For the past few weeks I’ve been taking an “Intro to Ballet” class. The course is 5 weeks long, meeting every Saturday, at the Maryland Youth Ballet. This is my second go ‘round with taking the class and now I’ve added “Beginning Ballet” 1-2 per week. I love taking theses classes! Not only is ballet beautiful but what I love the most is that it helps me to SLOW DOWN and focus on one beautiful thing—my body in poised, elongated and sustained movement.
I tend to think, work, walk and move at a fairly rapid pace—all the time (SN: I do everything rapidly except eat; I’m such a terribly slower eater). It’s nice to change that up and get a reasonable workout at the same time. What I’ve learned though, as I’ve added these additional classes during the week, is that the technique of ballet is WAY MORE intense than I thought. Initially my thinking was, “Oh, I’ve done modern and African dance before. I can just transfer those skills into ballet. Give ‘em a little modification and I’ll be fine. No prob.” (le sigh) Then I cashed in that reality check.
Ballet is quite unique unto itself and requires a great deal of concentration (for me anyway) on so many things at once: posture, carriage, turnout, pointed toes, tucked bottom, straight knees, square pelvis, …wait, are my arms in the right position? And, what’s the pas again? (…) Simple things such as body weight and placement are so completely different in ballet than it is in modern, African, or hip-hop—the forms of dance that I am much more familiar with, and it all must be performed while wearing a cheerful countenance and making it appear effortless. How fun!
Lol. No, seriously, it is fun and I’m enjoying it immensely. Even when I don’t perform all of the movements correctly or my arms are in the wrong position, I can still find joy and beauty in the experience. I appreciate all that my body has done and continues to do for me as I age (yes, I’m at the point where those thoughts creep into my mind). For example, I’m thankful for the strength that comes from my legs AND for the need to focus on toning my thighs to improve my technique. I love the gorgeous lines created by my legs in sous sous (demi pointe) AND I realize the added stress placed on my knees when holding some of these positions.
I’m so very thankful to still have full range of motion and the ability to keep growing. I relish the challenge of using my body in a different way in a mixed-gender dance space that’s overflowing with dancers of all ages and varying body types, ethnicities, abilities, and motivations to explore ballet.
It’s a wonderful, exhilarating feeling.