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August 29, 2011

First Position

Ballerina Ballet class starts in less than two weeks.

The Peanut asked us if she could take ballet back in June. We told her we'd talk about it in the fall. Two weeks ago she said, "Is it almost fall . . .?"

I love the ballet. I really do. Everything is beautiful at the ballet.

But, what if she's good at it? If Black Swan taught us anything, it's that ballet is a totally healthy pastime for any young woman.

The pressure to perform combined with the intense body image issues a wannabe ballerina experiences just scream "parental success."

I worked in a strict kosher deli when I was younger. The corned beef is lovely tonight, by the way. Every month, a dancer from the Boston Ballet would come in. She would order a dozen quarts of "chicken consomme'" (what, the soup isn't good enough for you?)." She had long, wavy, dark blond hair and big, kind, eyes and a gentle voice, and as far as I know, those quarts of chicken broth were all she ate. You could see the cords in her neck and when she climbed--floated, really--back into her big, gold, SUV, she didn't open the door. She was so slight she just slipped betwen the cracks. She was kind of otherwordly. Not unlike the Peanut.

We spent money we don't really have to get her into a decent class.

If she's going to try it, she's going to try it right. We'll find out for sure if she really has an affinity for it. The local rec center gives a ballet class for very short money, but we know what those classes are about. They're about looking cute, making the right friends, cheerleader training, and eventually, attracting boys.

If my daughter is going to have body issues--which at some point in her development is likely because have you seen tv or movies or magazines or the internet lately?--I guess I'd rather it be because she dedicated her life to an unforgiving form of high art than because she was trying to look hot so the first string O lineman will date her.

All this is by way of saying, we went and bought her ballet shoes a couple of days ago, and I cried. Not snot rockets and great heaving sobs. More a closed throat and watery eyes that were hidden as I closed them and used my thumb and forefinger to pinch the bridge of my nose. Trying to look just like any other dad overwhelmed by the cost of femininity. Maybe I was. She looked so happy.

Even as I got dust in my eyes, I cringed. Our saleswoman had a sense of the moment. She spoke to our daughter in quiet tones and kept referring to her as a "princess ballerina." No. NO! My daughter will not be a princess ballerina. She will be an ass-kicking ballerina of the people. A ballerina to unite women and humble men. A ballerina with an ax to grind against the universe. A ballerina . . . ah shit. She'll be what she'll be and if she's happy, I'll be thrilled. Maybe she'll be a real ballerina. A principal dancer for a working company. Chances are, she probably won't. Either way, I'll cry alot. Just look for me on the next episode of "Dance Moms."




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