There was a period of my life, primarily during my teens, when I wanted to be a dancer. This was not just the little girl's dream of tutus and pointe shoes. Rather, I trained nearly every day of every week. The ballet studio was my second home. I stretched twice a day and regularly sewed ribbons and elastics onto various pairs of shoes. I learned how to shellac pointe shoes so that I could get another couple of weeks out of them after my strong arches had broken them down into mush.
I still have physical reminders of those days. Bunions on both feet, the one on my right foot, just severe enough that I have thought seriously about surgery. My little toes have been mushed around and are permanently swollen in such a way that the toenails are not immediately visible. There are thick calluses on the balls of my feet at the base of my first and second toes, the result of bare-footed turns in jazz and modern classes. The first time I injured my back--at age 14--was in the middle of a partnered lift. My dodgy right ankle has its origin in the time I landed on the side of my foot, full-force, as I came out of a leap.
And that's the short list.
But whenever I have tried to figure out an exercise regimen I might actually stick too, enjoy even, my mind comes back to dance.
Most of my life is lived through an intellectual, rational lens. Although I did apply theories of physics and the like in my approach to difficult moves, most of my time in dance did not involve rigorous thinking. Instead, it was a sort of moving meditation. My best dance classes were those when the rest of the world melted away and my mind and body together focused only on the combination I was performing right at that moment. The physical effort, the sweat, the strain of positioning every part of my body just so, all while matching the music's tempo and emotion--all of that combined to give me the greatest physical high I've ever experienced.
For the past year or so, I have been telling myself that I would take a dance class--once I got into better shape. And that keeps getting pushed back and I keep struggling to find a way to get there.
So I decided last month to ignore the arbitrary middle step I had created. Maybe the best way to get into shape is to do something I will enjoy. Therefore, I have enrolled in a ballet class at my university's athletic center.
Two days ago I bought my first pair of ballet slippers in close to 15 years. Off to sew some elastics...