We’d been looking for an activity for Margaret for a while. Music or dance seemed to be the obvious choices. Our Pediatrician had recommended Music Together, but when I read the website I was a bit dubious about whether it was worth it. When Duncan was born there was a round taking her to talk to Suzuki music teachers, but it turns out they won’t teach her until she’s three. One of them also recommended Music Together, so I took another look at that, and the availability was an issue. I was unimpressed by the credentials of the teacher for the weekend classes and unwilling to pay that much money for something during the week that my au pair would have to take her to.
Having failed to find a satisfactory music option, I ran into a friend for the MIT Ballroom Dance Team at the park. She has a three year old, and was just stopping off at the park on her way home from ballet class. We talked, and she told me that the ballet studio she took her daughter to had a class for two year olds. I did some looking on the web, and indeed they did take two year olds, with an adult accompanying the child in class. A little more researched turned up that a number of ballet schools do this. I eagerly awaited their next schedule, but when it came out I was bitterly disappointed. Fridays at 3:15 is not a time I can make, and given the price tag I wasn’t willing to let someone else take her. I sulked for a while, and then started researching other options. None of the local Somerville/Cambridge studios had weekend classes for two year olds. Google came in and saved the day. It turns out that the Boston Ballet School has multiple sessions of their class for two year olds available on weekends. I was encouraged and studied the web site.
The Boston Ballet School is associated with the Boston Ballet. I found this really encouraging. I didn’t want to send Margaret to anything like the ballet chain schools that some of my childhood friends attended, where all they do is teach the kids a single routine for the end of the year recital. I wanted Margaret to have fun, get a decent general dance foundation, and get exposure to a class environment. I wanted a good balance of fun and serious dance instruction. I found the fact that the stop promoting students on the basis of age at seven to be a good sign. I was a little worried when I heard the price, but the price they quoted me was for a whole year, September through June. When I did the math it worked out to just under $25 per week, and if we drop out we’ll get a refund. That made it actually cheaper than the local studios on a per lesson basis, so I was psyched. I signed up and we went out to buy Margaret her leotard and ballet slippers.
(An interesting aside: Since I never did ballet I had no idea that this was true, but it seems that at least the serious and semi-serious ballet schools in the area all have uniforms. If you’re a two year old taking ballet at the Boston Ballet school you must have a certain style of pale pink leotard and pink ballet slippers. At first I thought this was a bit overkill, but then as I was reading through the dress code it hit me that they were using leotard color the same way a martial arts school would use belt color. A teacher at the school could tell at a glance roughly where the kid belonged class-wise based on what they were wearing. I was also disinclined to be fussy about it given that it only took $35 to get Margaret the necessary clothes. I’m used to paying over $125 for a pair of ballroom shoes.)
On Saturday the four of us got into the van and drove out to the Marblehead studio. Warren was following the navigation system. I’d been planning on getting there in plenty of time and taking proud pictures of my little girl in her pink leotard. Alas, it was not to be. Between the unfamiliar route, the computer generated instructions, and a whole lot of surface streets the driving was a little rougher than anticipated, and Margaret threw up all over herself three minutes before reaching our destination. What little extra time was left was devoted to clean up. In spite of the rough start we had a great time in class. Warren and I both got to go in with her, Duncan was on his best behavior, and the teacher was really nice. Margaret was clearly the youngest in the class, and getting her to do what the teacher was doing was a bit challenging, but we all had a good time. One little girl spent 90% of the time in her mother’s arms, so I’m pleased that Margaret was at least comfortable enough to run around, even if she wasn’t doing exactly what she should have been at all times. There were only four girls in the class, so it was a nice size for that age group.
Margaret had a good time in class, in spite the fact that her leotard was wet in the front and smelled slightly of puke. The next day I saw her spontaneously “practicing” some of the moves from class. Did I mention I was psyched? I’m not expecting her to grow up to be a ballerina. She’ll likely be too tall to be a ballerina anyway. Right now she is having fun and building her basic dance skills, and that is what matters. I’m really looking forward to next Saturday, though I’m hoping we can skip the puke next time.