EN Pointe – Ballet Rincon Director’s Blog

Tiny, Tippy-Toes Steps

Jennifer Neuser – August 2019

“You may be only taking tiny, tippy-toe steps, but all those little steps are forming your very own dance”
– Jane Lee Logan

Lucky girl that I am, my work still finds the magic place that first sparked my love of dancing as a child.

When I was about three or four years old, I spent most of my time happily lost in an imaginary world born from the “unhindered-by-siblings” creative time of an only child. My waking hours, although sometimes spent with friends that my mom likes to remind me that she “imported” from the neighborhood, were spent by myself, happy to be deep in my dreamy head. I don’t remember exactly what I thought about as such a little person, but I do remember this: On Saturday afternoons, given my own decision about what I was going to do with my time, I sat mesmerized by the small-screened, local PBS-stationed TV movie musical broadcasts that set me on my path to my first dance class. The Golden Age of the Hollywood musical was my introduction to dance. When I saw that first effortless, tuxedoed glide across the television screen, my eyes dilated, my feet scrambled to the rug, and suddenly I was Ginger Rogers dancing with Fred Astaire.

The magical moment when a child first connects with dance is undeniable. Their focus is razor-sharp. Their silence is palpable. You can almost see their ears open wider to hear the music more deeply. Each season at Ballet Rincon, I see the littlest ones, perched on their mother’s lap at their older sibling’s dance class in this focus mode as the music begins to play and the teacher begins her lesson. They sit absolutely still, frozen and stunned by the swirling and stretching, the turning and whirling, the popping and hopping they see. Until, as if they are a coiled spring just released, they lunge forward, and galop to join the pint-sized melee on the dance floor.

And that’s it!

The magical moment when a child first connects with dance is undeniable. Their focus is razor-sharp. Their silence is palpable.

They are hooked, and musical movement is now their world! A dancer is born! Dad’s dreams of a soccer star in the family are forever lost. Mom heads to the dancewear store to buy the world’s tiniest leotard and ballet slippers. In palest pink, of course.

So, now what happens?

I see dance as art. Fun, exciting, heart-pumping, brain-cell expanding, character-building, yes…. but first it is art, no matter what age the dancer is.

Recently, I heard a wonderful commentary on the nature of enjoying art:

The viewer shouldn’t be led through a piece of art to understand its meaning. They should be allowed discover it.

It’s that initial spark that the artist (dancer, painter, musician…) feels when they are creating and the appreciation that the viewer feels when they see it. All can create the same joy in the artist and in the observer. It doesn’t mean that properly training the technique of the artist (in this case, the dancer) is ignored. In fact, it is the technique that allows the dancer to be truly free.

What is amazing to me is that in that tiny, newly-realized dancer’s moment of uncoiled freedom, as she gleefully waddles to the floor, without any explanation or instruction from anywhere but within her little soul, she understands the feeling of pure joy that fills her!

The tiny, tippy-toe steps she takes in her first dance class are her first steps to creating her own dance, her own life, of her own creation. It’s a powerful moment and it never ceases to amaze me to witness it.

What a triumph to be lucky enough to witness that miracle at work every day! What a lucky, lucky girl am I. All these years later, thanks to Fred and Ginger (and Mom and Dad and public television), I am still wearing those palest pink ballet slippers, and still feeling the magic!