Friday, February 2, 2018

Sepia Saturday: Different Strokes

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt featuring students of Margaret St. Ledger performing “The Dance of the Hours” reminds me of one bitter disappointment from my childhood.

When I was in elementary school, many of my friends began taking ballet lessons. Of course, I wanted to too (tutu - get it? Ha, yeah, I kill me). My mother would have none of it. “That’s just silly,” she kept saying. Silly? She had dance lessons as a child studying tap at the Harman School of Music in Shenandoah, Virginia. Surely she recognized the value of dance lessons.

Despite denying me this enrichment, I managed to get a free lesson as a visitor to my friend’s class at the Cradock Community Center. That day we all learned the five ballet positions. The instructor must have been really good because to this day, I can still do the second position (Google it to fully appreciate my point - it is the dance equivalent of “I can still fit in my earrings”).

When my girls came along, my mother announced, “Oh I can’t wait until we can put them in ballet class!” Who was this woman? What did she do with my mother?

Jordan and Miss Shelly
By the time they were old enough for dance lessons, I had become my mother and was not interested in the recitals and expensive costumes that my friends complained about at their children’s dance schools. 

Fortunately nearby was a dance school with a different philosophy. 

The Dance and Body Shop focused on movement education; rules and precision of BALLET were taught but less emphasized.

Zoe in the middle
Zoe on the right
Jordan (left) and two others performed
for the Junior Woman's Club of Portsmouth.
The girl in the middle was obviously a more accomplished dancer.

At the end of the course, parents were invited not to a recital but to a polished demonstration of skills the girls had developed.

My girls participated for a couple years, but dance was just not their “thing.” They preferred performing on dirt.

Jordan and Shawnee

Come one, come all! Witness the fine performances of Bloggers Extraordinaire at Sepia Saturday.

© 2018, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.


  1. The girls may have preferred sports to ballet, but those ballet sessions taught them balance, fluid movement, and grace - all of which were helpful in their chosen sports whether they realized it or not. :) I, too, wanted to take ballet & tap lessons when I was young, but my parents couldn't afford them. So, at the age of 37 I joined a dancercise class run by a local dance instructor and a year later found myself dancing with a group of gals onstage doing tap & soft shoe routines. What a thrill.

  2. You do make me chuckle Wendy. I never did ballet, and nor did any member of my family until my granddaughter tried it a couple of years ago. She too is more into sport.

  3. In olden times children were just expected to work. Dig potatoes, shovel coal gravel, thread the bobbins, etc. No parent ever considered finding a specialized teacher for ballet (nor for that matter violin, gymnastics, or horse riding either). As a single child, my mom found lots of activities to test my interests, including "dance" at age 5 which I hated. Thankfully music lessons worked.

  4. Dance isn't for everyone, and your daughters appear to have found their niche in the sports they chose. However, I am grateful my mom sent me to dance classes as a child, which I blogged about in last year's A to Z challenge, because social dancing had kept me fit for many years.

  5. I’m still mad we didn’t get to take dance! Although Momma did teach us the Hop triple down Step-Step.

  6. I was never a dancer but I was lucky that my parents let my try most of the activities that I wanted when I was little. They only said no to piano because we couldn't afford a piano of our own. They even let me play soccer for a few years in spite of the fact that I was really awful and most of the teams I was on were, too!

  7. Until this moment I'd forgotten that I took any type of dance lessons. But you're post brought back a vivid memory of a pink leotard and black patent tap shoes. Off to look for some photos.

  8. I took dancing lessons but mum didn't like having to sew the costumes for the costumes, so after a year I left. When my daughter began dancing lessons I changed the dancing school after having to sew 5 different costumes to a school where you could hire them. It was all good fun. I don't think it matters what we or they do as long as everyone keeps moving.

  9. Where I grew up, in the seaside resort of Blackpool, dance was a big thing, and I was desperate to learn ballet. But it was not to be, and I followed my mother’s wish for me to have piano lessons, which I have never regretted. Of course with my own daughter I indulged my ambitions and she did ballet for a few years and then Highland dancing (we were in Scotland by this stage). She did get her first medals, but them something had to give on her programme of after school activities and it was dancing in favourite of gymnastics and riding. And guess what, granddaughter’s favourite activities are gymnastics and riding. But I have never lost my love of ballet.

  10. I enjoyed your collection and discussion of children's dance classes. I liked looking at a ballerina, but mother got me tap lessons instead...and I froze on the one recital I remember. I enjoyed piano lessons for 12 years...and never got that good! Just enjoyed plinking away.

  11. I admire the grace & discipline involved But ,as an ex-Rugby League player,I can empathise more with your concept of performing on dirt. !