In “The Triplet Ballerinas”, red-haired Annie’s ballet move is leaping-sometimes high! Leaping seemed to fit her personality. A leap (or jump) in ballet is called a jeté, which is a leap in which the weight of the dancer is transferred from one foot to the other. The most common leap is called a grand jeté (which is usually a step for advanced jumpers). This is a long horizontal jump starting from one leg and landing on the other. To make a jump even higher, the dancer lifts her head and arms and looks toward her high arm.
Some other leaps are the switch leap (this one starts like a grand jeté and then switches in the air), tour jeté (this is a turning leap), straddle leap (a Russian leap mostly found in jazz dance), supported leaps (this is one where a dancer uses a partner to help her get off the ground or to catch her at the end of a leap) and a pas de chat (this is a small leap performed directly to the front of the stage). Beverly
My triplet ballerinas are my grand-daughters, Makenna, Jaeli and Maysie. In 2008, when the triplets were around 5 months old, we had lots of fun posing them in different Christmas outfits for their first Christmas. Those poor babies probably wondered what was going on, but they were good babies and cooperated for us. It was a new and wondrous time for all of us but is now a distant memory. Where has the time gone?
Many Christmases later, there are no more giant stockings, no more matching outfits and the only posing done is if the girls decide they want to (which they never do!). But every Christmas is a time for us to marvel at the miracles that were brought into our lives so many years ago. Beverly
Rises and relevés (“raise up”) show a ballerina’s balance and strength. Relevé is a classic ballet move and it is a movement in which the dancer rises on the tips of the toes. It begins with a demi-plie’ so the ballerina can push up from the floor and then rises up into demi-pointe (on the balls of her feet) or en pointe (on the toes), either on one foot or both feet. For a rise, the ballerina will stretch her knees and push up from the floor with straight legs. She lifts her heels but keeps her toes on the floor. For a relevé, the ballerina will pull her legs and toes toward each other with a spring to reach position. Her toes will move to come underneath her.
Rises and relevés are part of basic ballet and are very important when the ballerina does many dancing tricks and turns. They are pretty simple if done in the right way. Beverly
American Ballet Theatre presents this book, “B is for Ballet” by John Robert Allman and illustrations by Rachael Dean. It was published in 2020 by Doubleday, an imprint of Random House.
This is a hardcover book with a “Dance Alphabet”: “A is for the arabesque….”, “B is for the ballet barre, where dancers learn to balance….” and so on through the alphabet. Most of the illustrations also have a caption in small print somewhere on the page of who the illustration of the ballet dancer and sometimes their dance is based on. This is a beautiful book of illustrations and text all about ballet. I even learned new ballet words that I hadn’t heard before. In the back of the book is lists of ballet terminology, ballets, choreographers and dancers that were included in the book. Beverly
Guest blogger: Megan J. My triplet ballerinas are my daughters, Makenna Anne, Jaeli Jo and Maysie Jailyn
Makenna Anne (Baby A, nickname ATTITUDE). Makenna is a big-time prankster (fake snakes are her favorite but she has also put rubber ducks and tiny spiders around her school) – as her middle school teachers well know and now expect from her! I am shocked she has never received Friday school. I told her if she did, I would just sit back and laugh and say “I told you so”.
Jaeli Jo (Baby B, nickname SASSY). Jaeli has given me the “freakiest” scare to date. It was a few years ago when we were camping with some friends and family. We decided to take the dog with us this time… which we no longer do because of the incident that took place. As we were unloading wood, Jaeli was holding onto the dog by his leash and somehow tripped over it, falling hands first to the ground. You would think she would have been crying hysterically with a fall like this… but no tears. Everyone who saw it happen was in shock because we instantly saw her arm in the shape of an S! I rushed her to the emergency room, knowing her arm was for sure broke. She was a trooper… until they gave her the pain medicine shot in her butt! Tears came rolling down. Sadly, she could not join us for the rest of the camping trip as she had to have surgery to put her arm back together, but she loved the time she got to spend with her Grandma.
Maysie Jailyn (Baby C, nickname DRAMA). Maysie may be dramatic, but the love she has for me is undeniable. She has to tell me she loves me and say “good night” every single night. She can’t miss one night – or she can’t sleep. She gives the best hugs and loves me the most, at least she shows it the most, which warms my heart more than she will ever know!
It takes many hours of preparation for a ballerina to get ready for a performance. The ballerina will try out lots of hairstyles, hair accessories and makeup. Each performance needs a different costume and a hairstyle that is neat and tidy. Some performances may require a headdress or tiara that will need to be fixed in place whenever the ballerina practices so that she gets used to wearing it. This also keeps it from dropping off her head during the performance when she is doing fast moves such as pirouettes. Even the ballerina’s makeup should be styled in a different way for each performance. Ballerinas wear makeup on stage so that the audience can see their faces clearly-a little bit of makeup on the eyes, lips and cheeks will make the ballerina’s face clear under the bright lights.
The ballerina should get a good night’s sleep the last few nights before a performance. When she arrives at the studio for practice, the ballerina should turn everything else off but dancing which will be good practice for managing emotions when she needs to perform onstage. This is also a good time to release any stress she is feeling about performing. The ballerina needs to always warm up her muscles before practice or a performance to prevent a strain or injury. Finally, some suggestions for food for a few of the ballerina’s meals: Dinner (day before performance) Chicken with potatoes and vegetables (Lots of protein that will help her regain strength). Breakfast (day of performance) Oatmeal with fruit and nuts. Beverly
“Ballet Dancing” by Kathryn Clay was published by Capstone Press in 2010. It is a Pebble Plus “Dance, Dance, Dance” book.
This is another book that is filled with photo images of ballet dancers instead of illustrations. “Ballet Dancing” is a cute, hardcover book that tells all about ballet: what to wear, the five positions of ballet, ballet moves and even a glossary at the back of the book that explains ballet terms. It is geared to early readers and children who are 4–8 years old. I loved seeing all the ballet words throughout the book. Beverly
Written by Beverly Witwer, Illustration 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.”
A few weeks later, the triplet ballerinas rushed into the Dance Studio and joined Miss Carol at the long table in front of the stage. Soon, auditions began for the “Dance Talent Show”. Each participant(s) was assigned a number to show in which order they would audition. Miss Carol looked at the paper in front of her and said, “Let’s begin with #1, McKenna.” McKenna’s dance had many leaps. “Good, but not as spectacular as mine,” said Annie as McKenna left the stage. “#2, Macy and Jacy,” said Miss Carol. Twins Macy and Jacy twirled and whirled and floated in unison all around the stage. “Beautiful,” said Miss Carol. “Oh, no,” said Macie when #3, Jase, walked out on the stage punching the air. Jase bobbed and weaved and bobbed and weaved again. Then, he walked off the stage. Miss Carol sighed and said, “Next.” #4, Meggie, took the stage with a contemporary dance that flowed from one movement to the other. “I like her,” said Julie. “Maybe, let’s move on to #5,” said Miss Carol. For her audition, Kristen, performed a ballet dance that included one plié after another and many turns and small jumps. Annie smiled through the whole dance. “Before we take a break, let’s finish with #6,” said Miss Carol. Sisters Kara and Kayla walked arm-in-arm onto the stage. “Are they twins too?” asked Julie. “No, they are only 18 months apart though,” said Macie. Kara and Kayla did a quick jazz dance. Their arms and legs never stopped moving and they finished at the same time. “Good job, girls,” said Miss Carol. After the break, #7, PJ, auditioned. She loved to tap dance and it showed in her audition. “Ooh,” said the triplet ballerinas. “#8 is next,” said Miss Carol as friends Mandi and Angi took the stage. They added a little extra to their audition when they performed a song and dance number to “Let It Go” from Frozen. Macie smiled and clapped her hands the whole time. “#9, Joss,” said Miss Carol after Mandi and Angi ran off the stage. Joss did a cute hip-hop dance that amazed everyone. “Next is #10, Stevie,” said Miss Carol. Stevie quickly did the YMCA dance before she rushed off the stage. “Okay, next is #11, James and JoJo,” said Miss Carol. James and JoJo performed a perfect waltz. They glided around and around the dance floor. “Very good, James and JoJo,” said Miss Carol. “Last to audition is #12, Lea Jean,” said Miss Carol. “#12, Lea Jean,” said Miss Carol again when Lea Jean did not appear at first. Finally, she ran out to the stage and performed a cha cha slide. Julie got up from her chair and did the cha cha slide right along with her. When Lea Jean was finished, Miss Carol stood up and said, “Thank you everyone for auditioning today; we will let you know soon if you are in the Dance Talent Show.” She then turned to the triplet ballerinas and said, “Triplet ballerinas, let’s go pick our dancers for the Dance Talent Show.”
The day of the Dance Talent Show finally arrived and the chosen dancers gathered backstage. Miss Carol walked out on the stage and said to the large audience, “Welcome to the Dance Talent Show; you will see some wonderful dancers and dances today.” She then nodded backstage to the triplet ballerinas who were guiding the dancers in order onto the stage. The first dancers were Macy and Jacy who danced to “Don’t Start Now”. Macy and Jacy twirled and floated all around the stage with movements that matched perfectly. Next, McKenna danced to “I’m Ready.” Her dance was full of many leaps and turns. Joss followed with a fun hip hop dance to “Say My Name”. The last dance before the grand finale was Kara and Kayla with a jazz dance to “Applause”. Their legs and arms moved so fast, but they finished at the same time. “Our grand finale tonight features the triplet ballerinas, Annie, Macie and Julie,” said Miss Carol. “They will be dancing with backup dancers Mandi, Angi, Meggie, Kristen, PJ and Lea Jean to “Under the Stars”, an appropriate dance I think,” said Miss Carol as she swept her hand across the stage to all the twinkling stars above it. When the music began, Annie leaped, Julie floated, Macie twirled. All the dancers danced again and again, dance after dance before they ended with a curtsey. Miss Carol walked out onto the stage and said, “Weren’t they wonderful? I want to thank you all for coming tonight to help raise money for the Dance Studio.” “I am happy to announce we have reached our goal-the Dance Studio can be repaired right away.” “Yay!” said the triplet ballerinas as they danced around and around.
Pre-ballet classes are often offered to dancers between the ages of 4 and 7. They have become quite popular in private dance studios. These classes typically focus on the foundations of classical ballet technique. The Joffrey Ballet School even has pre-ballet classes for ages 5+, perfect for the beginner ballerina. At this age, dance classes should last no more than two hours per week with each class being an hour each.
There are also classes offered at some ballet studios for the 3-year-old ballerinas. These classes might include a creative movement class in which the teacher would combine movement with music and song to help develop rhythm, coordination and motor skills as well as listening and social skills. A beginning ballet class for those ballerinas 7 to 9 years old might also be offered. This class would typically be designed for beginning and continuing ballet students. The strength and flexibility offered through ballet class will help all young ballerinas of any age though stay healthy and build the foundation of a physically active lifestyle. Beverly
Guest blogger: Megan J. My triplet ballerinas are my daughters, Makenna Anne, Jaeli Jo and Maysie Jailyn
Makenna Anne (Baby A, nickname ATTITUDE. Weighed in at 4lbs 9oz.) Makenna has been through quite a bit since she was born. At age 3, I diagnosed her with Fructose Malabsorption after much research due to visiting many doctors with NO answers as to why she acted like the devil most of the time and lived with a constant rash from the time she was born. She would vomit her formula as if she was in an exorcism. From ages 3-10, we cut out most sugars after seeing a specialist at Riley who diagnosed her with a multi-sugar intolerance. Once we started eliminating these foods, she became the sweetest, most loving, and happy kid – and the rash started to disappear. On occasion, she would be “sneaky” and eat something that would cause a reaction and the rash would come back, as well as her very bad temper. One specific time, she cut the hair off the top of Maysie’s head while she was asleep and mutilated her baby dolls. And I can’t forget the time she cornered me in a closet holding a knife and threatened my life – this is when I went back to work full-time when she was 2. Over time, she is slowly outgrowing it and we have her tested every other year. She still has some issues if she eats too much sugar but has chosen to eat whatever she wants and just deal with the consequences as they are not nearly as drastic as they used to be.
Jaeli Jo (Baby B, SASSY. Weighed in at 4lbs 4oz.) Jaeli is a worry-wart, big time! She is always worrying about something and stresses over it until she realizes she had nothing to worry about at all. This is a constant struggle with her. She is always worried about what people think of her, what the future holds, how she looks, who she is, and scared at times to ask for help. Jaeli is very shy unless she knows you well. Her nerves take over a lot of the time and she struggles to speak her mind and seek help. Sometimes she just needs a reminder. She has always stuck to her nickname of “Sassy”. She is witty and usually calls me out. She has the biggest heart of all three girls and will go out of her way to make others happy. She has a beautiful soul and loves hard.
Maysie Jailyn (Baby C, DRAMA. Weighed in at 3lbs 11oz.) Although Maysie is also generally very shy, she has always been very vocal about what she wants, at least to people she is comfortable with. I guess she had to be though having two sisters picking on her cause she was the smallest. I recall one time when Jaeli flipped the switch and took a big bite out of Maysie’s cheek! Oh boy was that a loud cry! I probably would have too though. Ever since, she has been very dramatic about everything and anything. She tends to exaggerate things and make a bigger deal about things than she needs to!
Look for Megan J.’s My Triplet Ballerinas: All About My Triplets, Part 3, next month
The buns into which ballerinas style their hair require a combined 400 hours of styling per performance. Some names for this ballet hairstyle are “Ballerina Bun”, “Ballet Bun”, “Dance Bun”, “Donut Bun” or even “Sock Bun” (when they are made with a rolled-up sock).