Last September, I wrote about my plans to take a ballet class. Then I injured my back before I made it to a single class, moved back to the States, and stuck my ballet stuff into a drawer.
This past fall, Trillian signed up for a community exercise class through the local community college. After the first class, she convinced me to sign up as well, figuring that the combination of stretching and strengthening would be a good mix of what I like and what I need. I started with the second class, at which the teacher asked me about my background, specifically whether I had done yoga, given my flexibility and approach to stretches. I replied that, yes, I had taken yoga... and ballet too. "Ah," she said, "you should come to a ballet class sometime."
A few weeks later, I decided to make up one of the classes I had missed by going to ballet. I pulled my leotard, tights, and slippers from the back of the drawer, pulled my hair back as best as I could, and headed off. When I discovered that the class was Level 2, I almost backed out--my plan had been to go to the most basic class possible.
It was killer. In many ways. My body protested mightily. Simple movements, like grand plies (think slow, controlled squat up and down, but in more graceful positions), made my muscles scream. My balance simply wasn't there. I got to the end of the barre exercises and knew I was done for the evening.
But, as the teacher noted to me when I went to thank her, I was smiling and radiant. She complimented my training, which had pulled me through with a respectable showing for my first ballet class after more than fifteen years. And then she said, "You really are a dancer."
I've been back a couple more times. My muscles still ache for days afterwards, and I am mortified by my lack of ballet-specific strength. There is an odd disconnect between my muscle memory, which has been awakened with vigor, and my ability to execute what I ask of it. My attempt at a double turn--what was I thinking?--did not end well. But my basic form is solid, and I am already able to rely on a skill I carefully cultivated in my days of most serious training, memorizing choreography the first time it is demonstrated.
I'm sitting on the schedule for next semester, waiting to see if I have a part-time teaching position before picking out my exercise options for the spring. But ballet will make the schedule one way or another.