I started my dance “career” at age 4 by taking tap classes. I believe Mom initially got me into classes to help me overcome my shyness. Hiding under Grandma Is’s skirt was where you’d find me if anyone tried talking to me during our errands.
Now when it came time to be in dance class, my shyness disappeared. I loved being the leader of our class and getting to be the first one onto the stage during the recital. I never recall having stage fright or freezing while on stage. That never occurred to me.
I continued taking tap classes until my senior year of high school. As an 18-year-old – my wonderful teacher (Gloria Wahlen) worked around my work schedule and got me in any time I had off from waitressing.
Tap made sense in my head. There is a specific sound that the tap shoes make that goes with the beat of the music. It’s logical. Now, ballet just doesn’t follow the same rules. I always wanted to do ballet in pointe shoes. Unfortunately – in order to get to pointe shoes, you have to do a few years of training in regular ballet shoes. So – I decided at age 15 to start taking ballet classes in addition to my tap classes.
I wasn’t a big fan of ballet. I found it rather challenging. No longer was there a specific sound to coordinate with the music. It all just flowed from one movement to another. No more logic.
The first year was uneventful. I made it through the year of class and the final recital and I survived. It was the second year that made an impact. It was time for the final recital of the year and I was heading out on stage to perform my ballet solo. My mind went completely blank. I couldn’t remember a single part of my routine. Instead of fleeing the stage which some might be inclined to do, I just proceeded to jump around on stage and make up steps, and twirl around. As my music ended and I left the stage, Gloria looked at me and said “Well… that was interesting.” I wanted to crawl into a hole. I had never before in my life forgotten an entire routine. How horrifying.
It was at that exact moment that I decided I was not cut out for ballet and thereby ended my career as a prima ballerina. Tap was a much better fit for me and I have to admit – I was relieved to be done with ballet. I’m sure Gloria was relieved too!