Finding Grace in an unGraceful body, The chronicles of a beginning adult ballet dancer
This blog post is about my journey as an adult ballet student. It has only been a few years that I decided to dance. At the age of 47 I decided I wanted to learn to dance. As a young girl I always loved to watch every dance movie that came out. And was very inspired by Flash Dance and Foot Loose. I was raised in a farming community and in a fairly strict home where there was no dance team in school or any dance classes around the area and even if there was there would be no way my dad would have allowed me to take classes. Because he was very big into sports and we grew up playing basketball. When I was in high school I played volleyball instead of basketball so I’m fairly athletic but sport athletics has nothing to do with dance especially for a wife and a mother of 5 who has spent the last 31 years raising kids running the family business and hosting people in her home. Definitely not exercising or taking care of myself in the process. Approximately 7 years ago when my mother was diagnosed with cancer and died a year later I knew I need to change my life. Life is to short and we need to enjoy it. We need to see the beauty in all that God has given us and dance is one of those beauties. I started taking yoga classes and then felt called to take teacher training with in a few months of taking yoga I became a teacher.
My daughter has been dancing for 10 years and I have always just been the backstage manager. For 8 years I helped all the dancers on and off stage making sure all costumes were found when lost all bows were tied when they came untied. I used to carry safety pins in my pockets to fix a costume as the dancer runs off stage, bobby pins just in case a bun comes undone, a hot glue guns were always ready in the wings ready to fix a prop that broke. I carried around a clip board with the line up of all the dances and dancers in it and a headset on my head. You get the picture. The last performance I managed I joked saying next time I will be on stage. It started as a joke but then I realized why not. Why not take more classes? Why not try? Thankfully my daughter has been part of a wonderful studio for 10 years and Keith Walls the owner teacher and director at Abernethy Performing Arts sees no boundaries. He is always willing to let someone explore their abilities and gifts.
I took 1 adult basic class when I was in my first class, I had two left feet. I can’t even imagine why Keith allowed me on stage to do Scheherazade. It was the hardest most terrifying thing I think I ever done. If you’ve ever watched I Love Lucy you know the one where she is taking dance and everyone is going one way and she is going the other. Yes, that was me. But I worked really hard and made it through that performance which then lead me to taking more classes and now the real journey begins.
To make things fun and interesting I will fast forward a bit to the new fall term after Scheherazade. I figured there was no way I was going to get anywhere with just taking one class and as we were rehearsing for Scheherazade I started taking a second class so that I would be warmed up for rehearsals. The poor girls in front of me. I would always ask one of them to be in front so I could watch them do the combination. Ballet is a foreign language not just in French but in movement also. Barre was complete torture being I was in an advanced class level and only a beginning student. Really my level was those of 5 year olds and even they were better then me. The only reason why I had to take the advanced class was that there wasn’t a class for my level. But that really pushed me. Most days I cried inside for the lack of ability to comprehend what in the world I was doing. I would hear one thing and think, “Okay, I got that then when I went to do it its like it was never even in my brain and my body just wouldn’t move. I was a total blank. On and on I tortured myself this way, all for the love of dance.
I don’t like to let go of those things I set my mind to do. I had 5 natural births I’m sure I could get through a ballet class. But after barre came center and that was even harder with all the jumps and combinations. Surely, I can find grace in me somewhere. My daughter was great with always reminding me that they had all been dancing 10 plus years and I just started. So, I was like that little kid always dancing around pointing my not so pointed toes.