Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Shaking my booty - memories of an undiscovered ballerina.

"Ah!" she said with a sense of realisation. "I see what you're doing."

I waited to receive my diagnosis.

"You turn like a ballerina," she declared.

That was quite unexpected. In all my life, I've never been told I do anything like an ballerina.

I've started a dance class. It's been a while since I took a class. I love to dance, but then I can't bear most people in the world of formal dance. I find the world intimidating. I can move, but usually the class goes too fast for me; I get left behind and before long, I feel useless and give up.

The class is not a ballet class, so turning like a ballerina is a redundant skill. The class is called Born to Boogie and is pitched for enjoyment, although we are learning a routine and will perform in a dance off with another class. I was doing so well until we came to the instruction to "turn". The first time I tried, I didn't make it all the way around. I tried again, and this time kept going. My legs were twisted around themselves like a corkscrew. I could not work out what was wrong. This is when the study was undertaken and the declaration made.

"Have you done some ballet?"

Making friends with my new jazz shoes -
on the feet of a latent ballerina.
© 2014 divacultura
"A long time ago," I whispered.

"Well, it's obviously in your muscle memory then."

I didn't dare tell her that the sum total of my ballet training consisted of about two classes when I was five years old. I hated it. They made us dance across the room in front of the other girls. I was embarrassed. Clearly I hadn't yet discovered my performance gene. I felt ungainly next to the other, wispy girls. Wispy is an adjective that has never and could never be applied to me. Substantial is more likely to be used and that doesn't really work for a ballerina, even when swathed in pastel pink tulle.

I must ask my mother how I came to be at ballet. I was also having piano lessons and went to art and craft classes and judo lessons. Piano turned into a lifelong passion. There is evidence of my participation in art and craft still in my parents' house; it takes the form of lumps of yellow glazed clay dishes, loosely designated as 'ashtrays'. I remember nothing about judo.

I think I must have been a high maintenance child as I always had lots of extra curricular activities. When I was about twelve I went to "cooking for adolescents". You can be forgiven for thinking that the class was for parents so they could cook delicious food for the teenagers. It did turn out to be a cunning way to give my mother the night off as whatever I produced was taken home for the family at the end of the night.

There were eight of us in the class and Mrs Quade was the ferocious teacher. I was perpetually in trouble. Using the tubular spaghetti as a straw may have been one of my transgressions. I thought it was excellent. The cuisine was basic, but I learned some great skills, like how to skin tomatoes and make fresh tomato sauce. My family feasted on such delights as rissoles, sausage casserole and something called "Apple Windsor". I carefully wrote out all the recipes in an anthology book. (Do you remember anthology books? They were a bit larger than an exercise book, one page was blank and the facing page had lines. Both pages had a decorative border. They were for writing out poems and drawing a matching picture. Talk about redundant. Isn't the poetry supposed to paint the picture? I can't draw, and am still haunted by a lumpy drawing of a malformed eagle to accompany the words "He clasps the crag with crooked claw". Well, the 'claw' was certainly crooked.)

My first dance class was great fun. I was complimented on my positive energy again. It seems to be appreciated, but I just hope it's not what people say when they're thinking "oh god, where are we going to hide her?"

In the meantime, I turn like a ballerina you know.

Do you dance? Have you rediscovered a love for something you didn't enjoy in your youth?

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