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Ballet Talk for Dancers

In praise of ballet dads

Mel Johnson

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I'd like to take this opportunity to put in a good word for the largely unsung heroes of much of the ballet world, the ballet dads. My own father (1911-1999) was largely responsible for my persevering in ballet, because he considered it "the best damn exercise I ever saw!" He wasn't raised around ballet, but he learned to appreciate the finer points of the art as he continued to learn about it. He could dissect a corps de ballet neatly, and a lack of unity, he called "applesauce". :D He also could analyze the quality of a dancer's performance and was often right about root causes of problem performances - "Is she all right? She looked like she's coming down with something." She was. "Are things OK with him at home? He looked preoccupied." Right on. After a performance of "Les Sylphides", he told me, "This part is against your usual type, but you did it all right. You've learned to move confidently, even in this soft stuff. You've learned to walk like a man! That's good." Hank worked hard at being a good ballet dad, and he did the job well.


Many ballet dads are more involved today than ever before, some even taking adult classes to understand what their children are doing. I think that's good, and a really healthy sign for the education of the dancers of today. So here's to dads on their day.

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What a wonderful description of your father's support for you Mel! I'm so glad you posted this and I, too, wish a happy day to all the fathers out there who are there for their sons and daughters! :thumbsup::D

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Let me add this praise to my husband, the best ballet dad I ever saw. He can make a bun that lasts through sleet and freezing rain, and then perseveres through rehearsal, warm-up, and three dances in the show without a noticeable wisp escaping. He can artfully apply the required, standard Mary Kay make-up according to the diagram specifications with nary a stray smear of eye liner. He can drive the "ballet bus" through interstate traffic, around detours, and in all manner of terrible weather and make it to the studio (relatively) on time. He knows how to pack nutritious yet delicious ballet lunches and dinners and how to package them to keep cool through long studio hours. He has yesterday's costumes washed and dried and ready to go again the next morning. Good heavens! He even knows how to sew pointe shoes! He heads the security division for the school's performances and keeps all kids safe and all difficult parents in line. They just don't come any better than this! Thought you should all know...

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Thanks for the wonderful description of your dad to launch this thread.


My husband is also a great ballet dad. He does not do buns, but he is the official fixer/analyzer of pointe shoe problems. When dd had so many shoes to sew before her SI, she marked them, and he did a quick job of sewing on the machine.


This was the first time that he did not accompany dd and me to drop off for her SI. He took care of all the reservations, printed all the maps, and kept me on track from afar. He will go with me at the end to watch dd, and collect her. As I watched people moving in to the SI, it occured to me that ballet dads simply must be the best dads (except maybe my own). They are happily moving their dk's in, running errands, and generally being calmly supportive. They just do whatever it takes without any fanfare.


Happy father's day to all the great ballet dads out there!

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Here, here!



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DD's dad is the greatest ballet dad for his quiet support. He can't do buns, would never even attempt to apply make-up, only drives to or from ballet in emergencies, but what he does do helps both dd and me out tremendously.

He comes home to an empty house each evening, many times the dog hair (we have 3 St. Bernards) has not been vacummed up and I forgot to take something out for dinner, so he cleans house, runs to the store and tries to begin dinner. He waters the yards, folds the laundry and when we get home, he has everything ready for dinner with the table set and a hug and kiss for both of us. He never complains when we are gone 6 or 7 days a week for hours at a time. He understands and supports dd in the most loving and positive way. He never questions the financial committment and never asks how much anything is. He goes to every performance and sits through however many numbers he has to to see his daughter dance. And when dd has a rough day he is there with open arms to hold and cuddle his 13 year old baby with kind words of encouragment.

He is truly a wonderful man and we are blessed to have him!


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That's just the type of guy I'm talking about. Three St. Bernards? Wow! I gotta visit someday!

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Anytime Mel! Yes, they are a handful, but very well loved....they miss dd so much now. Our female Dixie sleeps in her room next to her bed, Harley keeps stealing her old pointe shoes and lays his head on them and Maverick, well, he just looks for the one who sneaks him treats. :)

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That's great! I had an apartment in New Haven and a neighbor who didn't like big dogs, but had a Saint anyway. The dog used to come over to my place to sleep, most usually, in my bed. (Scratch, scratch, scratch) OK, Bruin, come in, hop in, roll over so I can get in. (Chorus: SNOOOOORRRRE!)

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My husband is a shocking cook, can't pin a bun to save his life and still hasn't quite worked out the whole whites and colours aspect of the washing - but dd couldn't keep dancing without him.


He gets her to the studio and home again and builds his weekends around her class and rehearsal times when I'm unavailable; takes her shopping for ballet gear, gave up a day's work last week to drive her interstate for her first real audition, never complains about the time and expense of classes and packs a mean snack pack. I couldn't manage without him.


Applause for the Dads :) - old and young - present and no longer so.

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Even as we speak (well, write, anyway), here I am in CA and my husband is spending Father's Day with our daughter, traveling around Albany, Red Hook, and Tivoli, NY. Can you guess what he may be doing? :wink:


He gave up relaxing Father's Day with his other 3 daughters (and a very cute new granddaughter). He gave up a weekend of sleeping after an extremely hectic 80 hour work week last week. And from what my daughter says, they were off-roading this morning in a what my daughter calls a "ditch" and my husband calls a gravel-paved road, exploring the area near the "street" (my daughter's word, again) of Tivoli. He likes to take her exploring so that her life is a little bit less ballet and a little bit more normal.


He even went into her room and helped her unpack!!!


And then, he had a long conversation with one of the directors who is having "hot water" problems in the dorm. And, by golly, he's already got a solution to the problem and promised to get on the phone on Monday to call the people from his company that actually might have what is needed for a permanent fix for the problem.


All so his baby girl can have her hot shower at night!


What would we do without this guy? :helpsmilie:

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