Beginning Ballerinas

Stopping time with pointed toes

One of the things that I love to do with my photography is to document the passage of time- the gradual changes that occur throughout the year but they pass by unnoticed unless you have those images that stop time for you.  Then you can look back and see the transformation.

It’s that ritual of stopping time and then looking back that I treasure, especially when it comes to my daughter.

I can’t help but feel time seeming to speed up as she creeps closer and closer toward the teenage years.  I want to grab her and hold her, keep her little just for a bit longer!  But the seconds tic by and I see the changes happening.  And I treasure the memories and those precious images of when she was just a little girl.  You can see her past sessions My Ballerina and Ballerina, Level One.

This is why I’m  photographer.

This is why I celebrate the end of each ballet season with a special photography session.

And this is why, this year, I opened up the opportunity to more of the beginning ballerinas in her school.

I couldn’t resist sharing this with all of those moms and dads and grandparents who have been watching their dancers learn and grow.  I had to give them the opportunity to stop time for just a moment as they completed prep and their first time on stage at the Byham in the spring performance.  Or they finished level I with their first Nutcracker experience behind them.  Or like my daughter, they’ve made it through level II and now they eagerly wait for the fall and the promise of pointe shoes…

And so, back in May, we met up at Studio 415 on the Northside and this time, I was joined by several dancers, all eager to show what they’ve mastered this year.

young dancer in white leotard, seated and stretchingyoung dancer in white leotard, posingyoung dancer in white leotard, seated and in ballet pose

I have to admit.  When my daughter first started dancing, I was a little nervous about what was to come.  I was nervous about the competitiveness, the emphasis on perfection, the concern about body shape.  But as we’ve moved through the levels, I learned that I didn’t need to worry.

My daughter’s teachers have emphasized health and strength, training the dancers like skilled athletes.  Yes, they strive for accuracy in their movements but there is also understanding and acceptance that training takes time.  As for competitiveness, we haven’t really seen it.  The girls that we’ve encountered have been so encouraging of each other.  I’ve witnessed this first hand, helping backstage during Nutcracker.  The older girls take care of the younger ones, showing them what to do and including them in their games.

And as you can see below, even during their photo session, they’re happy to help each other out.

young dancers helping each other to pose in balletyoung dancer in pink leotard in splitteen ballet dancer in pink leotard

I think the most exciting part as a parent is to watch your child persist at something challenging until they finally get it.  For many of the dancers in level II, this challenge was the split and so this was the pose that all of the dancers were happy to show off.

dark haired ballet dancer in split

And this is the other pose that the girls spend a lot of time working on.

tween ballet dancer in pink leotard, stretchingtween ballet dancer in a pink leotard, posing

And finally, my girl.

What I love looking at the images side by side is the increase in confidence that I see in her.

young ballet dancer through the years

L (2015), M (2016), R (2017)

teen dancer in pink leotardtween dancer in pink leotard, seated in chair

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