Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Petite Feet

Last fall, I signed Sec up for ballet class. I thought because she likes wearing tutus and the color pink and because she's a prima donna, she would enjoy it. It is probably not terribly surprising that she only lasted one class. My kids, in general, are allergic to extra curriculars, a fact which has been good to my bank account but may not be so good in ten years when it's time to apply to college. In any event, Sec wasn't a huge fan of the structure, discipline and rigor which is typically a part of ballet study. She's an exuberant free spirit and I couldn't blame her. Ballet's not for everyone.

Enter Petite Feet.

Liz Vacco, a fantastic dancer-actor- dance teacher who happens to be amazing with kids, has made a dance DVD for little ballerinas ages 2-5, called Petite Feet and since we got it a few weeks ago, Sec has been thoroughly engrossed. I knew the DVD would be great because Primo worked with Liz when he helped workshop that super-cool avant-guard Pinocchio production last year (she transformed to a captivating Blue Fairy via a blue tutu on her head). It's a totally relaxed approach to ballet with heavy emphasis on storytelling and imagination and less focus on perfect form and technique -- making it a great introduction for little ones. You've still got your leotards and ballet skirts and you hear the proper ballet terms and count in French (among other languages) but what Liz brings to the mix is her unique ability as a performer to engage kids with storytelling. All the exercises are conducted in the context of an interactive story (Quick! Fly through the air to escape! Now crawl through the mud!) or a kid-friendly song. It helps that the piano accompaniment is provided by a man in a full-body walrus suit.

Sec has watched the video half a dozen times, even dusting off her old Danskin pink leotard and flouncy skirt. She got enthused enough about the whole thing that she exclaimed. "I want to try ballet class again Mommy!"

Of course, a minute later she added' "Maybe. I don't know. I'll think about it."

Still, that's progress.