I love ballet, but, like Mickela Mallozzi, I don’t see myself as a ballerina. I could relate to the title of Mickela’s recent post Ballet is what Heals Me on her blog Travel Bare Feet. The post is both an explanation of why she finds peace at the barre and a tribute to her childhood ballet teacher.
“I don’t consider myself to be a ballerina: I’m not stick thin, and to be honest, I love food too much to ever be. However I am a dancer. And whenever my brain has become overflown with too many ideas or the hours in each day just aren’t long enough (damn the necessity of sleep!), I realize I am reaching my tipping point and need to reenergize. I seek my refuge and fall to my body’s sanctuary, a position at the ballet barre with canvas ballet slippers on my feet and my hair tightly wound in a bun. But most importantly, it is Dieter Rieslewho I seek, one of my very first ballet teachers who molded me into the dancer (and person) that I am today…
…My classes with Dieter are therapy sessions for my body as well as my soul – my body’s physical realignment also fits well with his pearls of wisdom throughout the class on philosophy, science, and art.” Continue reading…
I didn’t have years of ballet training in my youth. I took classes when and wherever I could as a young adult. It wasn’t consistent: the instructors, the studio, etc. Sometimes weeks and months, even years, would pass between classes. But one thing was consistent: the barre. I was (and am) always challenged in ballet class, both as a dancer and as a person, but it is a solid foundation. And for this dancer’s heart, the barre is my home.
Hanging out at the barre.
As much as I love to dance and despite the fact I’ve been dancing for years, I consider myself a novice dancer (click here for my dance resume). I don’t mean to discount any of the classes I’ve taken but they only skimmed the surface*. I often felt as though I was taking the same class over and over but with a different instructor. Once in a while I would find a class that pushed me, but my ever-changing life never allowed me to stay long. My work schedule would change or I would move, and I’d find myself searching for another challenging class only to find myself taking a basic course because that was all that could be found and it was better than nothing.
It would be easy to focus on what could have been had I received quality training when I started taking classes at age eighteen. I see and hear other stories of dancers who got a late start and wonder about the dancer I could have become. But life is what it is. I cannot change the past. I’ve learned that I can’t allow my lack of training to impede my enjoyment of dance or my participation in its various styles and expressions. All I can do is focus on becoming the best dancer I can be in this moment.
Of course there are days when it is rather difficult to watch an exquisite dance performance and not experience a twinge of jealousy. But instead of wallowing in the sea of what-could-have-been, I allow the beauty created by other dancers to further motivate me as a dancer.
My journey through dance has been more about becoming the woman God has created me to be than about becoming the best dancer in the world. As I pursue my passion, I continue to gain insight and grow in self-knowledge.
And so my training continues. My most recent dance classes have been amazingly helpful in this pursuit by pushing me beyond what I thought myself capable of. I choose not to think about the dancer I might have become because I’d much rather enjoy the dancer I currently am.
*Disclaimer: This has not been the case with my current class, which has been challenging, bad habit-breaking, grueling and great fun!