Monday, January 17, 2011

Fond (and not so fond) Memories of Miss Anneliese

Today I remembered someone from my childhood who I hadn't thought about in a while -- Miss Anneliese Von Oettingen. I had to smile when I thought of her. Let me tell you the story.
I took ballet classes all of my growing-up years. My ballet teacher's name was "Ms. Elizabeth." Between the ages of about 9 and 13, I was active in the dance competition group, and in classes two or three times a week.
It was somewhere early in this time period that I was introduced to Miss Anneliese. She had been Ms. Elizabeth's childhood ballet instructor, and she came to visit and teach our ballet class more than once. Miss Anneliese was born and raised in Germany, received dance training in Berlin and in London, and opened the first successful ballet school in Cincinnati. When it came to ballet, Miss Anneliese knew her stuff!
By the time I met her, she was much older and no longer in dancer-shape physically. She was still an expert ballet teacher who challenged our class.... but she was also very blunt. Oh, she was blunt.
She hurt girls' feelings. She made girls cry.
Around age 10, I was chosen along with one other girl to perform a duet in our Christmas show. We worked very hard on our duet and were proud of it. When we performed it for Miss Anneliese, her only response was that the shoelaces on our ballet shoes were undone and it looked unprofessional. I was so mad!!
There was always mixed response when she was coming to visit. Some looked forward to her teaching, others dreaded it. For a while, I was one of the ones who didn't like her, but that eventually changed.
Miss Anneliese passed away in 2002. I appreciate her influence in my life as a person, a ballet expert, and a challenge! :-)

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