Successful ballet program requires practice

In ballet we work on our splits and I can do two types: right leg in front and center splits. I was able to do center splits awhile ago and now can go into oversplits. Oversplits is where you get into the splits and put something under your foot so one foot is raised and you are higher above the ground. I am working to get into right leg oversplits, but I am already in center oversplits.

Usually, when we get to ballet we start by warming up at the bar. Then we go out into center and stretch. The stretches we do are stretches where you put your foot out and hold the inside of your foot and try to get it straight. I am pretty good on one leg, but not as good on the other. We also do swans. Swan stretches are where you lie on the ground face down and put your hands in front of you and a partner lifts up your arms until you tell them to stop. Then you hold your partner’s ankles while they try to go up themselves. We also do baskets. To do a basket you lie on the ground face down and push yourself up and try to get your toes to touch your head. I can do a basket. Then we do splits. We start with right leg and gradually try to push ourselves down. We do that for a minute, then we do left leg for a minute, then center splits for a minute and finally we do right leg again then left leg etc …

We have a really good teacher for ballet. Her name is Ms. Lynne and she is really good and doesn’t push on our legs when we are doing splits (that is VERY bad for your legs). Sometimes she can be a little strict, but she is really nice. In ballet we also have helpers. On Wednesdays we have Ellie (or she might come on Fridays … I forget) and she is really funny. We also have Eridin and sometimes Maria. We do ballet on Wednesdays and Fridays for two hours from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Every year in my elementary school we have two music programs: one is in the winter and the other is in the spring. During our winter program last year, which was The Nutcracker, my music teacher Mrs. Koskeneimi asked me and my friends, Ella and Beatrix to dance to the songs. We stayed 30 minutes after ballet every Wednesday and Friday to practice. Sometimes we rehearsed and other times we just talked and all of a sudden we realized it was almost time to leave so we practiced the dances just once. It went great. For the Russian candy cane dance we tied thick red ribbons around our waists. We performed on the stage in the gym (which I have never seen used for performances). About a week before the performance we decided we would stay onstage the whole time (except for when we did our speaking parts). That meant we had to choreograph more dances! We didn’t have any more ballet classes before the program so Ella and Beatrix came to my house to practice. When they finally got there Ella was like “I don’t want to practice,” so after being convinced by my friends who wanted to go craft instead of practice, we reached the agreement of “let’s just watch Esme instead.” Now I had to choreograph more dances just because my friends wanted to copy me. I didn’t have enough time to choreograph three or four more dances, so right before a dance we didn’t work on I would whisper to Ella and Beatrix the main moves in the dance; pekkas, changmants etc… and the signals for each move. They eventually caught on. When I pointed my toe forward I would do a pekka forward. They eventually stopped looking at me the whole dance which was good because some people complained they couldn’t see their faces when they were looking at me. Overall, the program was a success. I didn’t forget my speaking part (because in all the rush to choreograph the dances I wasn’t practicing that much). I hope you enjoyed the second part of this column about ballet.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Esme Ulland-Joy, is 9 and is in the fourth grade at Sandy Knoll Elementary School. Esme loves to dance and read.