Monday, October 6, 2008

Ballet, the confidence booster

I realise I’ve been talking a lot about Andre lately, so to be fair, today’s post is about Lesley-Anne. One of Lesley-Anne’s biggest loves is ballet. Before you go, “wah, in GEP, take piano, take tae-kwon-do, still got ballet!” and think I’m one of those pushy, ogre-type mums, I must protest my innocence. It’s her decision, really!

When she was about 5 years old, I did casually ask her if she was interested in learning ballet, but at that time, she was unbearably shy and the thought of public performance horrified her. (At her first pre-school concert, she stood frozen on stage while all her little friends in butterfly costumes danced around her). So the subject was dropped and she went for piano lessons instead.

I’m no dancer myself, but I do admire the grace and impossibly beautiful movements of ballerinas. I love all the ballet classics – Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Romeo and Juliet, as well as more modern works. When the Royal Ballet came to town for the Arts Festival in 2005 to perform Swan Lake, I brought Lesley-Anne to see the performance. The sets and costumes were breath-taking, and the dancing was impeccably flawless. Lesley-Anne was spell-bound. Despite the whole show lasting over three hours, she sat entranced throughout.

After that performance, she told me, “Mummy, I want to learn ballet.” She was still very taciturn then, so I was surprised that she would be interested in an art form that was all about physical expression. I was sceptical and kept asking, “Are you sure?” until she convinced me that she was committed to her decision.

It might appear that I always pour cold water on my children’s wishes to take on a new activity. The reason behind this is that Kenneth and I frown upon the idea of quitting. Basically, we believe that once a commitment is made, perseverance should ensue, except for extenuating circumstances, of course. Call me old-fashioned but I don’t approve of kids who flit from one CCA or hobby to another, quitting every time the going got tough or they got tired of it. How to develop tenacity otherwise? If our kids wish to take on something, we will support 100% but I’ll always caution them to think twice because quitting is not an option.

We signed Lesley-Anne up for ballet lessons at a community centre, upon the recommendation of a friend. This particular teacher has been giving ballet lessons for the last 40 years and she’s wonderful.

To cut a long story short, Lesley-Anne is still taking lessons from the same teacher today. She started off at Grade 1 and is currently doing her Grade 4. She enjoys it tremendously, more so than her piano lessons. She has so far taken two examinations and gotten Distinctions in both. As with the piano, examinations are not compulsory – all the pupils move up with the class and learn the syllabus although the non-examination pupils tend to get slightly less attention during the weeks leading up to the examination.

Learning ballet has had a dramatic effect on Lesley-Anne. Dance is a very open art form - you can’t hide behind an instrument or a canvas. Somehow, having to express herself physically through dance has enabled her to come out of her shell. Ever since she took up ballet, she walks and talks more confidently, and she holds herself up taller.

She is still an introvert but at least she now actively participates in social occasions instead of hiding in the shadows. Of course it could also partly be a process of growing up, but I saw the change only from the time she took up ballet, so I’m pretty sure it has no small part to play in her transformation. Quite a few people have commented that she’s very poised, again something I attribute to ballet.

This is a short video of Port de Bras - one of the centrework exercises for Grade 2 (back in 2006). When Lesley-Anne found out I was going to post this, she screeched: “Don’t put up any embarrassing videos of me!” But I think it’s cute lah, see how angelic all the girls look! Since it’s my blog, I get to do what I want, ha. She’s threatening to hack into my account, so if my post suddenly disappears, you’ll know what happened.

video

16 comments:

Lilian said...

hahaha poor Lesley-Anne, got veto-ed by mummy. Brian has his own little tortoise-related dark secrets he won't allow me to post..oops, have I said anything I shouldn't.

Back to ballet, yes, I've always admired the poise of ballerinas, eg Wong Li Lin. I slouch and have shoulder aches from bad posture. So even if the only thing learning ballet does is give a child good posture, that's reason enough to go for lessons IMO.

monlim said...

I also always admire the poise of ballerinas, I'm such a klutz, sigh...

btw, Lesley-Anne read your comment in my other post and she went, "What?? Brian has to bathe and feed and change Sean? Lucky not me!!" (you better not let Brian see this, haha!)

Alcovelet said...

Monica, You're writing too fast! Wait up, pant pant! Ballet - I guess that's where a more western influence is helping us Asians to muster more poise and confidence in carrying ourselves.

PS Lilian, Wong Lilin lives down the road with her hubby and 2 kids. Em, poised, but rather commonplace leh (apologies to her fans who are reading this - jmho).

monlim said...

Sorry Ad! Maybe that explains the lack of comment in the earlier posts, I was wondering if I touched on a sensitive topic...

Everyday when Lesley-Anne comes home, the first thing she asks is, "Did you put up the post for the day?" She's so eager to read it! So I've been trying to put up one a day, but quite an effort :P

Lilian said...

Wah Adeline, your standards very high leh, Wong Li Lin commonplace? Nolah, she's very pretty and carries herself well, dunno why she married a guy with a perpetual deer in headlights look.

Monica, the boys love reading my blog too (Brian likes reading my friends' blogs as well, incl yours, always laughing at other kids' antics), especially when it's about them, so that keeps me going. I cheat by posting lots of pictures so I don't have to write much. I don't know how you do it (write lots).

I'm worse than L-A, I check your blog tonnes of times a day, so keep them posts coming.

Alcovelet said...

Hey Monica, it's nice to do something you and your kids look forward to. I'll scroll backwards lah!

monlim said...

Thanks Lilian, that's very encouraging. Hard to gauge whether the blog is interesting to others, so it's great to hear you enjoy it.

I've been having a lull period in terms of business (the volatile economy not helping), that's why got time to post so much. But this week is start of exam week so I'm getting kancheong, may be too distracted soon. Aiyoh, got yet another note from Andre's teacher yesterday!!!

Kenneth said...

PS: 1 of the people Wong LiLin credits in her life is her ballet teacher Mrs Skipp, the same teacher Lesley-Anne is taking lessons from.

Alcovelet said...

Hi Monica, your posts are always very thought provoking. I think your write very naturally, like from your brains to your fingertips. I'm rather anal on the other hand, so it takes me ages to get my stuff out. Which is why when you post a topic, I take ages to respond, or by the time I think it through, it's kind of over. Next time, I'll scroll back and still respond!! But keep it coming!!!

monlim said...

Thanks Ad!! Not that I'm fishing for comments, but it's always great to have feedback. No point writing stuff that no one wants to read about, right?

oh yah, forgot abt the Wong Lilin thing. thanks for reminder - she did acknowledge Mrs Skipp in one of the interviews in ST.

bACk in GERMANY said...

If there's ever an unfulfilled dream imposed on my daughter, that would be ballet. My mom made me quit when I was in P5, PSLE the next year being the reason.
Oh boy... why didn't anyone tell her that it could have repercussion on my psyche? Sigh... maybe that's how extra pounds were layered on, year after year!

Though I never had it long enough for the correct poise (see, all the backache/stiff neck now!), I never once sprain my ankles... at least till now.

Hope L-A will continue to pursue ballet for a long long time to come!

bACk in GERMANY said...

Haha... I cheat too... posting only pictures! How else could I come up with 4 posts a day?!! Now Adeline is slowly learning the trade ;)

Like I mentioned before, just look at the counter on your site. Of course, I contribute to clicking a couple of hundred times a day too! :p Seriously, I wake up every morning, thinking, Hmm, what's Monica gonna say today?

Well... I think you have enough mojo now to write and continue to feed our brains on a daily basis!

monlim said...

Cindy, I'm so flattered! You will keep me going, for sure :)

Aww... pity about the ballet thing. Curious isn't it, parents force kids to learn things they don't want and force kids to stop learning things they want!

But if it makes you feel any better, ballet doesn't guarantee weight loss, I've seen some umm... horizontally challenged ballerinas :P

Lilian said...

Hee...Monica, you just reminded me of this little British girl in Brian's London school; she was about 6 maybe, and right after school, she loved changing into her ballerina outfit, but she was soooo tubby, with Michelin-tyre layers all over, I would have to stifle my laugh every time I saw her strutting around the school.

monlim said...

Mean but true! yah, it's funny enough when they're young, but I've seen some where they're teenagers barely able to heave themselves off the ground, let alone do leaps. That's just tragic IMO.

bACk in GERMANY said...

Yep... ballet doesn't guarantee weight loss, but quitting ballet certainly helped me to climb the scale in stones. Maybe no more leotards to keep in shape, haha...

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