For eight years, I took classical ballet lessons three times a week, or when we were in rehearsal for a play, six times a week. I made my two very best friends there between pirouettes and bleeding toes; we spent our teen years dancing, competing, and laughing while growing up together. However, that magic shattered when I entered college, and my afternoon and evening classes overlapped with the ballet studio schedule. I wasn’t able to attend ballet anymore — until now.
I had to look for classes outside MIT because the Institute doesn’t have Classical Ballet lessons; still, I found a lot of dance academies in Cambridge and Boston. I chose the Boston Ballet School in the South End; if I was to take ballet lessons I wanted the best school — the one with only ballet floating in the air. I didn’t want to be dancing while hearing the reggaeton music from the zumba class next-door.
At the beginning, it felt kind of funny and painful to read the phrase “Adult Classes.” Really? Like that? “Adult?” Who? Me? It hurt, but I had to face it, accept it, and embrace it; and after this irritating process finally register (with a student discount) for my new “adult ballet classes.” The cool part of being an “adult” here is that because the classes are open, there isn’t a precise program to complete nor a course beginning or end, so I could go whenever I want and just pay for that class. Thus I don’t have to stress over time or money management; both are under my control. No doubt about it, taking the classes was my best idea since arriving in Boston.
The first time I attended was shocking! I was expecting a huge studio full of girls in their 20´s, tall and skinny, in pink tights, black long-sleeved leotards and perfect hair buns. Well, I was really surprised (and secretly relaxed) when I saw a huge studio full of girls from 20 to 60 years old, in leggings, tank tops, and perfect hair buns. Some of them were tall and skinny, others had “normal” bodies, and a few were storing a little extra fat for the next winter.
For the first time, I could taste the deliciousness of being in a ballet studio without the pressure to be skinny and hard toned — that ridiculous pressure that is self-imposed in ballet academies full of teenagers thirsty to compete even over the smallest and most irrelevant detail. Of course I want a ballerina body! But my body will become fitter at its own pace. And my pace seems so slow since I have a deep and passionate romance with desserts, cheese, pasta, and rustic bread with a spread of real butter and fig marmalade.
Anyway, I am so happy now that I’m taking these classes. I love the class despite the many challenges: 1. Getting there at night, after school and a tiring 25 minute bike ride; 2. Practicing my English listening, since I am not a native speaker; 3. Racking my brain to remember all the movements´ French names; 4. Concentrating to pull in my stomach, close the rib cage, smile, turn the knee, tighten the butt, lengthen the neck, keep the arms up, push back the shoulders, and breathe — all at the same time; 5. Listening to the piano and the teacher while controlling ALL my muscles; and 6. Remembering to enjoy myself… but this comes easy and naturally.
Now, I realize how much I missed that hour and a half for myself, when I could get lost in my thoughts. Depending on my mood, I can listen to the piano and flow; put my complete effort and concentration into making it a real body workout to enjoy that little — or not so little — annoying yet delightful pain the day after; think calmly about outside problems I have to solve; or just have fun with my classmates, trying to avoid a broken leg while attempting a fouette turn.
Crossing the river from Boston back to Cambridge biking at night, stretched, exercised, and with endorphins in the blood is the nicest way to finish my day. What more could I ask for after dancing to piano music than a beautiful view of MIT and the wind on my face?