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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Yes, it's cool to hang out with a ballerina

Meet Harriet.
Or Harriet the Spy as she calls herself.
She might be a spy, but she's also a ballerina.
For Reals.


I don't know about you girls (or boys) out there in blog land, but I'm betting that a good percentage of you had a brush with ballet. I certainly did. I had a book with lots of black and white photos that I studied with determination, memorizing every position, how to hold the hands and fingers, how to wear your hair in a tight bun and look serious.

My mom enrolled me in the Los Gatos Academy of Dance, which apparently has a very good reputation and is a classic (ie., drill sergeant type) traditional ballet school. I really couldn't tell you more about it because I only lasted for two classes.

First of all, I was under the impression that you were given toe shoes immediately upon entering class. (Hey, I was eight.) Plus, everyone had to wear the same regulation outfit: black leotard, pink tights and pink shoes. It was like the Army. No tutu. No glitter. No Swan Lake. No tiara. And that leotard was bloody hot. It was like wearing a sauna suit. And the tights itched. So all of that on top of the No Toe Shoes Until You Are 16 Rule really was a gigantic bummer.

Plus, we got yelled at. (Actually, I can't say for sure that we got yelled at. I'm looking at all of this again from a disappointed, toe shoe-less eight year old's perspective.) But I had the feeling that our teacher was mean. I think we got yelled at. It's all a blur.

So that was the end of my career in ballet. Perhaps you had some similar experience. I tried to give ballet another shot more recently, but I think I'm just too far gone for it now. I've decided that if I'm going to hurt myself doing some sort of exercise in the future (when I have discretionary income again), then it's going to be fencing because I already have the gear, and if/when I am covered in bruises, I can say I got all of those little dark spots in a sword fight.


Anyway, I met Harriet the Spy/Ballerina at Chipmonkey's New Year's Eve partay. (Chipmonkey, for those of you who don't memorize every detail of this blog, is my sweet flickr buddy and also the person who has had the best birthday party I can recall to date.)

So back to Harriet. I was awestruck slightly (must have been the 8-year old in me) to be in the presence of a living, breathing ballerina. Even though Harriet is super cool and just a totally normal girl, with a great sense of humor. I saw her again a few months later and asked her if she'd like to be part of i live here: SF and she said yes! I was so stoked.

But what to do with my urban ballerina?

We ended up having our photo shoot at Golden Gate Park. Harriet was such a good sport because it was freezing cold and very windy. I was secretly thrilled to help tote around her ballerina shoe duds and got a peek at all of the stuff you have to do/wear with toe shoes, and now I'm glad I didn't get toe shoes when I was eight. It's a lot of work.

But these shoes were so brand-y new and shiny and gorgeous that I did kind of want to steal them.

The only bad part about the shoot was that we got barraged by a gang of Japanese photography students who slightly scared Harriet (they were like camera wielding piranhas) and then we got kicked out of the de Young Museum for causing a commotion. But other than that, it was fun.


Adam June 10, 2009 at 6:09 AM  

audrey wants to do ballet. a part of me would love for her to do that, but the other part is scared of the instructors.

as always you photos are amazing, and your comment about, "i'm an amateur photographer" on the podcast was completely off base. The next time you talk about photography, just say, "I'm a photographer from San Francisco".

Nice work.

Yoli June 10, 2009 at 6:30 AM  

I love it! I always wanted ballet classes but we were too poor. Ballet continues to be my favorite art form followed by theatre.

ModernTanguera June 10, 2009 at 9:37 AM  

Lovely photos! I was a total bunhead starting when I was a little 5-year-old ("It's the little girl dancer phase," my parents thought) and lasting through my first year of college. Then I was converted to modern dance, which was my love until I found tango. But I still have a soft spot for ballet, and I wish I were still in enough shape to dance in my toe shoes!

I still love sneaking down the hall at work and spying on the ballerinas. ;)

Mari June 10, 2009 at 10:24 AM  

Harriet, sweet Harriet- have you seen So I Married an Axe Murderer? Great movie with a Harriet.

I had the ballet fantasy as a little girl! I specifically remember dancing around the living room in a ballet-ic type manner to a cardboard 45 of the nutcracker suite that came with a ballerina doll. Wow, I hadn't thought of that in years!

Anonymous June 10, 2009 at 10:45 AM  

How did you get into professional photography? Like where did you get your start?

Marilyn Miller June 10, 2009 at 3:51 PM  

I desperately wanted to take ballet as a child, but my mom didn't agree. So at 36 years old I took ballet. I didn't ever get on toe, but I still really enjoyed it. My final performance was at the age of 40 years old, when I went on to other things. But I did finally meet one of my life goals and was proud of myself.

Just Jules June 10, 2009 at 7:43 PM  

"(they were like camera wielding piranhas)" I woke hubby up by laughing at this part! hahahhaha oooops - shhhhh it's ok, hun - go back to sleep.....

I did too want to be a ballerina. Ended in danceline and hip hop - go figure, far more fun though - served me better in the clubs in college too ;)

Middle Aged Woman Blogging June 10, 2009 at 7:48 PM  

Ballet adds such grace to your life. I took ballet for 23 years and my legs still never looked like Harriet's. I even have a ballet bar in my basement right now, with a full mirrored wall! It's great for drying sweaters!

Dang, I should have kept exercising!!! Was it you that is doing the "eat clean" diet? I just got that book from Amazon... I'm going to go read and see if I can get my ballet body back at this late stage in the game.

Char June 11, 2009 at 8:43 PM  

I wanted to be a ballerina....and couldn't then I befriended a ballerina who then slept with my husband. That's always a bummer.

Relyn June 12, 2009 at 10:13 AM  

Do you know how much I love that you caused enough of a commotion to get kicked out of the DeYoung??