Monday, October 19, 2009

Tiny Dancer

Our revered "Miss Jeanne" retired this past May after teaching dance to Pampa people for more than 6 decades.

Miss Jeanne taught my eldest daughter for more than 15 of those years and my youngest daughter for a couple of years, too. Now my five-year-old granddaughter is taking ballet.

At a recent reception, a crowd comprised of former students, their families and members of the community gathered to honor a tiny dance teacher with massive heart for her art.

Pictured here, mother and daughter, Linda and Laura, both among Miss Jeanne's numerous "children," smile for the photographer. Me.

Jeanne Willingham's Beaux Art Studio functioned from nursery to graduate school for dancers she taught to perform on stage under the spotlight, learning to cultivate audience awareness. The Nutcracker Ballet in December and a Recital in May, dancers practiced to make perfect.

Along the way, Miss Jeanne improved the posture, poise and confidence of her students.

Referring to the chest area below the base of the neck as "the necklace," she instructed ballet students at the bar how to carry themselves erect.

"Show me your necklace," she said.

Instant transformation from the slouch of everyday posture to a graceful pose, dancers breathed in and pressed their shoulders back. This move elevated a dancer's stature and gained Miss Jeanne's coveted approval.

The gift bestowed by the Civic Ballet Board suited the occasion. A gold necklace to commemorate how she has enriched our lives, a delicate strand that sparkles in the light.

As a clasp that links a circle of otherwise disparate lives, scattered now all over the country, Miss Jeanne continues to inspire those who love her because she loved what she did and it showed.

Bravo, Miss Jeanne.

1 comment:

Sheridan said...

Carol, thanks so very much for the update on Miss Jeannie. My time in her classes and in her presence are precious memories in the younger, much younger, part of my life. Haven't been checking in much lately, just busy. Enjoyed all the "older posts" as well. love you, Sheridan