About eight months ago, I had the idea that maybe I should be doing something to work on flexibility and posture, like yoga. I've taken yoga in the past and liked it, but never really loved it enough to stick with it. Maybe I'll try ballet, I thought.
A lot of members of my family and extended family have taken ballet, as have a disproportionately high percentage of girls I've dated. Through them I've been exposed to it in bits and pieces, and I always admired the discipline of it. Ballet is so exacting and precise that even after years of work it's still near impossible, but ballet dancers press on despite that. I always admired the tenacity it seemed to build.
I also like going to ballets, as long as they're not modern ballet. Between seeing all the good things that came out of others doing ballet and thinking it may help me appreciate watching ballet more, I figured I'd take one class and try it out. The fact that it was weird for a straight guy to take ballet probably factored in, as well.
I was pretty much hooked at my first class. In life I like the idea of working as hard as humanly possible but still trying to make it look good on the outside, and ballet was the dance form that reflected that. It felt great to wake up on Sunday morning, ride my motorcycle downtown, and then slip on ballet shoes, stretch out, and learn something difficult and physical.
Since then I've probably taken about twenty classes or so. I moved from Introductory Ballet I to Intro II pretty quickly, and then last week I took one class of Intro III and then skipped ahead to Basic Ballet, when my teacher said she thought I could handle it. I'm on the fourth level now, but I'm still horrible at it, of course. Those four levels are just the preparation for the next level, which is finally Beginner Ballet. What other skill do you know where you can go through four levels and still not be a beginner?
One of the things I love about ballet is that I'm really bad at it. I'm reasonably flexible and apparently have excellent feet for ballet, but besides that, I have no natural aptitude. Never have I had to think about the movement of my body in such granular detail. Unlike things like programming or languages, I have no experience whatsoever to draw on. So when I learn something, I get to observe my process from the very beginning.
I also find it relaxing. We dance in a big studio in an old building with huge windows, and there's a live pianist to play the music we dance to. The setting couldn't be more calming and pleasant. I accept that I am going to look like a complete idiot, butchering steps occasionally, so it doesn't bother me when I'm lost and way off. I love it when I get corrections from the teacher, because I know they will make me better. So even though it's difficult, there's no stress.
Ballet is also really humbling. I go in there thinking that I'm young and physically fit, and then I see someone older or heavier do things with grace that I can barely kludge my way through. It's a true testament to the power of repetition, learning, and persistence.
I don't know if you'd like ballet or not, but I didn't know if I'd like it or not, either. I find it tremendously valuable to pick some random thing that you're not into at all and try to learn it. Sometimes you'll find a new hobby, but even if not you'll gain some perspective and maybe some appreciation. It's sort of like visiting a country that you're not crazy about. You may never go back, but you can draw something from your experience there.
Photo is a Degas sculpture from the Met. I think it's just a study for his paintings of ballet dancers, which happen to be some of my favorite paintings.
Heading to Puerto Rico for the first time tomorrow!
I also just realized that I promised an updated RV tour that I never delivered on. It's back on the list...
well,there are many things ballet can help with many could never expect.Before my last accident,I had gone on to be a very good swordfighter in a very short amount of time.Just used what I had picked up on in ballet to fence.Many times I have fought with bigger,more muscular men and several that chose to duel with them having heavier swords,more like broadswords.Many had the idea to try and go easy on me,because I'm a skinny girl and because I saw no reason to use a heavier weapon even when they did.Many were surprised when I got them not through swinging something heavy and hard,but by easily dodging them and using grace they didn't have.
Many styles and ways of fighting can be practiced and can be interpreted through different styles of dance.One of my biggest fencing competitors was a retired ballet dancer,and ballet can be transfered and interpreted through many martial arts as well.
Dancers can easily be deadly if they want....:p
When I boxed many years ago, I was taught that footwork is everything. Many of the great boxers were dancers as well. I think its great that you found a discipline which is relaxing and yet invigorating for both your body and mind!
It's 2002 and I haven't even heard of the pickup community. It's a shame because there is just about nothing I need more.
I get on my plane, headed back to Austin. It's a late flight and there aren't too many people on it. I have a whole row to myself. I'm not paying attention, and before I know it we're airborne.
The cabin lights are off, but some people have their reading lights on, creating small islands of light in the darkness of the plane. The island in front of my is inhabited by two girls.
I’m not going to pretend to be some kind of professional ballet artist, writer or critic because I’m far from it. In fact, I’ve only just started taking proper ballet classes. I wanted though to write a short entry about the turned-out art form.
The sad thing is, if you’re not a dancer, you probably won’t ever understand the pain, dedication and effort that goes into ballet - whether you’re performing professionally in a London production, or like me are coming to the end of grade 1. Generally, people are very ignorant towards ballet, they think it’s easy and that it’s something little girls do at an after school club. I’m here to let you know that’s not the case. I know not everybody is as ignorant, but the majority are.
I remember when I went to see my first ballet with the school whilst studying my A-levels - Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake; It was absolutely sensational. I couldn’t take my eyes off of the stage, it was literally like someone reading me a story but through ballet.
The training and dedication that goes into ballet dancing is mind blowing. So much so that a lot of people never make it - I’ve come to the reality that it’s probably a bit too late for me too; whilst nothing’s impossible, I’ve left it a bit too late to be in professional ballet now. I still intend to practice ballet however, whilst at university on the side. There’s probably no other dance form that technically will improve you as effectively.
I love ballet because it’s so visually pleasing; everything has to look perfect and be in alignment. I could watch ballet dancers pirouette around a studio all day.