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.