I took this photo in my hometown a few years ago. I was hoping to see whales or dolphins that are often sighted there off the big rocks behind Richardson’s beach. Once I saw a manta ray, serenely cruising along the surface of the water. But that day there were no animals to be seen. The tide was up and the waves were frothy and turbulent, crashing dangerously against the rocks. It was overcast and the morning rain had left a humid mist in the air. I started trying to catch a photo of the splash of the big waves surging into the air. The sky was so dark I didn’t even know if the photo would come out. As I took pictures, the mist rose, the clouds parted and one sunbeam shone down on a wave just as it splashed upward toward the sky.
When dancers are new to ballet they are so critical of themselves. “Good job”, I tell them. They make a face. They expect to get it perfectly the first time. “Don’t be afraid of not knowing”, I want to tell them. I’m not saying don’t ask questions about a movement, I’m saying don’t stop moving just because you aren’t sure of what it is you’re doing. In the doing of it you will discover what it is. You will develop surety. You may discover more questions you want to ask. You may discover you had been doing it wrong, but then you couldn’t have learned it right if you hadn’t started trying to do the movement to begin with. Beautiful things can come out of the darkness.
One Tuesday a few weeks ago, one of my regular students showed up to class and didn’t greet me or his friend with his usual big hug. I sensed something was wrong especially when he replied to a correction in a snippy way. I gave him space to be in a mood, but I noticed he was really focused during class, and when it came time for pirouettes, his turns were effortless, bad habits were not to be seen. He was doing phenomenal work. We talked about it after class, and he was in a much better mood!
Sometimes being a little down or having a bad day makes me want to skip ballet class, but often those are the days I need ballet the most. I don’t have the energy to add anything extra, and because I’m not feeling 100%, just like my student, I have to focus that much more. Also, I don’t expect as much of myself and sometimes those are the moments when I surpass my expectations. Through the process of class, I forget the outside world, come back into my body and at the end of class I’m always happier.
Ballet reminds me that when life is hard, when I’m confused and struggle to understand the unfairness, or when I’m sad, the best way to the other side of that feeling is through. It means suffering the uncomfortableness of not knowing, enduring the challenge of not feeling 100%. On days I don’t think I have the energy to teach after I’ve flown in on a red eye flight that morning and tworked at my day job all day, sometimes those are the best classes. Students thank me, hug me, and leave the room with radiant faces and shining eyes. A friend said all this far more succinctly. “If you’re going through hell,” he told me, “keep going.” Sometimes when we go through the dark times, there on the other side the sky clears, and we are able to reach out and touch the sun.
Like what you read here? Let me know by *like-ing* my post and add a comment below or share it with a friend. And if you’re ready to come dance, I teach 7-8:30 on Tuesdays and 12-1:30 on Saturdays. **Arrive early as classes fill up. More information on the website: http://www.liberatedmovement.com. If that doesn’t work out, I also teach privates. See you at the barre!