On being asked if I ever did ballet

What a funny question–seemingly innocuous and yet, having all of the power to make one feel so incredibly inferior.

Not that you shouldn’t ask, it is a legitimate question. I grew up in the mecca of arts,all the little girls grew up dancing ballet, it is not an unreasonable question!

When I was 3, I was living in a house with a tin roof, with my grandmother and 3 siblings. I came to America when I was 2 months short of turning 7, my two sisters and I shared a futon in the living room for a bed. We spent quite a bit of time fighting over making the “bed” because, being that it was in the living room, we absolutely had to.

Ballet was one of those elusive entities, though. We knew it was out there but it was just for television, nothing we could ever touch.

My older sister dreamed of being a ballerina, and let me tell you–she had the talent (I dreamed of gymnastics, but I definitely did not have the talent). My older sister taught herself dance moves she watched on television. She was a member of the dance team at church. She was the best one on the team, as proclaimed by the instructor, she learned fast. When she joined our high school’s dance team, she was teaching others.

And had my mother known how to help her achieve that dream, had she known of resources or where to look, she would have gotten her lessons.

So, no, not an unreasonable question. But also, no, I did not do ballet.


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