My name is Hannah and I wish I was a ballerina. This phrase is very intentionally in the present tense because my ballerina dreams did not die when I stopped taking ballet about 9 years ago. I am an unabashed ballet junkie who likes to sit as close to the stage as possible and stare at the perfect sea of iridescent pink shoes and silken ribbons. Wearing a tutu to work is more of an obsession than a mere desire. While I lived in Paris I sought tickets to every ballet imaginable, and would periodically stand in front of the dance shoe store to pine over pointe shoes. My friend Ana- Joel actually bought some of those enchanted shoes one day, which led to this joyous photo in a park. Who could resist becoming a ballerina in the parks of Paris?
But few become ballerinas. The rest of us spend our existence in a dull life void of sequins and glitter, twirls and leaps, ruffles and floating gauze. Thus, when one of the teachers that I work with suggested signing up for adult ballet classes at a local professional dance studio, I needed no persuasion. In my mind, it would be an hour and a half a week where I twirled around in my pink skirt to some pretty music.
This vision dissipated with the first lesson. Adam—our petit slave driver of an instructor who looks more graceful in tennis shoes and basketball shorts than I ever will in my pink skirt—doesn’t care that this class is just for fun. He expects, no demands, perfection, barking out commands until we literally drip sweat. Where are my sequins and effortless floating? Gone. I don’t remember ballet being this hard. Am I getting old? Is it sad that I actually wobble in to school sore the day after class where I feebly demonstrate to my students what I learned the night before? Last night I did have one leaping success, and an attempt to perform this to my audience of students today almost resulted in me flashing the entire senior class. Half the time I can’t keep up with combinations and often I trade looks with the other two teachers that can be loosely translated as “Adam-you-have-got-to-be-kidding-there-is-no-way-my-leg-can-go-that-high-up-for-that-long-of-a-OOOOWWWWWW-ok,-I-guess-when-you-yank-it-like-that-maybe-it’s-possible.”
For an orchestra, we have Adam’s ipod. For a gleaming studio we have the gloomy room just close enough to the “real” ballet classes that we can always know what we fall short off. In place of tutus, I am pretty sure I saw 80’s solar pants on one of the other ladies. But it is still ballet and in every class there is at least one moment where it is still magical. And for that one moment, I am a ballerina.