photo: The Basic Principals of Classical Ballet, Vaganova
In my studio, the music playing... dancing, stretching, tree posing, doing plies. I often think, who I would be now, had I not gone to all those ballet classes? .... classes that so many nights I did NOT want to show up for. From age 7 to my late teens, and even throughout my twenties.. I showed up again and again. Why? Most days it seemed like torture. But I couldn't not go. "Ugh... paleeezze mom...don't make me go" I would think, nearly every time. I felt sick during the opening plies, especially if I didn't get my desired place at the barre, thinking I would never make it through the 1 1/2 hours that lay before me. I somehow got through it, though. Cramping calves, bloody toes and all. I was addicted to the way I felt when it was over... when we stretched, and it didn't hurt anymore. I'd surely show up again tomorrow, and face the torturous hours once again. I did after all, love dance.
Thousands of plies later...I feel like no matter what is happening in my life, this will forever be a part of me... dancing, escaping through movement, enjoying the ability to move with purpose. My gratitude for this experience is even more evident now... healing from multiple surgeries, dealing with the pain and fatigue of chemotherapy, having lost control of so much of my physical self... it is empowering to still find control in my muscles and movements. Later in life I happily discovered there are other types of dance out there besides ballet, that I feel is more comfortable for my body and didn't hurt so much (hooray for belly dance!). But thank goodness I stayed the course, and did my plies. I still do them. And they are fantastic. I just do them now to drum music... instead of Tchaikovsky.
Even without a childhood full of plies and dance classes, anyone can find joy and healing in movement. It doesn't require sweat or pain... just whatever type of music you're in the mood for, some comfy clothes, and maybe some lipstick or a flower in your hair. And it helps to have a happy little place in your home with some candles, a mirror, and a yoga mat... where noone is looking.