This Manic Dancer

This Manic Dancer

My feet in my somewhat dirty pointe shoes.
My feet in my somewhat dirty pointe shoes.

I’ve spoken plenty on my writing life but hardly any on my dancing life. And I am The Dancing Writer, so it’s only fair I give my ballet a life a small spot in the limelight.

In any case, my ballet aspirations never manifested in childhood. Oh sure I thought pointe shoes were awesome and I’ve always wanted to try a pair on, but the dancing thing never grew in my bones and I was more of a soccer girl. I then became a track girl, then a horseback riding-band girl. It wasn’t until I saw Black Swan did I suddenly have the frenetic desire to dance. This isn’t exactly original. Lots of ladies like me saw Black Swan and wanted to do ballet. What sets me apart from most of them is that I actually stuck with it because after doing research, I knew ballet wasn’t going to be easy, especially getting en pointe.

My feet do not look like this. I do three hours of pointe work a week (sometimes five).

Now that I have almost 2 years of dance experience, I look back at Black Swan with a different eye. It’s obvious Natalie Portman didn’t do most of the ballet work because she did rigorous ballet for six months every day, and even with all that, it is not possible to attain professional level dance skills within that time.

Anyway, I started ballet with private lessons twice a week for ten months. I moved up five levels within a year and got en pointe within ten months. I probably could have started sooner, but I never asked. When I wasn’t doing ballet, I strengthened the crap out of my legs, ankles, feet, core, back, you name it. I desperately wanted pointe because it is so beautiful. Also, I was obsessive because I started getting depressed in 2011 due to emerging fibro symptoms. I was obsessively pursuing pointe work to escape the pain. Because if I didn’t have ballet, I would have given in to the depressive feelings.

But obsession can be a symptom of depression. It was for me.

I then stopped private lessons due to rising prices and started classes with pre-teen/teen girls (who I adore, by the way). By the time I got to level five, it was time to slow down. I think a lot of adult ballet dancers reach a certain level where they peak and then find they have to slow down. Oh, yes, I will be starting level six over the summer, but level five is where I needed to hunker down and stick with it longer than any other level, especially because of pointe work. But my pointe work is strong enough that it’s almost like I’ve been en pointe for two years. After only a year, I can sometimes manage double pirouettes en pointe, and there are adult dancers who can barely manage a single or haven’t even started pirouettes because the dance studio wants them to be en pointe longer.

But pointe work is my favorite part of ballet. I don’t take for granted that I can do lots of fun things en pointe because it does take immense strength. Pointe work makes me feel beautiful and graceful, and I love my shoes because they are the perfect pair for me–and dancers will spend years trying to find their perfect pair.

But that’s a little background on my ballet life. I think it’s important all writers have another hobby so we don’t find ourselves trapped by writing day in and day out. What other hobbies do you guys have?

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