JulieLeung.com: a life told in tidepools

pictures and stories from the water’s edge

JulieLeung.com: a life told in tidepools header image 2

Last Dance

March 30th, 2004 · 1 Comment


Today when we went to Abigail’s dance class we learned that this would be the last one. Although the class was offered in the island’s Parks and Recreation District catalog for spring session – we had signed up for it yesterday – it has since been cancelled. We had heard that there would be a change of teachers possibly soon but I didn’t know the class itself would end.

This combination dance/gymnastics class has been a good one. I haven’t been too fond of the time – 2 p.m. (too close to nap and lunch time)- or the parking lot situation at the high school gymnasium (too crowded), but we have been fond of the teacher “N”. She’s positive, fun and flexible with the rules: for example even though the sign says any kids later than 5 minutes must miss class, I’ve never seen her turn anyone away.

N taught Abigail a bit of ballet. She taught her some gymnastics too. But most of all, she taught her how to enjoy exercise. Abigail began practicing on her own at home; that’s how much she liked it.

At home the girls play dance/gymnastics class. Abigail is usually the teacher. Michaela is the student. Or sometimes they are both students. They use names from other girls in Abigail’s class. Elisabeth is assigned to be the teacher sometimes. For Christmas I bought Michaela a dance outfit so she would have one like Abigail’s. In the afternoons at play time, they put on their pink leotards and skirts: it is their favorite dress-up. In imitation of N, Abigail will say “put your hands on your hips and a smile on your lips.” Both Michaela and Elisabeth will follow her, the baby too clasping her hands behind her back as she toddles.

When we went to Abigail’s class, Elisabeth would nap at home (with Ted at work) and Michaela would sit in my lap as we watched her big sister dance in the balcony. She’d tell me how she wanted to take the class as soon as she was old enough, when she turned four in the fall. I imagined our entire generation of little Leung girls enjoying this dance/gymnastics class and N’s teaching.

So it was a shock for me today to learn it was ending. Fini. Over at 2:45 pm. The girls have been excited about the class, pretending and playing it in their spare time. More than that, N has meant a lot to our family. I’ve seen how much Abigail has improved in her skills. And I appreciate how much N has cared for her, working with her weaknesses, encouraging her effectively with fun.

I felt sad. Abigail though seemed fine, as if it were the proverbial water bouncing off a duck’s back. Didn’t bother her much at all. Michaela understood and didn’t seem upset.

On the way home, I asked Abigail what she wanted to do: dance, gymnastics or swimming. Abigail declared that she wanted to do dance but she’d do gymnastics if we couldn’t find dance. I spent the rest of the afternoon researching a new dance studio. After Elisabeth woke from her nap, we drove over for a visit.

Instead of the musty high school gymnasium, these classes are held in brand-new rooms with large windows, shiny hard-wood floors and walls of mirrors. The hallway between the studio rooms is filled with children’s toys and comfortable chairs. During Abigail’s previous gymnastics/dance class, Michaela and I sat on the gym floor among tennis shoes and crumpled clothes craning our necks up at the balcony. Even Elisabeth will enjoy being at this new dance class. The parking lot offers many more options than the high school one. Abigail got excited, grabbing the papers I took and examining them while I cooked dinner. I had told her I needed to talk about it with Ted before we decided, and while we ate, she asked her father multiple times if she could have dance classes.

Abigail’s been taking gymnastics classes through Parks & Rec at the high school for four years, since we moved here, since she was Elisabeth’s age, a toddler. We’ll miss N. It’s the end of an era.
But maybe it was time for that dance to end and a new one to begin.

Tags: family

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Katherine // Mar 31, 2004 at 2:47 pm

    Interesting. I have to decide what to do about Emily’s dance life too – she’s been taking classes at the community center 3 minutes from our house for a few years, but I think we’re coming to the end of the line there. We may look into a place called “Soaring Spirit Dance Studio.” They have sacred dance as well as the traditional ballet and tap and jazz. But it’s probably 20 minutes from our house :-(. Hmmm.