This summer The Philadelphia Ballet School held its very first Tiny Toes Ballet Camp! It was filled with dancing, crafts, and learning about six ballets. Miss Brenna, Miss Christina, and myself had so much fun dancing with these little ones for two weeks.
During week one we learned about Cinderella, Swan Lake, and Sleeping Beauty. Day 1 kicked off with the popular princess, Cinderella. We decorated our own “glass” slippers (pointe shoes) and learned how to dance like the Summer Fairy. Day 2 learning about Swan Lake was a hit. We read the story and everyone got to choose if they wanted to be Odette or Odile. They picked up the story so quickly and we decorated crowns in black and white feathers. The last day of week one we learned about Sleeping Beauty and had fun with costumes. There are so many fun characters to dress up as: Aurora, The Lilac Fairy, Little Red Riding Hood, and Puss ‘n Boots. We made cat masks, crowns, and magical wands.
Week two brought new stories and crafts. Day 1 of the second week began with Don Quixote. This story is a bit more complicated than others, but the girls loved dancing like a fiery Kitri with their paper fans covered in glitter. The middle of the week was again the favorite. We had our own Christmas in July as we read the story of the classic ballet, The Nutcracker. Songs of The Sugar Plum Fairy, Arabian, Chinese Tea, and Snowflakes filled the studio. The last day of Tiny Toes Camp we learned the story of Coppélia. The girls made their own books like one that Coppélia sits reading on the balcony and got to dance like dolls in the Toy Shop.
Originally the thought of being up and ready to teach ballet at 8am seemed a bit rough, but I would do this again in a heartbeat. The girls that attended the camp were so much fun to teach and constantly kept us laughing. Here are some of our favorite quotes from the girls over the two weeks. Just imagine these things coming from a 3 or 4 year old and it is sure to make you giggle.
“Today I am not Penny, I am Lord Farquaad.” (Shrek fan in the house!)
“Odile is the mean swan and Odette is the nice one!” (spot on!)
“I am not opening my eyes until it goes back to Clara.” (said while watching The Nutcracker during battle scene…clearly not a fan of mice!)
“I don’t want to take a break. I want to keep putting on a show and then I want to put my leg on the barre and stretch like a dancer!” (so eager & ready to learn!)
That last quote brings me to my last thought about Tiny Toes Camp. As a ballet dancer the schedule at times can get very monotonous day in and day out. Get up, take class, rehearse for hours, go to work (which a lot of times for us is teaching), eat dinner, sleep, and repeat. Teaching these girls was a good refresher to me both as a teacher and dancer to why I love dance and how important my role is as a ballet teacher. Most of these girls that came to Tiny Toes Camp were taking their very first ballet class. This is a big deal. It’s their first exposure to ballet, their first time putting on ballet shoes, and probably their first time hearing the term plié. For some it could be a term they hear for a very long time. Either way, whether these girls become dancers, take dance as a hobby for awhile, or decide one summer of dance is enough it is my responsibility as a teacher to share my love of dance with them and give them knowledge and appreciation to take away from the class. It’s the greatest feeling to have mothers tell you their daughter has been waiting at the front door since 6am to come or to hear that they showed their parents steps they learned in class. That really made me realize how much of an impact we have as teachers. Thank you Miss Brenna and Miss Christina for helping me teach and for sharing your love of dance at PBS this summer. Also, thank you to all the little Tiny Toes. You learned so much in two weeks and made it such a memorable experience!