My conspicuous absence this week has been for two very good reasons: firstly, I was on a ballet course that took up all my time and also my energy, and secondly, I’m ill.
You know that saying, “starve a fever, feed a cold?” That’s stupid. I have a fever and a cold. What do they expect me to do about that, then, eh? *growls*
In fact, I was ill to the point of having to miss the last day of aforementioned ballet course, and spending the penultimate day watching instead of dancing, while wearing an enormous hoodie in rooms where everyone else was sweltering in t-shirts and shorts. Like I said, I have a fever. But I’m not dead. I’m still here.
I don’t think I’m built for ballet.
There are the obvious things, like my body. I’m short (5 foot 3 and a half). Actually, sitting down I’m taller than my five-foot-eleven friend, but standing up I look like a midget. Because I have short legs. Not exactly what you want for ballet. Then there’s the fact that I’m not a stick-thin flat-chested uber-flexible freak like a lot of people who do ballet. Until recently I couldn’t even touch my toes. I can barely reach them now. I’m not flexible, okay?
Oh, and I have short hair, which is something that’s slowly changing, but on this course – everybody else had a bun.Everyone. And then there’s me with a bob that I had to keep clipping back to stop it getting in my eyes. Even my hair is conspiring against me!
And how about my joint problems? I did ballet as a kid but left before I turned eleven because I kept dislocating my kneecaps. Not exactly a great start. We believe I have what’s known as hypermobility syndrome – my joints are all a bit loose, leading to easy dislocation and bad spatial awareness etc. Sounds like me.
Finally, there’s my memory. I am terrible at picking up choreography, and especially at remembering what my arms are supposed to be doing. Hey, let me off for that – I’m a recovering Irish dancer. It’s taken me a year and a half to work out that I have arms.
So I’m not built for ballet. It’s sucky. I can’t help feeling that it was a bit of a mean trick of God to give me this urge to dance and then not equip me with the body to do it. You know, some people watch dancers and feel the need, instantly, to get up and do the same. I don’t. I think, “I wish I could do that,” but not, “I have to do that now.”
But I hear a piece of music and I start choreographing to it. Instantly.
While I was on this course we had a 90-minute ballet class to start the day, with different exercises and different music (live pianist) every day. On Wednesday or possibly Thursday (I have a bad memory), our teacher went through an exercise that was formed almost entirely out of steps I have never done before.
Normally I’ve done about half of them so I can get a lock on those and then fudge the rest, but I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. The exercise was completely and utterly unfamiliar. I was panicking.
And then the pianist started playing and the piece he played had unfamiliar rhythms but the melody was very clearly “When You Believe” from the Prince of Egypt. Ballet music often takes melodies from other things so it shouldn’t have been a surprise, but that’s such a familiar piece of music to me, one that I truly love. I always cry at that point in the film.
I didn’t have any familiar steps to lock onto, but I had familiar music. It made it suddenly a whole lot better.
It’s amazing what a difference it made.
Maybe I’m made to be a choreographer or producer or something, instead of a performer. I want to be a teacher, and that would require choreography, for shows and performances and things.
Maybe I’m built like this so that I don’t try and go off and join a company. Maybe this is deliberate, to push me into where my talent really lies – in moving to music.
I don’t know.
But I tell you something, having a temperature gives you seriously weird dreams.
And also makes me go off topic quite a lot. Oops.