I’ve been taking adult beginner ballet classes for 6 months now~ I can’t say that I’m amazing at it or that I’ve seen all that much improvement, but I am still having a good time attending classes. ♥ The first two months–December and January–were a bit difficult for me to maintain regular attendance in class due to various holidays and spending time with my family. As soon as I was back in the city on a regular basis I did my best to commit to a consistent schedule.
It’s gotten much less scary the more regularly I attend! I look forward to being in class now, rather than forcing myself to go. I’m much more friendly with the other students; I’ve gotten over a good deal of my initial terrified shyness. There are a lot of very nice and very welcoming people that I enjoy taking class alongside. Despite my (understandably unreasonable…) fears, no one teases me or makes me feel like I am wasting time or space. I feel like I mark my weeks with the fun things I’m looking forward to: ballet class, knit night, game night~ 🌟
Last night I saw the Joffrey Academy of Dance perform Sleeping Beauty. I’ve been itching to see a ballet performance, but lately that has not been fitting into my budget. As this performance involved students from the school, not the professional ballet company, tickets were very affordable ($15). At that price, I thought it would be worth the risk even if the performance was not very good.
Doing something fun is always a wonderful excuse to dress up, so I did.
I spent the day sitting at my desk in my office and obviously I’d be sitting for the ballet, so I opted for a more casual style of outfit. For those reasons I chose not to wear a petticoat, even though petticoats are lovely and wonderful fluffy clouds of lolita prettiness. No one can see it when you’re sitting down, and I didn’t want to be an annoyance to other theatre patrons by having “skirt overflow” onto a nearby seat. (I’m glad I made this choice, because the seats in the black box theatre were very narrow non-permanent bleacher-style seats that were very close together indeed.)
I have two ballet-themed pieces, but I chose not to wear them. Instead I opted for this skirt, which was a present from my mother a few years ago. I have a bit of a hard time coordinating with this skirt due to the blue. This time I highlighted the black in the outline of the artwork. The weather was just barely warm enough to get away without wearing a coat as long as I wore enough layers. This ancient sweater is one of my favourite things to pair with a skirt for a casual outfit–it’s just the right length for a lolita skirt and it’s warmer than most of my brand cardigans. I pinned a few ribbons on it for an extra little touch~
I really enjoy contrasting these black socks with lighter shoes, so I went ahead and did so. The socks and shoes were very popular with my coworkers; I received positive comments on them all day. XD
I ultimately didn’t wear a hair accessory because I was worried about obscuring the vision of anyone seated behind me. The audience consisted mostly of relatives and friends of the students performing; I didn’t want to ruin their experiences. I packed a bow in my purse, thinking I’d put it on after work but before the ballet, but it was more convenient to omit it entirely.
We had an absolutely lovely time at the ballet–the students were very skilled! I was very impressed. The Lilac Fairy, Princess Aurora, Carabosse, and Prince Désiré danced beautifully~! ♥ Watching Prince Désiré perform his jumps and leaps during the wedding act made everyone in the audience marvel; he was able to get so much height and maintained lovely form. I’d definitely see the academy perform again; it’s clear that the school puts a lot of time and effort into their student productions. Even the pre-pointe children playing sheep and trees did an excellent job with their roles. Even though I wasn’t related to any of the performers, I felt very proud of how well they did! I hope they and their families felt that way, as well. ♥
Over the past two weekends I finally did something I’ve been thinking about for a while–I took a ballet class~! ♥
(Okay, okay–technically, I’ve taken four ballet classes.)
I took ballet lessons when I was a child–at the park district of the town I grew up in. I was never particularly talented or passionate. I started as a toddler, with “Ballet, Tap, & Tumbling” but I quit before moving on to pointe. I didn’t have the ambition or ability to be a professional dancer, but I definitely didn’t hate dancing or class. I still look back fondly on those memories. (My father video-taped all of my recitals; I once showed my husband the compiled VHS of those performances, and he loved it so much that he has watched it more than the one time.)
Exercise and sports have never been things I am particularly interested in. (It’s a basically laziness hiding behind the excuse of asthma. u_u) However, I care about getting a sufficient level of physical activity to stay in good health. Living in a city and not owning a car, I do a lot of walking–but that’s probably not enough on its own. I’ve been thinking of supplemental activities I could try.
When I was in college, I took a semester of adult beginner ballet–once again, at the park district. It was only the one semester for a variety of reasons: my school schedule interfering and questions of affording it were the top two. Something else that worried me, though, was the lack of guidance. The slow-paced class consisted of mostly women around the ages of my mother or grandmother. The teacher offered little correcting or coaching for the individuals in the class. I worried about picking up bad habits and causing injuries. Dancing incorrectly can be very bad for you!
After graduating, the idea of taking ballet again has been a constant and distant dream. The beauty of ballet has always appealed to me; I think of Degas’ paintings, sketches, and sculptures with a fond sigh. There’s a lot about ballet (and opera) from the 1880s that embodies things I love about lolita; the costumes from that era tend towards full skirts and adornments of ribbons and lace. There’s an elegance there that I long to participate in.
The fear of trying something new is my only excuse for how long it took me to try an adult ballet class in the city. There are a number of studios that offer adult classes, most of which are “open” classes that don’t require extensive registration or commitment for an entire semester. The schedules for those classes vary, providing opportunities for a variety of potential students with numerous claims on their time.
I didn’t want to buy a leotard in advance of taking my first class, in case I decided not to continue, so I wore close-fitting clothes that followed the dress code of the school. (Adult non-professionals are allowed to wear “workout-appropriate” attire. It’s important to make sure to meet dress code requirements.) I still had a pair of soft ballet shoes from my brief college stint; my feet are the same size and the shoes are in good condition, so I wore those. It made me glad I kept the shoes!
My first class was very intimidating. The “basics” class that I took involved a number of students who commented on having been regulars to the “basics” class for upwards of three years, as well as a few people whose concentration and prowess suggested that they were dancers in need of some extra practice although personally far above a “beginner” level. I felt very shy and uncomfortable surrounded by so many new people who clearly knew what they were doing while I did not. One student was very welcome and helpful; she engaged me in conversation–recognizing that I was new–and rearranged my place at the barre so I could have two experienced students to watch during class instead of twisting around to look for the teacher. The teacher arrived and began class immediately, with no introductions or explanations. It was hard for me to keep up with even simple combinations being both unfamiliar with the combinations and unfamiliar with the individual steps/motions/positions. It did not feel like a class billed as “an introduction” with “no experience required.”
When I left that first day I felt very discouraged. I spent the entirety of class feeling like the clumsiest and stupidest person in the room. As soon as I thought I’d memorized a combination, I’d realize that I learned it wrong–and then we’d be on to the next set. My balance was almost non-existent, and I couldn’t seem to figure out what to do with my feet, or my legs, or my arms. Every time I caught sight of myself in the mirror, embarrassment was almost overwhelming. I fantasized about quietly gathering up my things and walking out.
I was feeling so down that I decided to take another session the next day. My stepfather has always advocated doing things that intimidate you to avoid being ruled by your fear. When my siblings were learning to ski, if anyone fell or wiped out, they’d be checked over for injuries and then sent right back up the mountain. He said that the longer they’d wait to try again, the more their worries and fears about falling again would crowd out the memories of how fun the experience is. I definitely find truth in that from a number of aspects of my life. So, because I felt demoralized, I went back as soon as I could.
The second class was no easier than the first, but I felt much better afterward. I felt better not because I had magically improved, but because I became more comfortable with being the clumsiest and stupidest person the class. The other students didn’t care what I was doing. The teacher even recognized me, and took a moment to express that she was glad to see I came back and wasn’t scared off after the first class. I felt so much less miserable after that class that I went and bought a leotard, determined to continue taking classes.
There was a ballet supply shop not too far from where I took the classes, so I headed over there. It was very quiet when I headed in, and the two employees were quick to offer assistance. While I was there, a teenager and her mother arrived for a pointe shoe fitting. I tried really hard not to stare, but it was so fascinating to watch!
There were a number of different leotard styles and sizes across several price ranges. (I just wanted something basic and inexpensive, and I was able to find it.) Ballet sizing can be weird, so I benefited from being able to try things on instead of relying on measurements and purchasing online. Even the same “type” of leotard could be very different–higher or lower neckline or back, differently-cut leg openings, or seams in a variety of places. I really appreciated that I didn’t feel rushed or upsold by the employees, yet they were available for information and advice. One of the women was kind enough to take a look at the fit of my soft shoes. They were somewhat uncomfortable around my toes during class, so I wanted to make sure the fit was not poor. Thankfully, she said it just seemed to be that the shoes were new enough to need more wearing.
The third class that I took was taught by another teacher at the same studio. Her class felt more like something that deserved a “basics” label. Before beginning class, she asked if anyone was new to dance or new to this studio. She asked questions to determine the varying levels of “newness” and repositioned the students to allow clear visibility for the newbies. She then outlined the proper way to stand, went through the positions of feet and arms, and provided details on motions before introducing something new to a combination. That was the type of instruction I expected for a first class. I would recommend the second teacher if I knew someone who was brand new and wanted to take a class.
Even though it was scary at first, I am really happy to be taking ballet classes! I hope I can continue to do so, and I look forward to improving. There has to be a point at which I’m no longer flailing about like one of those wind-sock tube advertising men. If my arms, legs, ankles, and core strengthen with practice, I might eventually graduate from being “the clumsiest” to “one of the clumsier ones.” That is certainly something I can look forward to~! ♥
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