I am going to preface, this is a long post. I wanted to remember everything so I apologize if I ramble or go on and on and on…and well you see…
As promised, I said I would write a better post about my first ballet class. I was WAY tired and just couldn’t do much more than I did so here are more of the details!
As, many of you know this wasn’t my first ballet class ever, I took about 10 years of classes when I was younger, and then a few years ago I took some classes at the same studio I just returned to Monday night.
The whole day was just magical for me. I had a great day at work and then I got home and I was like a little kid so excited I could barely stay still. My husband and son had a good time seeing me buzz around the house with excitement. I could hardly wait to start getting ready so I did my hair first and put it in a nice ballet bun. Then I got dressed and put my new Prima Soft tights and leo on. The tights were awesome, great quality and very comfortable The waist band didn’t dig or pinch. Definitely going to buy some more of those I almost could not believe I was finally wearing my ballet clothes! My studio doesn’t have a formal uniform policy for adults but most of the adults do wear traditional ballet clothing. Plus, wearing traditional ballet clothes for ballet class is what I am used to. I needed the freedom of movement and I refused to feel ashamed of my body.
I decided I needed to leave about 45 mins before class started because I was not 100% sure what to expect with parking (the studio is downtown) and I did NOT want to be late. Plus, I wanted some warm up time before class for my back and wonky left ankle (thanks to my hard-headedness in not getting better care for a sprained ankle 3 years ago).
So I get there and open the door and there is this daunting staircase ascending heavenward before me. “Yay! Built in warm up!” I said jokingly to myself. As I ascend the steps, it’s like I am walking back into the world which I walked out of so many years ago, and it was like it hadn’t changed. The heaviness of the air. The smell of the studio: sweat, well worn wood, and lycra. It was glorious.
I am there about 30 mins before class starts and the level 5 dancers have just finished class and some are rehearsing a piece, which I assume is for the spring showcase. They were very good dancers and I enjoyed seeing them practice. I chatted with a few of the mothers in the lobby and I mostly didn’t know what to do with myself. I didn’t want to go in the back changing room since many of the girls from the class were chatting and so forth. So I stayed in the main lobby. I didn’t want to be the awkward new person invading. The back studio was open so I went in there and did some plies, easy stretches, and warmed my ankles up. I noticed not a lot of people were coming into the studio and I started to get nervous that something changed with the schedule or I was having a total out of body experience and I showed up on the wrong day. Then a young girl in what looked like her early 20’s came up and was having a quick bite to eat. I thought she could have been waiting for someone from the level 5 class or she could be in the adults class? Thankfully she was in the adults class.
When it came time for class to start there were three of us: me, the younger girl, and a lady older than me. So I was right in the middle! From talking with them they are the regulars and that the class will be small. It was good having just three of us because we got lots of attention from Ms. Dorothy. She is a spitfire of a teacher and I loved it! I noticed from the level 5 girls when they left there was great respect and admiration for her. I also remember when I took classes there before she was a strict teacher but very positive. I do well in those environments. Plus that is what my previous ballet instructors were like. Because of that, I knew her studio was the one I wanted to return to in coming back to ballet.
Now when it came time for class to start and I took hold of the barre, the world just melted away and all I had was that studio. Like a veil had lowered shielding me from everything but myself, the floor, and the barre. I almost could not believe I was finally standing there. Tears welled and I wanted to pinch myself. I did not think or worry about anything outside of that rectangular room. It was as if my muscles and bones remembered what to do and took over and my brain went poof. Really. Because I couldn’t remember a combination to save my life. I was very grateful I was between the two other dancers to follow along. I never had trouble with that before but I sure did that night! Ms. D didn’t do a basic beginners class, that is on Thursday nights, remarkably I was able to keep up. Words and movements came back. Ms. Dorothy remarked that I had excellent training before, thank you Anna-Marie Holmes and Deena Laska! The other lady in the class remarked the same as well. I felt my face turn even redder than it already was from the ronde de jambes! I received corrections and positive remarks, especially on my third pass of pique turns across the floor. Yah, I gotta get better at spotting, talk about d-i-z-z-y. In that pass it was like my balance came back and they were much easier and I got a big “good!” from Ms. Dorothy. I learned I lean forward in my plies and to use my plié more in other movements. It was awesome! I really came away from the class that I learned something and improved. I really expected to have a harder time in the class but it was challenging without being out of my league. So I call that just right.
I only had one incident with my back. I did an attitude arabesque with the left leg and it did not like that one bit. I had to lower my leg immediately and for a moment I thought that was it. Done For. End of Story. Call It a Night. Amazingly, my back rebounded and didn’t bother me at all for the rest of the class. I have trouble standing and doing the dishes and because of that I thought I would get pretty bad discomfort dancing but that wasn’t the case. Give me some tendu’s and battements and my back was quiet as a mouse. In reality, I feel like the class was good for my back. It has actually felt better since Monday! I was gracious with my left ankle and didn’t push it like the right foot to really work my relevé and pointing. When we did some jumps in center I really went easy and didn’t push it. I was tired by the end of class and could have easily tweaked something so I worked against myself by not pushing it too much on the first night. I was scared to injure myself and then not be able to return again. By the time I got home my left ankle was a little sore and tight feeling accompanied by some swelling. I got it elevated and iced it and took some pain relievers that also helped with swelling. I think the icing and elevation was key. The next morning it was only slightly swollen and did not hurt at all. I really felt like I had a good range of motion too. As a precaution, I wore my really good and sturdy ankle brace for the next two days and avoided wearing my cute wedge heels to work that I love. Like my back, my ankles feel better and I feel like there is more strength and mobility in them too.
You may also be wondering how sore I was the next day. Ms. Dorothy was so cute and told me to please not hate her the next day. I was sore but not as bad as I thought I’d be. It was mostly in my hips and legs which is a good thing. I loved knowing I worked those muscles well but not over the top. I think they were happy to be back in a ballet class too! I know my heart and soul were too.
I can not WAIT for my next class on Monday. I really hope at some point I can add in another class during the week but at this point I think one is just right to get me started. I have also been better about my eating habits again and working my way back into that. At times when I saw my reflection in the mirror I was shocked to see what I saw. I just wanted to refuse to allow myself to accept that that is what I look like. I don’t look into my full length mirror at home too much and I guess you could say I avoid mirrors that show more than the shoulders up. So I haven’t developed a mental image of my bigger self. Weirdly, I still think of myself when I was 130 lbs 10 years ago. Talk about denial! So looking at myself in tights, leo, and a chiffon skirt is a little jarring in the studio but I really don’t want to develop negative thoughts as I think that will be self sabotaging. I have what I have and gotta work with it. Beating myself up is not going to work and will just add more hills to the journey. OK, I may make a joke or two to get a laugh outta myself. Like when I saw myself in the studio mirror for the first time and I immediately thought, “You look like a marshmallow stuffed into a sausage casing.” and then mentally guffawed. I wasn’t really being mean to myself, just making light of it and it also allowed me to have a moment to laugh and hold off the angry village of nasty mental comments ready to charge in with their pitchforks. So I concentrated on looking for what I could do well in the mirror like my port de bras and presence. Instead of accentuating the negative I wanted to exemplify the positive.
So, that was my first class. I hope you made it this far in reading and for that I commend you dear reader. Thank you for coming along with me! I loved my first class and I felt like I returned home and ready for many more!