Don’t Worry, It’s Just Ballet

Natalie's drawing (in pencil) of her ballet feet
Natalie’s drawing (in pencil) of her ballet feet

Natalie loves her ballet class because her teacher, Charlotte, doesn’t take herself so seriously. She actually makes ballet fun, which isn’t the case in so many classes. Somehow there’s this notion that ballet has to be painful and stressful, and not much fun.

But that’s not how dancing should feel. Dancing is bliss…

Natalie says, “Each class is an adventure. Charlotte makes the whole studio burst out in laughter at least once a class.  She’ll say:  ‘BREATHE, people! Breathe. I don’t like it when my dancers pass out.’”

When it’s time to applaud at the end of class, everyone does so with gusto and the other day somebody even whooped, like you do at a concert. Charlotte calls the class “low stress ballet” so that everyone has a good time and doesn’t worry if they make a mistake. She’ll say with a sly smile, “Don’t look like you’re so worried. It’s just ballet.”

In the meantime, Natalie says Charlotte keeps asking when I’ll return to class.  Natalie says, “Charlotte told me to tell you that she promises we won’t do tour jetes.” Charlotte knows I’m afraid of tour jetes.

In ballet class a few months ago, we did tour jetes, a movement in which the dancer (sliding across the floor) leaps from one foot, makes a half turn in the air, and lands on the other foot. An experienced dancer can make the movement look as easy as a bird flying through the air. And so pretty! Due to a slight attack of over-confidence, I ignored/forgot I hadn’t done a tour jete in years. Arms stretched out like wings, I flew across the floor, ready to do my first tour jete in 30 years. Here I go!  My body kept moving but my one foot stubbornly stayed rooted to the floor, un-birdlike.  So…leap, turn, rooted foot, jolt = sprained ankle. I haven’t worked up the courage to do another tour jete, or take another ballet class.  Thus, Bill has been taking Natalie to ballet (happy to read in the waiting area).

In last week’s ballet class, when they did tour jetes, Charlotte looked at Natalie and declared, “Your mother’s favorite step!”

In the meantime, Natalie has been promoted to the more advanced class. She tells me, “You can come and take the earlier class while I read, and then you can read while I take the next class! Everyone will be so happy to see you!”

Two things strike me about the above invitation:

That Bill and I have successfully passed on the belief that as long as one has a book, waiting is a pleasure;


A love of dance. Each time Natalie returns from ballet class, she glows with excitement to show me one of the combinations. And she wants me have as much fun as she is having.

Flipping pancakes always reminds me of tour jetes. The trick with flipping pancakes in one piece is to make sure they’re cooked enough on the bottom before flipping, and then flip gently.

Dancing Through Life:

Take your time.

Pay attention.

Be Open. Stretch out arms like butterfly wings.

Leap gently.

And, no matter what: Don’t forget to BREATHE!

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