Yesterday, India completed her last day of Elementary School and officially became a Middle Schooler. This milestone was rather overshadowed by the fact that she had to say goodbye to several good friends who are moving to other countries and today she had to take a ballet exam. Performing a dance solo in front of three French judges. In her Fifth Grade Memory Book, she wrote that her ambition is to be a professional ballerina and that a cool fact about her is that she has been dancing since she was two. Ballet is her passion and finding a way for her to continue with it when we moved to France was one of the biggest challenges we faced at the beginning of the year.
Many hours were spent trawling the internet looking for schools that offered enough of a challenge, didn't require us to drive through the Paris rush hour three times a week and ideally had an instructor who spoke a bit of English. I discovered that nearly all French towns run ballet classes, but when India tried out for the one near us it was clear that the training she had already received in the US meant that they would not be a good match for her. Eventually I stumbled upon a glowing review of a school that seemed to offer everything that we were looking for. La directrice of Ballets Artémis speaks perfect English and has enthusiastically welcomed India into her school which encourages excellence and promotes a passion for performing.
These photographs were taken during the performance of Mozart's Requiem back in March. A unique opportunity to dance with a live orchestra. Remember when India was rehearsing for that?
The standard of the senior ballerinas at this school is amazing and watching them dance (they also put on a stunning Casse Noisette (Nutcracker) at Christmas, in which India was a soldier) is a joy for the parents and an inspiration for the younger students.
The question of how to provide continuity for our children's extra-curricular interests when moving to France has been a concern for all the ex-pat parents we have met this year. It was certainly confusing for me, so I thought it might be helpful to outline what we discovered in our quest for after school activities in case someone desperately searching the internets stumbles across this post.
First and foremost, if you are looking for ballet classes in France, search for Danse Classique not Ballet. Despite the word ballet being of French origin and the dance form having been popularised by our former neighbour Louis XIV, ballet classes here are referred to as danse classique. Most French towns have cultural and leisure Associations which run all manner of after school classes. Sign ups happen in September, in our case on one crazy day where everyone in the town descended on the local gymnasium to sign up their kids for their chosen activity. Get there early or miss out. Once signed up you are committed for the year, but I found the fees to be very inexpensive compared to what we were paying in the United States. Once signed up and paid in full you will need to get a medical certificate from your French doctor to prove your child is fit to do the class and buy some extra-scolaire insurance. I found this last part to be very daunting until Keith's admin. assistant figured it out for us. We bought ours online and it was super easy.