Recently I had the opportunity to be present for a movement evaluation. This evaluation was for someone I know well and executed by an expert in her field. It was and continues to be a gift.
First, it brought to light more beauty and opportunities for growth for she who received the information. A more quiet light was also shone on something for myself; something I had not deeply considered for a number of superficial, ego-laden reasons.
I remember my very early ballet classes with Miss Ruth that began when I was 3. She was disciplined but gentle. I can’t see her image as a specific individual moving across the ballet studio. I’m not sure what I have is an image at all, more an overall sense of a body in motion. She was tall and willowy and she danced with such touching expression. I would dance my hands and arms at night, lying on the floor, watching tv with my parents.
While I’m not a generally anxious person or a worrier, I do get brain jammed when someone stands over me waiting for an answer or execution – performance anxiety. The result looked like a “slow” learner. As a child, the longer I was in an environment, the better it did not get. I just fell further and further behind. At 13 I finally left formal ballet classes for what I promised myself was for good.
I continued to dance, though. I couldn’t not. I’d pick up steps or inspiration from what I would see on the stage, on tv or observing someone else’s class. I joined classes with a modern company in my 30s. It was fun and challenging but not as open as I’d wanted. Months later, my life changed (as life with children does) and while I was no longer in the modern class I continued to pick up information and material.
Fast forward to 24 hours following the evaluation. I may have picked up steps and moves and sparked creativity, but I didn’t pick up the basics that might have protected me from injury. All these years I’ve been dancing beyond my ability simply because I didn’t – I don’t – have the foundation on which to execute and build.
“When you dance beyond your ability, there is a higher chance of injury.” These words from a woman, who, at 54, is the healthiest ballet dancer I’ve ever met.
Errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! (That’s the slamming on of brakes. Aaaannnd the thinking and moving.)
As my wise daughter told me in response to my resistance to stepping back into formal dance classes and performing: You’re not that little girl anymore. You’re not clumsy anymore. You’re not slow.
I can be that little girl again, if I let myself slip back there. She’s right, though.
I never gave up dance. I gave up the standard path. I also gave up the framework that might have prevented the multitude of injuries I have incurred over the years. So what now?
Back to ballet class.
This time I step into class not only as a moving body, but as an individual human; with a far richer sense of myself, I step in, not as a woman who has been dancing all of her life – as a beginner.
Mastering the basics. Every time I go back to step one, I enhance, enrich and deepen the potential for the skills, ability and knowledge I want to manage.
Back to the beginning.
Forever a beginner.
Always alert and ready to welcome the new – even if it appears to arrive in the form of the “old”. Don’t be deceived.