In the bright hot Los Angeles sunlight, my new ballet teacher and I stood talking in the parking lot of the studio. Dance teacher is still relatively new to teaching as he’s fairly recently retired from a professional career himself. He has begun to create different series’ of ballet classes for adult students. I sign up for pretty much all of them. So as we wave good-bye with “See you next class” attached, I remind him that we will be seeing a lot of each other as one of the new classes starts this week.
Ballet Teacher: You’ll love it! You’ll be like, “this is all simple stuff” at this stage but we’re building, we’re layering.
Me: I don’t think “simple” will come to mind.
Ballet Teacher: I said simple, not easy. This is serious stuff. Ballet is serious, it’s hard, it’s deep. Simple, but not easy. I’m going to challenge you. You’ll love it.
And with that we parted. I got into my car and sat there for a few moments thinking about that… simple but not easy. Yeah, rond de jamb is simple… really very simple but to make it flowing and beautiful, it’s not easy. Fondu, not hard, a simple concept really, just a bend of the knees. But it’s not easy to coordinate arms, legs, feet, head, hands and make it look all pretty and delicious.
I’m reminded of how ballet teacher likes to talk about his professional classes and how he strives to get us to work in a similar way. He tells us that the pros spend time working on plies, releves, and tendus constantly, that you never ever stop trying to perfect them, make them stronger, lighter, powerful, and more beautiful. The most simple and basic steps in ballet are not easy.
When I think about that I realize that I am looking for a simplicity when I work but that I should not expect it to ever become easy because I’ll be waiting a long long time. And when you are waiting and expecting something to occur that isn’t ever going to, it can be discouraging. I don’t want to wait for godot, I want to feel like progress is being made. I’m beginning to realize that hoping for things to get easier will stand in the way of recognizing that progress. Simple but not easy because this ballet business is serious stuff.