So, how’s this for crazy: Two people named Victoria commented/asked a question the other day. Two! Two Victorias! In one day! Two Victorias!
And even crazier, the Two Victorias had similar things to say.
Victorias In Tandem!
Great Victorias think alike!
Ok I mean I thought that was a pretty crazy coincidence. Right?
Anyway, here’s an except from the Victoria who left a blog comment:
I have recently enrolled in an adult beginner ballet class though it doesn’t start until later on in Jan, I am so excited! I did a very small amount of ballet, jazz, etc styled dance as a child but had to quit due to my mother saying it was too expensive, which was a shame because I was crazy passionate about it. Now that I’m older and earning my own income nothing can stop me. Since then its been about 10 years + and I’m definitely not as flexible or thin, haha. I am very nervous to start ballet again as my body isn’t exactly a typical “dancer” body and I was wondering if you think my body shape would improve with more dance?
And here’s an excerpt from the Victoria who sent an email:
I have been dancing since I was a kid but have always had a body that as hard as I tried, wouldn’t let me dance as freely as I wanted to, or make the shapes I wanted to see. I’m not exactly ballerina shaped (more, like, WOMAN shaped), and seem predisposed to develop bulky thigh muscles where they are no desirable for good lines. The older I get, the harder it is to even try. I’m always trying to imbue my dancing with Good Lines and Smiles and Heads and Soft Romantic Arms and much Epaulement (most of my classmates are sullen skinny teenagers so this makes me look angelic by comparison) but there’s no escaping glancing at the mirror and seeing a reflection that doesn’t match what’s going on in my ballet brain.
I often leave the really advanced classes feeling much more depressed than when I went in, because my turnout is non-existent and my balance is crap and my arms are fat, and none of it matches the image of the “ballet-me” I have in my head. Do you ever get that feeling leaving class, when you’re supposed to feel the post-dancing glow but really feel like you wandered in from a legwarmers revival convention? Ballet so often gives me so much joy from nowhere, which keeps me doing it and pretending I’m Odette in my living room, but also leaves me feeling frustrated I can’t be the dancer I wish I could be. So it’s inspiring to know that there are adults out there of all shapes and sizes, abilities and ages, having a go and feeling that joy, and it just doesn’t matter a bit whether that line is just right. Screw the mirror.
Ok so both Victorias are kinda hitting on that question that I think maybe we are not supposed to be thinking?
Like, we are supposed to enter into this whole ballet thing with Pure Intentions like Being Part of a Grand Tradition and learning to Be Graceful In All Things in studio and out, and, like, Being Active in making beauty happen in our lives instead of just watching it on tv or whatever.
But maybe there’s another intention that we don’t want to cop to because it seems way too frivolous? Maybe a question like, ‘can I get a dancer body?’
Like, pursuit of hotness might be a kind of frivolous reason to get into ballet? But maybe something the Adult Beginner definitely might be kind of a little bit interested in, hypothetically?
Which reminds me of this comment from June on the post about the top dance blogs competition, where she sez, “Your blog…embraces all things that may be considered “frivolous” but often weigh heavily on the minds of beginners to be!”
Which I think is an awesome compliment.
So, was thinking about what the Victorias were saying and thinking about whether and how ballet has changed my body and my first thought was that I could just say ballet has improved my body Image, and that that’s the most important thing, but then I was like, ‘that may be true but it is also totally vague and boring!!! Get specific!’
So, the specifics:
The Adult Beginner has not gotten all ballet skinny or anything. To quote Mr. Adult Beginner, “Well, you’re not any smaller, but everything is more toned.”
(Although my most recent leotard purchases were mediums, not larges. Woo!)
Also, the other day he was demonstrating how he would like to strangle somebody, and I was like Hey! Quit It! And he was like, “but I dont want to quit it! Your neck feels nice! And your collar bones!”
Ballet has improved my whole shoulder-collarbone-neck department, mostly just by getting me to stand correctly after a lifetime of having my head down and shoulders up. Think my neck is probably stronger, like the muscles look nicer and stuff.
So, like, if you’re looking to be more strangle-able, take ballet.
Wear a lot more mini-skirts than I did before ballet. And, like, I’ve always had good legs. Not trying to toot my own horn here, just recognizing my best feature for what it is. Ballet has streamlined them- but more than that- seeing my legs twice a week in a mirror has gotten me used to seeing them out in public, which goes back to the body image thing, which is boring but true.
So, yeah, I think ballet will change your body. And definitely your body image. Although neither one is changed for good, I have days when just getting dressed for class is an exercise in strategic camouflage.
But then there’s that “joy from nowhere”.