When I was little, I wanted to dance. I twirled whenever music came on. I checked out every book I could find in the library about ballet (the Dorling Kindserly book practically belonged to me). I taught myself basic positions and practiced them religiously.
But, for a variety of reasons, I never got to take ballet. I cheered in high school, which was at least dancing adjacent, and I danced a little in college when I was studying theatre. But I pretty much shelved ballet permanently. It’s only an option for the young.
But let’s fast forward. In the past two and a half years, I’ve done at least five shows that requires dancing. And I suck at it. I didn’t used to suck. Yeah, I had some trouble picking up choreography in the past, but I’ve never had this much trouble. And I’m so out of breath. And I feel clumsy and clunky. Especially for my last musical role, when I was Cheryl in Evil Dead, and I had to be sexy on top of dancing. I was miserable. I was so frustrated with myself. My dance captain for Heathers even said (in the most loving way possible) that I’m a terrible dancer. And I hate it. I always wanted to dance, but I’m untrained and horribly out of shape.
In the past few months, especially after my disastrous experiences dancing, I’ve really been thinking about how I can get better, and it’s brought my mind back to the idea of ballet. There’s a dance school within walking distance of my apartment that offers adult classes- drop in, $10 a lesson. And there’s a bigger ballet school that offers a similar rate for more advanced classes for an adult beginner. I started looking into it, and all those childhood dreams started coming back- standing at the barre in a black leotard and pink tights, practicing battlements and developpes, learning how to do proper pirouettes and pas de chats in the middle of the floor. It also brought back the memory of my fifth grade teacher lending me a pair of pointe shoes and secretly practicing steps in my bedroom. I remember how that felt, and how much I want to actually learn how to do it.
And then I remembered that I’m sixty pounds overweight, and woefully out of shape, and easily out of breath.
I know ballet can be learned by anyone of any size, but right now I’m not ready. I wouldn’t be able to keep up with a real ballet class, even one for beginners. I’m certainly not ready to put on a leotard and tights (again, ballet belongs to anyone no matter the size, but that also doesn’t necessarily mean I feel comfortable right this second).
I’ve set up mini goals for myself, in five pound increments, until I reach my goal weight. One of those mini goals, when I reach 140 pounds, is to start taking ballet lessons. Right now that’s about 33 pounds away- just about halfway to my goal weight. Why 140? Well, that’s the lightest weight I’ve been in the past ten years (and even then I was trying to lose weight). I’m giving myself the time to prepare, physically and mentally, to putting myself into ballet. Right now I need to learn how to eat right and get my muscles used to working hard (which right now is through Cassey Ho’s Blogilates app). I’m going to create some stamina and work with the goal of finally dancing ballet in mind.
And when I reach that goal, you bet I’m going to keep working until I get to go up on pointe. It’s going to happen.