6.29.11 Dancing Fool
Speaking of fools (as in yesterday's gooseberry delight), who takes up ballet at the age of 48? This crazy bitch does. Uh-huh. I was so pigeon-toed as a child that the family doctor prescribed an iron brace to be worn at night that essentially forced my legs out in a painful and unnatural (for me) position. As an alternative to this medieval contraption, my mother offered ballet lessons. So for 7 years, until I was 14, I was a regular at Wendy Barrett's ballet studio in a little cabin in the woods. I was never very good—and my hips, knees and feet still turn more in than out—but I do have excellent posture. (And to this day, The Red Shoes is one of my favorite films.) Having now discovered the excellent Shain Fishman at Highland Yoga & Dance, I once more find myself heading to a little dance studio in the woods. I have been taking yoga from her for over a year, and recently left my pride at the door and signed up for her Adult Beginner Ballet class. (As with diapers and movies, when you preface something with "adult" it immediately becomes creepy and pathetic. Joke stolen from Jimmy Fallon, btw.)
Ballet is not for sissies. After my first class, my legs were shockingly sore for almost four days. The external rotation required is not something I get up to in my average day. Humiliating as it is, it's also quite thrilling to be up against a challenge like this. And who doesn't dream of having the long, slim limbs of a dancer? It's something to strive for. Ballet is excellent for conditioning the whole body. Your back and abdomen have to be incredibly strong, and it really does tone the legs. I was amazed to see what my body would and wouldn't do after nearly 35 years. The muscle memory has definitely faded. Still, I firmly believe in the "use it or lose it" approach to life, and I'll be fighting gravity as long as there's breath in this body.
In the end, it's not about how good you are, it's about what you'll try and how hard you're willing to work. Getting older doesn't have to be a series of doors closing: no more wearing a bikini, no more scary experiences, no more new beginnings. It can be about pursuing opportunities with new courage, because you have the confidence of age instead of the bashful self-consciousness of youth. That's how I'm spinning it anyway, one pirouette at a time...