Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Prima Ballerina

There were four of us.

I was the only one in footless tights and Nike shorts. The other girls wore sheer, wrap-around skirts over their full-length tights.

They had all been there before. And judging by their clothes and the way they easily slid up to the barre, they had plenty of experience.

No problem, I thought as I signed in. They must not know about me. I pirouette in my sleep.

The instructor asked me how much dance experience I have. Lots, I said.

I considered telling her about that night at The Chug in Muncie in 1997 when I was breakin' it down on that table. That might have been more alcohol-fueled instead of raw talent though. Still. I was on fire.

Anyway, I told her I had many years of dance experience, but I trailed off when I added it was only in tap and jazz and not ballet.

I did have one year of ballet. Or I was supposed to anyway, but I quit after a few weeks and went back to jazz because ballet was too controlled and disciplined.

The 13-year-old me needed more freedom in dance. But I'm older now, and looking for new dance experiences. And besides, have you seen the dancers on Taking The Stage? So lithe and sinewy. That could be me.

As we stood at the barre I followed the girl beside me, who clearly had done this for many years. The instructor - tall, thin, long graying hair pulled back into a bun - called out positions.

First. Cou-de-pied. Retiré. Second. Fondu. Sissonne. Plié.

I knew what Plié meant. And thanks to a book I had as a kid called Prima Ballerina with illustrated pictures of the five positions, I knew those. The other things she said I've never heard uttered in my life.

The instructor came over to each of us and straightened our alignment, moved our arms and forced our feet into the proper positions. But she definitely spent more time with me. When do we get to pirouette, I wondered.

Toward the end of class the instructor kind of laughed to herself and said, "We're just going to see what happens." And then she took us away from the barre and led us through a series of more aggressive movements, including a succession of split-leap jumps across the floor.

I followed the girl in front of me who seemed to have the most experience, but after we finished leaping the instructor told us our arms were all wrong.

I knew it, I thought. It felt unnatural. I should have done my own thing.

The next series of jumps we all tried to do the opposite of what we had just done with our arms. Failure again. Now our legs were off.

I set off across the floor determine to master them one final time.

Then it happened. "Gina, you've got it!" she said.

YES. So what did I do with this compliment? I proceeded to exaggerate each arm movement while exclaiming, "LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME!" as I jumped across the floor.

The girl who's pretty good wasn't very amused, but the rest of the class was cracking up. Even the instructor giggled a bit.

When we went back to our line the girl next to me was still laughing, which made me laugh harder. Before long tears were streaming down my face and we were both bent over trying to hold it in while the instructor went through our next steps.

That's me. Class clown.

Before we left the instructor told us that next week was spring break, so no class. Awesome. I show up for one class and then get spring break. Ow!

I know the instructor thinks she'll never see me again. I didn't know what was going on most of the time, I don't speak ballet, and I needed a lot of correction.

But she's got another thing coming if she thinks she's rid of me. I haven't gotten to pirouette yet.

See you tomorrow night lady!

1 comment:

Lizz said...

You run, you scooter, you blog, you leap....is there anything you can't do????