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 (http://grittycitywoman.blogspot.com)and In The Neighborhood for more to come.