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My Triplet Ballerinas: “A Triplet Inspiration”

My triplet ballerinas are my triplet grand-daughters, Makenna, Jaeli and Maysie. It was very easy to dedicate “The Triplet Ballerinas” to them. The dedication says, “For my triplet granddaughters, Makenna, Jaeli and Maysie, who inspire me each and every day“. This is so true.

When I started writing a children’s book almost 7 years ago, I had no idea what to write about. After a dog came to our house one Fall day, lost from a hunter, I thought maybe this would be a good story for a picture book. I couldn’t make that story work, but then I was inspired with writing about the triplets. “Write what you know.” The earliest versions of “The Triplet Ballerinas” involved horse poop(!) and only one triplet as a main character since that’s what I thought there could only be. Thanks to a terrific author critique I received though, my one triplet main character became three triplet main characters and it evolved from there.

Back then, the triplets were of an age (around 6 or 7 years old) that they would have really enjoyed reading and sharing this picture book. Even though, by the time the book was published, they had left picture books behind and entered chapter books, they still love that I wrote a picture book inspired by them and dedicated to them. Beverly

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My Triplet Ballerinas…Characteristics

My triplet ballerinas are my triplet grand-daughters, Makenna, Jaeli and Maysie.

One of the things you have to do when writing a story is give character traits (words used to describe a person) to your characters. For my first blog post of “My Triplet Ballerinas”, I decided to compare the character traits I gave to my “pretend” triplet ballerinas to the ones of their counterparts, my own triplet ballerinas.

“Annie” is spirited and fearless. She is very confident in her abilities. I have a feeling she might be bossy too! Makenna is intelligent (she is very smart and studious) and creative (her drawings and ideas are so good). She is always curious (wanting to know about everything). She can be stubborn (at times), but she is always helpful (whenever she sees someone in need, she will help them without being asked).  

“Julie” is determined and hardworking. I think she can be self-critical, but never critical of her sisters. She might be a bit of a perfectionist too! Jaeli can also be self-critical at times. She could also be described as being shy (something she struggles with especially in making friends). She loves to read so solitary might be a word to describe her. Some other words to describe her would be: loving, sensitive and hopeful.

“Macie” is shy and timid. She is also uncertain, but hopeful. She is definitely a follower, not a leader! Maysie is very imaginative (she is always coming up with great ideas like writing a story!). She is the spirited and fearless triplet. Some other words to describe her would be: kind-hearted and fashionable (she loves to “dress up”).

Beverly

A Ballerina Book: “Princess! Fairy! Ballerina!”

“Princess! Fairy! Ballerina!” is a children’s picture book written and illustrated by Bethanie Deeney Murguia. It was published in 2016 by Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic Inc.

This is a cute story about three friends who gather on a rainy day to figure out what they want to do. It is told from the point of view of all three friends. One wants to play “princess” because they are royal. One wants to play “fairy” because fairy dust means magic spells. One wants to play “ballerina” because ballerinas can be beautiful snowflakes or graceful swans. The illustrations in this book are so detailed and beautiful. Beverly

Ballerinas: A Ballerina Body

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The average height of an American ballerina is about 5’2″ to 5’8″ with weight ideally ranging from 85 to 130 lbs. The ideal body type of a ballerina might be considered to be a small head, long neck, a shortish to medium length torso, long arms, long legs, high insteps and a slender figure. The height requirements of the ballerinas are usually designated by the ballet company hiring though, and many ballet companies today still only hire female dancers of heights around the traditional measurement of 5’5″.

Having a high arch is beneficial for a ballerina because it makes it possible to get to a high demi-pointe in soft ballet shoes. Some dancers refer to perfect ballet feet as “banana feet” since the curved arch and instep somewhat resemble the shape of a banana. Whatever a ballerina’s feet may look like though, they are all susceptible to a number of injuries to the shins, ankles and feet from dancing on pointe. Beverly

A Ballerina Book: “Tallulah’s Tap Shoes”

“Tallulah’s Tap Shoes” is a children’s picture book written by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by Alexandra Boiger. It was published in 2015 by Clarion Books.

Tallulah and her brother, Beckett, were on their way to dance camp. Tallulah was looking forward to her ballet classes (“I’m a ballet girl”) but not so much the tap classes. She would be a beginner in tap class and was afraid she would be the worst one. In the end, Tallulah learned she didn’t have to be the best at every dance and even made a new friend who was as good a tap dancer as Tallulah was a ballet dancer. I loved seeing familiar ballet words in this book and learning new tap words. Beverly

Ballerinas: Clothes and Shoes

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The first step in becoming a ballerina is the right clothes and shoes. The ballerina will need a leotard (a simple short sleeve leotard or a tank leotard) and ballet tights and skirt (tutu). She will also need ballet shoes. These can be made of leather or satin and should be a good fit to show pointed feet. They must be clean and have elastic sewn on to keep them in place with the strings at the front tied neatly in a bow and tucked out of sight. For beginners, leather sole ballet slippers are great. When ready to go on pointe, proper pointe shoes are in need. Whichever shoe the ballerina has, a shoe bag will help keep them neat and clean.

For warmup, wool legwarmers and a crossover cardigan are good. These should be taken off though when muscles are warm. It is helpful to pack all this up in a dance bag. Some other things you might want in your bag are a towel, water bottle and a small, healthy snack. Beverly

A Ballerina Book: “ELLA, of course!”

“ELLA, of course!” is a children’s picture book written by Sarah Weeks and illustrated by Doug Cushman. It was published in 2007 by Harcourt Books. It was a Young Hoosier Book Award Nominee 2010-2011.

Ella is, of course, a problem solver. When she is not allowed to bring her umbrella to the ballet recital, she comes up with an ingenious way to make her beloved umbrella part of the recital. I loved the humor in this book and the colorful illustrations. Beverly

Ballerinas: Hairstyles

A young ballerina will probably be required to wear her hair in a ballet hairstyle. This consists of either a ponytail twisted into a bun, pigtail braids pinned on top of the head (younger ballerinas) or even a headband around the head of ballerinas with short hair. All of these hairstyles help keep the hair out of a ballerina’s face and away from their neck, which is very important when performing their ballet moves. It also helps to show graceful head and neck movements.

A ballerina bun: Comb the hair into a neat ponytail high on the head. Twist the hair tightly around the elastic. Fix it in place with bobby pins. Use a little water to smooth down any messy hair. Then, add a ribbon, making sure it is fixed securely. Beverly

A Ballerina Book: “Glad, Glad Bear!”

“Glad, Glad Bear!” is a children’s picture book by Kimberly Gee. It was published in 2020 by Beach Lane Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.

This is a cute book about a little boy bear who puts on a pink tutu with black leggings and becomes very excited to go to his first ballet class. He feels a little different and shy at first until the music starts. The author makes good use of the few words that are on most of the pages; some pages are even on a simple white page with just a few words (“Today is dance day.”) and then an illustration/text or just an illustration on the page before or after. I loved the illustrations; they are very colorful. Beverly

Ballerinas: En Pointe

En Pointe” means to dance on the tips of the toes. When ballerinas dance en pointe, they wear specially-made pointe shoes that support their feet and toes. They keep these in place with ribbon. A ballerina depends on her pointe shoes to be extremely sturdy. Pointe shoes are made from cloth and glue and baked hard in a special oven. The tip of the shoe is a rigid box made of densely packed layers of fabric, cardboard and/or paper. The shoes are covered in pink satin and dyed different colors to match the ballerina’s costume. Pointe shoes should be fitted to the shape of the ballerina’s foot. On average, these shoes cost between $45 and $120 per pair, but most dancers pay $65-$75 for a pair of pointe shoes.

Ballerinas first started to dance en pointe over 150 years ago. The age to start dancing en pointe is usually not before 11 years old, although some ballet teachers rely on ability, not age. Whatever age a dancer is when she first puts on her pointe shoes, I am sure she feels like she is floating on air. Beverly