Ballet

Written by Linda Mills Wofford

Ballet was such an important part of my early years. I absolutely loved it and looked forward to my weekly ballet classes after my school day at Sam Houston Elementary.

I loved everything about it – the discipline, the routines, the practices and working toward our yearly ballet recitals each May. What a fun, glamorous thing for a young girl to experience with the beautiful costumes, makeup, sophisticated hair do’s and much anticipated performances. 

Most importantly, I adored and always wanted to please my ballet teacher, Mrs. Georgia Goss Harsten. Mrs. Harsten, as I always called her, came to Midland and introduced ballet to Midland in the Hotel Scharbauer Crystal Ballroom in the 1930s. She was a superb dancer and teacher and one who earned the utmost respect and admiration throughout Midland, including the arts community.

I was fortunate enough to be one of her ballet students in the 1950’s. She was tough and demanded the most out of each of her students. I can still see and hear her pounding the ballet stick onto the hardwood floor while counting 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 and again 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8! We did this over and over until we perfected the exercise.

At the end of my first year in ballet, Mrs. Harsten chose me to perform a solo in our recital. I was Mary in the nursery rhyme “Mary Mary quite contrary how does your garden grow?” I was beyond elated and practiced my routine over and over so as not to disappoint Mrs. Harsten or myself. Of course, making my parents proud was tantamount to my 6 year old self.

My goal as a young ballerina was to graduate to toe dance or “en pointe”, as it is known in the ballet world. This took much more foot, ankle, leg and core strength. After 3 years in ballet, I graduated to “en pointe” – truly one of my happiest memories. I remember my mother taking me to buy my first pair of toe shoes, along with the bunny pads and lambs wool you wrapped your toes in as a most necessary cushion to protect your feet. Then, through practice, your toe shoes had to be broken in to achieve the perfect, desired arch.

I loved dancing in The Nutcracker and Swan Lake, but my most memorable experience was when my class was chosen to dance “en pointe” with the Midland Symphony Orchestra. Our costumes were beautiful – all white with puffed sleeves and a full, ballerina length skirt. It was an evening I will never forget.

So much has been written already about what’s in the water in Midland, Texas. My ballet teacher, Georgia Goss Harsten, certainly brought her love of ballet and the arts to the very core of what made Midland special. And, I will always thank her for that.

2 thoughts on “Ballet

  1. Anonymous February 15, 2021 / 8:06 am

    What a great memory Linda! You built on this to become a premo cheerleader at the top of the pyramid!

    • Mary Cay Murray February 15, 2021 / 12:05 pm

      What memories this brought back. We lived across the street”cati” corner to the Harstens. Susan, (RIP)was at house all the time. Of course the the 3 Kennedy prima ballerinas were in classes with Mrs Harsten. I, one time, was a sunflower. Loved my costume! Ellen was a maid in the garden hanging out the clothes when “along came a blackbird and nipped off her nose”! Anne was an Easter Bunny, can’t remember the theme. One time it was raining and Anne was at her lesson. It as over, and lots of goings on with raincoats and umbrellas. Anne decided that she would call a cab 🚕 to bring her home. Mrs. Harsten didn’t catch what was going on, until the cab arrived.. she called mother and couldn’t stop laughing long enough to tell her what Anne had done. She was always reminded of the halirous event. The cab driver was tipped and Anne walked 3 houses down and across the street, home!

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