Begin again, from Scratch

As a teen and young adult, I loved going to ballet class.  I even branched out into theater dance in Jack Cole style (one of the big influences on Bob Fosse) and Jazz.  It would have been great to be a professional.  But I had to face the fact that my body just wasn't built for it.  I'm short and broad chested with a small neck.  Not only that I'm long waisted which means my epaulement looked lovely but my legs were horribly stubby.  Oh well.  That didn't stop me from just taking classes for joy and health.

After awhile I stopped going to classes regularly.  I started up again in my 30s but then it petered out again.  I kept telling myself I would go back but only after I lost weight, gained strength etc.  Just excuse after excuse hiding my fear that I had forgotten all that I learned.  Or that I just couldn't dance anymore.  But as the years go by,  I suddenly decided that to keep waiting was folly.  Plus my strength was waning not growing and the time to take advantage of the last of my youth and vitality was now.  So I went back to class.

Luckily the teacher was a laid back and chill.  The class was small since most adult students are away on vacation.  No one was snobby and all were intent on learning about their own bodies.  I remembered as a young one the fight to compete with the one dancer you admired most in class.  The despair that the body was not perfect.  The race to the best mirror that didn't make you look squat.  The hope that the teacher would give you a personal correction or accolade.  But even with that hope there was a struggle for places toward the back of the room when floor work began.   Only the most confident stood in front or the poor saps who weren't quick enough to pick their middle or back room spots.  Being older means none of that matters now.  The envy is gone, the despair is almost gone.  Almost.

I was happy that I remembered.  Everything came back just as if I had taken class the week before not years ago.  Plus my body responded instinctively to the training.  However the struggle to keep form was hard.  My brain had a vision of how I used to look.  The thinner, younger me that had loads of energy.  That image is no more.  So it was confusing for me because my head gave instructions to the limbs but sometimes the limbs just wouldn't respond.  As a young person you can adjust your body quicker but as an older person that isn't the case anymore.  I realized that what took me a few minutes to adjust will now take me a few classes to get back.  My turns were never that secure, but now they are totally gone.  Also the petit allegro work of small jetes, glissades and assembles are much, much harder for me.

So it is going to take awhile to get back into shape.  It is also humbling to see that despite all my regular exercise tape work doesn't amount to a hill of beans in ballet.  I might as well have not been exercising at all.  My body ached all over after class.

What my goal now is to understand process.  How the steps are formed and why the body moves in certain patterns.  These were things that never occurred to me as a young person.  But they matter to me now because I'm interested in the human body, how it adapts, works and moves.  Plus I need to keep in mind my weak knees, so understanding the best placement is paramount.

So now I'm beginning again.

P.S. - I'm sending out love and good wishes to ALL my dance teachers.  Their determination, discipline and attention to detail are why I didn't totally fall on my face in class.  I've had some very good training in the past which I never fully appreciated until now.

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