical scuffles, one of which resulted in my mother bursting into the room to see what the commotion was about, only to find my sister sprawled out on her back in the floor! Years later, after all of us children had moved out on our own, my mom would bring up the incident from time to time, and it would always make us laugh. Oh, the joys of motherhood!

Me and Melanie in the Early 1970s

Me and Melanie in a "peaceful" moment!

Me and Melanie in a "peaceful" moment!

The Perpetual Dancer

Here I am doing my thing on pointe in the hallway. I'm sure everyone in the family grew weary of my non-stop dancing.

Here I am doing my thing on pointe in the hallway. I'm sure everyone in the family grew weary of my non-stop dancing.

The expression on Mom's face says it all!

The expression on Mom's face says it all!

Good grief! Have I no shame? Performing ballet moves at my birthday party is going too far!

Good grief! Have I no shame? Performing ballet moves at my birthday party is going too far!

Ballet Girl in Her Bedroom--Christmas, 1970s

Me in the bedroom I shared with Melanie, celebrating Christmas in the '70s. Note the ballet poster on my closet door, the ballet bag in the chair, and the ballet picture on the wall!

Me in the bedroom I shared with Melanie, celebrating Christmas in the '70s. Note the ballet poster on my closet door, the ballet bag in the chair, and the ballet picture on the wall!

I Was Peter Pan in My First Ballet Recital at Lola's Dance Studio

Me wearing the despised Peter Pan outfit. Unfortunately, this photo has sustained water damage.

Me wearing the despised Peter Pan outfit. Unfortunately, this photo has sustained water damage.

Dance Recitals and Poor, Poor Tommy G: A Comedy of Errors

In my first recital at Lola's, I was a character from Peter Pan. I hated the costume, which was green felt with jagged red collar and red belt that tied in a knot at the waist--very unfeminine and childish, in my eyes. "Oh well, better luck next time," I thought.

My mother, who was in the audience watching our "marathon" (it lasted approximately 180 minutes) recital, later told me that she couldn't contain her laughter upon seeing some of our girls primly performing their tap dance numbers in tattered black fishnet stockings, a sight which make them look as if they had been battling with an enraged grizzly bear.

At every recital was the only boy enrolled in Lola's Dance Studio--poor, poor Tommy G. Tommy was a skinny, bespectacled, non-demonstrative kid whose eyes were always looking down at his size twelve feet. He took tap lessons--unwillingly, as was apparent from his "I just want to crawl in a hole and die" demeanor. And, to add insult to injury, at every single recital, Tommy's mom was there--smack dab in front of the stage, 8 mm movie camera in hand, filming every stilted move that her blushing baby made. Poor, poor Tommy G. I wonder if his life was forever scarred by such a traumatic event.

The Daleville High School Talent Show, 1972--'73

Photo credit: Blonde Blythe

Photo credit: Blonde Blythe

A Not So Perfect Performance

In 1972, I enrolled as a contestant in the Daleville High School talent show.

When my number was called, I stood there in my little white satin tutu, adorned with blue daisies, with my long hair coiled on top of my head and one hand holding a bejeweled fan that Lola had lent me as a prop. When I saw a sea of eyes boring into me, I started shaking like Barney Fife, but began to relax as I performed my number. I managed to finish my dance without a hitch, and a few minutes later, I was surprised to hear the emcee announce a triple tie. Three of us, including me, would have to perform our numbers all over again. Eek! Did I have to?

So, out on stage I scooted (for the second time). All was going well until I began my hands-free split; when my foot suddenly slipped on the slick wood floor, it caused me to topple over. "Well, old girl, looks like you've lost this one," I thought. I got up and continued my dance, but in my heart, I knew it was a lost cause. The other two contestants subsequently performed their numbers (without mistakes). When the judges made their decision, I won third place, and was presented with a plaque. Even though I had hoped to win first, I was very proud of my award. One girl who didn't win an award, and was crying loudly, asked to borrow my plaque so she could see her teary face in it. I thought it a little strange, but complied with her request.

Someone from a local newspaper came to take photos of us (the winners). Out on stage we all went, along with our smiling mugs. Someone told me my picture was in the paper, but I never got to see it because my family didn't subscribe to the Enterprise Ledger.

When I got back home, the first thing I did was hang up my prized trophy on my bedroom wall. Surrounded by pictures of twirling, leaping, and gesticulating ballerinas, it was in very good company, indeed.

The Daisy Tutu I Wore in the 1972--'73 Daleville H.S. Talent Show

I loved my daisy tutu!

I loved my daisy tutu!

I Finally Get To Choose My Own Costume and Tiara!

My royal blue tutu is the first and only ballet costume I actually got to pick out myself; all the others were selected by my ballet teachers at the time. I was so excited to choose my own, yet it was a very hard decision to make, since there was such an amazing selection of costumes in the catalog I was ordering from. After what seemed like a lifetime, I finally decided upon the royal blue one--I was captivated by its vibrant color! After I chose the tutu, I then had to pick out a tiara to go with it--equally hard! After Lola submitted my catalog order, it took about six weeks for my costume to come in. I still have the tiara; I have kept it in an old dresser drawer all these years. I also have the royal blue tutu--it's hanging in a closet in the spare bedroom. Funny thing is, as big an event as this was in my life at the time, today, I can't even remember what ballet I wore them in!

My New Royal Blue Tutu and Rhinestone Tiara!

Here I am--showing off my new royal blue tutu and rhinestone tiara. The arm positions leave much to be desired!

Here I am--showing off my new royal blue tutu and rhinestone tiara. The arm positions leave much to be desired!

My First Rhinestone Tiara!

My first rhinestone tiara, ordered from a catalog.

My first rhinestone tiara, ordered from a catalog.

Performing an Arabesque in My Royal Blue Tutu in 1973

Unfortunately, this photo, taken by a professional photographer, has become faded and discolored over the years.

Unfortunately, this photo, taken by a professional photographer, has become faded and discolored over the years.

Swan Lake With Dame Margot Fonteyn and Rudolph Nureyev

Rudolph Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn in Swan Lake.

Rudolph Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn in Swan Lake.

Riding High Upon a Cloud

In 1972, Lola took some of the class to watch the tragic ballet, Swan Lake, in Atlanta, Georgia. Performing would be ballet greats, Dame Margot Fonteyn and Rudolph Nureyev.

While driving on the freeway, Lola, in her usual manner, puffed non-stop on cigarettes with the car windows tightly rolled up. We all struggled to breathe for the duration of the trip.

When we finally got there, I couldn't believe how humongous the stage was! And the scenery! The stage was dark with rippling water, weeping willow trees, and moonlight, lending an aura of mystery, drama and romance.

Nureyev dazzled everyone with his over-the-moon jumps and lightning-fast footwork. I couldn't believe it when Margot, balancing in a perfect arabesque en pointe, appeared to stay there for a good "thirty" minutes. What balance and beauty!

In the midst of all this magic, I was serenaded by a live orchestra--what joy! I hoped to never come down from the fluffy cloud I was riding high upon on this beautiful summer night.

After the performance, we returned to the hotel we were staying in. For the next two days, we attended dance classes and even entered a ballet competition. Unfortunately, when it came time for my performance, the judges' penetrating stares rendered my mind dysfunctional, and I forgot some of my dance steps, so I improvised. I did the best I could, but knew in my heart that I didn't win.

When the competition was over and the winners announced, a group of four eleven-year-old girls in matching dirndyls and braided hair won the group competition (I was very impressed by their perfect synchronization), and a beautiful teenage girl won the solo with her flawless performance. I learned a lot about professionalism that day from observing these talented winners.

my-glory-days-as-a-ballet-dancer

Have You Ever Taken Ballet Lessons?

Ballerina by Edgar Degas

Ballerina by Edgar Degas--Photo credit: AllPosters.com

Ballerina by Edgar Degas--Photo credit: AllPosters.com

My Last Ballet Recital

Eek! Rats!

It was 1974, the year of my last ballet recital at Lola's Dance Studio, and we were going to present the ballet, Sleeping Beauty. I was tickled pink when Lola said I would have the starring role of Princess Aurora.

I remember that Lola picked out the costume herself, and I wasn't too crazy about it. It looked like something that an Isadora Duncan-style dancer would wear to me; give me tutus with fluffy tulle skirts any day.

My mind draws a blank when I try to remember the day of the recital. I do remember performing in one recital at a school that had several huge dead rats lying belly-up on the floor of their "luxurious" basement "dressing room" that was provided for us to change into our costumes. This may well have been the scene of my last recital. Talk about a creepy experience!

Princess Aurora in Sleeping Beauty

All Decked Out in My Princess Aurora Costume With Brother Jim in 1974--Photo credit: Blonde Blythe

All Decked Out in My Princess Aurora Costume With Brother Jim in 1974--Photo credit: Blonde Blythe

Putting on makeup for the big event.

Putting on makeup for the big event.

The Show is Over, But I Still Have My Ballet Costumes!

The costume at the top right is the one I was wearing when I won third place in the talent show and is the only one I don't have a picture of myself in.

The costume at the top right is the one I was wearing when I won third place in the talent show and is the only one I don't have a picture of myself in.

A Sentimental Gal

Would you believe I still have all my old ballet costumes? All except the ice blue tutu my sister gave me; I believe it was probably sold in a garage sale after I moved out of the house (unknown by me at the time). And, I almost forgot--the despised Peter Pan costume! No doubt, I threw that monstrosity in the trash shortly after the recital! Keep in mind that these costumes were purchased from 1968--1974 (do the math!). They have become faded and discolored over the years, especially the royal blue tutu, of which the bodice has transformed from a vibrant royal blue into purple. Why have I kept my ballet costumes after all these years? I'm a very sentimental and nostalgic type of gal!

As All Good Things Come to an End, So Did My Glory Days as a Ballet Dancer

Photo credit: Blonde Blythe

Photo credit: Blonde Blythe

Instead of Dancing the Ballet, I Now Paint It!

In 1975, after graduating from high school, I made the decision to attend Enterprise State Junior College. Realizing that I would be very involved in my studies, I decided to quit ballet.

It's hard to believe that the girl who had always dreamed of becoming a professional ballerina would decide to suddenly end it all, but at the same time, I realized that as a dancer, I would never be good enough to reach my goal. So I reviewed my options and decided to switch gears.

What am I doing now? Once an artist, always an artist: It seems that I'm one of those people who needs an outlet for expression. I'm still an artist, but this time instead of dancing, I put paint down on canvas. I'm a professional fantasy artist who creates big-eye art in the tradition of '60s icon Margaret Keane, using the Blythe Doll (a big-eyed doll from 1972) as my muse.

Oh, and I almost forgot--I managed to write a book and get it published. It's called, Big Eye Art: Resurrected and Transformed, and it was published in 2008 by Merrell Publishers. Not only do I enjoy painting, I have also discovered that I love to write!

"Boston Terrier Ballet Fairy" by Blonde Blythe

A quirky big-eye girl dancing the "Boston Terrier Ballet" with friends. Of course! Perfectly normal behavior!

A quirky big-eye girl dancing the "Boston Terrier Ballet" with friends. Of course! Perfectly normal behavior!

Maya Plisetskaya dances the Dying Swan - Maya's arms are amazing!

The Nutcracker--Michael Baryshnikov & Gelsey Kirkland - The quintessential Nutcracker--Considered by many to be the best of all time

Paloma Herrera in Themes and Variations Ballet--Photo by Ted Thai

Paloma Herrera in Themes and Variations Ballet--Photo by Ted Thai--Photo credit: AllPosters.com

Paloma Herrera in Themes and Variations Ballet--Photo by Ted Thai--Photo credit: AllPosters.com

I Hope You Enjoyed this Lens! - Please Stop By & Say "Hi!"

Kyle Smith on June 13, 2016:

What a beautiful story from so many years ago by such a beautiful young lady. My daughter was a ballet dancer and her daddy always supported her love for dance.

Blonde Blythe (author) from U.S.A. on October 24, 2013:

@Loretta L: Thank you Lovelifelaughter! I'm glad you enjoyed reminiscing with my lens! Even though we didn't become ballerinas like we hoped, we can always fantasize in our minds! ;-)

Blonde Blythe (author) from U.S.A. on October 24, 2013:

@DanceMomOnline: Thanks DanceMomOnline! Ballet was my life back then, and for a while, I really thought I would make a career of it. I don't know how my mom put up with those marathon recitals, except for the fact that she found humor in everything! ;-)

DanceMomOnline on October 17, 2013:

What a beautiful lens! Thank you so much for sharing your dance memories. Its obvious how much you truly love ballet. I enjoyed all the anecdotes, photos and mementos you saved. I hope my daughters look back at their dance years with the same fondness.

By the way, I'm still reeling at the thought of a 180 minute recital!

Loretta Livingstone from Chilterns, UK. on October 16, 2013:

Oh, I did enjoy this lens. Like many girls of my era, I dreamed of being a ballerina. I took lessons, but they were very short-lived, as my teacher put me in for an exam before I even understood the terminology and what I was doing. I failed and refused to revisit the scene of my humiliation. I may have been aged 7! Just as well, really, as I later developed scoliosis. I would never have made it, so best to lose the dream early. But this is a beautiful lens, and I lived your esperience with you. Thank you. For a few brief moments I, too, enjoyed "being a ballerina".

anonymous on August 10, 2012:

What an extensive and interesting lens. Oh, my! :)

Bellezza-Decor from Canada on July 06, 2012:

Well I can see you have been involved in all sorts of arts!

Morgannafay on May 21, 2012:

Fantastic! I had no idea your talents ran to your feet too! I was fascinated with dancers as a kid, but I've always been a lazy bookworm stiff as a board too, so I kind of admired from afar. lol

I really loved all of the photo's with the stories that went behind them. I almost felt like I was there when you bopped the mean girls heads together. LOL

kendrafowler on April 04, 2012:

Wow!! I have always loved ballet dancing and wanted to be a ballerina. But life had other plans for me and all I could do now is to enjoy others ballet performances. I am happy for that! Beautiful lens!

entertainmentev on March 08, 2012:

I took ballet lesson for many years in America and Russia. I dreamed of dancing in The Firebird.

Jules Corriere from Jonesborough TN on February 16, 2012:

What a lovely lens. I read every word of your journey. What a difficult decision it must have been to decide not to dance any more. I'm glad you found an outlet for your creativity through your paint...but I hope that every once in a while you still dance! Thanks for a wonderful story and photos.

julieannbrady on January 26, 2012:

OMG! Yes, indeed ... I took ballet lessons from about the age of 4 ... but stopped before my teens as I was also a piano player. My one sister bloomed into the ballerina in our family. Lovely to read your story of dancing on your toes.

jadehorseshoe on December 25, 2011:

A Charming and Lovely Lens!

JoshK47 on December 05, 2011:

What an absolutely wonderful lens! Thank you very much for sharing this story. :)

Virginia Allain from Central Florida on September 25, 2011:

I'm so glad you shared your memories with us. You'll want to save these for your children and grandchildren to enjoy.

Christene-S on April 01, 2011:

Making my rounds as a SquidAngel today. (Blessed!) I'll be back to read everything with my full attention soon. I marked it as a favorite so I can find my way back. :)

LissaKlar LM on January 02, 2011:

Yes of course and my daughter - her legs are beautiful. This is such a great lens, I absolutely love it. I enjoyed your story very much. I also love all the posters and quotes. Well done!

JimDuke on December 18, 2010:

I love this Toni!!! It really brings back some almost-forgotten times.

artdecoco on December 13, 2010:

you can still dream

dianbee on December 07, 2010:

What a fabulous lens! There is so much to look at. It is a real journey - thanks for sharing your ballet story!

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