Sad news

1/12/2018 Syl's bucketlist 0 Comments





Today we received the news that my ballet-sister and the ballet-mom of my children has died. It was a huge shock, especially as we planned to visit her this weekend. 

It's a long time ago we met.
She was teaching ballet at the local art-expertise center, together with her sister.
She taught classical ballet, her sister more modern dancing techniques.
Both from an american dance family.
Two very ballet-experienced ladies.

I attended her classical lessons and choreography group.

Like true sisters we had our things.
Like when we were on tour and she got stuck in traffic. The performance group arrived at the location and found a floor which was shined until it reflected heaven. It was more of an area ready for iceskating than for dancing. Even on bare feet we were sliding away.
So we decided to change the worst part into something we could manage.
Yes, we changed her choreography,  bit, but there was no other option not to fall.
One of the other leaders present agreed.
She arrived when we started performing, so we were happy she made it just in time.
It was a time without mobile phones, so she didn't know anything about the change.

We managed to bring the piece without any sliding or falling and looked to her with pride and relief.
She didn't applaud, she didn't smile.
She walked down the stairs of the theatre without any facial movement, and when she was at our level she burst out in an angry monologue, not giving us any chance to say something.
And it all was directed at me.
Only a year later she told me she was proud about what we did and that she understood why we made those changes.

We've had a lot of fun too.
She was able to give her students self confidence, so they managed to do what they thought they'd never be able to do.

Her sense of perfectionism in combination with her knowledge and experience made her into one of the best teachers of the world.
So when my daughter told me she wanted to go to the dance academy when she'd finished school, I gave her the option to be taught by my ballet-sister and told her she would get a lot of criticism, corrections and some bad moods, but that she would also be in the best hands ever.
So we went to her and asked her if she would give my daughter the honor.... 
She did, through the best times, through the worst times, even when we had no money to pay her.
My daughter is at the dance academy now. Well instructed in classical ballet, or should I say: best instructed?

I remember so many of her corrections myself. Even some of her choreographies.  And the silent laughs in the dressing room when we overheard one of the other teachers, we liked very much, who spoke with a huge accent, while at the same time we had word finding problems ourselves, as we both were english-thinking women.
When she entered the ballet studio, she turned on the heating so high, that some people nearly passed out, and I tried to keep a window open and secretly turned the radiators off, until she found out and had the conclusion ready that those knobs had springs in them to save money.

I was raised in ballet without the habit of drinking during lessons.
She liked that very much, but adjusted to the trend to drink a lot.
She taught me to drink during the lessons, like she was my mom, thought loud about movements directing me to give an example. And we had long talks, about all sorts of subjects, because we shared some things in our past. Ballet, performing, being a sensitive and sensible person in the harsh world of dancers, the loneliness, the pains, the strong inner feeling of movement and grace, always, always.

Then she didn't agree with something I said on a friday afternoon, drinking coffee and eating soup.
She didn't agree. Not just like that, but with all her passion an with so much anger, that the schoolleader came out of her office to ask what was happening.
She walked away, terribly angry, so I worried about her and the schoolleader said: 'It's like she's not herself. The people who witnessed it said to me that it was not my mistake, but the whole experience has stayed with me.

What a pity we didn't know more about dementia at that time.

A hip replacement operation made matters worse.
When we visited her she was very happy and kept on hugging us. It was such a happy event.
It was two days after surgery, but she could walk again, even though she was not allowed to do so.
She hoped to be able to dance again.
We had a long talk about how we were feeling with our physical problems, and the strong need to express ourselves in dance.

Then my heart gave up, and we saw each other far less than we wanted. I had so many set backs. so many plans that didn't work out.
She was diagnosed with dementia and suddenly everything we experienced fell in place.
Her angry moods had always been a way to keep a grasp on her reality. She got angry when we changed her security.
We didn't see it.
Would it have made a difference if we had seen it?

Her mind and her body drifted away, far from the stage of ballet, and later the stage of life.
Life was not about performing anymore, but about being.
It was not about teaching anymore, but about being guided.
Slowly she drifted away from the person she was...
and now she is completely gone.

But since the day she died I feel her arm around my shoulder again,
when she said: 'you're my ballet-sister, we're ballet-sisters.'
How I wish to hug her once again,
hold her,
smile to her,
and see her smile.


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