By Raynah Kassabian
Ever had that feeling of your body filling with dread? The heat rises from the worn leather of your ballet slippers to the wee baby hairs around your face and all eyes in the room are on you to perform the combination the teacher has just demonstrated?
That’s the part I struggle with.
The girl attempting the turning combination across the room, mimicking an awkward baby deer taking her first steps on uneven ground. This is a more comparable image to the one inside my head when I dance in-front of the safety of my bedroom mirror – she is so much more graceful and composed.
She is the Prima Ballerina within.
It’s an interesting battle within when you take an adult baller class. It’s a true love-hate relationship, although one I suspect bears a very different criteria to that of a dancer at a professional level.
You see, adult ballet is usually marketed as a fun way to exercise, maintain grace and gather socially. And whilst this is true, it also brings it’s own set of unique challenges.
Firstly, there is the inner battle to overcome the fact that your developpé will likely never brush your ears. My legs just don’t extend that high!
And the way I wear my leotard now… it looks so vastly different to the figure it cut when I was first entering the ballet world many years ago.
And what is with those darn cramps in my foot when I point my toes? I mean seriously, forget the dreaded ‘claw foot’, it is more like a ‘sore foot’ at times!
And then you come to that part of the class where everyone forms small groups and performs turning combinations across the room. That is the part I find the most challenging. The part where I feel most exposed…
Until a recent experience I had in class that turned what was previously a dreaded exercise into an experience of support and encouragement. An adult ballet class is truly a safe space to learn, fall, try your hardest and still be met at the other end of the room with support, appreciation and many warm, friendly smiles.
And that is something special.
It’s true that ballet promotes grace, sociability and is a fun way to exercise. These claims are all very true to form (pun intended). But ballet is so much more than that…
It’s the chance for the dancer, no matter their age, level, flexibility, technical ability or experience, to delve deep within and learn to love the process.
Sure, your developpé may never say hello to the side profile of your bun topped face. And your pirouette may not quite have the gusto to make it all the way the around a full 180 degrees yet!
But to truly embrace feeling of sweat droplets running down your back as you try your very hardest, to really understand that not every class always feels like your best, but hey, you turned up and that is still a lot better than the alternative..
Now, that is where the good stuff is.
Sure, your leotard may not fit quite the same way it used too, but heck this body still cuts a damn fine figure, and girl, it has gotten you through a lot in life.
Making peace with all of this.. now that is the magic of ballet!
An adult ballet class is the process of understanding that while practice may not make perfect, it is creating a more perfect version of YOU.
I’d like to thank Raynah for sharing with the BB community an insight into the thoughts of an adult ballerina! It’s a topic that I could never write about as I’ve never been an adult beginner myself! So, thank you darling!
Grit & Grace,