“you have to love dancing to stick to it.” – merce cunningham

it’s been about a week and a half since i’ve posted, and i suppose that’s because i’ve needed some time to let…everything(?) sink in. i took three classes last week (two modern, one ballet), and i just took my first class of this week today (ballet). there have been ups and downs. good days and bad days. and i’m trying to simply come to terms with the fact that that’s just how it’s going to be for awhile. my body is relearning a language that it used to be fluent in, and at this moment putting certain sentences together with the seamless flow that once was effortless now feels frustrating and exhausting–both physically and mentally. however, i had somewhat of an epiphany last week when my modern teacher told me to not concern myself too much with the tiny technical details, but to “find the joy again. if you don’t, you’ll burn right out again.” of course, it was also reassuring to hear her tell me that she couldn’t tell i had come off of a break; “it’s still very much in your body,” she said. being my own worst critic though, i know that i still have quite a ways to go. but BECAUSE i have a ways to go, i have no other choice than to “find the joy again.” i’m going to fall out of pirouettes, struggle to get my leg above ninety degrees, find basic bits of choreography challenging, but if i’m not ENJOYING myself through all the blood, sweat, and tears…then what’s the point? i asked myself that a few times today as my ballet teacher physically molded my body–pulling up on my waist, lengthening my neck, pushing my knees over my ankles so i’d turn out more. i wondered, “why does it matter that i go to these painstaking lengths to make these shapes with my body? am i doing anything to contribute to humanity by worrying about how tiny my waist can get? how perfectly winged i can make my foot? how close to my head i can get my leg?” there were absolutely moments today that i forgot about the joy, and i just felt…bad. being in a studio filled with ninety pound bunheads will do that to you. as a size 4-6 twenty three year old woman, i am very aware that in the real world of normal sized people, i am considered slim and fit. but in this class, i felt like the (literal) elephant in the room. i had to remind myself over and over again that if i kept on with these comparisons and fixations on the superficial, i wouldn’t get anywhere. but a brief conversation with my ballet teacher after class today left me feeling recharged. he reminded me to take it slow. “summer will be the big push,” he said. and summer is what…four months away? that’s plenty of time. for now, i’ll focus on the joy.

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