Why Ballet Is *NOT* For Thirty-Somethings
Okay, so I'm not thirty-something, or even close to it. But I might as well be. As a gift to myself, for the past three months I have been taking a weekly ballet class. Actually, it is a private lesson, which means that an entire hour (at first it was 2 hours) of my instructor's time is devoted solely to me, as she to asks me to move my body into unimaginably excruciating positions (Toe out! Hide heel! Open hip! Shoulder down! Tight the Butt! Up the stomach! Higher the leg! Head up! Fingers down! Arch back!)
Aside from feeling completely lost as I try to piece together a combination (Chasse, chasse, ville le vei, passe, plier, passe, arapasselongue, pique, chasse chasse), I resemble an elephant in my white tights and black leotard. It might be better if the tights were a more slimming color, but white?
Gone are the days of ballet as I remembered them--when I was eleven years old and my body was lithe and nimble and spritely. When I could remember things and when my mind and my body were united as one, as though they had never been separated. And when my body never hurt
like it does now. As I write, I've already passed several weeks where my legs were sore, but those days are gone and now it's my arms that feel as though they weigh fifty pounds each and my back and neck both feel too weak to support my head. Ugh.
So why do I do it? Because my body has never felt more alive than when I'm dancing. Because my instructor moves her body like a beautiful bird, and I want to have that grace. Because I realized that I don't
know my body anymore: I don't listen to it, I don't appreciate it, it doesn't do what I want it to.
But now we're changing all that.
There's really no way to know your body more intimately than by dancing. Together, my body and I are going through a transformation, and neither one of us can make it there without the other. My body will have to change and strengthen in order to become a dancer, and my mind will have to do the opposite: to soften, and stop "thinking," to start feeling the motions and the music more intuitively and less intellectually. In order to be succesful, my mind will have to rely on my body, and begin to trust that it will do what it is asked to do. My body and my mind will have to unite once again. For me, this is the most difficult task.
This, really, is why I dance.