Sunday, April 30, 2006


I signed up for a contemporary dance class a whole three months in advance.

I had been meaning to go there ever since the dance school opened er, three years ago. But as each term approached I tried to sign up in my usual spontaneous - one day before it starts manner, only to be told it was all booked up. Each time I was outraged, but secretly knew that I am a lazy, procrastinating, in denial slouch who really had no intention of going. I would drive past the dance centre - a beautiful, gleaming reflective box designed by architects Herzog & de Meuron (who designed Tate Modern).

Next time, I'd tell myself. Hence the uncharacteristic booking of anything in advance.

So I (and Z who I'd roped into the class as well,) had an entire three months for the panic to rise and for the fear and apprehension to fester. A whole three months in which to realise that unless pushed, I will choose to sit on my arse and do nothing. There was an upside to this.

Whilst lounging around eating cupcakes I could say to myself "it doesn't matter, I start my dance class soon."

By the time the week leading up to the start of the term arrived we engaged in frantic texting along the lines of "what are we supposed to wear?" "Will they hand us a long ribbon upon entering and make us interpret how it feels to be a tree?" and "What is contemporary dance anyway?" We hoped there would be no mirrors. We knew we would look stupid. We thought at least we can laugh at each other.

Outfit wise, I was dreaming of a kind of Lisa Bonet Cosby show era look, with a hint of Fame. Thankfully I decided to play it safe the first week and wear old tracksuit bottoms and a t-shirt. So did everyone else.

The class was fun, there were no mirrors. The studio was beautiful, the atmosphere relaxed and friendly. Everyone was smirking shyly at each other when we had to do partner work, but it broke the ice.

The only thing was; as I sat on a bench in the hallway before the class began I was transfixed by the sight of the ballet class about to begin next door. It was obviously the advanced class, they were all teetering around on point. But the shoes, the pale pink tights - ok it was really the clothes I was transfixed by. But also the graceful way they moved, even when sprawled around by the lockers doing their shoes up. They looked like swans. And I was transported back to my five year old self who gave up ballet like she gave up The Brownies and Sunday School, and everything else. In my head a tiny voice said "I want to be a ballerina too."


Bombay Beauty said...

But that's the beauty -- you can! No I don't mean this in the it's-never-too-late kind of way. At least for me, it's too late to do many things I wished I had started or kept up with. Yes, I coulda been a contenda, perhaps, if I was lucky and worked hard and whatnot. But in any case, getting back to the clothes. The right clothes can briefly give one (and more importantly others) the illusion that you are and that you did do all those things... Why not saunter around looking like a ballerina on her day off? I'll bet you can be an even more convincing ballerina than a real one.

It's only 7.15 here in New York. Must be off to work. Haven't decided whether I'll be a cop, fireman, truck driver, or indeed, an Indian today.



Anonymous said...

oh yes yes yes

I dream of taking adult ballet classes--


Lola is Beauty said...

cowboy outfits can be very flattering when worn at work BB

miotto + brown said...

I smiled lots while reading about your dance class experience. I have felt it myself many times...and I have a BA in Contemporary Dance. I still avoid, overcome, coil and recoil. What is Contemporary Dance anyway? I teach that qustion all the time, have made a little movie about it, intend to continue answeting it...might take my whole life; don't mind because finding the answer keeps me happy.

Mostly I'm inspired by your experience because I dream of working on Community Dance, making projects with adults who simply want to dance. One of my adult students the other night said that she loves the class because "...even though I did sport, I always wanted to be a ballerina."

Anyway, your entry has inspired my next entry and ... look for a ballet class...your body is telling you what it wants.

I'm not sure where you are. If in NYC try Gabriel Roth's school. Pretty wild stuff; not for some, but liberating for others.

lottie said...

I was a dancer when I was younger and while ballet can be beautiful and wonderful, years of pointe work have left me with decidedly un-pretty feet and the prospect of an operation involving the breaking of bones and pins. Ack!

BB makes a v good point re the clothes. Get ye some leg warmers and dainty little flats, pull your hair into a nonchalant bun and you’re away.