so i signed up for ballet. i took ballet for a month when i was six years old, and was kind of excited to see it offered at the Y. like being able to play the piano, ballet was something i had always wished i had been able to continue with. not to the point of ruining my toes and waddling for the rest of my life, but just, i don’t know, to the point of feeling like a pretty little girl. graceful and poised and strong.
instead i turned into a flatfooted, huge-toothed goober who talked to trees. oh well. anyway, last friday i went to beginner’s adult ballet and, oh my stars, it was hard-core! i’ve never clenched my ass for so long in my life! my calves are still sore! and this weird spot on the inside of my knees. i deny that there’s any muscle there, but jay says there is.
and it turns out i was one of only two beginners. there were two girls on point—little leaping fairy princesses in pink tights and black leotards, their legs scissoring in the air. their thighs the same width as their well-formed calves. they didn’t even look at me, lurching around like a maniac, and when we stretched at the bar, they folded in half backwards. the rest of the class was made of middle-aged women who had taken ballet before and so while they may no longer have had the bodies of ballerinas, they at least knew what the squeaking, crazed instructor was squealing. the instructor either spoke vaguely (“bring your toe to the thing”) or in french. i mean, she was very very sweet, but also kind of hysterical.
the other beginner and i wondered if we’d dance better in pink tights.
it was such a funny world to step into. i was raised by a single mother during my formative years, and have no brothers, but i never really spent time around flocks of girls, either. when all the girls in my class started writing in bubble letters, none of them would teach me how. when i signed up for belly dancing, and when i took flamenco, i was in this world of sensuality, rhythm, passion and emotion. ballet, though, is such a product of dominant european values. i mean, it’s a distillation of them to some respects. participating in the class felt both familiar and foreign. both attractive and repugnant.