A Real Dance Mom Tells All!
Principal dancers Patricia and Jeanette Delgado are two of Miami City Ballet’s brightest stars. Born and raised in Miami, these sisters flourished as aspiring dancers at Miami City Ballet School and quickly climbed the ranks of the company. Now, the road to becoming principal dancers is certainly not easy, requiring sacrifice, patience, perseverance and a lot of hard work. So, who was behind this dancing duo to encourage and support them through it all? Their family!
In honor of Mother’s Day, we asked Patricia and Jeanette’s mother Millie Figueredo what it was like raising two sibling ballerinas. Check out her responses in our Q & A below!
How did Jeanette and Patricia get started with ballet?
Patricia was around three or four years old when after watching a classic ballet on the public TV channel, she said she wanted to do that. I told her she had to be older to take lessons. When she was five years old, while visiting my mother, she saw some old pictures of me in my ballet class and she told my mom that she wanted to take lessons too. My mother went ahead and found a ballet studio near our home and told me I should enroll Patricia. I really wanted her to be older, but I was outnumbered! Of course, when Jeanette saw what her sister was doing, she wanted to do it too!
When did you realize that they were really talented?
I always saw the girls enjoying themselves while dancing! In their adolescence, they both became very focused and passionate as well as hard workers. I did notice they loved to perform and their hearts were completely open and free when on stage. I guess, I had to start believing their teachers and others when they praised their talent and dedication.
Ballet can create a competitive environment as young dancers strive for leading roles, teacher’s attention, etc. Did you ever worry about the sisters getting jealous of each other? How did you prevent them from avoiding these pitfalls?
Zeke and I made a conscious effort to treat them [Patricia and Jeanette] fairly and we encouraged them to help each other. We praised their individuality — never comparing, but rather encouraging them to develop their unique strengths and recognize their weaknesses as opportunity for growth. Even though they shared similar interests, they also had different ones. For example, Patricia enjoyed taking piano lessons and playing sports, while Jeanette liked taking acting and singing lessons.
Ballet takes so much discipline, sacrifice and hard work, how did you encourage the girls to continue pursuing ballet through the rough times?
I must admit that we actually maintained a more neutral position during these times because we never thought they would become professional dancers. We recognized the tough road ahead, and thus, the decision to pursue ballet training had to be completely their own. Although, we obviously supported their passion and encouraged them to follow their dreams, we never underestimated the difficulty of pursuing this career.
What was the best memory you have about each of your daughters regarding their ballet careers? Was there a special performance, moment or memory you have that stands out?
There are many wonderful memories — the first time I saw them perform with a professional company, the first time I saw them perform a leading role, or the first time they received flowers onstage. But, the best was the first time I was no longer nervous to watch them perform and I could really enjoy it!