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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Old Songs, New Dogs, Old Tricks, and New Obsessions

I ended my fourth adult basic ballet lesson at Tacoma’s Jo Emery Ballet School with a spring in my step and a smile on my face. That wasn’t so when I drove to the dance studio. The top of my left foot hurt, my right ankle hurt, and I had a sore back from getting accidentally whacked with a plastic light saber in a faux Star Wars backyard battle earlier that day (don’t ask). I felt sleepy and worn thin.

However, once the music started and I grasped the barre, those aches, pains, and weariness flew out the window. And for the first time, I felt (gulp) a little confidence!

This new ballet dog learned some old tricks this week before class.

Trick #1: Practice. I invested in a ballet conditioning DVD to do at home. The music was perfectly awful (like I’d rather have elevator music pumped into my brain 24/7), the instructor's voice was too breathy, goofy, and too many sugar-coated “you can do its." Though difficult, the exercises did help. And one of the instructor’s mantras helped too: “Smile.” When I got worn out, I smiled and my body bled out all of its tension and strain.

Trick #2: Look like a dancer. My six-year-old daughter wanted to do the DVD practice with me, but she said she had to go to her room and get “ready.” I was a little impatient, because she took forever. She came downstairs in her pink ballet tutu, glitter on her arms, lip gloss, jewels, and her pink ballet slippers. She looked over at me (wearing a ratty t-shirt and shorts) and said, “I look like a dancer. You don’t.” And I tell you, that child watched the DVD focused, eager, and interested. I don’t have much of a dancer’s wardrobe, but I can have a dancer’s attitude. Confidence! Pride! Grace! Feeling Beautiful!

Trick #3: Get obsessed! My fellow dancer Fay told me that when she started dancing, she got obsessed FAST and that’s what made it so fun. I didn’t realize that I got obsessed until I received my “Ballet for Dummies” guide from Amazon. While I hate the moniker of the Dummy and Idiot’s Guide series, the book is actually easy, clear, and pretty cool. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it to learn and practice with. You know, isn’t it true when you find something new you really like, it’s so much fun to immerse yourself. That’s the best part!

Trick #4: Be a child. My spunky teacher Jo played some classic children’s songs to try out with our class (she is coming up with a new repertoire for the young dancers). I loved it. I was humming and singing along, the beats and melodies were easier to follow when I danced and moved, and by the time “Farmer in the Dell” starting playing, I felt like a little kid goofing around on a midsummer’s night in the backyard. This kind of magic should get bottled and doled out as prescription medicine for us adults.

Trick #5: Yeah, I fouled up a bunch of steps, spun too much, too hard, and without focus and crashed into a fellow dancer. But you know, I got some stuff right though. So, when I came home I demonstrated some “moves” for my husband (he put on The Who for background music and inspiration). He applauded wildly and said I was really “good.” I smiled, did a curtsy, and we celebrated with gin and tonics.

Could it be? Could it really be? A teeny tiny hint of improvement? Growth?

Whatever it is, it's cool.

Stay tuned at Gritty City Woman ( In The Neighborhood for more to come.


Stephanie Frieze said...

Thanks for taking us to class, Kim! Out of the mouths of babes, eh? I loved that you smiled until the tension bled away. That is one tip I might actually be able to use since ballet is not on my dance program. Keep dancing and keep writing about it. :-)

Kim Thompson said...


You know the other day I was doing yoga and doing something new and rather difficult. I smiled and it really helped. I think smiling while exercising here and there really takes you to a nice place mentally.

However, I suspect that could be true of anything, really.

Glad you are enjoying the posts. I am enjoying writing them.

Patty Cake said...

Cool, Kim!

Maybe you need some glitter, lip gloss and some jewels!

I am proud of you and its great to hear your enthuasium!


Lorraine Hart said...

Great to hear of your practice and progress Kim! For those aches, try a nice hot bath, with a whole pound box of baking soda. You'll be amazed how it takes the ache out.

It's wonderful that you get to share this with your daughter...even if she does outrank you!

You would be so pretty in pink...gots to work on the outfit...hmmm...Lorraine gets ideas....

Kim Thompson said...

Thanks you gals.

Patty, it probably wouldn't hurt to get all glitzed up, huh?

Lorraine, yeah, Erin does outrank me, but her advice is sound. Pink? Well, it's not my favorite color. How about something in red-hot red?

Update: check this out. My teacher Jo has encouraged me to try the Modern Dance class Tuesday. It sounded totally groovy. I am going to give it a shot. With my build and kind of physicality, this could be an interesting fit! Wish me luck!

Stephanie Frieze said...

I think you'd be a perfect candidate for Modern Dance, Kim!

Hey, you said that they'd been playing some children's music at your classes. That's the sort of music my daughter-in-law is learning at the violin lessons. Think you could dance to "Twinkle, Twinkle?"

Kim Thompson said...

Twinkle, Twinkle?

Yes ma'am, I can hoof to that one.

Lorraine Hart said...

Oooh...then you can teach us modern dance Kim!! My toes are made for modern my backside was made for radio!

Hey Stephanie...could you see the two of us doing the swim and the mashed potato?! There's a Trocadero Troupe in here somewhere.

Stephanie Frieze said...

OMG, Lorraine. You've got me howling now!