Ballet was never really for me. I could appreciate the discipline and the skill, but it left me mostly unmoved. This was true of most dance, to be honest. If there was a strong narrative accompanying the dance, then I might enjoy it. And I tried. I went to see Adventures in Motion Pictures or DV8 or Ballet Boyz. I preferred something with a bit of dialogue; well film really - there is nothing I like more than going to the cinema. Ballet always struck me as being somewhat rarefied, perhaps even austere. It was definitely not for me.
A transformation has occurred. I can now sew ballet shoes. I regularly book tickets to the Coliseum or Royal Opera House, paying close attention to who is dancing the leads. I know which members of each company I would prefer to see dance, and which ones are not to my taste. There was a time when I thought Ballet was something only for an elite with a massive disposable income. Now, I would pay a small fortune to watch a particular (Australian) dancer leap. Yes. Now I am a fan.
This transformation has been slow, and at times difficult. It certainly didn't happen over night. It all began with an invitation. My son was invited to audition for an outreach programme called 'Chance to Dance'. It is run by the education department at the Royal Opera House. My children have benefitted considerably from attending state schools in central London. They have been the beneficiaries of countless events, schemes and performances. We were aware that 'Chance to Dance' had visited the school every week for the last six or seven weeks and given the children in year 3 a ballet class. This had been taught in an accessible and enticing way. The boys had become quite competitive with each other. So we signed the form for the audition and off he went. We were unaware at this time that the 'Chance to Dance' scheme and ballet in general were about to engulf our entire family. The question is: had we known, would we have committed to begin with? Had we known that every Saturday afternoon would be booked up for ballet, some half-term holidays would have a rehearsal every day, every Wednesday afternoon would involve sitting in rush-hour traffic, we would spend an disproportionate amount of time waiting at the Royal Opera House stage door, would we have been so keen to sign that form allowing him to audition? Yes, probably. Yes.