“Do one thing every day that scares you.” At one time or another, we’ve all heard Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous quote, and while I can’t say I succeed in this every single day, I pride myself in taking the road less traveled and trying things I once deemed as impossible. A few weeks ago, over the course of a 5-day period, several articles and videos about about ballet populated my social media feeds. Ballet as an adult was always something I wanted to try. Call it timing, or maybe just fleeting moments of serendipity, but now seemed like the right time. Nervous? Yes. Scared? Yep. Signed up anyway because the 14-year hiatus needed to end? Absolutely!
That’s right, a 14-year hiatus. A very little known fact: for 15 years of my life (ages 3-18), I was a dancer. Tap, jazz, pointe, clogging and ballet — I did it all. Dance was a major part of my childhood development, teaching me a lot about true commitment and dedication, practice, peer interaction and grace and poise. There weren’t many options to continue dance after highschool without becoming professional, so I found other things to enjoy during college. Even though I had always missed dance, the thought of returning to a practice that was once an everyday part of my life — a sense of security — now seemed almost foreign and scary. With the help of a brand new pair of ballet shoes and my friend Stephanie (also a dancer) in tow, we took a Beginning Ballet class at our local studio, Ballet Austin, and I’m so thankful I did.
Here’s what I learned about returning to my favorite practice as an adult:
- Learning was easier. Perhaps its because I have a background in dance or I’m a better listener & more mature than I was at 7, but learning our sequences was much easier.
- I could laugh at my faults. Sure, my pas de bouree, demi plie and balance’s were not as strong as they were 14 years ago, but I cut myself some slack and enjoyed it. Plus, I signed up because I missed a really fun part of my childhood, not to become a professional.
- Nothing has changed. With the exception of dancing to a live piano accompaniment (which is beautiful), nothing has changed. The pretty French names for moves still exist. There’s still that one girl in class that nails her pirouettes. And that other girl in class that is always asking the teacher to repeat the move.
- It’s all in your mind. No one is watching you and there really is nothing to fear. This continues to hold true with each new activity I try. The only reason I watched anyone was to mimick their wonderful form.
- Confidence is key. I loved our teacher, Melanie. She urged each of us to end each pose as if we were giving the performance of our life. To imagine that we were a character on stage and even if we got the move wrong, we owned it and the audience wouldn’t pick up on it. This led me to think, how wonderful would life be if we all approached situations with a little more confidence, imaginging we are on stage giving the performance of a lifetime.
For the record, with each pose I envisioned I was the lead character in Center Stage during the finale scene, and it worked until I looked in the mirror and saw my actual poses — then just laughed. Dance was in my life again and was more fun than I remember.