I am from pink tights and leotards…
I thought I would begin my blog with a poem, some snippets of my life as a dancer…
I am from pink tights and leotards, from good toes and naughty toes and hair pulled tight with too many hairpins.
I am from the studio with the poster of feet in 5th – the one with the frayed leg-warmers and the worn through ballet shoes – whose limbs I remember as if they were my own.
I am from Nutcracker at Christmas, from costume-sewing mothers and big brothers sleeping through concerts, and dads frowning stern, urging, “finish high-school first”.
I am from ballet bags stuffed full and the strong scent of hairspray on exam day, from teachers yelling over piano chords: “pull your stomach in”, “turn out” and “you’ll never be a dancer.” That one burns deep.
I am from Louis XIV, Lifar & Petipa, from Fonteyn & Nureyev, from Vaganova & Cecchetti and the trickle down of tradition through generations. From French vocabulary and strong Russian accents, from plies and rond de jambes, en dehors and en dedans.
I am from dancing when everyone else is at a party, from years of self-discipline at the cost of all else. From own-worst-enemy eyes that scrutinize the lines and bodily imperfections reflected in glass walls. I am from fat days and skinny mirrors, from weighing scales and fat grams and “won’t that niggling ankle just be better already?!”
I am from ballet-masters to please, choreographers to inspire and directors to impress. I am from “do it again” and “just one more time” …when we all know they never mean just once. From positive comments only heard when there is nothing left to correct (from only believing the negative comments really anyway).
I am from crowding around cast lists, from excitement and fear and some hidden tears by those that were missed. I am from sitting on the sidelines in understudied parts, from jumping in at no notice, and saving the day with adrenalin pumping.
I am from the quiet ritual of pancaked make-up, careful warm up and characters put on with costumes. From last minute spacing checks and “can we just try that lift?” From chookas and merde and toi, toi, toi, from the stillness of an empty stage, the warming up of the orchestra, the squeaking of shoes in a resin box.
From being thrown around a stage, and touring around a globe. From Swan lake with stress fractures, tendonitis and tiger balm in tutus. From unable to sleep after shows and calloused toes, from drama queens and giggling through death scenes.
I am from friends who share the joys and burdens, who laugh hard, play wild, dance crazy and care deep. From colleagues who are friend and family, encouragement and envy, competition and comparison, all in one.
I am from resilience and persistence, from emotions funneled physically, from brilliance and creative flow, from movements that move deeply. I am from living my dreams and facing my demons.
I am from the ballet world, which has shaped more than just than just my port-de-bras. For many years it defined my entire identity. It will always be a part of me.
I am also from hope and daring to believe that what goes on inside the minds and hearts of dancers is as important as what goes on the stage. From hoping that the next generation will not be squished into old stereotypes, squashed by self-doubt, or shrunk without sustenance. I am from new moulds and fresh mindsets, from mastering balance & strength from the inside out.