Move over Zelda

MoiWhen Zelda Fitzgerald (wife of F. Scott) was 27 she took up ballet. Not in any casual way you understand, like someone of a certain age might take up golf, but obsessively. She became totally focused on a career as a ballerina, training for up to eight hours a day.

When I took the girls to ballet on Saturday and went into the little office at the dance school to discuss plans for the new school year when Leonardo will start, the school secretary suggested I should do a class too and then they’d have the whole family.

“Oh it’s too late for me,” I said, the unfortunate Zelda always being at the back of my mind (she died in an asylum).

“You’ve danced before haven’t you?” said Bea’s teacher who also happened to be in the room.

I nodded, unable to tell him that yes, I did once do a few evening classes in Kensal Rise, and have spent many happy hours jumping around pretending to be Margot Fonteyn, but that is about it.

“Well, it will all come back, you’ll see. Come Wednesday mornings when you bring the children.”

The matter was settled. I was unaccountably happy, I felt like I’d been given a huge diamond or been told that pink is indeed the new black, but I was also very nervous. How stupid will I look come September when I can’t even force my feet into fifth position. The image of Miss Piggy dancing with Rudolf Nureyev on the Muppet Show replaced poor Zelda.

Olivia suggested she give me a lesson to prepare me. We happen to have a ballet bar in the house (OK I may not actually have done much ballet but I can still obsess, can’t I?) and we spent an hour and a half prancing around. I thought I did OK. Olivia did not.

“Mummy, are you a robot?” she shouted at me on several occassions. “Mummy, I think you’ll be the worst in the class,” was her conclusion.

So it seems if I am to avoid humiliating myself and my children I will have to adopt a Zelda-style approach to this. Eight hours a day minimum. I’m not quite sure how I will do any work or the ironing or cook any meals. But maybe if I go as mad as Zelda did, I simply won’t care.

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2008

12 thoughts on “Move over Zelda

  1. I think that sounds infinitely more fun than pilates and you get to dress up, even if it’s only ballet shoes. I still yomp around the barn but the girls tell me I am terrible and look at my old ballet and tap shoes with suspicion, believing, I suspect, that I never actually wore them, just bought them for show!

    Looking forward to the school report at the end of term one!!

  2. Don’t worry Helena, i’m sure you’ll be the next Zelda soon!! just, yeah, practice and er…well, practice. perhaps Rupert could do the cooking and the ironing??

  3. Letizia, if you think I am about to start ironing you are obviously madder than Zelda…mind you, I wouldn’t mind being able to write like Scott!

  4. Rupert, we’re all a bit mad aren’t we anyway? but ironing is actually fun! put some music on and just get down on it 😉 i’m sure Helena wouldn’t mind, she has her room to practice ballet doesn’t she? or perhaps you would prefer wearing a tutu and dance instead? your choice really…what do you say Helena?
    ps: i’m sure you could write like Scott if you practiced, Rupert. however, you would miss out on the ironing, which would be a shame really…

  5. Helena,

    I had a doctor once who wanted me to begin an intense course of (shudder) exercise. Since I am doplich and uncoordinated and severly allergic to sweating I countered with ballet at the YWCA. He was quite happy to allow me to do this telling me it was just as good as a normal exercise regime. I looked cute in tights and didn’t have to sweat too much. Since none of the other adults in my class were any better it was an okay way to get the exercise. I also learned th “model walk” while I was at it.

    Sharyn G

  6. My daughter has just started ballet at three and I’m so jealous! I also did ballet when I was younger but gave it up being so young and foolish. Although I have totally the wrong ballet shape my dreams have returned as I’ve hit forty. I actually have a DVD of ballet work out conditioning which is sooo exhausting. It has to be good for you!

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