In “Stage + Studio” this week, Louisville Ballet’s Annie Honebrink reflects on beginning ballet.
When you are three years old there is not a lot in your repertoire for a ballet performance. Most three year old performances involve mostly skipping around stage and following the teacher in a series of ballet steps. Typically there are a few children who go rogue and do their
own thing and at least one who stands in the corner crying. Occasionally you get a waver or two in the bunch or one who shouts out to the audience “HI MOM!”
When I was three years old, the world was a stage. If there was music—I was dancing. In the mall, on the streets—anywhere could be transformed into a theater. Costumes were a part of everyday life. I rode bikes in tutus, went to the grocery store in Cinderella leotards, and wore
ballet slippers anytime I was indoors. I didn’t need an audience because I had Imagination and Mom.
My three year old ballet performance operated in similar fashion as would be expected. We skipped and spun and jumped around in our little pink and green tutus. At the very end of the performance—after all of the children had danced their parts—we all came out in our classes
to take one last bow. Each line of children would prance out, take a bow, and back up so the next line of smiles could take their turn. It turns out my three year old self did indeed thrive off a real audience. My line made its way out onto the stage. We took our last bow together. The other children backed up. But not me. Me? I walked forward. Front and center. And curtsied. And curtsied again. And again and again. And again until my teacher came and picked me up, balancing me on her hip. We always say the world is small, well, the ballet world is even smaller. Standing next to me in that line of three year olds was current Relevé Society member, Gina Palazzo. And in our old VHS home videos, her father’s voice can be heard shouting “GO ANNIE!” Ironically, the song playing for our final bows was It’s a Small World After All.
Funny—how our lives weave in and out of one another’s. How much we have to learn from each other and how little we see. Funny—the carefreeness of three year olds. How they know who they are and never apologize for being it. Funny—how small this big, scary world can feel when we start to invest in each other. After all—what’s the point otherwise?