my journey with truth

Ballet

Posted on: September 17, 2010

I took ballet as a child from Ms. Bobbie at the Comfort Hermann Sons Dance School.  Believe it or not, Ms. Bobbie still runs the whole show (see this flier, bottom right corner).  Either she’s ancient or she was succeeded by another Ms. Bobbie.  Either way, I’m kind of not shocked.

I was a very meticulous 5 year old in ballet.  My mom always says I looked so serious because I was concentrating on getting everything right, but then, I got everything right.  That was a time in my life when I felt good about my body.  Even as a little girl, I knew I was a little bit bigger than the other girls in my class, but I was good at ballet.  I could do all the moves.  I was a little hesitant when we did “gymnastics” (somersaults and cartwheels) at the end of each class, but otherwise, I felt just right.  My body felt just right.  My body was technically the best in the class.  And my body looked amazing in those recital outfits.  My body was transformed into a princess’s body.  The shirt I’m wearing below used to be my cover-up shirt – that’s the one you wear over your black leotard and pink tights before and after class.  It used to go down to my knees.  I also used to fit on playgrounds.

We moved from Comfort when I was 7.  I never really got back into dance after that move.  I had also been playing tee ball before the move (only girl on my team and a slugger of sorts), and should have moved up to softball the next year.  But we moved.  And I never really got back into a sport after that, either.  All the kids in my new neighborhood swam (I cheered the Forest Oaks Frogs at many a meet) and it seemed like you needed to have been swimming for years to keep up – next to no one even had a pool in Comfort, TX.  The active things that had made my body capable or even a little talented were gone, so all I was left with was the part where I remembered and saw my body as bigger.  And soon that came to mean it was incapable and untalented.  It was just big.

Nearly 20 years later, enter Ninth Street Dance Studio.

“Ninth Street Dance opened its doors in 1993 with the belief that people of all ages, shapes and sizes can enjoy and benefit from learning to dance. Not a studio for professional dancers, we invite anyone who would like to explore new ways of moving and inhabiting their bodies to join us. We strive to provide a nurturing, non-threatening environment in which beginners as well as experienced dancers/movers can enjoy their favorite movement styles or try out a wide variety of new ones.”

I take beginner ballet on Thursdays with Raina and Saturdays with Danielle.  For 60 short minutes twice a week, I feel long and graceful.  Even when I look in the mirror and remember I’m short and wide, I see my arms and my legs doing the right thing, and I’m still graceful.  Grace-full, I should say.  For 60 short minutes twice a week, I gracefully give my body a little slack for being short and wide.  It doesn’t have to be anything other than what it already is.  Even short and wide my body is able to turn my feet out into 1st position, my arms curve well and not stiffly en bas or in 5th position (don’t forget to keep your shoulders down).  For 60 short minutes twice a week, I love my body for knowing how to move rhythmically, keeping time without thinking about it – it’s just something it knows how to do, even if it is short and wide.

I am not a ballerina.  That is the harsh truth.  I have terrible flexibility – you can see it in my demi-plié, which is shallow (if I try to dip just a little bit farther, keeping my pelvis tucked under and not sticking out my butt, that means my heels have to try desperately to stay grounded so as not to cross over into grand-plié in 1st position) but maintains good form.  My feet don’t curve as much as I’d like them to for that beautiful shape ballerinas make in tendu or dégagé, but they curve and my big toe just touches and I strain to keep my turnout, imagining my ankles being pulled forward (as Raina reminds me).

I am not a ballerina.  But for 60 short minutes twice a week, my short, wide body is long and grace-full.

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  • myjourneywithtruth: i had it in my office at my internship in Corpus Christi two summers ago. ellen davis is brilliant and glows with an aura of holy.
  • amy h: i love this quote. i think i may need it hanging on my wall where i'll see it daily. perhaps in front of the toilet? by the door? bedside table? i'll
  • chaz: That post made me really sad too. Mostly because I want to take young Lizzie by the shoulders and shake her (gently?) into sublime realization that sh

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