Saturday, November 05, 2005

My First Dancing Shoes

Every Saturday since I was three, I spent at dance class. Our dance instructor was from Russia. Her name was music—Rosalind. She loved the dance, Miss Rosalind. Because of her, I love it too.

Each class was held in formal fashion. Miss Rosalind taught a silent group—black leotards and white ballet shoes. Miss Wright, her pianist would play, but never said a word. Parents could come in and sit, provided they were well behaved.

Every plié was made and held until Miss Rosalind had checked it. Every arm was adjusted until its placement was perfect.

“Lead with the wrist. Point your toes. Concentrate.” These were words she often said. She said them even more when the year came that our class was ready to go on pointe. That year we’d earn our toe shoes—real ballerina shoes.

“You will not buy them,” Miss Rosalind mandated, “until you have permission.” That year our class of girls learned what it meant to earn something. Week after week we’d do our workout at the barré, then on the floor. Then at the end of class, one maybe two would be told “Tell your mother she may buy your shoes, but to bring them here.” No purchase was final until Miss Rosalind checked the fit.

The process made the rest of us work even harder every week. There seemed to be no logic to which girl she would choose next. We watched. We wondered and we saw. It wasn’t necessarily the best, the brightest, or the one who worked the hardest. She may have chosen randomly to totally confuse us.

When my day came. “Tell your mother,” is all she said.

That was my first experience with bliss. I wondered why people on the street couldn’t see this change in me. I would now be the owner of real ballerina shoes.

My mother took me to the store where they sold the precious shoes. The salesman, as he fitted me, asked what color we thought we wanted. I told him pink.

“Oh you’re one of Rosalind’s students,” he quickly said “She’s the best. You worked hard for these I’d bet.”

“Yes, sir, I did.” was all I said. That night I asked if I could sleep with them.

Before the next class, Miss Rosalind made sure the shoes fit properly. Then I got to dance at last in my own ballerina shoes. It wasn’t as easy as it looked. No one had warned me that they would hurt or that they take some practice.

I’d worked so hard to earn my first pair of real dancing shoes.

I’d have to work even harder just to use them.
—me strauss Letting me be

See the beautiful fractal art callded Dance with Me at Decadent Tranqulity that Tree did about this story.


29 comments:

garnet david said...

You look like a danseur, elegant and demure. I can imagine the exitement in your sweet heart as she said, "Tell your mother".

I was just thinking about that sort of thing today. About how we think we've arrived somewhere we think is the top, only to find, as we walk over the ridge, huffing and puffing, that the next ridge, hidden by the first, looms up over us.

I can remember getting my first *wooden* clarinet. I studied the grain close up, smelled its sandlewoody smell, and loved its heavy feel as I played it. My whole life felt richer with the wooden clarinet in it. I loved practicing it. But my fingers didn't move any faster, though I swore they did for awhile.

ME Strauss said...

Garent,
How lovely to wake up to see you!
My mother said she gave me dance lessons because I was clumsy--at three!

Yes, I know. It's that feeling that you've changed from the inside out. It's incredibly special.

smiles,
Liz

Jennifer said...

I love dancing (ballet). Sometimes good things coming your way mean more work :) But it's always worth it.

Thanks for sharing your story...it's brought back some great childhood memories...it's it amazing how our perspective changes as we get older. I laugh at some of the things I used to think and say back when.

PS Your word verification is being especially mean to me this morning! :)

ME Strauss said...

Good morning Jennifer,
I apologize for my word verification. I will give it a good talking to.

Since we're not doing to sing together, perhaps we shall dance.

smiles,
Liz

Jennifer said...

Dancing sounds good to me. We can leave the singing to someone else!

ME Strauss said...

Well then, Jennifer, We shall dance.

Gone Away said...

Wonderful story! You have the secret of telling the past: to be simple and honest, allowing the reader to contribute whatever thoughts and memories the story evokes in them. I like. :)

ME Strauss said...

Thank you, Gone.

I appreciate you saying that.

I value my past and feel grateful when I can help others remember theirs.

smiles,
Liz

Trée said...

Liz, I could read your stories all day long. Your three-year-old body may have been clumsy, but your writing today shines with an elegance worthy of the finest academies. Are you taking on students? :-)

ME Strauss said...

Hello Tree,
There's a hole in my life on the days I don't talk to you. :)

People tell me now I have graceful hands. . . . Maybe that's from all of the typing. :)

I'd be happy to take on students. Do you know any? :?)

smiles,
Liz

Trée said...

Well then, we've just got to fix that hole then. Don't let it be said I saw a hole and didn't fill it. :-)

Liz, you must specialize in smiles, cause everytime I come here I leave with several. :-)

ME Strauss said...

Tree,
Smiling is easy with the people I see who come around here.
smiles,
Liz

Trée said...

Now I have to do a "dance" piece. Look for it in about an hour. Your stories continue to inspire me. Thanks Liz.

:-)

ME Strauss said...

Oh Tree,
That should be so much fun.
I can't wait to see it.

smiles,
Liz.

Trée said...

Liz, I struggled with inspiration all day long. Just nothing. Then I read your story. And then I read it again. Within minutes I knew I wanted to do something of dance, something of bliss, something of joy. I hope you like it for it will forever remind me of your story. :-)

ME Strauss said...

Tree,

That was hardly ten minutes.

Smiles,
liz

Trée said...

Liz, do you mind if I quote a small part of your story to go with the image? Full credit will be given of course. I have other quotes ready if you would rather not.

Liz, I cannot explain the mysteries of inspiration. But I never turn their gifts away. :-)

ME Strauss said...

Tree,
Of course you can, no need to ask--ever.
smiles,
Liz

Trée said...

Thanks Liz. Post up soon, perhaps another 10 minutes.

ME Strauss said...

Can't Wait!

Trée said...

Liz, it's up. Everytime I tried to take just a quote I felt I lost the essense of the story and the image so I quoted the whole. I've linked you in four different places and have encouraged everyone to come here and visit. Hope you like it. :-)

easywriter said...

How sweet. I'm sure you were glowing as pink as those treasured shoes when you heard those desired words. I'm certain that people knew something wonderful had happened when they saw you.

Do you still dance?

You have such a simple straightforward way of telling memories. They are soft and pleasant and brilliant.

ME Strauss said...

Hi Easy,
I don't know whether I was glowing pink. I've always been kind of shy about such things really, just expecting people to know.

I taught dance for several years, but I was too tall to be a ballerina. Now most of my dancing is in elevators when no one is looking.

smiles,
Liz

SaffronSaris said...

Hi Liz, thanks for this wonderful story--brought back memories of time when I used to take ballet too, learning how to have the "perfect" posture and to always remember to point my toes. And I think I still have my shoes somewhere, though I can't fit into them now.

ME Strauss said...

Hi saffronsaris,
Welcome.
I so love it when a story brings back memories. Isn't that what we tell stories for? Wasn't learning to dance something special?

So glad you came to share this.

smiles,
Liz

breasier said...

I'm a big fan of dance, sugar. It's a large part of why I am the way I am. I don't know where else one can achieve that special blend of creativity and discipline, process and imagination. Even when I was struggling to bridle a new routine I could still feel my whole body opening up to new avenues of expression. Yes, there is rigidity and struggles, but nothing ever left me with a sense of being a complete master of my domain like dancing and dance class did.

I am the person today because I took those classes.

I dance today because I know what kind of world it would be if I didn't have dance.

ME Strauss said...

breasier, It's always a treat to see you in the middle of this USA. Get caught at OHare?

What a great way of putting it. I dance because I know what kind of world it would be if I didn't. I dance because my soul needs to show the world that it's okay to play.

You and I and Patrick are going to have to meet in one place together one day.

smiles,
Liz

The Hungry Writer said...

Oh, what a wonderful story! It brought back some memories for me. It was elegantly written, much like a ballerina in dance- fluid, graceful, exact. Good job. Love to see more of this type of post. It fits you well, much like your first pair of shoes.

ME Strauss said...

Hi Hungry,
Thank you,
I'm not quite sure what "this kind of post" is. This seems very much like a lot of the others I write. So if you can tell me more please do.

I appreciate your compliment. You're a fine writer yourself.

smiles,
Liz