Friday, May 23, 2014

Can You Hear My Heart Breaking?

Ballerina Girl is nicknamed Ballerina for a reason - she absolutely LOVES ballet. She started dance when she was 3 and took 3 years of combo tap/ballet classes. Then she moved to a dance school that focuses on nothing but ballet, taking 2 more years of classes before auditioning for company. Since then, she's spent an additional 3 years dancing with the company.

Image from freedigitalphotos/Salvatore Vuono

Here is why my heart is breaking - It looks like this week might be her last week dancing with this dance company. Why? The simple answer is that she can't do a split. At least, that's the reason the teacher gave me for why she would never make the upper levels of company. She came to me with her concerns earlier in the week, pretty much encouraging me to have Ballerina find other interests.

To me, her inability to do a split isn't a big deal. Before you say anything, yes, I know that it is a big deal for a top level ballerina. I understand something about Ballerina, though, that a lot of people don't know. My baby girl was born 8 weeks premature, weighing only 3 tiny pounds. My initial fear was that I would never see her grow up. She was a fighter, though, and was able to come home from the hospital at 4 weeks old - 4 weeks earlier than we had originally anticipated.

When Ballerina was 2, she went to speech therapy because she didn't talk. She had only 4-5 words in her vocabulary, and even those were difficult to understand. After working with her for several months, her speech therapist gave her a tentative diagnosis of dyspraxia, which is a disorder that affects motor skill development. This made a lot of sense because, not only was her speech delayed, but she had difficulty with some of her other motor skills. When she learned to walk, she walked on her toes; we had to reteach her to walk on her whole foot.

This is why my heart is breaking. When I look at Ballerina, I see that tiny little baby fighting for life. I see the little girl who struggled with walking and talking. I see how far she's come, how she's overcome her struggles to become a beautiful and graceful dancer. So she can't do a split. So what?

We're now looking into some other options for Ballerina for next year. She enjoys performing so we thinking about trying the local theater group. We're also looking at other dance studios - ones where she can take ballet but not worry about the fact that she can't do a split. She's not looking to become a prima ballerina; she just wants to dance because she enjoys dancing.
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