Learned Life Lessons as an Adult Ballerina

So, when you start running, even just barely a mile you can call yourself a runner. I’m guessing the same is true for ballet?

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Due to layers and layers of snow that have fallen in Virginia the past two weeks, dance class was cancelled -again- (but it is rescheduled for tomorrow!). Figured I’d share how dance class is affecting my life and teaching me “outside the barre” lessons:

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#1 Just Shut Up and Do It!

I blame my personality but I am a big dreamer. I think I enjoy the process of thinking about things more than I do about doing them. Seriously, I’m a great idea generator and I absolutely suck at the follow through. This tendency often leaves me watching the do-ers and being jealous of what they accomplish. 

A couple of weeks ago due to another teacher being sick my beginner class was combined with the Ballet V class. PHAHHAHA! The cool thing was that we got to use the fake barres, when normally we just balance with chairs. (I totally took advantage of this and posed afterwards for pictures…but only had my camera phone on me). Participating in this class was super intimidating! The moves were easy for them. I became easily overwhelmed because there were so many of us, and often and opposite directions, so I did always have any one I could focus on to model the moves on. I felt VERY discouraged after that class.

Then, I realized how many times I want what others have. I want the flatter stomach, I want their dance skills, I want their -whatever- forgetting all of the work that THEY were willing to do to get said -whatever-. It became apparent that I could either wish for better dance skills, or I could make it happen. Thus I began to practice short ballet routines daily. (And determined to do more, and wish/whine/complain less).

 

 

#2 When You Fall Off, Get Back on the Horse

I was feeling pretty confident walking into the following week’s class, I had been practicing on a regular basis, and I could feel myself getting stronger. (seriously, I was now coordinated enough to balance better when putting pants on/off one leg, it is epic!).

This class featured more complicated routines, that I simply couldn’t keep up with. I wanted to get frustrated, but I plugged through. Then we did some center work, doing a series of degages switching from left to right side. I was flabbergasted, I couldn’t move my body to do this at all. I stood there, slowly trying, not sure how to keep myself balanced but still move. Still I grin and bore it, mentally telling myself how good it was that I was discovering what I was bad at, so I could attack them an improve!

This attitude continued to some new leaps we were introduced to. I did okay on the right side, but the left, my brain just died and derped. I ended up landing on my foot wrong, heard a giant pop, and fought intense pain as I attempted to hobble to a chair. By can do plucky attitude had just about enough at this point. I tried not to cry as everyone asked how I was, not just due to the pain, but because I felt frustrated with my body.I sat for a bit, then finished off a couple more leaps gingerly. Surprising myself by holding back my tears. No way was I about to bawl in front of everyone!

Doesn’t mean I didn’t cry on the drive home, and in front of hubby. This was the most discouraged I’d ever felt about ballet. I wondered if I should try anymore, worried about my weak ankles, worried about hurting myself again. Honestly, there was a bit of a pity party. I wanted someone to be reasonable with me, look me square in the face, and bluntly say, “Honey, ballet is not for you, why don’t you try something else” Or to find a class to take with slower moving grandmothers.

Eventually, I worked through it. And resolved again. It was a testament to how much stronger my legs have already become after 5 classes that my ankle was no longer sore after 3 days. When I last hurt it rolling it while running, it had an ache that lasted for months after. Try, try, try again!

 

 

#3 Life is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Okay, okay, I know this one, at least in theory. I’m often consumed with wanting things to happen now. I especially want to know more about how the rest of my life works out. I think I like to do things “now” if possible, knowing that my energy levels are often fleeting so that if I don’t attempt -thing- now I will likely never do it at all.

I’ve been watching some youtube clips of ballerinas for inspiration, the way their bodies movie, is beyond beautiful. I feel like I am daily getting stronger, but there is STILL such a long road ahead of me. With things like ballet, and others in life, I think we slowly accrue the skills over time. Its like an artist slowly chiseling away the stone. He slowly chips away at the outside, until the beautiful statue appears beneath.

I can’t get frustrated and impatient at the slower results, or else I’ll give up and never get to see the statue liberated. Likewise, growing as a Christian involves a LIFETIME of moment my moment disciplines lived out. It really is okay that I’m not perfect yet…God cares much more about me leaning on Him while He chisels away, rather than the underlying statue.

Honestly, I’m falling more in love with dance than I ever expected to do. I began this thing because some girly part of me just wanted to dance around gracefully in a tutu. As an adult, I relish how much stronger I’m becoming through each workout. Regardless of continuing classes, I hope that ballet is something that I’m at least able to keep as a workout routine for the rest of my life.

Everyone knows that Erin is a clutz. I fall downstairs, I trip over “thick air.” I fall over so much sometimes hubby doesn’t even notice, its that normal. For the first time in my life I’m doing something, moving my body artistically, in a way that can be considering beautiful and graceful. When I’m painting with my feet in my humble living room, it makes me feel like maybe I could be capable of so much more than I expected before.

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