Two (Dance) Steps Back
It must happen on all pilgrimages. People start walking, then something stands in their way.
Last June, as part of my ongoing art pilgrimage, I began taking ballet. I wasn't great at it, but I was making progress. I was strong and flexible and having fun. It even amused me to think about someone at my age aspiring to tutu-hood. :)
Then in the Fall I became very ill and was completely immobile for three weeks, then barely mobile for another three. I figured that when it was over, I'd go back to business as usual. So I returned to the ballet barre sometime in the late Fall.
By Christmas, I began to get discouraged. I hadn't realized what a setback I'd suffered from immobility, and had tried to keep on as if nothing had happened.
I was no longer strong and flexible, and I started to injure myself. I couldn't even sit cross legged on the floor anymore. Well, I may not be a spring chicken as they say, but I've always been able to sit any which way I like. When you can't sit according to your whims anymore, something's got to give.
So I've stopped dancing.
Well, at least I've stopped ballet.
There is some sadness in this, and I'm not sure I'll go back. I've also realized just what a non-dancer brain I possess. It's not about grace in movement, it's about the way I can't seem to speak back with my body when I see the teacher speak with hers. I think it might be a proximity/visual thing, because I sure enjoy mirror-dancing with my Littlest (boy do we have fun).
Anyway, right now I'm contenting myself with reading books about ballet. Yesterday I read one about Martha Graham's Appalachian Spring. Somewhere in it, they noted that Graham said the body always tells the truth, and that's what she was aiming for in her dances. I'm aiming for that too. And I don't want my truth to be injury.
We'll see where this new road goes. If nothing else, I have an after-dinner dance date with my Littlest a few nights a week. That girl can twirl. And I'm happy to lend her a steadying hand.
Photos of the book In the Wings: Behind the Scenes at the New York City Ballet.