culture theatre & dance

At the Ballet

October 13, 2011

I have a thing for ballerinas. I suppose I haven’t always been conscious of it, but as it recently has become quite obvious to me, I’m pretty sure my love of ballet has been stewing in my heart for a long, long time.

I took my first ballet class when I was three years old. It was a combination ballet and gymnastics class at the local YMCA. After that early introduction to formal movement, when my mom got sick of driving me to the outskirts of town, I started taking ballet and tap at a dance school in downtown Kent. I even did a year en pointe. However, this was one of those dance schools where dancing is just for fun. We learned most of the fundamentals and wore really glittery costumes, probably to distract from our complete lack of technique. As a result, I don’t consider myself a dancer, although I move well and pick up choreography quickly and easily. Let’s just say that I can fake my way through a dance call. And when I played Sister Mary Leo in Nunsense, I discovered that I may not be a “good” dancer, I am good enough to be a “bad” dancer. Say hello to my Sister Mary Leo, the novice who loved to dance the ballet and didn’t know that she was anything but graceful.

When I was in middle school, our Humanities Club took a field trip to a special school performance by the Cleveland Ballet. As part of their instructional demonstration segment, a few students were selected to dance a pas de deux with members of the company. I was one of them! For a minute or two, I felt like a real ballerina. And then I started sweating. Standing on the stage of the State Theatre, pitting out my raw silk shirt, I prayed not to trip and fall, or worse, knock my dance partner on his very muscular behind. Fortunately, none of my fears was realized, and all of my seventh-grade neuroses aside, it was a wonderful experience.

As I’ve been working through The Artist’s Way, every time she gives the exercise to imagine five different lives, I become a ballerina first and always. I’m also beginning to notice that I’ve got ballerina paraphernalia stashed around the house. I have a ballet dictionary. (Really?) I watch documentaries about ballerinas for fun. Until quite recently, I had my toe shoes hanging on the wall. I’ve even taken steps to feel, move, and look more like a ballerina. A few years ago, I bought the New York City Ballet Workout book and DVDs, which are a lot harder than you may think, by the way, and while in Greensboro, my friend Louisa introduced me to the adult ballet classes with the Greensboro Ballet. They were incredible. I didn’t even know that my calves could be that sore. I got too busy with grad school to continue with them, but I would love to take ballet class again with a dance company. It’s hard right now, since we are so very far away from any sort of metropolitan area, but I’m sure I can find something in the wilds of rural Ohio.

So, I’m not sure what all of this means or what I should do with this new self-awareness. I suppose it means I should sign up for that ballet class. One of my dreams in life is to be mistaken for a ballerina. Maybe I should get started on that. Until then, I’ll watch my new girl crush, Polina Semionova, for her beauty and inspiration. I hope she’ll inspire you to move toward your dreams, too.

Polina Semionova from Sebastián on Vimeo.

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  • Reply Shana October 13, 2011 at 3:25 PM

    i loved dancing more than music until it became painfully obvious that curves were not helpful in moving gracefully and creating long lines. hence why tap became my absolute favorite dance genre — you could be goofy, wear more clothing, and be almost masculine in your movements. anyway, then music came along, without the physique requirements. i took tap at greensboro dance – really fun! i also tried out belly dancing in greensboro, which is awesome for us curvy ladies. now i'm enjoying zumba. thanks for posting this, the video is lovely!

  • Reply Louisa October 14, 2011 at 8:11 AM

    Oh, ballerinas…. I think you'll like this:

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