So is it time for a review of those new year’s resolutions yet? I don’t usually make any, I dislike the whole ‘new year, new you’ rhetoric, as if life isn’t hard enough as it is, as if being me (fully me) isn’t a life-long resolution in itself. The attempt to do that is pretty much on auto-renew without needing to make a particular resolution each new year! 🙂
And yet this year there was a little voice that called to me and asked for some other type of commitment. For me to step forward — quite literally! So here it is: this year my one tangible, measurable resolution was to try some different physical activities and explore some different movement styles, to get off my yoga mat a bit more and see what my body can do and what it might like to do given the chance. Not less commitment to my yoga — just more embracing of other possibilities.
I have a few ideas about this tucked up my sleeve and we’ll see how they pan out over the year. But I’ve already taken the first step — or rather I’m half-way through the first step… I’ve just completed the first half-term of adult beginner ballet classes! 6 classes done, 4 to go.
This has been such a learning experience, bringing me up close to a bunch of hard-held ego narratives: about my ability to learn something new (and whether it matters if I can’t), to discipline my body in such a precise way, to trust a completely unknown teacher and a new bunch of fellow students, to consider outward performance (compared to inward focus), to move through space with precision and grace — let alone to actually dance…!
And here’s the joy of it: I’ve survived 6 weeks with my sense of humour totally intact and my ego narratives softening a little under the truth that I am actually doing this. And even if my pirouettes are hilariously off-balance and I can’t get the hang of ‘spotting’ (when you keep the gaze on a fixed point for as long as possible as the body turns, and then whip the head round quickly), even if a full plié pulls uncomfortably on an old ankle injury and my port de bras movements are — apparently!– too jazz and not really classical….I try it all anyway. Sometimes I feel ridiculous, sometimes I forget myself as I allow myself the joy of being a beginner. And the teacher is full of encouragement every time. I get a ‘good’ specifically for my arabesque because for me it seems luxuriously easy compared to Virabhadrasana 3! And one week at the close of class she spontaneously gushed “I’m so proud of you all”. And I could tell she really meant it.
I’m never going to be a ballerina. ‘Frappé’ for me will always be a summer caffeine fix rather than a dance step and after all the years of training myself for parallel Tadasana feet in yoga I’m not sure I’ll ever be comfortable with the ubiquitous turned-out ballet stance. I suspect when my 10 week course is up, I’ll have explored enough to feel satisfied, but the experience of it will remain with me as a short, sweet joy.
It turns out the hardest thing about starting ballet was simply finding a pair of vegan ballet slippers!