24 July, 2013

Belly Up to the Barre...

To my fellow show tunes fanatics, you will of course, recognize my post title as a favorite song from "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" and pause curiously as to why it was misspelled.

It wasn't.

Tonight, I took my first ballet class...
...in over 30 years.

My desire has been to return to taking the dance classes I never completed as a child.  Over the years, I have taken a few tap classes and I really enjoyed Clog Dancing when I lived in San Diego. When I moved to Chico, I even tried a Zumba class in hopes that it would be like exotic Broadway dancing.

It wasn't.

Yet, the terpsichorean nature in my soul would not let me rest.  So I have been teasing myself in preparation for the idea of going back to jazz class.  After playing with some oh-so basic choreographic memories as I loosely staged some dance numbers in our recent church talent show, I knew I had to get myself back to classes and no more excuses.

Today, I finally found some adult classes (other than ballroom) and made the call to inquire. Yes, there was a Lyrical dance class tonight at 6:00 p.m.  Lyrical.  Ah, even the name evoked fluid images of me dancing across the room with ease and grace.

I didn't.

It started when I went into my closet to find my 'dance pants' - a type of stretchy fabric that a lot of jazz dancers wear instead of leotards.  The pants were so old that as I pulled them on the elastic waistband snapped and began to crackle and disintegrate.  My resistance and procrastination to actually attend the class didn't allow me time enough to find an alternate option to wear, so I went to the class anyway. I did not want antiquated pants to be the reason I was late or not willing to go.

When I got there, the friendly lady at the desk had me fill out the requisite paperwork and handed me a summer schedule of classes.  I was nervous and excited.  She told me which classes during the week applied to adult students.  Ballet, Tap, Lyrical and Stretch.  I already began to plan my week. When it was almost 6:00, she took me to the dance room to introduce me to the instructor.  Then I peered inside the room and saw that it was filled with approximately 25 pre-pubescents already giggling and glistening from the previous class.

Oh my.  I was old enough to be their mother. Oh crap, who am I kidding, I was old enough to be their grandmother!  Two young girls saw my distressed look and tried to convince me that it would be OK and no one would mind.  The teacher told me there was another adult there -- a woman who goes to the college. And although I appreciated being somewhat included with a young adult, my discomfort rose and I wanted to run.  I could not see me doing lyrical anything with 25 kids especially when they broke into groups to perform the combination routine at the end.  I gave my regrets and found myself left with the option of either leaving altogether or taking the Ballet class.

According to Wikipedia: "A barre is a stationary handrail that is used during ballet warm up exercises. The term also refers to the exercises that are performed at the barre, as well as that part of a ballet class that incorporates barre exercises."

The other students seemed patient and tolerant with the new 'kid' as I lumbered my way through some of the basics. My body somehow remembered all five positions used in floor work. My ears tilted in faint recognition of familiar phrases: Demi-plié,Chassé, Port de bras (not what you think) perked up with new ones such as: Glissade.

All things considered, I held my own until we began to do travelling floor work. This meant dance steps across the floor from one end of the room to the other which included leaping.

Rapid movement and leaping proved to be a challenge for me. Not because I didn't have the right posture or grace but because every time I leaped forward my pants began to fall. And while moving in quick repetition moves there is little time to adjust a sagging waistband and dropping drawers. Not wanting to stop the flow of the class or draw any more attention to myself than I had already,  I quickly tried to roll up my waistband several times in hopes that it would stay long enough to get me across the floor and back.

It didn't.

The class went on and one kind girl kept trying to whisper some sort of assuagements to me as she leapt by. I held my own (pants) and my head high as I chasse'd and glissaded my way towards the door. It had been many years since I watched a clock so intently in desperate hopes of the hour coming to a close.

I did it.

Ahhhhh, my first adult ballet class.  I was feeling accomplished more than fatigued.
What's next? 

Et tutu, Brutus?

City Slackers

No, I did not misspell the title of this post. Yes, I was playing off of the comedy film title, "City Slickers" about a bunch of...