March 27, 2011

Memory Lane Monday - Dance...

"Dancing dollies dance like this..."
Welcome to another Memory Lane Monday!

I was nine years old in this photograph, taken in the Fond du Lac, Wisconsin studio of my dance instructor, Cleo Smith. His middle initial was "P", and he always told us it stood for "patra". (narf) He really was quite the character. I don't remember much detail about those days now, but I do remember the way I felt. Happy. I was happy taking lessons and learning to dance from this man.

One whole wall of his studio (located above the bank) was mirrored, and had a barre that measured at least twenty feet long. The studio was huge, and double doors separated his teaching area from where he lived across the hall. Cleo's sister played the piano for us while we danced, and his multiple Pekinese dogs frequently tumbled - barking - into his studio while we danced and learned our steps.

I now know that nine year olds should never dance "on-pointe" (in toe shoes), as their bones aren't yet fully developed at that age, and it could do long-term damage. I only remember, that I wanted to be good at what I did, and always tried my hardest. (It's a trait I possess to this day.)
Although this one is blurry, I keep it because it is the only representation of a recital my sister and I performed in 1963. It was taken at the park in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. I remember that I danced in both ballet and tap dance ensembles. I wish I had a picture of me in my tap outfit. It was memorable, at least to me. A cute, short costume, with lots of sequins, and rows of rayon fringe for a 1920's-style dance.

I only remember dancing for a couple of years, which is a blessing. I suspect am certain I was not meant to be a dancer. (I know that my mum wanted me to learn to be graceful and walk with poise.) I do know it is fun for me to look back on the images of dancing as a child.

Did you take lessons as a child? I took piano lessons, too, but we can chat about that another time. For now, I'll just smile remembering those dance lessons, rehearsals and performances.

Hope you'll join me by sharing your memories on your own blog - on any subject - and then linking back to Memory Lane Mondays, right here. You can link up through midnight tonight.


  1. "You are Adorable Donna"!!! My Mom wanted me to take dance(don't forget all our Mom's had their visions of Shirley Temple back then, hehe)! and I would have LOVED to take dance(all my friends had their dance shoes on)...BUT Dad was a musician and wanted my brother and I to both learn piano... I took lessons for 10years along with voice! I today LOVE,LOVE,LOVE classical music BEST! and I know it's because of my piano and the professor I learned from! Thank you SO MUCH your beautiful memory, which SPARKED my memories too!!! I had planned to feature "OUR BOOK" today. BUT Shells birthday put me in "BUNNY MOOD" so I'm posting BUNNY MEMORIES!!! "OUR BOOK" is yet to come my Sweet Friend...
    Hugs to you,

  2. How sweet and special!! It reminds me of my daughter who always danced. Okay, well, from age 2 through 6th grade. She has fond memories of dancing and often wishes she would not have given it up for cheerleading.
    I didn't do anything as a child. Well, I read books. But I have been to Fon du Lac, Wisconsin!! Happy Monday!!

  3. Donna, what an adorable picture! What a cutie pie you were (and still are :)) Love it!

  4. Hi Donna,
    What a lovely post. I have spent the last nine years in dance schools watching my grandson dance.
    His passion was ballet, he even had a year with The Royal ballet junior associates and has danced on stage at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.
    Now he is studying dance at college, I'm not sure it will be a career but We've enjoyed the journey.

  5. Super cute, Donna! You were darling. I'm glad you have such fond memories of dance. I remember dancing, too. I was very little when I took tap and ballet; probably stopped when I was 5. And then I took tap again when I was 14 or 15; I still remember some of the steps. I did a timed step the other rubber-soled shoes just didn't cut it, though. :o)

  6. Donna this picture and story of you is of course adorable. I enjoyed reading about you as a child and I can just see you trying so hard to do get your steps and moves just right.
    You have not changed in that way at all.
    I wrote mine last night but have decided not to use it just yet so I will do one later this afternoon
    Love ya

  7. I just love this memory lane and peeking into your history. You are a beautiful dancing girl. When I was young we couldn't afford any lessons so I would go outside and stand on bottle caps so hard that they would poke into my bare feet and then I would "tap dance". Ouch is all I can think of today! I finally was able to join in and hopefully my link works. Happy week ahead my dear...

  8. Oh my gosh! You are so cute!!! Your smile says a million words.
    I myself never took lovely, poised, or graceful dance lessons. Instead I grew up shak'in the old bootie as the Bee Gee's sang out that "you should be danc'in yeah... you should be danc'in yeah!" Hmmmm...I'm 43 and still love to boogie! hee,hee,hee.
    xx, shell

  9. Donna, what a cutie! Thanks for sharing this fun memory. I never took dance lessons. I bet you were the star of the show! ~ Sarah

  10. Your so adorable! I love how your personality is developed early on and we still see the traits in you that you've described.

    Oh' yes, I begged my mother to take tap. She obviously knew I wasn't ready but finally gave in and told me we'd go to the dance school and talk to the teacher. My poor Mother was so humiliated as I impatiently waited for the teacher to finish showing me the ball and chain step and to repeat this slow miserable step. Then I in all sincerity told him that wasn't the way I want to do it and then proceeded to go into what I thought was a full blown dance step. I looked like Sammy Davis Jr on speed and crack at the same time. It was horrible. I wasn't bothered by it. My Mother could barely get out of the building without crumbling under the shame. He told her not to bring me back which was fine with me because I had no intention of going to something so boring and slow again. At least she never had to hear about it anymore.

    Have a fun day. That should have you laughing for awhile.
    OOO's...Tracy :)

  11. What a great memory Donna! You look picture perfect in your ballerina attire.
    There weren't a lot of dance classes available up north when I was young but my parents thought it would be a good idea as I was not exactly a graceful child (major understatement!) so they enrolled in Scottish Dancing. I loved it, especially the Sword Dance and my Grandfather made me a set of swords painted gold that I could use for practice.
    When we had our first testing done for levels, I finished my three minute dance 30 seconds ahead of everyone else! I never, ever could get the timing right but I loved it for a year or two.
    I joined Army Cadets a few years later, big boots, lots of stomping - I was good at that!

  12. You are so cute in those photos. Still are!!!! Yes I started dance lessons when I was three. Took tap from Margaret Tapping and ballet. Moved on to modern jazz. was to dance in West Side Story in MN theater but unfortunately was hit by a drunk driver a few days before. That pretty much ended my dancing career. I really did love dancing.

  13. I too took tap and ballet classes. The classes were on the top floor of the bank. I was always lagging behind the rest of the class. So, needless to say I was not a natural born dancer either. Occasionally my father would take me to ballet class. I could always talk him into going to the bowling alley instead of dance class. That could be the reason he only occasionally took me to class.
    You were a cutie in those dance costumes. A winning smile hides any missed steps on the dance floor!



Thank you so much for leaving a comment today. I'm using new settings on my comments so that I might respond to your messages to me. Be sure to come back to see my replies!

Blessings, Donna