Yesterday I bought my daughter her first set of ballet attire. I love that she’s excited to start lessons next week at the tender age of 3. I also studied it a few times in my earlier years–when I was 5, 12, and 21.
Some friends have welcomed me into the world of daughters in ballet. And it’s true–this is the first time my daughter will take ballet. But years back my oldest son took lessons for a couple years when he was in pre-school and kindergarten. He doesn’t remember it, but I’m confident it’s helped him in soccer and baseball.
To me, ballet transcends cultures and politics. I’ve always been fascinated by how it’s enjoyed extreme popularity in the Communist world. In fact, while Madame Mao felt threatened by Western culture, she embraced ballet and developed shows to promote the revolution.
And in Russia, even during the height of the Cold War, ballet never waned. I was in the Soviet Union in 1991 and looked forward to seeing the Bolshoi, but due to a 103 fever, I instead holed up in a rented apartment while my friends (well, folks I met on the Trans-Siberian) enjoyed the ballet.
I’m pretty lucky to live in a city that loves ballet. Besides the Joffrey, we have Ruth Page, the Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center, Hyde Park School of Dance and the Salt Creek Ballet, where my daughter will take lessons, not to mention other dance companies that incorporate modern, jazz, and tap.