Dancing in the North

(I’m going to branch out in the weeks to come and write some short pieces on life around the North Star Ballet studio as the kids prepare for this year’s ambitious performance of Firebird.)

Finally, after a long break for the holidays and the deep cold followed by a thaw and black ice, I made it back to ballet class last night. For years now, my weeks have been bracketed by Sue Perry’s adult ballet classes–Tuesday and Wednesday nights. In the closed world of the studio, we relive our past dreams of dancing. Some of us have danced on stage; some have never had a dance class before we walked through the door. But in class, we are moving toward a mutual goal–to become that ideal of lightness and grace that we imagine dance to be, to defeat gravity where it overtakes our bodies first–arms, legs, back, bellies.

I had been dancing for some time before I met Sue, but I started as an adult and adults progress through the forms of ballet at a different rate than children do. My son and I started together, me at 34, he at 5. Now, he is a free-lance dancer who has performed in four countries; I’m a permanent adult intermediate dancer. When I walked into Sue’s class, it was as if I had started over as she systematically took me back to the good habits I should have developed in the first place. Sue, however, treats each adult as if her or his potential is unlimited and as if whatever level we ultimately reach is a level worth reaching and worth working hard for.

Last night, I noticed how my right and left arm move differently. I was dancing at the front of the class and watching my port de bras in the mirror when I realized that my left arm–my writing arm–moved back down through the arc of the movement faster than my right one, which stayed floating longer. Try as I might, I couldn’t get them to move at the same rate and still concentrate on the echappes that we were doing. I realized that this is also a problem for me in riding: one side of my body reacts faster than the other; one side stays in balance better than the other and it makes the horse move stiffly to balance me out.

It’s like this blog–to me, all the things I’ve listed in the heading are connected, and each is an art in itself. As I read around the blogosphere, I notice others working on the interrelation of the arts–and we each have a different set of arts to interrelate. More on this in the days to come.

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