Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Ballerina

These thoughts are all inspired by my latest adventure at a place I will call Sifernd U. 

 The ballerina is the definition of beauty and grace. Her lines are exquisite, her dance is captivating. The self-discipline is the strongest I have ever seen. Everything is immaculate, from the bun on her head; to the way the seam runs down the back of her tights. She is sophisticated and demure. The ballerina needs structure… and French! I think the classical ballerina is wonderful…..BUT… I am no ballerina.

 I wiggled into my pink tights that took me all morning to find. They made me feel lumpy all over, and I am not a big girl. Only a ballerina would have no muffin top in a material that fits this close.  Next, I squeezed into my black leo and I tried to talk myself into believing it wasn’t so bad. My next layer was all me. Comfy black jazz pants and a loose fitting white T, but I wouldn’t have these layers on for long.

 I went to enroll for this weeklong adventure. When I arrived, no one was in sight. I signed up anyways and paid my fees. Next, I was whisked off to the dressing room with my class schedule and page-long instruction guide on how to be a dancer. At 20 years old, I was told to inform the instructors of my lunch plans (so they could keep an eye on me of course). This is a whole new world. What did I drag myself into? Well, a world of tiny, pristine ballet babes. At ages 11 and 12, some of these girls already showed more discipline then most grown men I know. I was the only one from the outside, and the oldest of course, because the story just gets better.

 Class was intense, and I kept my mind open to the ways of new teachers. I enjoy learning from new people and trying to broaden my worldview. This was hard being the only “outsider”. Everyone else knew each other. They all had danced side by side for years. They were so serious! I was actually a little scared to smile… something might be wrong with that. With one little grin, I could have ordered the whole group a round of push-ups. Quiet was definitely the way to go. No fun to be had here.

 The list of expectations was long. Hair in a bun, this color shoe, that colored pant, bring your Bible, pens and papers.  WHAT? By this point, I was completely and utterly lost. Since when did this FUN intensive that I thought I had signed up for turn into a concentration camp with Bible hour?

 The line had to be drawn somewhere for me. I raced back and forth in my mind: FIGHT OR FLIGHT. I grew wings pretty fast and flew away even faster. Hey, I managed to stay 8 out of the 9 hour day. That is pretty good!

 More importantly than what happened to me, is what I gained from this experience. I know more today who I am, then I did yesterday. I am not a ballerina. My hair is curly and out of control, most of the time. That is the way I like it; not slicked back to match all of the other robots. I listen to jazz music and blues, you know, the kind that is all improvisation and no set structure. I like being comfortable in my dance clothes. It makes me feel confident. I need a class that makes me want to get up and dance every single day. I will work hard, but it has to make me happy. I am not happy when I am being told what to do, how to stand, whom to be.

I have tried to fit that mold on the journey to find myself, and I have finally come to the age where I can see myself clearly and accept what I am. I love the ballerina, but I love me, more.

 So I applaud you, ballerina, for your grace and beauty. I applaud you for all of your hard work and motivation, but I want to say, ballerina, that you could also learn something from a girl, no, a dancer, like me.

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