09 May 2013

Life as I know It: How I got Booed by My Ballet Teacher in Class, Part 1



I've made reference to you guys before that I take ballet. But I've never gone into much detail. So here's the backdrop before I get to my story.

I, like any number of untold girls, had a mother who thought all cute, little girls should take ballet. Yes, I fit the bill. Should I have been taking ballet? No! I hated it when I was little girl. My teacher was mean to little 6 or 7 year old me. I recall her cliched Eastern European accent {or maybe I added that in my later years to round out my teacher's character). I also recalled her constantly yelling to me about my posture & my arms in second position. She'd bounce over to me with her ballet feet, out stretching her bony arms & fingers correcting my deficiencies with the gentleness of Captain Hook trying to fasten a button. To add insult to injury, she would not let me keep my pink leg warmers on! I tried in every class to keep them on, to no avail.  All the other little girls laughed each time she would make me take them off...the little &$!*s

Fast forward an hour to the gathering room. You know the room where all the mothers wait expectantly for their next prima ballerina daughters, so their deep seeded dreams can be fulfilled by the skinny little girls in pink tights. There was my mom. On cue I knew what to do. I would stomp toward her with my frown & pink ballet slippers on. Plop on the bench as if to break it with the sheer force of my 6 year old body weight.  I'd take off my pink slippers, & begin to cry. You see I was born flat footed. So the crying was real. My feet hurt like a son-of-a-gun after my ballet classes. But my mother had {& has} a very firm constitution. I never recall her, prior to that point, being swayed by any child of hers-I'm the only child of her's. My cries fell on deaf ears. So I thought.

But I would cry nonetheless. While crying I would tell her how much my feet hurt. Then I'd exclaim "I hate ballet!" in the gathering room. I imagine all the dream obsessed moms looking at my mother with utter pity that she had given birth to some fringe lunatic with ideas of her own. And at such a young age.

It was a battle of wills for a couple of years between my mother & me. Her's & mine. My little self was determined to win. And I did! The complaining & the real tears became too much for my mom. She very tenderly let me quit the object of my scorn.

Picture this. I'm in my late 30s. Having done a three years of ballroom dancing previously, & over two decades of admiring the art of dance & imaging being a beautiful dancer...I take up ballet again. I'm pretty thick skinned in a lot of things, my profession has done that to me. But prior to my first class all my 6 year old memories came flooding back. I shared them with Hubby right before that introductory class. He assured me I was no longer that little girl beholden to the attitudes of my old teacher & all those other little girls in pink tights who laughed at me about my leg warmers.

As Henry David Thoreau said, I went confidently {somewhat} in the direction of my ballet dreams. What I found out, is as an adult I love ballet! The exactness of it,  coincides with my personality beautifully. Visually, even in the beginning learning phases, it feeds me fully. Surprisingly enough, my feet don't hurt, at least in that "I don't have an arch in my foot" way.

Now every week I take a ballet class every other day-Ballet 1 & Ballet 2. In all honesty a lot of Ballet 2 is over my head. But I was encouraged by my teacher to step out to Ballet 2, & I did. You'll learn more about her in a second.

I'm still a beginner. I have retained very little from my little girl ballet days. I have beginner problems. The main problem being which leg to pirouette on. Front? Back? Which is the impetus for this story.

My second problem is that I never know which way I'm turning in my pirouette  Inside. Outside. "Is that to the right or left?" "Hey! Is that towards the windows or away from the windows?"

You See. These are just some of my ballet challenges. To better put it in perspective for you, imagine going into a room with others with the goal of learning how to look precise & beautiful at all times. Some of the people on this journey with you are worse or equally as bad as you in one way or another. Others are much better than you which begs the question "why in the hell are you in this class." Now imagine all of this, but you have forgotten how to walk. You knew you could walk before. Heck you just walked into the room. You had command of your legs. Your brain told them what to do, & they did it. You knew which which leg to use when. This is essentially what my leg problem is in ballet, I can't theoretically walk, or rather literally pirouette correctly. The sad part is that I'm not even having a synapse misfire of correct brain command to appropriate leg & then there is a glitch. No! What I have is cranial panic! There is no firing!

3 (out of 4) of my classes during the week are taught by Marsha. A teacher I love, & is extremely encouraging & personally instructive to me. We have a good relationship. That's why it was so surprising when she booed me from across the room. I never could have seen that one coming...or could I?

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