I finally made good on my threat.
After 30-ish years, I pulled on a black leotard, pink tights and ballet slippers and actually took that class.
I am beyond relieved that the other three young women in the Open Ballet class do not know me.
They will only remember me as fodder for hilarity and remarks akin to “Oh my God, did you see her grand battement? It was totally petite.” There was nothing grand about it.
My battement was more of a degage,’ that is, instead of the leg rising high off the floor, it only managed to clear by inches. In layman’s terms, it was way lame. The same half-baked results applied to my plie, my releve and my sous-sus. My brain knew what my body was supposed to do, but the muscles and joints had much different plans.
The entire hour was a confusing mix of joy and pain, hearing the familiar dance terms, and seeing my classmates perform them with grace, but missing every step by about two-thirds.
My knees and hips immediately reminded me of the abuse I heaped on them during the years when I did my best to accomplish a turnout. In fact, both joints and accompanying muscles continued to stage a protest for the next few days. It was failure ofBiblical proportions, as in “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Trying to get my arms in sync with my feet, my porte de bras was more of a windmill is various directions trying to keep my balance. I actually found it hilarious, watching myself in the merciless wall-to-wall mirror.
My classmates and instructor never cracked a smile. And that is another reason I won’t be making a second appearance. I had sort of forgotten that classic ballet is all about severe discipline.
Those who pursue it are often very serious perfectionists. Most instructors brook no silliness during class. I never shared this attitude. My instructor, back in the day, was a marvelous chorus dancer who had done more Broadway than ballet, and she made the entire undertaking great fun. I didn’t fully
It appears I will not be making an unexpected comeback a la Margot Fonteyn.
What I really need now is a cross between Zumba and “Sweatin’ to the Oldies,” and perhaps a classroom with no mirrors.
Jean Gillette is a prima ballerina in her mind, and may have her old pointe shoes bronzed. Contact her at [email protected]