By Evie Ananiadou,
Athens, Greece

Hello! I’m Evie.

I’m a teacher of English in Greece, Athens though what I had always wanted to be is a ballet dancer.

I started ballet when I was 5 mostly because it was a way of showing our family was of an upper-middle class status and ballet was considered as the ‘appropriate’ way of polishing a girl whose parents had high ambitions and dreams of her.

I was very good, always dancing at the front in our childhood end-of-year performances but it was not until much later- in my early teens- that I realized how passionate I was about dance.

You see, I happened to find myself a couple of times very close to the ballerinas of Covent Garden as their doctor, then-an osteopathologist- who was Greek and a distant relative of ours. He treated me with a problem I had at my back which meant that I had to go to London very often and sometimes work out at the studios with the ballerinas.

The doctor used to say that I was very flexible and good and that I should stay there and become a ballerina, something my parents would not even think about.

This experience inspired me and made me realize that that was what I wanted to do in my life. My parents though, put me off saying that ballet had no future in Greece. We are talking about the 70s which means that I am 50 now and the oldest student of my dance school.

Anyway, I started and stopped ballet classes many times during my high school years but being an excellent student at school meant I had to sacrifice ballet for the sake of the very demanding University entry exams of Greece in order to do something that would secure my future.

During my studies at the University of Athens, I made several attempts again but never found someone who would care to encourage me to continue and I very easily felt disappointed and gave up only to start again at a different school a few months later. I also did some modern and jazz but nothing was systematic.

On top of that, I had a serious knee injury during a ballet lesson at the age of 20 which for me then seemed to be the end of my ‘ballet’ career.

Life had led me elsewhere. I started teaching English and never stopped. I teach privately, at school, at the University of Piraeus and also work as an examiner at the Hellenic American Union. I got married twice and have three children, aged 24,16 and 12. During all those years, I had a recurrent nightmare about four or five times a year.

It went like this: I was appearing on stage ready to perform but realizing at the last moment that I had completely forgotten the choreography. I never stopped loving dance and as a substitute I took up Latin lessons at our community centre.

Three years ago, at the age of 47, I was finally lucky enough to find a school dance very near my house which means that I can leave late and exhausted after a full day’s hectic work and go to my ballet lesson twice a week.

Some of my students from school also go there. So my students in the morning are my classmates in the evening. My teacher is the best I have ever had. Always supportive and encouraging, she has helped me not only technically but most importantly psychologically.

I have not taken part in any of the performances yet neither have I taken any exams but I am making progress and feel I am doing what I was meant to do but never had the courage and the chance to pursue. I know it is too late to do much but even the slightest improvement and the one ‘bravo’ from my teacher makes me the happiest person in the world. And do you know what? Those nightmares that woke me up often in tears have disappeared. Now, isn’t that something?

Submitted: Tue Dec 30 2014