I almost called this painting: “Amelia at the Barre.” When I saw my granddaughter in her beautiful costume, I knew I had to paint her. Not only did she awaken my love for the ballet and for the energetic works of Degas׳, but her picture brought back so many memories.
As a child, I wanted to become a dancer. From the first moment I saw a ballet, I loved the grace and power of the dance. I begged and pleaded with my mother to take lessons. I wanted to take both tap and ballet, but it was too expensive for our family budget. Finally, she agreed to ballet because I could begin in my stocking feet.
The only teacher nearby was Movita Cardon whose husband owned several stores in town. She had a wonderful studio in her basement with a grand piano that she pounded on as she shouted out commands. When we didn’t perform well, she would stop playing and give us a demonstration until we got it right.
The final straw came when my uncle died; and I was pulled out again, this time for keeps. In spite of my pleadings to go back, my mother’s answer was a firm “no.” In our household, the word “no” had grave finality. Once that word was laid down, no amount of pleading could ever change it, even if you dared ask.
For months, I watched from the chairs reserved for parents as Ms. Cardon put her students through their paces. I imagined I was dancing with them: first position, second position, third and fourth with pliés in between; fifth position, pas de bourres and jetés.
At some point, I became a distraction and Ms. Cardon asked me to leave. She was never rude, but implied that her open back door was for students only. She suggested I come back for lessons and said they had missed me. I smiled and thanked her as I climbed the stairs for what I knew was the last time.
There is something about the ballet that still calls out to me. When I was raising my family I loved to dance and jokingly called it “exercise” when my children made fun. Deep down inside, I was living the dream I was never meant to have.
Carol’s paintings, prints, giclees and cards are 20% off from now until January 25. Check out her artwork at http://carol-allen-anfinsen.artistwebsite.com/