I am posting this on Maria and Veronica's blogs, because I want to write about their ballet teacher, Miss Johanna, who we loved so much and who died earlier this month.
I can't even believe it, still. I was talking to my friend Sara this week after church about it and she said I kept thinking it wasn't true! She said she couldn't find an obituary (we still can't) and it made her have hope that it was a mistake. It is one of the most shocking deaths of my experience.
We just saw her, I keep thinking, in May. We decided not to take class this summer because Maria and Veronica take swimming and I figured we could just start Felicity in the fall. And now as it turns out, we won't get to ever see her again. One mom friend of mine said how strange it was, to see this woman with her leg up over her head a few weeks ago and now she's gone.
She and Maria were a wonderful match. When Maria started taking ballet, her friend Carlotta was already in it and ooh-wee that were always in trouble, talking away to each other. It really wasn't until Carlotta went to kindergarten that Maria even started to focus on actual ballet. Miss Johanna (you say it YO-hahna) used to say that they spent a lot of time talking to each other, in a chiding tone, but then she'd smile and say, "you can tell they are good friends!". I always told people that I didn't expect Maria to be some kind of Black Swan or something from these classes, but I loved the way that she learned how to stand on line, how to wait her turn, and how to stand up straight.
Miss Johanna was so sweet and nice to Veronica, even though she was always terribly behaved outside of ballet. I have literally never watched a whole recital of Maria's OR Veronica's, because I am always dealing with some little sister. Veronica used to press her face up against the window, just dying to get in there and dance with the big girls and sometimes at the end of class, Miss Johanna would let Veronica in, and make a big to-do over her. She'd give her a tic tac for being so good and well behaved (she was not good or well behaved). When we went on Christmas break at the end of 2011, Miss Johanna said I could sign Veronica up for ballet in January, even though she wouldn't be three until May.
For the year before Maria started kindergarten, the girls were in separate classes, Maria had moved up to Intermediate Ballet and Veronica was still in pre-ballet, so Felicity and I spent about an hour and a half outside of class, watching Miss Johanna with the girls. She was so great with them, and so consistent. She wore really great leopard print, high cut bodysuits with leg warmers and always a long side pony. My poor girls were really shown up by Miss Johanna and her hair. Maria and Veronica's hair was so fine when they were littler and Veronica's especially would get so, so messed up. We'd walk in to Broad Ripple park and Miss Johanna would say "Veronica! Your hair looks crazy, girl!". Then she'd tell us stories of when she was tiny. She great up in the Dutch West Indies, and her mom always told her that when she was born she had hair everywhere "except her head!".
Once Maria went to kindergarten and I had just Veronica, she moved up to the Intermediate Ballet class where there was only her and like three other girls. She did really well, again, she was no black swan, but she really learned how to be a ballerina, on her own, without Maria in the class. She loved to do well for her and I think that was really her gift - she wanted those girls to do their best, whatever it was.
Miss Johanna was always very kind and complimentary to me about how I was with the girls, which is especially nice because I am usually a giant wreck trying to get the three of them anywhere. She loved Felicity and we were all so excited because this fall was going to be the first time Felicity could take her class. I told Miss Johanna, this one is going to be your big challenge!, but she already knew it. Felicity wouldn't ever just sit and watch a recital, so we would mostly go outside but Johanna would call her in for the end of it and ask her to do something, she'd go on and on about how WONDERFUL her turns were, oh, isn't she wonderful, Ma-mah?, she'd say to me, all the while Felicity gallumping around like a three legged dog. Those girls loved her so much and I did, too. I can't believe she's gone and I hate that she went out that way, so suddenly, just gone, but we are so lucky to have known her and I am proud and happy that my girls and I are part of her legacy.
3 weeks ago