Saturday, January 2, 2010

Jane: Ballet at 47 1/2

Just got back from a vacation-week drop-in ballet class, and all I can think is "pwn3d." I believe that's video-gamer-speak for "I got beat."

I'm not giving up, mind you. But it was a really challenging class. There were 4 of the school's best dancers there, too, and they did not get pwn3d. They were beautiful and really fun to watch. All I could think of to keep going is "I'm old enough to be their mom, and I'm still doing this."

Actually that and "I love ballet!"

I guess that second thought--the love of ballet--is what really keeps me going. I am not, have never been, and will never be a really good dancer. But in the 7 1/2 years I've been taking ballet (I took modern and jazz in H.S. and college), I've really learned a lot and I've improved as a dancer. It feels so great to feel your body pull into alignment during barre exercises, and to move with grace and lightness in the center floor combinations!

The nice thing about being older is that this is enough of a reason to keep doing ballet. When you're younger, you have to be in the recitals and it probably matters more that you're actually GOOD at it. Probably if you're not good, you drop out.

But now, as a middle-aged dancer, all I have to do is just enjoy it! I don't have to be concerned that everyone in the class is better than I am. For one thing, they're all in the advanced class, and my adult class is "intermediate." But also, I am not in competition with them. I can just watch them and enjoy how beautifully they dance.

(But I have to admit, I felt a great surge of relief when I saw that their pirouettes to the left were weaker than the ones to the right. Ah, it's not just me who has that problem!)

On Monday evening, I went to the birthday party of a friend who was turning 50. The party was at the gymnastics hall where he teaches--and still does gymnastics! In fact, he gave us demonstrations on the rings and the mat! Afterward, I told him how much I enjoyed seeing him do his demo, and said "today I took a ballet class with a bunch of teens. I think I was old enough to be their mom, but I still could dance with them." We high-fived.

There's such a wonderful feeling of satisfaction to really push yourself physically doing something you really love. And I have lots of friends--many "middle-aged" women--who do amazing physical activities. Britta and Heather play hockey in an organized league. Lynda does triathlons. My sister plays softball in several leagues.

I also know some middle-aged people who CAN'T do strenuous physical activities because of illness or injuries--and that'll happen to me someday. That'll happen to all of us, I guess. But that makes the activities themselves all the sweeter now.

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