New Studio, New Classmates, Same Old Me (?)

My ballet teacher teaches drop-in classes, privates, and series courses. I do all three as much as I can. A new series course began tonight. A friend from my Wed series class and I signed up together. This class series is at a different studio from the usual location so I made sure to leave early to give myself time to find the place. I climbed the stairs and walked through the door to find my teacher smiling and getting his iPod ready. I  immediately spied cubbies and went to put my things away, take off my warmup, and stretch a bit. Next thing I know, I turn around and someone released half a dozen or so Urban Outfitters models in my ballet class! Tall, skinny, and no more than twenty-five, they all wore cutesy leotards with strategically placed cut outs and pink Capezio slippers right out of the packaging with the laces tied in huge bows. In that moment, I felt so incredibly short and chubby. The comfort level that I felt in my new coral leotard and matching pink and coral dance skirt vanished. Only an hour before, I had put the outfit on for the first time and almost felt kind of cute. Now I was contemplating putting my baggy warmup overall back on but class was about to begin before I could make up my mind.

I grabbed any space at the barre, not really caring, just wanting to get on with it but my teacher moved me to the end. “I need you to lead this side of the room,” he said with a smile. I think I smiled back. He called out the sequence of the combination and counted out the tempo. Then music flooded the small, hot studio, in the background was the even sound of my teacher’s voice, counting, making corrections and nothing else mattered. An hour and a half later I was soaked in sweat, my thighs were burning, my feet were starting to cramp, and I was happy. I looked over at my friend, Joanna, and we shared a smile and basked wordlessly in each other’s post-class glow. I looked around and was confused to see the lack of dance-glow in my new classmates, most of whom just grabbed their stuff and headed out toward the parking lot as quickly as possible. And in that moment, I felt sorry for them. No one can give you the joy of dancing, you either discover it there in your soul or you don’t. I may not be Ford model material, but I do know the pure joy of being ballet, of moving inside the music, and of experiencing the juxtaposition of being both freed and completed when I dance.

I was proud of myself tonight. Yeah, I let myself down by comparing myself to others and determining that I lacked for a moment. Then that moment was gone and I was able to pull it together and focus on what’s important. I had a great class. I worked hard and I made progress. I got to work with a teacher that I greatly admire. I got to dance. Today I got to dance. Any day that I get to say that is a great day and I will not mar it by being petty and ridiculous. Today I got to dance and I am happy.

6 thoughts on “New Studio, New Classmates, Same Old Me (?)

  1. i feel sorry for them too. if you don’t get that “dance high” just go to the gym. also, they should tuck in the bows on their shoes 😉

    • Right?! There’s a Cardio Barre right down the street. I was surprised that ballet teacher didn’t tell them that! I’ve heard him inform other people about the bows.

  2. Yay for you! Feeling sorry for that other lot too.. But the moment you wrote
    “they all wore cutesy leotards with strategically placed cut outs and pink Capezio slippers right out of the packaging with the laces tied in huge bows.”, I read “poser-alert”! Huge bows? Now, everyone who is serious about ballet knows about the little details. Now bows, and strings hidden inside shoes! You can wear the cutest outfit, but w/o the skill & joy to back it up, well you don´t impress me much 🙂

    To excel in dance, recreational or not, takes dedication, humility, hard work, buckets of sweat, desire and drive. Hell, I´d rather be less than model-perfect me with chubby thighs, wide hips than a pretty but pathetic wanna-be ballerina!

    I´m happy that you got to be happy and dance 😀

    • There’s been an influx of “Black Swan” ballerinas in dance classes. Even in intermediate, there have been girls coming who took ballet when they were kids or teenagers and think that they can just jump right back in where they started. I was afraid of that. But it’s alright, as long as I get to dance 🙂

  3. Yay! You’re in class to get the most out of it, so way to go in owning it. By the way I have yet to debut my tights in class (maybe this Sunday!)… a few of the other guys have worn tights to class now and then, so I won’t feel quite so different, but it’s still new to me!

    Oh, and I want to say in my best Mommie Dearest tone, “No ballet bows!” Hmm, I’m picturing a T-shirt now…

    • Hahahaha! Mommie Dearest! I want one of those t-shirts!

      At the beginning of every class, I still feel self-conscious in my leotard, but once class starts, I immediately focus on the benefits! Being able to see my body well in the mirror really allows me to see when I get lazy and lose my square or start turning in, etc. My progress is significantly faster when I can correct myself all through class! I hope that you can focus on the benefits of tights as well! Let me know how it goes 🙂

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