A Fresh (if painful) Start

When I was a kid, I took both gymnastics and ballet classes. At age nine, my parents made me choose between the two and I went with ballet. I stayed with it through high school, dancing professionally for those four years before leaving the company for art school.

Dancing professionally was one of two career choices. Eventuall, I reasoned I’d rather be poor with working knees than poor with bad knees… and hips… and possibly ankles.

So at 18 years old, I went from the strict environment of dancing for 16 hours a week to not dancing 16 hours a week and I enjoyed that phantom thing called free time. I did things like “socialize” and watch “tv”. I would return to Charleston to visit family and take a ballet class and attend performances, but that was the only ballet I got.

In 2000, Josh encouraged me to find a school here in Pittsburgh to attend. I found a good facility with a wonderful teacher in Library, and have been making the trek out there ever since. At first, the classes were priced fairly, the exercises were challenging, and the students were nice. But that school eventually closed down, and the teacher moved to classes to another facility close by that isn’t nearly as good. The classes have also grown less impactful and more social, and the floor is terrible. So after massaging my ego a little and pumping myself up, I inquired about taking classes somewhere more challenging, more professional.

At Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, to be exact.

I went to one of their open classes last night and it was INCREDIBLE. First of all, there were probably 25 of us, which is the largest class I’ve attended for almost a decade. The students ranged greatly in age and skill. Dress is casual, so there’s none of the pink-tights-black-leotard nonsense. The studio was huge, with a high ceiling and skylights, and the front wall was lined with mirrors. And the floor… the beautiful, Marley floor. I could have kissed it. We had live accompaniment, the pianist was fabulous. And there were boys - boys! - I haven’t taken a class with a dude since 2002, and certainly not four of them. Male dancers change the whole dynamic of a class, the most important of which is room: dudes are taught to jump and jump BIG. I also got two corrections, which is beautiful.

I am so happy I could burst. I am also spectacularly sore, but in a good, I’m-totally-going to-do-it-again-next-week kind of way. If you haven’t had enough of me babbling about ballet, go here to check out one of my favorite variations. I performed it my junior/senior summer in Charleston (ironically, South Carolina this time and not WV). I’m sure I didn’t look like her doing it, but it’s the same choreography. And my headpiece was prettier.

Tags: ,