Being a college student, my time is conveniently divided into semesters and quarters. The fall semester is short and sweet, punctuated by breaks and holidays, and a slow mellow transition from the hot last days of summer to a chilly, golden fall. That is, if you don’t take into account the stress, the endless piles (hah, almost spelled that as plies…) of homework, papers, projects. That being said, education is a privilege and I shouldn’t whine. But sometimes, just sometimes I wish that I was already done with this phase and out in the big world. Working a 9-5 job, shuffling papers. And dancing ballet.
Because when you are a student at a small college in the suburbs with nonexistent public transportation, paying skyhigh fees for tuition, books and room and board, ballet becomes a rare luxury. We do have a small dance program at the college, but there is only one class for each level, and the gaps between the levels are huge. For example, the intermediate level caters for people with 1-3 years of experience while the advanced level is for people who have danced pretty much their whole lives. Also every semester, the intermediate and the beginner level “start from the beginning”. So there is really no way for someone in the intermediate class to advance to the beginner class, unless one wants to jump into the deep end of the pool all at once.
Fall 2012 was kind of wishy-washy in terms of ballet anyway. In the summer I had a hamstring injury that came from overuse, and I wasn’t sure whether I could come to ballet at all. Luckily, the muscle felt better as August progressed and I was able to take my spot at the barre as classes started. It was the same class with the same instructor, but luckily, in ballet, one is never ready. There are always those extra inches to work toward with your extensions, more bounciness for those echappes and changements, double and triple pirouettes (I wish, sigh…). But two classes per week are just that. Two classes per week. It’s a welcome respite from the studying and problem sets, but it’s just “ballet” padding. No real progress is taking place. I sit and read other bloggers, who clock in astronomical ballet hours, 9-10 classes per week, take private classes and are on pointe within a year of starting ballet. I’m afraid pointe will always be a silly dream. I have been an adult beginner for the past 3 years, and I haven’t even come close to being pointe ready or participating in recitals, or heck even making into the more advanced classes. There have been times when I’ve wanted to quit.
I do love ballet. For 90 minutes, twice a week, I get to be someone else, a shape in space intertwined with music and time. I can choose to have emotions, express them, be them. A pure fantasy world. But sometimes, I feel like I wasn’t meant for this (and you, know, I kind of wasn’t). My body is big, slow and lumbering, a log. The dancer I am in my mind never materializes in class.
But I will keep coming back. Coming back to the barre, to the studio, to the practice of discipline and dance. Even if the barre is just the back of the chair and the studio my small college room.