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Ballerinas: Battements

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Battement (“beating”) in ballet is a movement in which the foot is extended in any direction usually followed by a beat against the supporting foot. One leg is moved outward from the body and then in again, alternating side to side of the working leg. Battements are typically performed in multiples, quickly and in rapid succession, so that the working foot appears to be fluttering. They are usually executed in front to the side or back.

Battement exercises help to train the dancer’s legs and feet to hold positions and jump high. Some of these exercises are: The slow battement tendu (“stretched”) where the toes point but stay on the ground. The quicker battement glisse’ (“slide”) where the foot quickly slides out to a pointed position just off the ground. The grand battement (“big”) where the dancer’s leg swishes through tendu and glisse‘ to a high position. Also, pushing both feet against the floor as the dancer opens and closes her leg will give her strong insteps and toes and help her get ready for pointe work. Beverly

A Ballerina Book: Angelina Ballerina – “Angelina Has the Hiccups!”

Angelina Has the Hiccups!

“Angelina Has the Hiccups!” is part of the “Angelina Ballerina” series of children’s books. It is written by Katharine Holabird and based on illustrations by Helen Craig. This book is a Level 2 reader from Penguin Young Readers.

This is a cute ballerina story and has some similarities to my own children’s book, “The Triplet Ballerinas”. Just like triplet sisters, Annie, Julie and Macie, love to go to the “Dance Studio” for their ballet class every Thursday, Angelina and her best friend, Alice, love to go to ballet school every week (at “Miss Lilly’s” in this story). One day, Miss Lilly announces the class will give a performance of a dance called “The Flower Princesses and the Dragon”. Angelina and the other “mouselings” are the flower princesses. Again, just like Macie and Annie in “The Triplet Ballerinas”, they twirl and leap across the room (but no one “floats” in this story like Julie does). On the day of the show, Angelina is so excited, she gets the hiccups. Will everyone be able to stop them in time or will Angelina be a “hiccuping ballerina”? Beverly

Look for a review of another “Angelina Ballerina” book next month.

The Triplet Ballerinas: Dance Talent Show, Part 1

Written by Beverly Witwer, Illustration below by Sandie Sonke

 One Spring day, triplet ballerinas, Julie, Macie and Annie, rushed into the Dance Studio for Miss Carol’s ballet class.

“Miss Carol is crying,” said Julie. “No, I don’t think she is,” said Macie. “I think it’s allergies.”

“Yes, she is definitely crying,” said Annie.

“Take a seat on the floor everyone,” said Miss Carol. “I have some bad news.”

“The Studio needs some minor repairs to keep everyone safe,” she told them. “We have to close the doors for a little bit since I don’t have all the money for them right now.”

“No!” said the triplet ballerinas.

“What are we going to do without the Dance Studio?” asked Annie. “Yeah,” said Macie. “What are we going to do?”

“The only thing I can think of to do is to somehow raise money for the repairs,” said Miss Carol.

Julie waved her arms. “I know what we can do,” she said. “We can have a dance talent show!”

“That might work,” said Miss Carol. “We could charge admission and take donations.”

“Yay!” said the triplet ballerinas.

“We will help you with it,” said Annie. “I know it will work,” said Julie. “Yea, I think it can work,” said Macie.

“Okay.” said Miss Carol. “Let’s put on a Dance Talent Show.”

Look for Part 2 of “The Triplet Ballerinas: Dance Talent Show” on April 30, 2021.

A Ballerina Book: “I’m A Ballerina!”

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“I’m a Ballerina!” is a “Little Golden Book” written by Sue Fliess and illustrated by Joey Chou. It is told in First Person and rhyme with detailed illustrations.

This was a cute book about an unnamed little girl and her journey through her ballet class to a recital where she declares, “I’m a ballerina now!” Along the way, I was reunited with all the familiar ballet terms that I love, such as barre, pirouette and jete’. I am not a big fan of rhyme, but even that won me over. Beverly

My Triplet Ballerinas: Triplet Teenagers

My triplet ballerinas are my triplet grand-daughters, Makenna, Jaeli and Maysie. As my triplet granddaughters approach the teenage years, I have become aware that they will probably not want to spend as much time with me as they used to. Even a few years ago, Jaeli was pretty attached to me. On my trip to Germany in 2018, I would have to answer calls from her in the middle of the night because she missed me constantly. These days, I know she still loves me, but she doesn’t need me as much and I have accepted that (somewhat!). Makenna has always been independent and mature, so I became used to early on accepting whatever time she gave me, but, in some ways, Maysie is still that little girl who needs me as much as Jaeli used to.

In the words of my daughter, Megan: My youngest triplet, Maysie, has been spending a lot of time with her Grandma since this pandemic started. It’s been rough at times not having her here. I miss her a lot, but there sure is a lot less drama! I think she enjoys being alone, without her sisters. When she is home, they seem to fight more with her. I am worried she has jeopardized her relationship with her sisters, as Makenna and Jaeli have become really close. Hopefully, when she comes home for good, things will get back to normal for all of them. She has always felt “left out” and that she doesn’t connect with anyone like her sisters do. My goal with this is to make her feel like she is special in Grandma’s eyes. She needs it. It has always broken my heart in the past to hear her say no one loves her. Although I have tried to show her some extra attention, it wasn’t enough. The time she is spending with Grandma not only helps her, but I think it helps my mom as well. They need each other during this tough time, so I can’t take that away from either of them.

It was such a joy and comfort to spend all that time with Maysie. It brought us closer together and she still spends an occasional Saturday night with me without her sisters. I think Maysie loves the quiet and early bedtime here compared to at home where she shares a bedroom with Jaeli who tends to stay up late on the weekends. I will cherish any time I have with her and her sisters for however much longer it lasts as they become full-fledged teenagers this summer. Beverly

Ballerinas: Training

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Female ballerinas usually start formal ballet training between the ages of 6 and 8 if they want to become professional ballerinas. It is not as easy as it looks since they must be willing to dedicate a lot of time to it. Regular practice and ballet classes are the first steps to achieving this goal along with eating healthy and drinking a lot of water. The ballerina should also watch the performances of other dancers to see what might influence her own style. The more the ballerina learns and exposes herself to, the better she is going to be.

Most ballet dancers begin their ballet classes at the barre which is used to support themselves during exercises. Barre work prepares the dancer for center work where they move to the middle of the room. Center work starts out with slower exercises and then leads up to faster exercises and larger movements. It ends with practicing big leaps across the floor. Even when ballerinas are hired by a professional company, they still attend ballet classes and train to keep themselves very athletic and fit for their performances. Beverly

My Triplet Ballerinas: An Ultrasound Gift of Triplets

My triplet ballerinas are my triplet grand-daughters, Makenna, Jaeli and Maysie. On December 24, 2007, almost 13 years ago, my husband and I found out we were going to be grandparents to triplets.

My daughter and her husband invited our whole family to their home on that special Christmas Eve so many years ago. Obviously, we all knew Megan was pregnant, but we weren’t prepared for the surprise we were about to get of how many babies she was pregnant with.

When we arrived at their house, I was handed a card that said, “You must be so excited! Hope the time just flies and you’ll be holding that precious little one/s (the “s” was handwritten) before you know it.” Inside the card was also 2 ultrasound pictures. One of them was for a 5-week pregnancy that my daughter explained to me showed twins which I thought was wonderful. It was a different story for the 6-week ultrasound picture (above) because one of the eggs had split in that week’s time. I found this out later, but at the time, when I was looking at this ultrasound picture from six weeks, I thought it was still twins. But then, one of my other daughters looked at the ultrasound picture and said, “Wait a minute, A, B & C…triplets???” That Christmas was just the beginning of the miraculous journey I would take as a grandparent of triplet girls and as an author of a children’s book about triplet ballerina sisters. Beverly

Ballerinas: Ballon

In ballet,”ballon” (French for balloon) describes a dancer who appears to be floating in the air (or suspended in the air) while performing movements during a jump. It may seem as though the dancer effortlessly becomes airborne, floats in the air and lands softly. Dancers try to achieve ballon in large jumps as well as in small, quick jumps.

Ballon can also be used to describe a dancer’s “bounce” before they jump. In “The Triplet Ballerinas”, Annie “leaps” (jumps) while Julie “floats” and Macie “twirls”. Julie’s floats never leave the ground like Annie’s leaps do so she probably wouldn’t have a “ballon”, but Annie might. Knowing Annie’s character, it is probably perfect too! Beverly

A Ballerina Book: “We Love Ballet!”

We Love Ballet!

“We Love Ballet!” by Jane Feldman is not an illustrated picture book but is a picture book of photographs. It is a story told in photos and first-person text of Ursula. Ursula and her friends, Megan and Norma, love ballet. Miss Suzanne and Miss Danielle, their ballet teachers, teach them to have fun and always do their best.

“We Love Ballet!” is full of ballet terms (which I love!) and text that explains what is happening in each photo. It takes us on a journey of Ursula and her friends becoming ballerinas in Miss Suzanne’s beginner ballet class and gives us a glimpse of how ballet and dance are even prominent in Ursula’s home life. Although it’s not a typical picture book, it still inspired me with so many ideas for my picture book and will remain on my keeper shelf. Beverly

Ballerinas: Gallops

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The gallop (galop) in ballet is a traveling step where the legs and feet are brought together in the air. It was named after the fastest running gait of a horse. The “galop” was often used in classic ballet. There is even a popular dance in the first act of the “Nutcracker” that is the “Children’s Galop”.

Today in ballet, a “gallop” is a quick jump with a little spring on it. The legs and feet should be stretched and straight together in the air. A ballerina may have a sequence of gallops before combining them with other steps.

In one of the early drafts of “The Triplet Ballerinas”, I tried to combine the gallops of one of the triplet’s horses (yes, there were horses in the early drafts!) with the gallops of ballet. It was fun to write, but neither the gallops of the horse or the gallops of ballet made it to the final draft. Beverly