Back at the Barre

I'm sure most of you (Mom and Dad) read this and thought I had one tequila shot too many, misspelling one of my most commonly used locations. But, no, actually, I write this sipping on lemon water, sprawled on on floor, stretching my sore arms and legs. (And no, I did't fall off a bar stool, come on, guys...)

Last January, aware of my propensity to choose fro-yo over yoga, I signed up for a ballet class, thinking that it would keep me active in the lazy winter months. I loved waking up early on weekends, pulling on tights and an old leotard, and layering sweatpants and old wrap sweaters over my dance clothes to head out in the brisk weather.

I felt like my old self.

Well, we know which one I am

I used to think I'd be a professional dancer-- click that link if you want to hear about my (spoiler alert) failed dance career. More than that, I was a quadruple threat: actor, singer, model-- any job looking pretty in the spotlight was mine. This path only made sense, considering my talent and good looks.

But somehow, books and education and goals to make money (ha! I'm a professional blogger! laugh away, dusty dance shoes)  led me to an Ivy League school to pursue a career not in the performing arts.

At the end of high school, I went from spending countless hours a week in dance, singing, and acting classes, as well as performance groups, to just, well not.  Time was spent with friends and new hobbies, and while I still loved the performing arts, not choosing a career on stage gave me no reason to continue my training.  The skills were useless.  I had deluded myself.

But signing up for that ballet class in January had nothing to do with my goals to be applauded by an audience, to appear in a Playbill, be photographed on stage. The ballet class was about a love of ballet, for it's own sake.

If someone had told me how much fun adult ballet classes are, I never would have stopped training.

Adult classes are comprised of a motley crew: retired professionals, younger dancers who aspired to dance professionally but never did, and those of all ages, who are just learning to dance properly for the first time.  But it seems that no one cares.  We're all just there for our own reasons, for a love of the exercise, the art, or a combination, we mind our own business, with no goals of auditioning for prestigious ballet companies or fighting for the coveted solos at the end of year concert.  We were all colors of tights and hairstyles and leg warmers, and only sometimes do we get scolded for leaning against the barre in class.

I love ballet for its discipline.  I love quickly remembering the barre combinations in French, having to concentrate on each part of my body- head up, arms strong, tummy in, hips out, knees straight, toes pointed- and clear almost all other thoughts from my head.

I'm not the worst in class, but I'm certainly not the best.  Names of steps sound familiar to me, but I can't remember how to do them, or how to properly position my body to dance them gracefully. I'm not as flexible as I was or should be nor am I as strong or balanced.

Knowing that with continuous practice I may beat my old self, become a better dancer than I ever was inspires me.  Knowing that if I never improve it will be of no consequence keeps me going back to the school at the Joffrey Ballet each week. Knowing that you can just do something for the love of it, without an external pressure or major life consequences, is freeing and beautiful, and a lovely thing to remember when I perhaps pick up improv or tennis again...

I may not remember the choreography across the floor each class, but at least I enjoy leaping through the air as I cross.

issa baby ballet