Kina’s been taking these dance classes with her little friend Sloane for the last several weeks. She wears a little leotard and ballet slippers and a sleek ponytail, then hops around and twirls in the ways you might expect a four year old to hop and twirl. Sometimes she comes home and sings little songs whose lyrics I end up having to look up online so that she can dance to them at home. One of them goes:
This is a special song
You hafta put your ears on
Listen for the magic word
S! T! O! P!
Says what you can do
It’s something that you may have heard
It’s a real earworm, lemme tell ya.
Anyhow, it didn’t occur to me that you might be able to teach somebody who is forty inches tall about ballet things with French names. And so, when Kina came home yesterday and insisted on showing me her portabra, I was baffled, for two reasons:
It is actually spelled port de bras.
I am totally ignorant about the concept of port de bras, because I know nothing about ballet.
Subsequently, when Kina busted out her portabra, it took me some time to recognize that she was doing a thing that actual ballet dancers do, and not just waving her hands around to a peppy little kid’s song. I nodded approvingly, and then Kina made me try it myself. She brutally critiqued my hand orientation in second position and laid into me for not following my arms with my gaze as I extended them from fifth position. She is an uncompromising instructor and a stickler for detail, which is all the more impressive for her relative lack of training and the fact that she is four.
Given enough time, I’m sure I could learn the ropes, but I’m not confident in my shot at a spot in the corps de ballet of the American Ballet Theater. Not, at least, until I really nail that second position.