Toots has been going to dance class with the wonderful Nicky Pyrah for almost a year. This is a really modern dance class and combines tap with ballet and Toots absolutely loves it ! It has really helped her coordination, confidence and social skills. I didn't really want her to go to a very formal ballet class - she isn't even four yet and I didn't think she needed the added pressure of ballet buns and uniform checks.
Given her interest in dance I thought I would see if she was ready to go to see a ballet - especially as Scottish Ballet were touring with Sleeping Beauty - a story I know that she knew. I was 20 when I saw my first ballet and I wouldn't call myself a connoisseur but I do like the spectacle of ballet and wanted to give her that awe and wonder.
Scottish Ballet have a brillant range of materials on their website and events for younger children to give them a taste of ballet without them feeling overwhelmed by it. The 'Forty Winks' resource pack for 3-5 year olds is good and it was really helpful to talk her through the story so that she knew what to expect. I think I will have to print out another one so that she can do more colouring in having been to the real thing now.
There were also events at the Museum but unfortunately we were unable to go to any of them but I can see how they would help if you had a little one who wasn't sure of the full thing but given Toots spent the last week asking to listen to the ballet music she would hear, I wasn't worried about her lack of interest.
As it was, I was a bit apprehensive at the length of the performance - 2hrs 40mins is a long time for an almost 4 year old. But she took it in her stride and it was only the last 20 minutes of so that she struggled with. But then so did the 9 and 10 year olds we were sitting beside.
The synopsis on the website really helped me explain the story to her and Scottish Ballet have worked really hard to make themselves accessible. They should be applauded for that - it really made it easy.
The performance itself was magical - it was captivating and thoroughly enjoyable. I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end as the Overture began. I looked at Toots as the curtain rose and her eyes were out on stalks. She sat and watched, and clapped and asked questions. She was mesmerized.
She lasted right until the end and came out singing bits of the music and skipping all the way home. Guess you can't get a better thumbs up than that.
And Nicky must be doing something right in Dynam-nic Dance as Toots exclaimed 'I can do all those things already mummy'. No comment
-----Here's the review from Toots herself:
I really liked it when they skipped around and got faster and faster. The dresses were lovely and I thought the Lilac Fairy was really beautiful. I didn't like the nasty sisters with the piggy noses. I liked the bad fairy because she was sorry and was good in the end.
We had seats very near to the stage and I even got to see the orchestra. I bought a poster with my own money and I will put it on my wall in my bedroom so that I remember all about it.
Tickets for the Scottish Ballet performance at the Festival Theatre, Edinburgh were provided free of charge.