Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A nostalgic moment ...

As long as I can remember, I have loved ballet. When I was a little girl, maybe five or six years old, my mother enrolled me in Mrs. O'Laker's dancing school in my hometown of Hopewell, Virginia. And, how I loved going to ballet class! It was my escape from the pain of childhood ...

We had to wear black leotards and pink tights with pink ballet slippers and my mother got me a little pink bag with the silhouette of a ballet dancer on it. I can clearly remember my excitement before each class, knowing I would get to wear my "dancer's clothes" and do plié and jeté, and at the end of class I could try to do a pirouette (to whirl or spin). I remember the day I did a complete pirouette and Mrs. O'Laker didn't correct me or scold me for incorrect technique --- It was a day of complete and utter joy!

I've taken ballet classes off and on for years. Today, some 50 years since that first pirouette, I am still doing ballet. Twice a week I don my black leotard, black tights and my pink ballet slippers and I take class with retired ballerinas who dance much better than me. But, one thing is certain: no one dances more enthusiastically than me! I may not be able to do double pirouettes because of an old ankle injury, but the single I can do is done with as much precision and good technique as I can muster!

I don't have any illusions that I'll dance on a stage, for that's not why I do it. I do it because it feels so wonderful! I love the barre work and I am challenged by the center work. For the hour or 90 minutes of class, I am so busy thinking about which way my foot should point, is my elbow up, are my shoulders down, am I holding my stomach in and lifting up out of the rib cage that I simply don't have time to think about anything else. Ballet is as good for my head as it is for my body and I simply cannot imagine life without it!

The photograph above was recently given to me by an aunt. I'm the tall one. The little girl is my cousin, Sharon, and we were "ballerinas" one day while our mothers were doing whatever it was they did when they got together. The little boy is my brother, Jim, and he is still a superhero and cat lover. He has four cats at his apartment and has always had cats ... as long as I remember.

I have a little mobile hanging over my desk of a dancing fairy with a pink ribbon tied around her waist and little charms with these words:

There ARE shortcuts to happiness
and DANCING is one of them!

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