After what is becoming the typical class/no class dance with Sazerac, (me waving my hand and shouting, “oh! me! memememememeee! I want class!” and then no one else responds and class is cancelled), I looked through my list of local fill-in classes and decided to try one called Adult Beginner/Intermediate Ballet.
This turned out to be a misnomer.
Found the place, paid at the front desk, and walked into the studio. There I saw to my absolute, utter, extreme horror that this class was really called Three Teenagers and Four Children Do Ballet, While The Adult Beginner Tries To Remind Herself That She Is Good At Other Things, and Can Legally Drink. Yes, to clarify, there were children in the class. Children with ballet training. Children who were about to show me up.
The instructor bore a resemblance to that ghost in the movie, Ghost, who is mean to Patrick Swayze but helps him realize that ghosts can move things if they really concentrate, or something.
One of the nice things about being an adult beginner is that adults are brave, right? So I marched across the studio to introduce myself to Scary Ghost Teacher.
I said, “Hi, I’m a beginner, and I’m new to this studio,” Scary Ghost Teacher said, “Oh, welcome! What is your name? I love having beginners in class!” Ha, just kidding. What he actually said was, “Absolute beginner?” in the same way one might say, “Absolute moron?”
This should’ve been my cue to turn around and sha-Nay-Nay back out the door, but I actually thought to myself, “Hey Self! He’s just worried that you’ve never heard of first position, but you have! So you are totally going to rock this!”
“Well, just try to follow as well as you can.”
During barre I stood between the two teenagers. Couldn’t bear the idea of following the children. Didn’t yet know that particular horror was just being postponed to the center work portion of the class.
I followed along. The routine was different from Sazerac’s and Smirnoff’s, but there were some things I recognized. I was pretty excited when those things came up. I made sure to remember to twist into barre during the thing called Gran Versay (Grand Versailles?) like Sazerac taught me, and to just skim the floor with no weight during tendu like Smirnoff taught me. I held some pretty good balances through sheer force of internal pep talk. Got a bunch of stuff totally out of order though, and the teenagers totally kicked my ass with their developé. Scary Ghost Teacher’s only correction was to tell me not to even bother with the arms.
Scary Ghost Teacher addressed the class with something I thought was really odd, he said, “Ballet is not comfortable. If you are comfortable, you aren’t doing it correctly.”
Which has been the opposite of my experience of ballet: things tend to feel correct and good. When Sazerac corrected my posture, I really think the world changed, it felt right, I’d been standing in this bizarre wrong way for so long thinking achy shoulders were just a part of good posture.
Fifth position makes since too. Just looking at someone in fifth you get the impression that that front foot is just about to fly away, it’s a pose with so much energy.
Usually the corrections I receive in class are me trying to cram my body into some shape and being told instead to approach the position another way, which suddenly feels right.
Then it was time for center, which is really titled, Everyone Pirouettes While The Adult Beginner Tries Not To Cry.
During this portion of the class I studiously avoided the mirror, which is where The Thighs live. The thighs that say you’re thirty-two, what the hell are you doing here with these kids, go put a skirt on for pete’s sake. Instead kept my eyes on the other students feet. Tried to figure out what exactly one does to make a pirouette. Still a mystery. Followed along miserably but stubbornly thinking, “dammit, you paid for this, now follow that eight year old! Do it!” Also peeked at the clock every half minute. It was seriously awful. I sat out the last bit, just stretched and watched and tried to not feel mortified at being that old pathetic person who can’t even twirl.
Then we all did a bow and I ran out of there. Made it to the car, cried half way home, sang along with Queen about how We Are The Champions Of The World the rest of the way home, and then put on my running shoes and ran, even though it was raining, just to remind my body that it can do some things. Did some sit ups too.
Seriously, if this had been my first class I would never have had a second.
My husband has this really annoying habit of stopping me mid-whinge to suggest that I do something to fix or at least address the problem. So I was launching into a big ol’ complain about how awful this class was and poor poor me when he jumped in and suggested I write a letter of complaint to the dance studio. Fine! So I did! And I got back a prompt and satisfying response from the owner. So Fine! I guess he had a point! Fine!