Balance and Respect

When we talk about balance in ballet class, we are usually talking about how to stand on the toes of one foot without falling over. And that’s no small feat! But another aspect of balance has been brought home to me this week.  I’ve very happily been able to take three classes so far this week and I’m planning on taking a fourth for the week – depending upon whether you consider the start of your week being Sunday or Monday – I’m a Monday is the new week kinda girl. Anyway… I started the week with a more advanced class. It was my first Align 3 class since I’ve been back, so in over a year! Yikes!!! And it was a doozy! Nederland Dans Theatre just performed in Los Angeles and my Awesome Ballet Teacher is still inspired so we danced in center a lot! And it was great! I was able to move and remember the combinations and, miracle of all miracles, I was able to do the turns as well. Single turns but multiple single turns in the combinations! I even got a compliment on my pique turns. Yes!!! Wednesday’s class was equally fun and then on Thursday we went to see a musical performance – Lera Auerbach performing her own work!!! I was seriously over the moon because I have been intrigued with Lera Auerbach ever since I saw John Neumeier’s The Little Mermaid. I don’t know a geek alive that isn’t thrilled with the use of a Theremin. I was feeling pretty good and all ready for another more advanced class today but my foot didn’t agree. It simply didn’t want to warm up and loosen up. Post-injury my foot has become very demanding. I have to do a lot of pre-class work to get my foot loosened up, ready and willing to work with me.  If it doesn’t want to loosen up the result is that my foot is slow to respond in bending and pointing and stays tight both in the toe knuckles and the top of the foot. The other sucky result is that my entire leg starts to compensate and I end up feeling wonky in the left leg. The other problem is that the studio we work in doesn’t have a proper warm up area, just a small hallway with benches and right in front of the bathrooms, which also serves as the changing area. So grabbing a small bit of floor and making an attempt to warm up pre-class is a challenge. There is only one studio classroom in the building and if their is a class in there (and there usually is), it’s just a pain in the butt or, in my case, the foot. I’m still trying to find creative ways to work around that. So class today was challenging. I enjoyed it – I sweated, I worked hard, I got to turn, but I didn’t get to jump – I got the stern look from my Awesome Ballet Teacher, no jumping, NO jumping. Ack. My foot slowed me down today, sometimes a lot. And I didn’t jump, even though I really really wanted to. That left leg was sort of a tree stump. But balance in dancing isn’t just about standing on one leg (or two toes). That’s certainly one BIG part but it’s also about learning when to go full force and knowing when to hold back a bit because your body needs you to. I worked on my balances today even though my foot wasn’t cooperative but I also held back from throwing my weight on that leg during center and I didn’t jump. Balance means that we can push but only when we can push safely; it means listening to our bodies and being respectful of and responsible for our instrument. Today I practiced balance on my standing leg and balance in the care of my dancing self. I’m going to get that fourth class in this week and be ready for next week because I’m beginning to learn how important it is to recognize that balance is not about setting limits or restricting myself and my dancing but about respecting the temporary limits that my body has right now and moving those limits responsibly and carefully so that I can continue dancing. Forever.

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