Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Getting Back on The Horse

To begin, I think it is important to give you my history in dance in order to help you understand why taking this class was probably one of the biggest and scariest decisions I have ever made.

I spent the better part of my life in ballet class.
I started taking ballet when I was three years old, and somehow ended up dedicating the next 12 years of my life to it. I initially started taking classes at our local YMCA. I took round after round of classes there through ages three and four, becoming more and more obsessed (like most little girls) with the idea of being a ballerina. Ballet became my world, and my mother decided to enroll me at age 5 at a classical ballet school located in the basement of a ritzy community house in a rich suburb north of me.
In the beginning, I loved it.
From ages 5 to probably 11 or 12 I lived and breathed ballet. My teacher was like every ballet teacher in every movie, eerily beautiful, strict, terrifying, ruthless, but I loved going to class. I excelled and was put in pointe early (around age 10) along with a few others girls in my class, and I was taking 4 classes a week. I lived for being on stage, and though I don't think I ever truly thought I would be a professional dancer (I was of course told at a young age that I didn't have the body for that), I still wanted to commit myself to improving and learning.
I started doing Cecchitti testing somewhere in there, maybe around age 8 or 9, and though it was difficult, I really enjoyed it through grade I and II.
Around middle school, my relationship with dance started to change. I went through puberty, which made it even more apparent that I would never become a professional dancer, but I was still dancing with girls who were possibly on that path. I became extremely insecure about my body while simultaneously becoming interested in other activities, and by the time I reached my grade IV exam, I was absolutely disinterested, and absolutely loathed the woman who had virtually been a second mother to me for the last 10 years.
All of the other girls were spending their summer at dance camps, and going to seminars on the weekends, and I could feel that I wasn't improving anymore.
My mother didn't want to let me quit at first. She felt that ballet was good for me, and my freshman year of high school, she actually talked me into taking both tap and jazz (some sort of discount on classes) even though I'd said no to taking both for years.
Anyway, by freshman year my fellow dancers were preparing for their grade V and my teacher actually asked me not to continue taking the grade V technique class because it would be a waste of time.
I danced my last recital that year knowing that I wouldn't be starting up again in the fall, but I didn't tell the teacher that had been training me for the last 11 years nor did I tell any of the girls I'd been dancing with throughout my childhood.
I left and didn't look back.
Anyway, I still believe it was the best decision I ever made.
I became involved in theatre and choir, and had time to explore many other areas of art, but throughout the last 5 years, I get a twinge of pain every time I see a dance recital or a watch a movie like Center Stage.
So, my venture back into the world of ballet really began over Christmas break.
I wasn't originally planning on enrolling in ballet this semester.
My friend Siga took it last semester, and I felt a twinge of jealousy watching her informance, but I still wasn't planning signing up.
Then, I watched Billy Elliot over break and ended up bringing out all of my old pointe shoes.
11 pairs, I think.

(A photo I took of all my shoes, I couldn't do anything but stand in the pair I put on.)

I realized that I did still have room in my schedule for one more class...
I came back after break and looked for a ballet class, all were full.
Then, magically, the Tuesday of the first week a ballet I magically opened up, and I nabbed it.
And so my endeavor back into ballet ensues.

1 comment:

  1. This is exactly why I love reading people's blogs and journals - so much history and fascinating things that influence people's choices in pursuing dance training. I loved the description of your ballet teacher - There are many philosophies about teaching styles and how to most effectively teach dancers how to become artists - I have conflicted feelings on the subject and on the various degrees of strictness in training - but I will say that I would not trade my experiences with half-mad maestros who were very old school in their approach - for anything.

    At the same time I despise the idea discouraging students from pursuing dance because they don't "fit the mold" - Art is all about breaking the mold! And multiple perspectives and challenging the status quo, and making people think...

    I hope that in this class you feel the freedom to pursue some of these things.