Archive | dance RSS feed for this section

Ballet and body image

12 Jun

I, like millions of other little girls, grew up dreaming of being a prima ballerina. As soon as I was able, I began checking out the same three books about ballet from the library over and over and over, poring over each page, each photo, each dance step tutorial. My favorite was about a deaf girl who kept the beat of the music by feeling vibrations through the floor. Soon I had every position memorized and began using my dresser as a ballet barre. I begged my parents to send me to lessons – reasoning it was only fair that I take ballet, as my brother took baseball and we should each be allowed to have one extracurricular hobby.

Tutus are rad.

Modern tutus are affordable and come with stretchy waistbands so even non-ballerinas can pretend to be ballerinas in the privacy of their own homes.

I loved everything about ballet: the dancers’ strong, long limbs; their high, tight chignons; the grand pianos in the practice rooms; their romantic performance skirts; their utter fanaticism – skipping high school to study dance, shipping their preadolescent selves off to Russia to become the very best at a dying art, eschewing the pubescent party scene to practice plies and pirouettes.

Little did I know that while Little League is nearly free, ballet lessons are expensive. I took a single year of classes before my parents gave up the budgetary ghost, during which I learned many useful facts:

Pippi

  • Pirouetting to the left is harder than to the right
  • Tights + leg hair = itchy
  • I am more flexible than the average person, but not more flexible than the average ballerina
  • I have a perfect point
  • If part of your Halloween costume as Pippi Longstocking involves wire hangers in your braids, and you don’t have time to change before class, your braids will scrape the wall during your barre work, and probably leave a mark

The most important lesson I learned, though – imparted to me personally by Madame Instructor herself, a wizened old woman and an expedient disciplinarian – was that I simply did not have, and would never have, the “body type” of a real ballerina. It’s hard to fathom how the teacher could have possibly drawn any conclusions about my suitability for – or interest in – an adult career in professional dance based off of my 9-year-old body, but there you have it. And thus one of the many seeds of body hatred was sown in my innocent little mind. I was not thin enough, not rich enough, not good enough for the one thing I wanted more than anything else: to dance, dance, dance.

So, were there any evil grown-ups in your childhood life that tried to squash your dreams for no good reason? And do you remember a particular moment when your self-image (body- or otherwise) was thoroughly cemented in your wee childlike mind?

PS: Subscribe!

Day Seven: Gold star for me!

21 Nov

Starting with Friday, I spent the weekend doing Scary and Challenging Things, some of which were on my List of Doom:

No. 56: Take a hip-hop dance class:

After my epic failures at taking dance classes in the past few weeks, it’s understandable that I almost didn’t go to this class on Friday. I had to drag my mopey self out of my safe, safe bed to go out. I posted several apocalyptic tweets about how 100 percent sure I was that it would be a horrifying, humiliating experience. Not so! Teacher lady was super-awesome and friendly and so were the other students. We danced to Michael Jackson. Or rather, they danced, I stumbled around and, miraculously, was mostly able to keep up.

Also: Forcing internet strangers to sign up for stuff with me is, as it turns out, an excellent way to trick myself into doing things that are terrifying. Also it helps with goal No. 38 (below). Although technically I suppose I could cross this goal off my list now, I think instead I will modify it to “go to hip hop class every week until I can dance like a crazy mad dance fiend.”

No. 38: Organize one meetup per month

Above dance class was attended by two shiny new members of my dance meetup group. Yay! One of the people I’ve known for years, the other was a brand-new to Portland beginning dance enthusiast. WOOT! The internet truly is a grand place. Afterward we went to Produce Row and had fancy drinks. Fancy!

No. 72: Go to Barre Method class

On Saturday I got up relatively early and went to a Bar(re?) Method class. It was absolutely divine. Usually I hate the Pearl, but apparently yuppie jerkalopes sleep til noon on Saturdays so I managed to find a parking space easily, and only got hassled by one middle-aged botox victim in a North Face technical jacket with a tiny dog on a leash.

The bar studio was amazing. The people at the front desk were actually friendly and gave me a tour instead of looking at me like I was an alien (which sometimes happens when you are a new person at a fitness or dance studio – go figure). Then I got into the classroom: Plush carpets! Clean mirrors! Personal attention! Very few other people! Amazing workout! Still sore! Going again Tuesday! Seriously you guys – the teacher remembered my name AND that I have a back injury AND remembered to tell me about modifications for stuff that hurt. YAY!

No. 43: Go on 52 hikes

Sunday: I rounded up the Special Ladyfriend and the Roommate and we went trek-trek-trekking. I had to wear three pairs of pants to stay warm and I almost popped my leg fully out of its hip socket, but we made it a full 4/5ish miles through the woods, merrily kicked our way through giant piles of leaves, and only saw three or four other people, all smiling, mostly with adorable dogs. Dogs! Yay! This means I have only 51 more hikes to go…

In conclusion: Go me! Also: Please say nice things in the comments! It will keep me motivated to do other things from The List of Doom. Like visit y’all. And send y’all postcards.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 56 other followers