Dressing a Ballerina

This week, we signed Sophie up for her first extracurricular activity/class/sport etc. of her life—ballet at the YMCA.

The class meets once a week for 30 minutes and is free with a family membership. She’s been dying to take a dance class, specifically ballet, ever since she went to a preschool friend’s birthday party held at a dance school. She had to be 4 years old, though, to attend the class. She turns 4 March 30 and per the Y’s rules, she was able to sign up the month she turned 4. So we signed her up.

The afternoon of her first class, I was frantically trying to find the boys’ shoes, having not paid attention to the time, having not been used to 4:45pm activities. Sophie was wearing a black-and-white striped dress and, because it was cool, I insisted she wear leggings. As I was putting her (gray) leggings, socks and tennis shoes on, she looked at me, horrified.

“This is not what ballerinas wear!” she said.

“What?” I asked.

“This is not what ballerinas wear! I need shoes, tights, skirt and a little top. Pink.”

“Oh, Sophie,” I said. “This is just a casual thing. No one is going to be wearing an entire ballerina outfit. Your outfit will be just fine, I’m sure.”

Cut to the class.

Every single child was wearing soft pink. Soft pink leotards, in various cuts and styles. Soft pink tutus. And tights. Some soft pink. Some white. And ballet shoes! Everyone had ballet shoes.

Sophie glared at me.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “Truly, I had no idea. We’ll get you an outfit.”

Andy left work early to watch her, just for her first class.

“What is she holding?” he asked when he arrived.

“She’s not holding anything,” I said. “She’s wearing a large, plastic, Disney ring from a cupcake she got at her last birthday party. She was worried her outfit wasn’t going to be fancy enough.”

“She was right,” Andy said.

When I played T-ball, I had a uniform. In fact I remember my dad showing me how to tuck my socks into my pants, just like the pros did. Artists wear smocks. Musicians have instruments. I suppose I should have realized ballerinas, even at 4 years old, wear ballet shoes.

So, today, we went to Target.

And now I have a very happy ballerina.

“I wanted so badly to study ballet, but it was really all about wearing the tutu.” —Elle Macpherson