It won’t work out, a non-ballerina’s tale

It’s no secret that I have a slight obsession with ballet. It’s also no secret that I am a mediocre, beginner ballerina at best. If you put me next to the average 4-year-old dancer, we will be equals. But that punk kid can’t drink or drive, and certainly not drink and drive (no one should), so I win.

I’m 28, and I started taking my dance career seriously at 27 1/2. The retirement age for a ballerina is 29.

To the far right, you will see me...if that was me.

To the far right, you will see me…if that was me.

Look, I don’t need to be…um…Ok, I don’t know any super famous ballerinas but I don’t need to be {insert name}, I realize that I must live with my situation and make the most of it—performing for my cat. Still, I get dismayed when I look like Frankenballerina because I can’t unclench my arms to elegantly pose in second position, or that my turnout is more parallel than 180 degrees. My teacher instructs the class to do a simple combination, and all I hear is stupid French and see a lot of angles my body doesn’t want to contort to.

Days when I get discouraged, it’s not that I don’t like dance, but I kinda don’t like me. I don’t like that I made a decision to play basketball in high school rather than tip toe across a stage. I hate that my body isn’t the quintessential mold of a dancer, long neck and legs (giraffe?), no bum, 95 pounds. I’m sad that I don’t have money to pay for private lessons and bedazzled tutus. I’m despondent that I don’t progress as quickly as I would like and that the damn pirouette isn’t turning my body like its supposed to.

After 6 months of dancing, I can’t understand why I’m still in the beginner classes, why I’m not en pointe, why it’s so hard to twirl without getting dizzy. I don’t understand why I can’t stretch my foot to my head while in relevé and why I have no balance standing still let alone going to posse without the assistance of a barre. (Too many dance terms? I’m just showing off…)

I feel silly and ashamed walking into class knowing that the only thing that can come of dancing is fulfilling a dream to maybe become a little good—for me. My teachers, who studied ballet for 50 years or who danced in the Bolshoi, must look at me and think, “she is an embarrassment to the art of dance.”

One day...

One day…

If ever I don’t feel quite up to dance, it rarely has to do with laziness or lack of motivation, it’s fear to fail. That fear feels like a security blanket, a justification that if I don’t get better, I know I did it to myself. Whereas, if I try, try, try, and make no progress, I am truly a talentless, two-left footed toad.

Yet, it’s not like that. I’ve developed great relationships with my teachers, I’ve made friends at ballet who are just as cooky as me about dance, and the little improvements I make feel like I’m a living legend.

Patience is the true hurdle I need to leap across.

Last week I had an amazing moment at my ballet class. I asked my teacher a legitimate question about being able to try pointe. He responded with, “Why would you want to do that?” Apparently, it’s quite painful. But before class started, he looked at me and said, “You’re something special.”

Ok, I know he didn’t mean that I am the next principal dancer, but I knew he saw the little prima ballerina that swirls around inside me. That might be just be good enough for me to be good enough. That’s more than good enough.


8 thoughts on “It won’t work out, a non-ballerina’s tale

  1. Good for you! No matter how un-gifted or old or in shape or good at whatever, if it brings us pleasure and allows us to grow and improve ourselves, then it is a wonderful thing. Especially if we all have “cooky” personalities and attitudes like yours. Bravo!

  2. I still have the imagination that someday I, too, will be a prima ballerina…(that’ll probably have to be in heaven!). Do you have live piano music in ballet class? I did once, and it didn’t matter how awful I was, I felt like a real ballerina. 🙂

    • In some of my classes I have live accompaniment, and it’s true, I feel like a star and ever-so-classy! At home I throw on a tutu from time to time, and since I live alone, I just twirl about and act as the prima dancer of my 800 square feet…

  3. As always this is wonderful!! You will always be our princess which I think is a cut above a ballerina! Not that many people can pull off a crown and that wave! We love you MOM

  4. do not stop – you must keep dancing – there is nothing like it in the world and of you have that voice inside of you that wants to dance – listen to it! and the pointe shoes – they can screw up your feet:)

    • The voice inside me wants to dance down the street all the way to the studio, and it won’t quiet itself, so I think that I might just have to keep dancing until my feet fall off, which they might just do when I finally attempt pointe. 🙂

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