I’ve gotten used to certain places at the barre. I usually prefer perimeter barres over free-standing barres and I usually like corners. I also prefer the least amount of mirror possible. If I can stand by a window or a wall, I will gravitate toward it. Even if your preferences are 100% different, you know what I’m talking about – you find “your place” and there is a sense of comfort about it. I’ve always been at war with the mirror, we’ve never been friends, not even freniemies. No likey mirror, no likey. And that has been a big determiner to where I stand. I’ll even deal with minimal amount of room and just adjust in order to keep my place.
A couple of weeks ago, a friend that I haven’t seen in a long time was in class. She beckoned me over and after a series of hugs and quickly catching up, she asked me to stand in front of her. This put me in a totally new place in the studio – a corner that I’d never gotten near. It is the corner with full mirrors and not just any mirrors… the FAT mirror. But one does not abandon a fellow ballerina in her first class back after a long time away! That would be kind of cruel, us ballet peeps have to stick together after all. So there I was standing in front of these big, FAT emphasizing, full length mirrors; standing right in front so that there was nothing to look at but me, me, me in that FAT mirror.
Want to hear something crazy? I like it. The ability to self-correct was amazing. I discovered so much about the difference between where I thought my arms, legs, hands, and feet were positioned versus where they actually were! and the ability to make those adjustments with a simple glance in the mirror… why did I resist this all this time? Well, of course, because I have body image issues and I still do but this amazing thing happened that night and has continued to happen class after class… I still judge myself harshly before class but as I start to warm up and class starts, my attention diverts from my unwanted poundage to my dancing, to seeing myself move and to matching up what I see with how it feels to move.
I have a new little corner in the studio surrounded by mirrors and I like to look… who would have thought!?! Practically by magic, I have learned to harness the power of la glace and it is amazing what there is to be learned. It’s about watching my form and watching the effort that I put in to my technique, not about worrying if I look chubby. I actually can concentrate on dancing rather than focusing on the size of my thighs – even when I’m actually looking at my thighs!
Here’s a thought… what if we begin to think that when we look in the mirror that there are dancers looking back, not girls with tummies or thighs that we don’t like; that we begin to see ballet dancers moving and dancing instead of boys and girls that are just making believe. Let’s try it, I think that we will like it!