My five year old daughter Uemera (Ume) finally found an enrichment class that she enjoys. We have tried music, art, and tumbling. Although she appeared to enjoy parts of these classes, she never really displayed an interest in attending them and always needed me to be in the class with her. She would be extremely anxious and have a difficult time participating. We would give it a good effort, try to go once a week for at least a month to see if she would change her mind, and get more involved in the activity. She never did until now. She found love in ballet!
I found her a local ballet class at the Dance! West Seattle and Seattle Civic Dance Theatre. After researching what they had to offer and the philosophy of the program, I decided to have Ume try a class. They are committed in teaching the professional practice of classical ballet and other dance forms. The instructors all have very impressive dance experience and are passionate about sharing their expertise to dancers of all ages and skills. I figured if Ume didn’t enjoy herself then on to the next activity. I was determined to find her an activity that she would like to do every week!
I took Ume to a free introductory pre ballet class in the Summer for kids ages 3-6 years old. She borrowed a white leotard and pink tights from the office and was very excited to look at herself in the mirror. She twirled around and exclaimed “Look mommy, I am a ballet girl”! I told her if she needed me I will be outside of the classroom and will wave and give her thumbs up. The instructor Kim lined the little girls up, Ume waved at me and went right in. No looking back. Brave girl!
Kim played classical music and lead the girls in a stretching series. She referenced mimicking different animals and imaginary games such as being mermaids and splashing into the water to get into the ballet poses. The students contorted their bodies in frog poses and made butterfly wings with their arms. They learned the basic positions of ballet and practiced leaps and twirls. Ume loved it! She was grinning ear to ear and when she needed to she would wave and give me thumbs up. The class is only 30 minutes long; the perfect amount of time to hold the attention of squirmy 3-6 year olds. It is a very controlled environment with the attention focused on learning to dance, although the students do have plenty of time for giggles. They tiny dancers all seem to love watching themselves in the gigantic mirror. This was a perfect class for Ume because she does not enjoy chaos and loud noises. She thrives on structure, order, but also fun.
Brian and I are so excited that she found an activity that she enjoys. I continue to take her once a week and she is blooming with increased confidence. She is learning great mind-body connection and finding appreciation in the art of dance. We are not interested in pushing her to become a prima ballerina but know she is gaining a lot by attending classes. Plus it is a nice time for Ume and I to spend one day a week together without the baby. She knows it is our thing. Our routine after dance class is to have a treat at Starbucks. Ume usually picks a cake pop or something equally sweet.
It is so fun to have this quality time with her. As long as she enjoys it I will continue to take her. The program holds two performances in the year. Ume decided to not participate in the Winter show, but I am hopeful that she will gain that extra inch of confidence and dance in the Spring show. I will keep you posted.