Updated: Dec 13, 2019
Many of us must have, at least once, thought ‘I wish I learned ballet when I was a child.’ Quite a few friends of mine told me how they have dreamt (and still does!) of pretty pink tutu and toe shoes. Despite the fact I’m hugely against the idea of me in white tights and ruffle stuff, I’m no exception longing for ballerina’s flexibility and elegant standing silhouette. With a push of my boyfriend who also dreamed of ballerina, not himself wanting to be one but wanting to have a ballerina girlfriend, I decided to give it a go (you know I love trying new things…).
One evening, I turned up at a studio in Sadler’s Wells, where City Academy runs ballet classes. I was quite confident at a beginner’s class because I regularly dance Argentine Tango, but my confidence was broken into pieces when it came to ‘Fondue,’ the melting-like leg movement. My teacher Natasha shouts ‘Straighten your legs!’ But how?? However much I pull my legs, it does not get straighten! And it hurts!! I was massively sweating and out of breath even before taking one step from the barre…
After repeating this kind of struggle for a few weeks, however, I started seeing slight but certain improvement. I sort of managed to straighten my supporting leg although the other leg in the air is not coming up that high. I really enjoyed this feeling of ‘improvement’ especially for my age! I always thought if we don’t start learning at the young age, you will never be able to dance ballet, but reality is, you can improve in your own capacity and own pace at any age!
My teacher Natasha is always very strict (in a very friendly and humorous way, so don’t get me wrong!). She is watching every movement we make. If I’m not aiming at the exact point as told with my legs or arms, she will spot it.
And she shouts ‘Straight legs! Pull up!!’ Then I empower to try and correct the posture. “That’s much better!!!’ says Natasha as soon as I get it right. If I’m not focused or not pushing myself hard enough, she doesn’t give me any feedback, she can tell what’s in my mind, maybe. I’m always working toward her ‘much better’ because it feels great to make her say that !
Paying attention so carefully to the details of your body is an amazing feeling. Our legs and arms, fingers and toes, hunting from our body there everyday, but we never really care about them that much, don’t we? That focus on your own body makes me use different part of my brain from any other activities of the day. It may be similar to Yoga or Pirates but Ballet has music with it!
In 75 minutes of the class, I sweat quite a lot and the next day of every lesson I have some muscle pain even after six month. It is a work-out for me rather than an artistic feminine expression. I’m not dreaming to perform Swan Lake at any point in the future, I just want to keep my body toned just the same way that other people go to gym.
After six months of dancing ballet, my new year’s resolution is 180 degree leg split. According to many online articles, it is possible to do it at any age although it would take much much longer than at younger age of course… But I am determinedI to prove that ballet is not only for kids!