On with the dance

About a week ago I went temporarily insane and declared to Greg that I was going to start taking dance classes. Then I took things a step further and actually went out and bought all the attire I would need to fulfill my little escapist fantasy — more than $100 of gear. I’m constantly talking about doing these sorts of things. In the past few months I’ve researched cooking classes, violin lessons and ballroom dancing, but haven’t followed through with any of it. So Greg looked shocked when he got home and saw that I was actually going to put my feet where my mouth is, so to speak.

From the time I was 6 years old, all the way through college, I took dance classes. If I had been blessed with longer legs and a little more talent, I probably would have tried to make it professionally. Dancing is almost as natural to me as walking. But having not danced in five years, I wondered if any of it would come back to me. Also, I am old. I know, I know, in the grand scheme of things I’m not, but by ballerina standards I am a 1998 Toyota Camry. It still runs well, but you’re always wondering when something will bust (I know ’cause that’s what I drive).

Austin’s professional ballet company has a new building downtown where they offer classes for the public, and they don’t even require advance registration. So off I went. I started with a jazz class this past weekend because it’s so much more forgiving than ballet. If you can’t quite keep up with the steps, you can just call it ‘style.’ (Oh, that kick was supposed to be as high as my head? Well, I kept it at waist level because that’s my personal style.)

This morning I plunged into ballet. And I chose that verb ‘plunged’ carefully. I had to drag myself out of bed an hour and a half earlier than normal so I would have time to wrestle into little pink ballet tights and a suck-in-my-breath black leotard, and then book it downtown to the dance building. And then there was the actual dancing to attend to. Ballet is so precise. If your feet are behind by a second, it becomes painfully apparent when the music ends and you’re still dancing to your much-slower beat.

And then, out in the middle of the dance floor, there was so much lifting of legs. Slow, slow lifting. Yet trying to look happy and free-spirited, as though I weren’t even aware of what my legs were doing. Difficult given that my legs seem to have developed a tree-trunk-like quality. There may even be roots growing out of my feet into the floor.

And yet, I had the best time. If I weren’t so old I would grab my little pink tights and run away to join the ballet.