Saturday, February 12, 2005

Adult Ballet 101 or a Lesson in Humiliation

So I signed up for this UVSC Community Continuing Education Adult Ballet class.

Now I was a dancer growing up, a ballet dancer. I almost wrote dancer in quotation marks, but I’m serious. I thought I was going to pursue a professional career. My sister and I danced with really good studios, not fancy, but serious.

But as I got older, I began to realize that dance is a world unto itself, a world I was not so sure I wanted to be a part of. Dance people are a separate breed. So I took a couple of years off, and then resumed dance in college as exercise.

Well, thanks to the magic of metabolism that is marriage, I weigh a lot now. I am out of shape, and have been looking for a way to reclaim the body that once was me. I’m terribly lazy, so it had to be exercise that is FUN. And, it had to be something that I do with other people, I cannot work out alone or without obligation…some level of competition is a very motivating thing….

So I bit the proverbial bullet, and signed up for a community class. But I had certain criteria:

…this needed to be a class for ADULTS. There had been various adults that had tried to “come back” to dancing and joined the studios for a short time. They were old (over 30), and fat (over 125), and inflexible (could touch the ground but not with their elbows or do the splits nine ways). It was awkward for them to be in a class with limber, fit teenagers, and it was awkward for us because, frankly, we felt sorry for them. They would last a month and we would never see them again.

…the dress code had to be somewhat lax. The ballet dress code is and will be forever…pink ballet shoes, pink tights, and a black leotard. Once I got to college I was allowed to wear a skirt, but even this was frowned upon. I needed a class where I could shamefully hide the “extra” me, that “additional person” or “fourth-grader-equivalent” that I was smuggling into my leotard…

…it had to be somewhat serious ballet. Ballet is not a “hobby” for me. I still take the it and the technique seriously. There is a right way and a wrong way, and I wanted a class that would kick my…

Ask me how the first night went…

Well, I had made an effort to APPEAR serious by going to the local purveyor of dance wear and purchasing new ballet slippers, pink tights, and a black leotard. The sales lady diplomatically explained why she was giving me the LARGE tights, “because you seem tall and a lot of the girls like them to fit comfortably.” I’m 5’5”…but thanks anyway. And I guess it’s hard to find an XL leotard because, honestly, not a lot of girls my size are dancing. So I settled for a Large, and took my purchases home.

I got into the tights, the shoes, and the leotard and went into the family room to show Todd. I thought that if I came into the room doing a funny walk it would alleviate the awkwardness that we both were sure to feel. So I made my grand entrance doing an exaggerated ballet walk, and sure enough, the laughter dispelled the shock of the sight of a fat thirty-year-old in ridiculously juvenile looking pink tights and leotard.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” Todd asked. He was very doubtful of the costume, or of my “guts” to actually wear it in public. He seemed very relieved to know that I planned on wearing my sweats over it.

So I showed up for the first night… I didn’t know where to go, but I spotted pink tights under black pants and I followed them. I was led down the stairs to a low-ceilinged, slightly damp “studio” in the basement of an office building. Upstairs is a permanent cosmetics company, so if ballet isn’t working it for my self esteem maybe some permanent blush will.

The first thing I instinctively did was check to see if I was the fattest one in the room; bad habit from the old days… Luckily, I wasn’t. There was an “older lady” there who immediately started talking to me and showing me pictures of her missionary son. She is 60 and hasn’t done ballet for 43 years. Crazy.

This nice lady also immediately confides in me her weight. I will give you pause to let that sink in. SHE TOLD ME, A STRANGER, HER WEIGHT. To me that’s like giving out your ATM pin.

But…

To my utter shock and horror…IT’S MY WEIGHT, TOO…. Let me give you pause to let THAT sink in… Remember how I said I was relieved that I wasn’t the fattest one in the room? Yeah, I had no idea that that’s what ***lbs looked like. No idea at all…

Then the class ahead of us finished, and we met our instructor…

TO BE CONTINUED…..

7 comments:

mo said...

I like you just the way you are--brave, funny, adventurous, and always thinking and doing for others. Who cares what size the tights are? The important thing is that you have them on and you are dancing again. I saw you dance as a snow princess and flower in the Nutcracker several years running and I was no more proud of you then than now. Can't wait for part 2!

Marcy Dibbleblotts said...

comment one: I was recently horrified to learn I weigh more than my boss. Who is 69 years old, a man and about 4 inches taller than me.

comment two: I just returned from buying some nylons at TJMaxx (are you mad?) ---they were Donna Karan. Anyway at TJMaxx they have the size markers Small, Medium, Large, Queen, etc but the ones I found for me (Tall) were in a section called "Ample." It upset me to have to look there, so much so that I almost didn't buy any.

Suzie Petunia said...

I LOVE that you are dancing again. And ditto Mo's comment. If I were in Utah I swear I would take the class with you. Those were the days...they really were. And I would wear my sweats with you, because it really doesn't matter what your weight is, no one who is over 25 and who has birthed children should be seen in those pink tights.

Can't wait to hear the rest!

Marcy Dibbleblotts said...

Carrie Ann: I'll be out the weekend of the 25th. Lunch would be fun, we'll have to work something out!

Sarah Marinara said...

I first of all want to say, YOU ARE NOT FAT! Believe me, I KNOW FAT, and you are NOT it.

Secondly... I too am really proud of you for taking this class. I'm looking into a hip hop dance class over the summer... because let's be honest, I have moves... but I can always use more. ;)

Carly said...

I feel your pain. I took ballet in college and couldn't believe the humiliation the first day. Can't wait to hear about your instructor. Does she say "you know what I mean?" a lot? Does she talk openly and in great detail about her physical maladies? Can't wait....

emma jo said...

You really just make me laugh. I would take the class with you and then they would stare at me. I took a jazz class at BYU and felt sorry for the awkward jockish girls...the last day of class we watched our final performance all together and I almost threw up. Someone pasted my head on the most awkward of them all--no skills, no rhythm, no flow..I was crushed...I could never be a Cougarette.