I was a ballet dancer.
Apologies for your coffee coming out of your nose.
I love dancing and I don’t get to do it very often, but when I do, boy do I let loose. Then the dreaded line dances come on so as to get everyone on the dance floor.
My dance floor, ....well until that moment, where I become part of the crowd and suddenly I can’t stick the moves.
I cover my lack of choreo ability with the statement, “I’m all freestyle, baby!”
Truth is, I ended my choreography days at a ballet recital in the Selkirk Memorial Hall, age 8.
Oh I had ability, and desire, buckets loads and I’m very pleased that my daughters have got rhythm and moves to boot.
Neil? Let’s just say good thing that dancing was on my ‘negotiable’ list of finding my soul mate, and not the non-negotiable. Which is crazy, really. When he does Judo, he floats and glides. It’s beautiful to watch. Drop a beat? ….. Ok, Dad Dancing it is then!
So there I was, stuffed into a black, satin tutu that my mom made. I can only imagine she made it for me because, well, let’s just say I wasn’t an off-the-peg tutu size. I was always the tallest in the class, that is until Lori Olinek shot up (and out- if you catch my drift), if not a bit more rotund than the average ballerina. Me, not Lori.
My mom is an awesome seamstress. She can whip up most anything. This has been passed on to my sister, Jen, not me unfortunately. I do believe this tutu, though, tested her limits.
I did have long legs, and it was the ‘80s, however, this tutu was so high cut, Jane Fonda would’ve been proud. Move over Jamie-Lee!
On stage I’m at the back. Not because I was the worst in the class, but because of my height and size. It was symmetrical and aesthetic, I was told.
I knew I was bigger, scratch that, biggest on stage but actually that wasn’t the worst of it and I don’t want this to turn into ‘she was bullied for her size’ thing. Oh it happened, in the change room. Pair that with a handmade tutu, well… little girls can be cruel.
Ok, so I’m at the back and the way the routine went brought me to centre stage in a V formation.
I loved it!
All the changing room crap faded as move by move, toe by toe, I was to be the star of the show: floating, swaying, twirling....
Follow me girls! Let’s take this home!
And the finale, was to curl up in a ball. Graceful in decent, I curl up as I wait for the applause.
With slow dawning and complete dread, I realised I had missed a complete section of the dance and as I had no one in front of me to correct my misjudgment, I had just kept going. A falling star in her trajectory.
I really wish that my teacher had the fortitude, sense, and/or compassion to have faded the music out. But no. She was old school- the show must go on.
So we stayed, curled up in a ball until the end of the song which felt an eternity, and in reality was probably under a minute. Didn’t matter, the damage had been done. And the teacher was not of the warm and fuzzy persuasion. Never mind compassion.
The locker room talk didn’t get any better after that and unfortunately ballet, dancing, and stage performing of any kind went by the way side.
I do miss it. And I do know that one day, I will need to try again, just to set myself straight.
I did go to one class. One of those mums-of-the-students classes. I received great encouragement, even asked if I had taken dance before.
‘Ballet,’ I mumbled.
I didn’t go back. I guess I wasn’t ready.
I’ve done hypnotherapy that included this incident. It has helped greatly, in terms of pulling my focus. Pulling away from that centre stage spot - suddenly lonely and devastated, to then seeing the crowd, who, in my head must be displaying faces of disapproval, but now that I was part of the audience, could see that they were supportive, giving that 8 year old their compassion and gratitude for trying. That it’s ok to want to lead your own dance.
I believe this tutu trauma has fuelled my fear of failure and my conviction of when I’m right, I’m right (Damn it!) but it has also fuelled the point of view that if I’m going to be pointed out as different, might as well grab it and run with it. Or rather dance.. like no one is watching.
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