I feel unusual. I have this unfamiliar feeling. It’s making me stand up straight and look a bit snooty. I think I might feel… Graceful? Can it be?
After a lifetime stuck with a bearing best described by the phrase ‘could stop a runaway donkey in an alley’, perhaps I am in fact capable of looking like a swan that’s just seen something terribly sad.
It’s quite a revelation.
I fear the dance. All dance. The routines, the remembering, the following instructions. I assumed ballet was the worst of the lot, and I thought you had to start when you were three years old or there was no point.
A friend and I summoned our courage, pulled on some leggings and entered the Central School of Ballet expecting the worst. Ten minutes in we were degage-ing and plié-ing and agreeing that it was actually quite marvellous and we should come back every week. Neither of us had been to a single ballet class before, not even as children, but we got right into it.
We did bar work; we learned (and immediately forgot) lots of positions and words for things. We even did some jumps.
I went to a chiropractor recently who told me I must improve my posture or, one day, working at a desk would turn me into one of those tiny old ladies who keeps shrinking until she’s just a headscarf and a pair of orthopaedic shoes.
Luckily, ballet seems to be a great way to counteract the desk. You come out a couple of inches taller, spine all stacked up nicely. If I continue working nearby for a bit I’m going to go back for a few more classes and see if I can finally push through the 5 ft 4 barrier.
It wasn’t full of intimidating waifs who run everywhere, giggling, on their tiptoes. It wasn’t taught by a terrifyingly bendy, angry old lady yelling ‘naughty toes!’ and slapping a cane against a piano. Everyone was normal and friendly, and the class was taken by a very funny Australian man who has danced so much he’s got a fake hip that makes noises in time to the music. He was an excellent teacher.
As children we are taught to pursue the things we’re good at. When we grow up we give up too easily on the things that don’t look like career options. How many of us as adults still paint or write or draw just for the joy of it? How many people do you know who continued with ballet past their teens without having decided it was their career? I call bullshit on that attitude. Why not start ballet lessons when you’re a grown up?
Besides, you get to do fancy ballet bows at the end to your imaginary audience while imaginary bouquets of flowers land at your feet.
For £8 I can’t think of a class in London I’d rather go to.