Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Dance Log 1

My ballet teacher told our class that it would behoove us to keep a dance log- a journal of our experiences, and our progress. I'm only auditing the class, so it's not like I have anything to turn in, but I thought it would still be a good idea to do it. How can I refuse a suggestion from someone who has a vocabulary including the word "behoove"?

I don't think I've even told you guys about how I got here.
When we first moved to Boise, (about a year ago) I emailed the head of the BSU ballet department (who also founded a local dance company), and gave her a brief background, telling her that I danced on my University company, and I was interested in taking classes, and maybe even dancing on her company if she was looking for more dancers. She suggested I come to the Ballet 3 class, and I showed up bright eyed and bushy tailed, wearing my very best tights. It was a mortifying hour and a half. It became immediately clear that her company was very professional. And it became even clearer that I did not belong in the class. I should have considered myself lucky. She didn't kick me out, or even laugh at me, she just gave me a warm smile, and suggested I perhaps take Ballet 2 to brush up on my technique.

It only took me about a year to gather up the courage to go ahead and register.

When I walked into the first class, I kept repeating to myself that it wouldn't be as bad as Ballet 3; that I wouldn't have to face any of those professional ballerinas, and I would fit in here snug as a bug. Imagine my horror, when I recognized all of the lovely primas, and discovered that Ballet 2 is basically Ballet 3, just with a different class title.

The first day was a disaster for me. I felt like every other girl in the class was a swan. Thin, lovely to look at, and quick at learning combinations. Then there's me, who obviously has eaten ice cream in the last 5 years, and has hair that is most natural when it's in my face. I don't even remember what we did during class. I just remember the teacher, peering at me with her undeniable ballet wisdom, and trying to figure out what position I was in. She had to remind me about fixing my arm technique about 80 times, and I went home with a large lump in my throat. Pacing, I went back and forth between the pros and cons of staying in the class with myself, and later with Gideon.

I miss dance, and taking this class allows me to dance.

I don't feel like I'm very good at ballet.
I feel (to say the least) chunky.
Being in a class full of professionals is no bueno for my self confidence.
I can't even get my arms right, let alone the rest of my body.
The teacher intimidates me.
My classmates intimidate me.
...I cried after the first class. Isn't the first class the easiest?

It sure seemed like there were more cons than pros.

Gideon thought it better if I just drop the class, sad at seeing my eyes fill up with tears when I told him about the first day. Since I'm technically doing this for fun, he thought I should actually be having fun.

 What logic.

He suggested I find a different class that was enjoyable for me, and brightly asked, "What sounds fun?" In my head I thought, "Hmm.. I like art. I could learn to paint. Or, hey! I did Theater in Junior High, and I liked it. Maybe Theater? I love literature. Maybe I could take a lit class, or join a book club. I've always wanted to learn to play the cello; maybe I could take a beginning cello class. Oh! I want to be a good cook. I should take a culinary arts class!"

The ideas just kept coming, but in the back of my head I kept thinking that even if I took a class that covered painting while cooking, acting and reading, all while playing the cello, I would still really miss dancing.

A large part of me just really really wanted to drop the class, and pretend it had never happened. If I (heaven forbid) ever run into my teacher or one of the dancers at the grocery store, I wanted to just pretend not to recognize them. But I realized something. The reason I didn't want to take this, was because it wasn't an easy situation. I wasn't comfortable. The class scared me; which convinced me all the more that I needed to take it. I decided I just want to prove to myself that I can do things that are intimidating. I can take a ballet class with gorgeous swans, even if I'm just an ugly duckling.

Ugly duckling seems a little too kind. I'd say I'm like a dirty puppy; splashing in the water, and startling the swans. But there's a sign by the water that says, "Puppies Allowed", so I'm staying. The swans will get used to me. Maybe we'll even become friends.

If all I learn through taking this class is humility, I'm all for it. But I know I'll learn more. In three class periods, I've learned more about Ballet Technique than I have in the last four years of dancing. I've learned I respond well to yelling. Plus, it makes me sweat, which I love. It reminds me that I'm alive. PLUS, it's dance. It's not contemporary dance, but it's dance. And I'll take whatever kind of dance I can get.

Today was the third day of class. Each time I show up, I feel like I'm slowly getting better. But more significant is that I feel proud of myself just for trying. Today my teacher made a comment about arms, and then shouted, "Exactly Alyssa!" I felt like running to the center of the studio and doing a river dance of pure joy. (Then I remembered that there are three girls named Alyssa in the class. But I've convinced myself that she was talking to me.) As I walked out of the Morrison center and through campus, it felt so good to know that I could be sitting at home, or in the office right now, but I wasn't. I was walking through the crisp air, red and orange leaves falling into my hair, and my legs sorer than heck from a killer dĂ©veloppĂ© combination that our class had to do four times. My cheeks were still rosy from the last exercise across the floor, and I silently practiced my posture and alignment all the way to the car.

I can't wait for Thursday's class.


  1. This inspires me! I have been craving something that will stretch me physically and mentally, and I am even more ready to find it now!

  2. I LOVE reading your blog! Always so fun and inspiring -- even when you seem to be in a not-so-pleasant mood!

    Keep writing. Keep dancing. Keep being you because you ARE a swan.

  3. I think you are amazingly gorgeous, no need for skinny envy darling. don't forget that some people envy YOUR body...

    PS I loved the balloons too. I love Boise
    PPS Why have we still not gotten together? This is getting to be more than a little ridiculous.

  4. I officially love you Lyss and think you are a beyond, beautiful dancer! I wish I could see you dance again.

  5. I love this post! It is uplifting and just adds to why you are amazing!

  6. YES!!! I am so excited to read more about your dancing!!!! I'm starting a mid-level ballroom class (my first ever) tomorrow *gulp* and while it will be nowhere near as challenging I'm sure - i imagine I'll feel much the same in regards to it. Can't wait to read more C:


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