Mom's Creation -- Frances Reinking -- Her Daughter Gets A Kick Out Of Theater, Dance

How can parents foster creativity in their children? This Mother's Day, we asked three mothers who should know. They are local women whose babies - choreographer Mark Morris, blues singer and guitarist Robert Cray, and actress and dancer Ann Reinking - grew up not only to be famous, but famous for their creativity.

"I went with Ann when she was 8 to her first ballet classes, from our home in Bellevue to the studio in Seattle," says Frances Reinking of Kirkland, mother of Broadway and film actress and dancer Ann Reinking.

"But aside from that, and showing her the way to go by her little self on the bus and back, I didn't really participate in her interest.

"Little by little, though, I became aware of the fact Ann really wanted to do this."

Her mother said she first got an inkling of her child's interest in dancing and theater when Ann was 5 or 6. A friend was taking ballet, and Ann begged for lessons. Ann also used to spend some summers with an aunt in Seattle (where she moved with her family from California at age 7). She would dance when her aunt had musical friends over for parties.

"My sister wanted to give Ann ballet lessons for her eighth birthday," says Frances Reinking. "At first my husband and I resisted. We might have been happy if Ann wanted to take tap. In our era, tap dancing was the thing.

"Then Ann was in a school skit, and did very well, and had a friend who again was in ballet, so we let her take lessons . . .

"Later, Ann was chosen from citywide auditions for an amateur theatrical production at the Palomar Theater. Her first appearance in a professional show was in `Bye Bye Birdie' starring Pat Finley and Tom Poston at the Opera House in 1965."

Ann Reinking was a member of the corps then; later this month, she returns to star with Tommy Tune in the same show (May 28 through June 2 at the 5th Avenue Theatre).

In summers through junior high and high school, Ann Reinking was a scholarship student at San Francisco Ballet School. After graduating from Bellevue High School, she attended Joffrey Ballet's summer residency classes at Tacoma's Pacific Lutheran University.

"(Robert) Joffrey told Ann she had talent for more than dancing only," her mother recalls. "He said she could sing and act, too, and had comedic flair, and told her to go to New York.

"Her first job in New York, at 18, was with the corps de ballet at Radio City Music Hall. Then she went on to a traveling `Fiddler on the Roof,' and `Cabaret,' and a speaking role opposite Katharine Hepburn in `Coco.' "

She went on to other roles, including her star turn singing, dancing and acting opposite Roy Scheider in Bob Fosse's 1979 film "All That Jazz."

"There was no question but that Ann wanted to do this," her mother says of the show-biz career.

"We had given her no permission to go to New York right after high school. But she would have gone anyway, just because she wanted to.

"We couldn't be any more pleased at how it turned out. And now she even has a little baby boy, which is what she wanted all along!"