I have been dancing ballet seriously (adult beginner seriously, not pro seriously) for a mere three years (it’s my fourth now), but I’ve been surrounded by the magic of ballet a lot longer. In fact, I can remember the precise moment when my obsession with this form of art began.
I was 5 or 6 and angrily demanding that my mother take me to ballet class. Unfortunately, being a single mother, she wasn’t always able to give me what I wanted, so instead my grandmother bought me a VCR of a 1968 performance of the Swan Lake by the Kirov Ballet. From the very first moment, when Odette, in her romantic flowing tutu, still in human form appears under that lone spotlight on the stage, I was enamored. In love with the beauty, the grace, the strength. For me, a pudgy, couch potato child reared on chocolate and hours of bad soap operas, it was unbelievable that a human body could be so graceful and strong, so beautiful and delicate. Part of the grace and delicacy of ballet is of course pointe work. A ballerina balancing on the very tip of her toes gives ballet an ethereal, weightless, floating feel.
I did eventually go to ballet class as a child, but I soon quit, because, sigh, of my pudgy body. To this day I regret that decision, but I digress. Back to pointe and the silly dream this adult beginner has of one day dancing on pointe.
Before I joined the web balletblogosphere, I was convinced that pointe was only for the pros in training and real ballerinas, not logshaped 20-somethings. But then I started reading blogs of other adult beginners. And it seems that pointe is indeed possible. Johanna from PointeTilYouDrop has detailed accounts of her experiences as an adult beginner learning pointe and so do many other bloggers. Not only are adult beginners embracing pointe as a part of their ballet practice, it seems that everyone ( in the blogosphere) is breaking in their pointe shoes within months or maximum a year after starting ballet for the first time. I know I don’t have a huge amount of years under my belt, but definitely more than a few months (hear the envy speaking…). I’m starting to think there is something wrong with my body. Being shaped like a huge piece of heavy timber sure doesn’t help with getting approval for pointe. But what is it’s something I can’t fix? What if it’s my appalling turnout? Or the fact that I cannot wing my foot and hence it looks sickled?
Of course one can advance to a very high level in ballet without ever wearing pointe shoes. You can be challenged every class even in soft shoes, but alas, it is the gracefulness, the feeling of being weightless that I crave.
Maybe one day… but in the mean time, let’s get back to those calf strengthening exercises.
I wanted to leave you with a video of the beautiful Swan Lake prologue in which Rothbart turns Odette into a swan, but it seems the more contemporary versions available on YouTube no longer incorporate the prologue. Luckily, they have the same scene (or nearly the same) as a dream sequence in the Black Swan.
So with this beautiful video, I wish you all a very merry and peaceful Christmas!