Ballet: first class.

My slippers, which I sewed myself!
There are photos of me doing ballet when I was a kid. For about a year when I was 5 years old, I wore a pink leotard with colored flowers on it and I learned a dance routine. I still remember it to this day and sometimes, when my friends are very lucky (and I am very tipsy), I relive my ballet days by performing it for them.

Long before the days of learning French verbs, I knew words like "plie" and "relever" as they related to ballet steps. But once we moved to New York, we got into gymnastics and our ballet careers were over. (Maybe I should say that Katie got into gymnastics- I was not nearly bendy enough and promptly quit to start writing for the 3rd grade newspaper. Obviously.)

When I got into yoga a few years ago, something was familiar about having a teacher focus our bodies into positions and I missed dancing, even the little that I'd done. Fast forward to November, when Groupon announced a deal - 10 classes for $59 at Ballet Academy East. I bought it and when the Soul semester came around, it seemed like a good time to cash it in.

Here's what walking into a ballet studio for the first time in 25 years feels like: really, really not belonging. I went into the dressing room to change and immediately felt like even the kids were judging me. The kids! Tiny girls whose mothers were giving them buns and who flitted around, talking about how they hadn't seen so and so since the Nutcracker.

With no Nutcracker stories to share, I waited outside the studio where my class was starting and then MY people showed up. The old ladies! The women with butts! The women with boobs! The nervous-looking Groupon owners. I loved them all.

Our teacher was a tall, thin flower who made funny jokes about our flailing limbs in an adorable Romanian accent. She pronounced the French words correctly... and HO BOY, were there French words!

"Next, we will do balancoire," she said and I thought "where will we swing from?!" Turns out, it was our legs that would do the swinging.

"Now we will do porte de bras," she said, and I got my arms ready for some graceful maneuvers.

At one point she had to move some of us around and she looked at me. "You follow very well," she murmured and I almost passed out of pride. But since passing out is not very ballerina-like, I did a few pirouettes and got cast in Nutcracker 2011 instead. (Ha.)

Physically, ballet forced me to stand tall and to keep my core tucked in. Towards the end, our teacher gave a 5-minute motivational speech about how dancers are art, how their muscles are not big (shudder!), but long and beautiful, and how people who walk with good posture can achieve anything they want.

It was awesome. And I can't wait for class 2.


Katie said...

I felt the same. exact. way.

I took jazz, tap, and ballet for a while when I was younger, so back in November, I asked a former dancer friend where the best community dance program in the area was. She said MCDC (which is Muhlenberg's program believe it or not!), so I bought the leotard and the tights and the slippers. I showed up early on the first day, thinking I had to change in the locker room or stretch pretentiously in the studio. But when I got there I glanced through the window at these long, lean, beautiful dancers (en pointe, no less) and thought two things: SHIT. I'm late. and SHIT. What did I get myself into???

Turns out it was the advanced class finishing up and I was just way early.

But the first class was good fun. I worked muscles I never knew I had... the instructor reminded me of my kindergarten teacher... and I followed along much better than I expected. BALLET IS AWESOME.

Anyway, I loved reading about your class! Sounds like you're doing well. Can't wait to hear more.

Jen said...

Hahaha... I was totally early too and caught the end of the pointe class. Horrors!