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Esther, Who Never Gave Up Her Dream

August 29, 2015

Esther and I met in a beginners swim class. She was quiet, laughed at all my silly comments, and was determined to learn to swim, so of course, I liked her. She wore  a cute bathing suit with a sheer, pink, flouncy skirt that looked like a ballet outfit and had the nice legs I wish I’d been born with.

Esther sharing a moment with Kermit.

Esther sharing a light moment with Kermit.

We chatted between death-defying episodes of attempted swimming, and, after classes were over, we decided to keep coming twice a week to practice. We got to chatting and I found out Esther’s been taking ballet classes for ten years. The company that put the show on was Media City Dance and Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre.  (That explains the nice legs.) Considering I couldn’t even master step-shuffle-hop in my sixth grade Christmas debut as a snow flake dancer, I was very impressed.

Esther wanted to study ballet when she was young, but her practical parents encouraged her to learn something that would offer a better chance of a steady paycheck.


A bevy of ballerinas.

She has a good job working in computers now, but about ten years ago, decided to take ballet classes, like she always wanted to. Esther looks like she’s maybe 35, but isn’t – testament to what a good ballet routine and a paycheck will do for a person.

The first thought that ran through my mind when she told me her ballet story was: How cruel, not letting your child pursue what she loves. But Esther isn’t bitter at all – probably because she has financial security – thanks to her parents.

I went to see her perform tonight, and take photos of her dancing, which is why my blog was a day late.

Esther dances with women of all ages. Women older than me, were dancing in tutus and ballet slippers. (I heard someone say one woman was 80.) And they all had great legs!

Their director and choreographer, Natasha MIddleton, talked about the joy of pursuing a dream no matter what your age and said these women were proof it was possible. I couldn’t have been more impressed.

Esther dancing

Esther, looking elegant. After last night, I think I’m buying a cape. It will make me look very mysterious and cool — or like a vampire — not sure.

I watched their faces as they danced. There’s a look each got when she was in the spotlight. It was a look of confident beauty, the kind movie actresses have when they know the camera is on them, the lighting is just right and they look gorgeous.  They were each absolutely beautiful tonight.

I’m so glad I went. I’m in awe of Esther for never abandoning what she loved and never becoming bitter. I also commend her parents for doing their best to guide her because parenting can be a seriously thankless job.

It was great cheering her on tonight, I hope she dances as long as those legs let her.

Merde Esther!*

*(That’s what they say to ballet dancers before a dance. It means poop in French. I looked up why they say it because it seems a touch rude, even to me. Here’s what I learned: In the early days of ballet, companies used animals on stage. Every time an animal pooped on stage, someone from the audience would yell,”Merde!” to warn the dancers. It was used so often, that the term stuck to wish you good luck.) My mom always said poop was good luck, maybe that’s where she got it.

  • Reply
    Linda Friday
    September 4, 2015 at 10:05 am

    Fran: swimming, ballet, writing, biscotti, painting, shapely legs, pursuing ANY dream… it’s not too late for any of us. So put a batch of biscotti in the oven and WRITE, WRITE, WRITE! XOX

  • Reply
    September 3, 2015 at 7:39 am

    Meant “your” legs look fine to me, agh!

  • Reply
    September 2, 2015 at 5:00 pm

    Cute story & inspiring, Fran. Every time I look at “my” legs, I want to say “merde” too, . . . .lol, . . . oh well. Rock on Esther!

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      September 2, 2015 at 9:19 pm

      I hear ya on the leg front. The swimming is helping, I think. I’m a little past the ballet stage though.

      • Mary
        September 3, 2015 at 7:38 am

        You legs look fine to “me!”

  • Reply
    Leigh Torgerson
    August 31, 2015 at 9:48 am

    Thanks for the wonderful write up on my friend and colleague Esther! You really captured the spirit of what’s important in life..

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      August 31, 2015 at 4:02 pm

      Thank you Leigh. I was so happy to do it. She is such an inspiration. Thanks for reading and taking the time to write!

  • Reply
    Robert Tunno
    August 31, 2015 at 6:56 am

    Nice article Fran. Yes, reality sometimes sets in to crush dreams but Ester proves that you can have your cake and eat it too ….and that cake may taste all the better if you wait until later in life to have it.

    Big Bro

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      August 31, 2015 at 4:00 pm

      If only I’d realized that a little sooner. C’est la vie!

  • Reply
    August 30, 2015 at 8:48 am

    Thanks for writing such a nice blogpost and the validation of my effort and endeavor. Maybe I’m not crazy after all (to be pursuing my dream at the age when professional ballerinas already hang up their pointe shoes and retired). Thanks to my teacher Natasha for believing in us and pushing us beyond our comfort zone. I am also thankful to my friend and mentor Gerard because he taught me that, “It’s never too late” to pursue what you wish to accomplish in life.

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      August 30, 2015 at 2:55 pm

      You are very welcome Esther. I applaud you, your teacher and Gerard. Fabulous show, keep dancing!

  • Reply
    Lionel Gaucher
    August 29, 2015 at 6:59 pm

    As you may know, Esther also has a “green thumb” in her spare time. 🙂

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      August 29, 2015 at 7:57 pm

      I didn’t know that Lionel. I’ll ask her about it. Thanks.

  • Reply
    George A Maupin
    August 29, 2015 at 10:32 am

    Thanks for the “French” lesson. Do dancers wish each other luck BEFORE the performance? I mean with the traditional-stage-actors’ = “Break a Leg.”

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      August 29, 2015 at 1:45 pm

      Yes, George, they do! Except it’s “Merde!” Not break a leg.

  • Reply
    August 29, 2015 at 9:24 am

    Life and living!! So wonderful. And how cool that you got to see Esther dance! Keep it up, Fran, ever forward.

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      August 29, 2015 at 1:46 pm

      Thanks Nicol, I’m doing my best. Thanks for always reading!

  • Reply
    August 29, 2015 at 7:45 am

    LOVE this on so many levels. Go Esther. May she be an example to us all!

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      August 29, 2015 at 8:48 am

      Oh Goddess King, isn’t she a wonderful example? So glad you liked it. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • Reply
    JoAnn Jones
    August 29, 2015 at 4:22 am

    So many great, interesting stories told with your wonderful sense of humor ! I especially liked your 6th grade teacher comments, how along our life journey different people touch our lives. And lessons are learned that make us better people. Thank you, your cousin, JoAnn

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      August 29, 2015 at 8:47 am

      Thanks Joann for always reading and taking the time to comment. I really appreciate it! xoxo

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