Oct 29, 2020

Not on Pointe

When I was five years old, I wanted to be a ballerina. I wanted to wear a pink tutu, tie my hair up in a beautiful bun, and glide gracefully across the stage doing pirouettes and pointes and other ballet moves. Now, there was a small ballet studio in the neighborhood of my lola, and my awesome parents decided to support me and my newfound dream and send me there. On my first day of ballet class, I was so excited. I couldn’t wait to twirl and dance and look in the mirror and see a prima ballerina at the end of the day.

Of course, it didn’t work out that way.

The first exercise of the day was to tap my right foot delicately to the rhythm of the classical  music being played on the teacher’s CD stereo. As a very energetic and bouncy little girl, I bopped my foot to the beat like I was at a disco or a marching band or something. I could feel the music from my head to my toes. I was having fun. But then, the teacher told us to stop, and she turned off the music. Then, she singled me out, and in a room full of other 4 to 7 year olds, told me off.

“Don’t tap your foot like this,” she said, flopping her foot around to show me what I had apparently been doing. Someone giggled. “Do it like this,” she said, raising her chin and arching her foot to tap the wooden floor gently with her ballet-shoe covered toe. She stopped and looked me in the eye and said, “Got it?” I’m not proud of what happened next.

I coldly nodded, and she turned on the music again. While every other girl was following her instructions and tilting their chins up and placing their gentle fingers on their waists, I lowered my head and glared straight at my teacher. I was pissed. I thought ballet was supposed to be about having fun, feeling the emotion of the music, and making magic dust appear because of how talented you are, just like Barbie in the hit movies, Barbie in the Nutcracker and Barbie in the Pink Shoes. This? This was standing in rigid lines and not moving your shoulders and keeping your legs stiff and straight. This wasn’t what I signed up for. I placed my hands on my hips, just like the other girls, and stomped my left foot hard and loud, not like the other girls. The teacher’s head whipped around and she saw me, my little Dora haircut head bowed down, my eyes shooting daggers at her head. She decided she wasn’t going to deal with this, and ignored me. When my Lola picked me up, my teacher fondly? shook her head and said something about what happened, while I stayed grumpy and unfriendly. I got into the car without a word, and when my Lola finally asked how I liked it, I recounted my tale of woe, ending it with the declaration that I would never go back to ballet class again. And for some reason, I really didn’t.

When I asked my mom about the factual accuracy of my story, she said she hardly remembered anything about me going to ballet class. But for some reason, 11 years later, I still do. Maybe it was because a few years after that, I watched a real ballet, and took in all of the enchanting performances with awe. After the show, I found that deep down in my heart, I regretted quitting on the first day. I wondered what it would have been like to have stuck to it and become really good at it, or at the very least have some sense of how to dance. I can’t dance on command for the life of me. Maybe I would even have had better posture.

Since that’s in the past (the way, way past), I guess there’s nothing I can do except move on. But now, when I’m introduced to something new, I will give it a proper chance. When I’m offered criticism, I will take is as a way to grow and improve myself. When I have a new interest, I can’t assume I’ll be good at it, at least not right away. And finally, I will not glower at my teacher when she corrects me. She doesn’t deserve it. Instead, I will lift my chin up, and tap my toes on the floor delicately to the beat of the music.

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