Wednesday, March 5, 2008

I Heart Ballet

I always tell myself that I am too old for this. That I will never be a prima Ballerina and that this ongoing affair with ballet should be something I could give up by now, in exchange for a different career in dance maybe (something like ballroom, or even modern dance?) or a different career altogether. I thought I was not good enough to join a Company either, given that I’m not good enough to be a prima Ballerina. And in the end, I thought I just did this as an exercise. But I have been lying to myself all along.
The truth is that I am so obsessed with Ballet, again, like I used to when I was taking classes in Argentina. And it is not funny, because I am supposed to be focusing on other things: Like finishing college for god’s sake, or working a better job than one where I make cappuccinos all day. But I enjoy Ballet so much that this is all I want to do, and this is all I‘ve been able to think about. Even on my gloomiest moments, Ballet is all I can grab on to; all that provides me with an escape away from the heaviness of my being in the world.

This is to say that I took a class at the Joffrey Ballet School last night; a rundown studio inside a run down building in Manhattan, where dancers in leotards and leg warmers ran away from the cold of March. How much in love I am with this discipline is hard to explain, especially if I recall the eccentricity of my teacher who kept giving us Swam Lake variations and telling the class that today was Stalin’s anniversary. But how much in love I am with this discipline is easier to explain when I describe his eyes on me as I stepped into attitudes and did my pirouettes and he yelled “Good! Good!
And for a change, last night was the time when I did not finish a Ballet class frustrated at myself for not having done better. For the first time in one year since I took up dancing in Charlotte, I was enjoying myself.
These fleeting moments where I find myself at ease are so rare in my life, that when they happen, all I want is to prolong them. I wanted to extend the stupid, short moment of acceleration and happiness experienced when my teacher kept yelling “Good! Good!” I wanted it to last until summer; I wanted an entire withdrawal from my life in Charlotte in exchange for Ballet classes and an invisible existence in New York City as long as I could enjoy myself again through movement like I was doing last night and as long as some crazy teacher could encourage me from behind his sunglasses. Because sadly, I am the type of person that needs encouragement, or else I will fail miserably at everything.

I love visiting my parents in Queens, but I have to finish school in North Carolina and all I can aim for is to go back to Charlotte next week with a different approach. To keep taking my philosophy classes, to re-take Ballet, to work at my crummy job, to erase the hurtful feelings that have haunted me. And to hope for that other feeling to appear again: the one I experienced last night when I felt I was doing well in front of the class. When I knew I was good, and that I could do no better than that.

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