Dancing Queen

Courtesy of the Birmingham Royal Ballet
Courtesy of the Birmingham Royal Ballet

I’ve always loved dance. All kinds of dance. Like most little girls, I adored ballerinas, with their sparkling tiaras and fluffy tutus and elegant buns. I saw The Nutcracker for the first time in kindergarden, and was entranced by everything about the ballet; from the wind-up doll ballerina to the horrible rat soldiers to the dashing Nutcracker Prince. But most of all, I admired the Sugar Plum Fairy, gliding effortlessly across the stage en pointe, barely seeming to touch the ground as she performed pliés and pirouettes and arabesques.

Soon after, I discovered the great old classic musicals and fell in love with tap dance and ballroom. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers; Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse. I would rewind videos again and again to rewatch my favorite dance sequences, trying and failing to replicate the gloriously complicated and utterly romantic routines in my own living room.

But much as I loved dance growing up, I never got the chance to do much of it. I danced around the house, of course, swatched in my mom’s colorful scarfs and dreaming of a day when I would become the greatest ballerina in the world. I even had a dancer name picked out: Davaway. I(‘m not sure what makes that a dancer name, but I was pretty sure my own name would not suffice.) I took a tap class in first grade, but was unimpressed with the basic clicking and clacking–I wanted to dance like Eleanor Powell! I did an Isadora Duncan summer camp, but didn’t particularly like that either. And by that time I’d chosen horseback riding as my main activity, and my ambitions of ballerina-hood faded away. I briefly took some beginning ballet classes at 13 or 14, but knew in my heart that I was too old to start dancing seriously. I dabbled in Irish Dance. I box-stepped in the chorus of my high school musicals and learned how to do jazz hands, but I always envied my dancer friends, with their lean long legs and effortless grace.

As an adult I love dance no less, but I have learned a greater appreciation for more than the aesthetic components of it. I now understand the sheer athleticism belying the seemingly effortless grace of ballerinas, and the years of hard training and competition these dancers have endured. I love the way dance portrays emotion and tells stories, building characters and worlds much grander than a simple stage should allow. I love that dance is universal, uniting people across cultures. I love that toddlers hear music and move instinctively, dancing without steps or choreography.

So when I moved to Boston and saw a flash sale for an adult’s beginning ballet course, I got a little bit excited. I keep myself in pretty good shape, running and doing yoga, but that tiara-loving pointe-adoring little girl deep inside me didn’t think that was good enough. Now, at the tender age of twenty-something, I’m going to start ballet! I may humiliate myself spectacularly along the way, but if I let the fear of embarrassment stop me from doing things I’d never get anything done.

Because sometimes the question you should be asking yourself isn’t why, but why not?

Do you have any childhood fantasies that you’ve lived out as an adult? A hobby you wished you’d started but never got around to? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

3 Comments

  1. monica mulhern
    Reply

    Ballet it is for me as well…since trying to learn it out of a library book when I was 6

  2. Nicole Evelina (@NicoleEvelina)
    Reply

    Good for you for following your dreams, Lyra! I always wanted to be a ballerina, too. We did a little as part of a dance class I took when I was 5 (it was mostly tap), but I wasn’t very good because my body isn’t flexible. I never even knew en pointe was an option. Now, of course, it’s on my bucket list to dance en pointe at least once, even if it isn’t a real dance, just me trying to walk in the shoes. We have adult classes around here, but I’m even less limber now, so I worry I’d just be setting myself up for injury if I tried. Maybe I’ll change my mind someday.

    I’ve also been trying to learn to belly dance for years. I’ve tried classes, but I freeze up in front of others, which is not good in a dance where you need to be as fluid as possible. So I’ve been trying to learn from DVDs.

    Please keep us updated on your progress!

    • Lyra Selene
      Reply

      Thanks for stopping by, Nicole! I found that flexibility is something that is achieved through hard work, just like anything else! Yoga is great for flexibility, and you can get really great DVDs for beginning yoga that will start you off slow. Belly dance always looked like fun but I’ve never taken a class! Are the DVDs fun?

      I’ll let you know how my ballet classes go!

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