I started taking classes at Ballet Austin at the ripe old age of 21. In the ballet world, this is way too old to be taking class. But many places now offer classes for adults, I suppose as a way to keep in shape, or for professionals to take additional classes.
I remember struggling with a pirouette, wobbling everywhere. The teacher, Kermit Allen, placed his hands on my shoulders, looked me in the eye, and said: “You can do it! I have faith in you!”
It was years later before I could manage to do a single pirouette turn with any semblance of grace. But I still remember how he inspired me to keep trying. I still try, with other adults who grasp at moments of gracefulness and beauty at the barre. While the younger kids lift their back leg almost to their ears, we strain to get it to at least 90 degrees, and feel so amazingly proud when we do.
Sometimes I look at the lithe 16 year old teenage nymphs and wonder what I’m doing here. But those moments are eclipsed by the myriad ecstasies of dance: flying through a powerful jump, arms and fingers moving in an ethereal flow, getting a combination just right with the music.
I watch my 70 year old friend lift her leg in an arabesque, her arms softly moving forward, and I am even more inspired.
A few years ago, I stumbled upon a summer camp for adult ballet dancers, Sun King Dance. Many of us call it ballet fantasy camp. It’s a bunch of adults who are infatuated with ballet. We learn choreography, variations, partnering during the day, then we go out drinking during the night. We laugh with each other… and at each other. There is the camaraderie of a shared ridiculous passion.
Here are our moments: