But what truly rocks my world about ballet is how it is a form of communication that transcends language. Music does that, but when music makes you feel an emotion – how can you express and externalize what you are feeling? Words cannot do it justice, they are too small and limited. I have frequently felt an emotion that was bigger than words, that just filled me up and wished that I could somehow communicate what I was feeling by using all of me. Alas, because I am not a ballerina, I cannot, and so the emotions stay trapped inside of me. However, when I look at ballet, and the dancers who use all of themselves, from the arch of their neck to the tip of their pinky, part of those emotions trapped inside of me find expression, through the communion that happens between dancers and their audience.
Because those emotions stayed trapped in me, I’ve felt, for as long as I could remember, that a part of my soul had been severely maimed. The ballerina in me, paralyzed. I just assumed that was Life teaching me the lesson that one can’t have everything. I might love ballet, but to continuously pine and regret that I wasn’t a ballerina was an immaturity. It was never gonna happen. Move on, child. Become an accountant. I suppose that is why my recent decision to sign up at a prestigious ballet school in Quebec, in a program designed for adults wishing to learn ballet adapted to their physical constraints, feels like a breakthrough. It has taken me almost two decades to accept that my inability to execute the technique of ballet perfectly is not a good reason to muzzle a part of me that refuses to be silenced. No one else was stopping me from dancing all these years. I was my own road block.
Allie is taking ballet with me, and remarked that she thought it must get repetitive to take ballet several times a week, doing the same barre and floor exercises over and over. From that I understand that she does not feel we are dancing yet. It is true, we aren’t doing choreography. Yet, my body vibrates with joy with every plié we do over and over again. I would love to do ballet class for 2 hours a day, every day, like the pros, just working through the basics slowly and thoroughly. If anything, my struggle is keeping the frustration of not achieving competency (never mind perfection!) from drowning out the joy of the movements.
I believe that we learn by practice. Whether it means to learn to dance by practicing dancing or to learn to live by practicing living, the principles are the same. In each, it is the performance of a dedicated precise set of acts, physical or intellectual, from which comes shape of achievement, a sense of one’s being, a satisfaction of spirit. One becomes, in some area, an athlete of God. Practice means to perform, over and over again in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire. Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired. – Martha Graham
Ballet class gives me that.
Through my blog, I’ve learned that I have a voice. Moreover, that I have a voice that craves expression. This blog has made me alive.
I don’t think it is a coincidence that I’ve quit boxing to take up so many forms of dancing. I think the ballerina/dancer part of me that was denied expression all these years watched me grow as a writer and waited till the perfect moment to me to the form of dance that allows for the expression I’ve been denying myself all my life.
There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. … No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.― Martha Graham
When I dance kuduro, I experience that life force and divine dissatisfaction. For the first time in my life, I feel whole.
(I’m that white blondie. 3rd time dancing kuduro, ever.)
Y’all. This might seem small – but I am finally accepting who I am. Who I’ve always been, but never acknowledged. A writer. A dancer. And a damned good accountant. The fact that all 3 of those identities are still in progress, and have not achieved anything significant is irrelevant. I know who I am now.