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One Mom's Letter of Gratitude to the Ballet World

To everyone in the ballet world,

Bravo. And thank you for keeping ballet alive and well as we navigate this pandemic. We are taking your online classes. Our children are still training every week. We've watched every video you've made this month. We have joined the live Zoom calls to keep connected. We are thrilled and inspired by the previous performances you've posted online. Your emails are reminding us that you still need us, and this letter is letting you know that we still need you, too. The world needs the beauty and healing and artistry of ballet. We need the stories you're passing on from generation to generation, and we look forward to the artistry that emerges from this difficult season of COVID-19.


Teachers, thank you for navigating online ballet classes. Thank you for your creativity and your corrections. Thank you for your encouragement and commitment to your students. Your symbiotic relationship is evident more than ever. We see you trying to keep a 4-year-old's attention. We see you giving pre-pointe exercises to girls, hoping they'll still get to be on pointe this year. We see you training our pre-pro daughters and sons hoping for a contract. You are what our children are waking up for right now. We love you, teachers!

Choreographers, thank you for not letting fear paralyze your creativity. We know you are deeply processing and that all the emotions you're feeling will be so beautifully witnessed when expressed through choreography one day soon.

Artistic staff, thank you for the grace you're giving to dancers who are used to dancing eight hours a day, but now do pliés in their apartments. Thank you for understanding the inevitability that strength has diminished and that dancers are concerned for their jobs. Our pre-professional students are wondering if the sacrifices they've made were for nothing. We are hopeful you'll be with your company soon and with fresh gratitude for the gift you get to give this world. Your careful eye, experience and unique vision create the most moving performances.

Administration and staff, thank you for taking our calls with grace, for replying to our emails professionally, and for fielding our endless questions when they are also your own. Thank you for organizing online platforms and finding new ways to help your dance family feel connected, served and cared for.

Board members, thank you for having the hard conversations and stewarding the financial decisions during this economic crisis. Your leadership is often overlooked, but it's so very important to ballet's return. Schools and companies depend on and have faith that you will make decisions in their best interest, and you are. Keep up those Zoom meetings.

The author, Kierstan Fessler, with her daughter, Kayla.

Morgan Wooton, Courtesy Fessler

Parents, thank you for continuing to support your dancer. Thank you for your tuition payments, which are imperative to the studio doors reopening. Thank you for rearranging furniture for your student to take class at home. Working parents, thank you for watching your child when they beg you to, and praising their daily performances even though those deadlines are calling. Your presence and voice in the life of your dancer keeps them going.

And finally, dancers: thank you for dancing. You are the future. You carry on this mission to fill the world with beauty and grace. You carry the DNA of detailed storytelling like no other art. Your athleticism is unmatched, and your artistry is your identity. This world needs you to keep training. Keep growing. Keep learning and practicing and strength-training and taking care of your bodies. Dancing alone in your kitchen was never in the recipe for making a dancer, and we are so hopeful this is temporary, but please keep going. You are worth it. You were born for this.

As a former ballet dancer, a daughter of a dancer, a mother of a pre-professional ballerina, a teacher, a lifelong patron, and a board member of a local non-profit ballet academy and performance company, I thank you. Thank you all. Each of your threads are still weaving the tapestry of ballet in this world, and it's an elegant masterpiece.

The best is yet to come,

Kierstan Fessler

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