Ballet post, so much to say.
First, thank God Fifille has eschewed performing in The Nutcracker production this year because I just feel full of the ballet requirements already, so much. When Mari & I looked at the schedule for this year -- Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday classes, plus an added pointe classes -- we quailed inside and said nothing. Nothing! Fille was standing right there while we opened the mail.
Later, we said to each other, if she will quit ballet, it is this year. One of us used the word crucible. After this year, well, surely there will be other similar testing years, but this is one where we are.
It takes a lot of time, the getting ready to go, the going, the being there, the dressing again, the coming back. So much responsibility & the eating, eating, eating, eating, lunchmaking snackpacking, etc, that has to happen on every of these days. (When you look back & see only one set of footprints, it was then that I sneaked a square of fruit-sweetened, gluten-free cake into your bag, made your favorite soup, and offered to fix your hair.)
It is already a lot of time in & around the studio, and also all the extra attention at home. First of all, I have to be so sweet all the time! I can't lose my patience for one second! She is working pretty hard -- the dancing, the algebra, the independent study I didn't question which confusingly involves reading Studs Terkel's Working. Ok! So that makes it easy to be easy, but still.
Using up more time: dancing is not any longer a way to stay in condition for dancing. These 9.5 hours/week in the studio are asking for a repetitive stress injury, to say nothing of the horror everyone heaps on the part where she is dancing with all her weight balanced on her first two toes of each foot. I have her swimming laps on her days off and I am her Pilates mat-instruction cue-giver, reading from the Pilates book.
The Pilates book was what Pilates Chick told me to get for Fille when I mentioned wanting to get her in to Pilates Chick for a couple of sessions of formal instruction.
"But," I sad, " I don't know how to explain it to her! Can't she start off with you a little?"
"Oh, my gosh, you won't have to explain it to her, she knows! From ballet!"
C'est vrai & she is getting pretty strong. I am almost ready to coach her through the Rollover! But besides the excitement of results in the contortions of old Joe's matwork, there is a lot of drudgery in the stretching through the feet & ankles, endlessly. She likes to mix it up with a funny Tony Horton video she found online and some old-fashioned calisthenics --Turkish get-ups, squats, deadlifts, pushups -- which she gets me to join in. But whatever the case, I have cheerfully added physiotherapy to my list of duties & it isn't too bad. Also, it ensures that I spend at least as much time on my own body because what am I, one of those projector-mom stage moms? No way.
But I still can't do a Roll-up without the Cadillac.
Let us talk about the insidious fatness talk. Oh, I'm so fat. Oh, I am only eating salad all day & candy all night. Oh, I only eat one slice of pizza with diet Coke because calories. Do you see these girls?
I see the ones who complain about being "fat" and I either think, "No," or "Darling, too fat to be a ballerina? Heavens, yes, it seems you will have to make do as a swimsuit model, pity." Come on, anyway.
That said, the dance studio fucks with your mind. Even Mari & I have caught ourselves, just inside of our own heads. We have talked about this insidious mindfuck, how you can take any lovely girl of our acquaintance -- any one of these other teenaged girls we all know, presenting as neither ballerina nor swimsuit model, just tall and long-limbed and capable -- to put her in a leo & tights and in front of a barre & we would all revolt at the sight of her there. It is a fucked-up mess & also why I never would have let any girl except the one spawned by Mari -- the one who is 5-foot-six right now and might at long last weigh as much as 97lbs -- touch one toe to the dance floor. Omigosh.
Thank heaven the pointe shoe issue is finally resolved. Evidently -- and omg this makes me burn up with maternal rage against the tween machine -- when she finally this time brought the old shoes along with her, as I have advised her every time & all along, Ariel said, "Well, it's like these shoes haven't ever been worn!"
Fifille doesn't weigh enough to press & mold into her shoes in the time she is wearing them -- 2 half-hour periods per week. How could she get a papier mache shoe to be comfortable, especially when it is not supposed to feel good? But the v least she could have done all these years was what I have asked her to do for years -- take your old shoes along. Annoying!
Mme Mamonova -- foundress and directress of the school -- is teaching her class this year, the pointe classes. This, along with live accompaniment, heralds the limit of what she has been waiting for. Well, partnering, when that comes, but much later. I ran into Mme Mamonova two weeks ago, and she told me it is such a delight to have Fille in the class. She mentioned how they are learning pirouettes & Fille loves them. She described how Fifille will just smile so big during centerwork.
I said nothing, bc surely our Ballet Matriarch knows already, but this was a sea change from only hearing for ballet's first eight years that Fifille was a good student, a hard worker, but her agony & self-recrimination when she got any step wrong was -- well, it was fine, because the Soviet Union & all, but still -- rather unusual.
Mme Mamonova, evidently, calls her the wrong name about 60% of the time in class. Not because she thinks Fille is someone else, but surely because by the time any of us are in our late 70s, we will have so many names in our heads, and with ease we will pull the wrong one down from another time & pin it on a reverberation of temps perdu.
Fifille mentioned this to me one day. "Mme Mamonova calls me Luciana."
I asked what she did in response.
"Well, the first time she did it, she was calling me over & over again -- Luciana, Luciana! -- because she wanted me to get something for her. I didn't know she was calling me, but once I figured out she was calling for me, just calling me another name, I did what she wanted."
Good girl. I mean, ok! My work is done here & I can lounge around the sauna getting scrubs & eating kalbi in the snack bar, obvsly.
This picked up a little steam when one evening, another girl in her class, the once-aforementioned Gale, said, "You should really let Mme Mamonova know when she calls you by the wrong name."
Fifille was hot under the collar when she told me this story, the story of Galie's prissy insistence that Fille correct a woman in her 8th decade. She was upset because Gale was so bossy but also because, she said, "I didn't have words to counter her about why I will not tell Mme Mamonova. I could not articulate my feelings about it."
I know. It's hard to find words when people should just observe the light streaming from your fingertips & the ends of your hair.
I acknowledged Fille's rightness. We should all want the same courtesy & flexibility extended to us when we are that age. Also, every one of us knows Galie has bad manners, anyway. The end. Worry no more & let us go forth & once we were home, I rubbed her calves.
What I also did was place a call to Mme Mamonova's co-teacher for this class, to let her know that Fifille had been given an extra name, so there is no confusion if Fille is called Luciana, especially when there is no Luciana currently enrolled in the school.
Sayeth Mme Mamonova's co-teacher, her daughter-in-law for many, many years, "I heard her calling a Luciana in class the other day! I looked and thought, Is she talking to [Fille]? But she knows [Fille]'s name, and in fact she was just talking about her the other day with her real name, so --"
I cut her off, assuring her there was no worry here. But once the girls started weighing in with their silly, ill-bred teenagers' opinions in the locker room, I thought it necessary to get everything out in front.
But what I told Fifille was that it isn't a big deal and that Mme Mamonova has lived a long, long time, much of it with ballerinas, and obviously Fifille reminds her of someone named Luciana, even as she knows perfectly well when not in the heat of calling out combinations & corrections what her name is, so really, it is like she is loving Fifille two times, like Jim Morrison! And that is pretty great -- the best any of us could want.
Get everything you want this week, but you will have to do it all on your own. I am super-busy, but I will want to hear you tell me all about it! xoxoxox