Runs on food and music, will sing for chips and pasta.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Zen @ Adult Ballet Class

Joining an adult ballet class.

The usual reaction from adults are usually:
"Huh?  For what actually?"
"How to do ballet now?  So old already."
"Can meh?"
"How do you do it?  Eee I cannot man, I'm not so flexible at all, sure die one."
"Do you need to do ballet for your singing?"

Actually I don't need it for my singing la.  Neither do you need adult ballet class for your interior or graphic design career, or for your event planning business, or your emcee career.  None of us in my adult ballet class is planning a professional ballet career.

And that's the point, for me at least.  (and to answer those who lament they are not good in being flexible or not good in dancing, hence joining a dance class is out of the question, my answer is that - I didn't sign up for dance/singing classes because I was good at the craft, I started because I want to learn to suck less at dancing and singing, and more importantly - because I enjoy singing and dancing, whether or not others are watching or listening)

This morning was my 4th class with Miss Nell​.  I have been doing the classes in ballet tights and leotard, no skirts - so my hips, bums are all in clear view of my own eyes, in figure hugging fashion.   At the end of every class we stand in front of Miss Nell's camera and (suck in) and strike a pose (or two, or three, four, five...).

Last week we jumped, many times.  The photos looked wonderful.  I have a room full of performers and actors as classmates and they know something about working the lens.  I looked at all the photos that was shared on social media and spotted myself in mid air.  The first reaction was self criticism - "My turn out sucks, my toes are not pointed enough, my legs are so kang-kang - no grace...I didn't realised my hips are THAT photos."

Those feelings stayed with me for a week, of course by the weekend I forgot about my wide hips and was glad that my legs and hips helped me through my almost 9-hour walk at Bersih 4. 

But when I face my reflection in the mirror this morning in class, my less than forgiving inner monologue started again. "Actually my legs are quite short, I always thought I had long legs for my height." "I have to work harder at weights to tone these muscles." "I wish my turn out is better, I have to not confuse that with clenching my butt." So the nagging voice stuck around for first half of the class.

And then I remembered the short documentary clip that Miss Nell shared with the class that I watched a few days ago, about an adult ballet class in San Francisco spearhead by Kathy Mata.  The 20-minute film sufficiently illustrated the importance of intention in what we do, in our choices. 

I looked up again at myself in the mirror in that thought, and I looked around my classroom at the strong-willed individuals next to me - most of us way past 30s and most of us have never learned ballet in our `younger youth' (I consider anyone under 50 a youth). 

"Remember this, Janet - we didn't join this class because we think we have beautiful and neat, flexible hips; or that we have beautiful and graceful ballerinas gait and turnouts.  We join because we want to work towards the better versions, and our best versions of our own ballerinas."  It was a moment of epiphany and relief.

So I concluded then, adult ballet classes are important for me (us) because: in this heavily glossed over society of digital imaging and aesthetic beauty-workship culture - it is mighty cathartic for a 38-year-old to face herself every week in ballet tights and leotard;  attempting jumps, plies, pony trots, tendus, demi-runs and making friends with her physical limitations; and her less than perfect body. 

I stopped for a moment and enjoyed that moment of truth and soak it all up.  Given all that I have in my life so far, I have lived to this ripe-young-age of 38 years of age and survived it.  All my limps are working fine still, and I have managed to stay in love with the finer things in life - arts and music after so many years.  I have earned my place to accept that my body is less than perfect, my tummy isn't as flat as I thought it is, and my legs are shorter than I remember. I am goddamn 38 years old.  I should be fucking proud to be doing this, gotta shut up that nagging voice and keep practising my turn out.

And then, life is, quite truly, fucking perfect.  Till the next class. Here's to remembering our intentions and keeping the gratitude.

Thank you to my beautiful (and noisy) classmates who are immensely inspiring. And to the "Miss Nell" who indulges us in our dreams and hopes. Love.

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