I wanted to be a ballerina when I grew up

My dance teacher, Joanna of Joanna’s Kids-R-It in Sacramento, is celebrating her 30th anniversary teaching dance and gymnastics. I’m tickled to see old photos like this one (that I can’t recall posing for, by the way!) commemorating her accomplishment. Yours truly is back row, far left, with hair as slicked as can be, my signature style for several awkward, awkward years.

Seriously. From age nine to summer of my 17th year, I planned in earnest to be a professional ballerina.

I took classes several days a week, combed the minuscule “dance” shelf at Barnes and Nobles for books I hadn’t already bought (pre-internet days, friends), wore my Bloch pointe shoes around the house, and read Gelsey Kirkland’s horrifying book “Dancing on my grave” repeatedly.

Despite fostering a healthy obsession for Leslie Caron, reading French and Russian ballet methods, and wearing out my from-TV recording of Swan Lake, my dream was not to be.

Besides, um, a healthy Italian appetite and blossoming into a very non-ballerina type body early in high school, I had hip surgery which derailed my dancing almost permanently. Sigh.

I was reminiscing about dance this week when a student asked if I “always knew” I wanted to be a professor. “No way!” I told her, admitting I wanted to a ballerina when I grew up. She laughed and said “Me, too!”

We talked about life’s meandering paths and I contemplated just how a wannabe ballerina ended up with a PhD and the nerdiest job on earth. (The answer would have to be shared in a compendium of blog posts.) Although I get a little wistful watching my teenage nieces excel at dancing and sometimes I pretend that my zumba ladies and I are preparing for a show instead of just exercising, I’m so grateful to be where I am today. I must admit that I do miss my toe shoes though!



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