Dallas — I must admit, when my 5-year-old daughter, Meryl, took up ballet, I assumed it would be a passing phase. Kids burn out and even professional ballerinas are often done by 30.
But I have since learned there is one remarkable exception, which is why I came to Dallas, Texas, to meet the woman Meryl wants to become.
Suzelle Poole is every ballerina's exemplar, more than seven decades in dance and still on her toes. Most ballerinas can't begin to imagine this. Certainly, Suzelle never did.
"When I was about 26, I knew I only had a few years left," she said.
Now, she's 79, but she said she doesn't find dancing difficult. "Some people think that I dance better than ever — but some people haven't seen me."
Born in London, Suzelle started dancing at the age of 7 and eventually performed around the world. Today, she still does guest appearances with local dance companies, with no plans for a final farewell.
Even when she broke her arm a few years ago, Suzelle was back at the barre within a week. She told Meryl here favorite "move" is the "Dying Swan."
That's a solo ballet that puts the dancer on pointe for almost three minutes. Obviously, Suzelle still loves it. In fact, the only thing she likes more is sharing the joy.
She now teaches at Royale Ballet Dance Academy, inspiring local kids and the occasional traveling junior journalist, who would have never forgiven her dad if he didn't bring her along to meet the one person in the world who understands her passion better than anyone.
"Ballet helps everything. If you're not feeling well, you go to a ballet class and you feel better after," Suzelle said.