After seven months of rehearsal, today was my ballet recital. Rewind now to the beginning of what I like to call “the gap” – the space that separates the you you were as a youth and the you you had to become as an adult once you started being responsible, organized and paying for things yourself. This is a little piece about finding the time to fill in “the gap” before the chance escapes you.
Tom and I moved around a lot when he was getting his then career in radio going and we found ourselves at times living in some hokey places where, as the tag along, I had to find something to do with my spare time. This was of course before children came along and there were many hours in the day. In Brockville, for example, I took a sailing class and by the end of my 2 years there I had achieved my introductory level “White Sail”. I also took a fitness instructors course and took it again in French when I moved to Montreal and I was known for teaching lively classes with a Caribbean flare. It was not easy moving from place to place but I always believed in making the most of whatever situation we found ourselves and now Tom and I have a repertoire of things we have dabbled in and hundreds of memories of each and every stop we made along our journey.
Now with 2 sons who have become busy young men, we are fearful that we are going to lose ourselves or put ourselves on pause as we drive them around to their activities. When you have been a participant all your life, it is really hard to be a spectator and as much as we love watching these highly competitive and talented athletes of ours, we started feeling that we needed to have something that belonged solely to us. I found myself wanting something more than my Wednesday “Ladies Night” tennis or the extremely occasional 9 holes of golf. I wanted something I could commit to – something that moved me. I wanted something I could work hard at and be passionate about and so, after joining my sister in Toronto, on her birthday for an Adult Master Class at the National Ballet of Canada, I knew I had to wake up the sleeping ballerina inside me. I had tried other dance classes before and it seems, especially in smaller towns, every “Soccer Mom” wanting to dance whether for fun or exercise, always sign up for hip hop which is too bad for three reasons :-
1) mothers with no rhythm who think that “Fifty Shades of Grey” is porn are absolutely horrible at Hip Hop and any form of movement. (It boggles my mind they were able to conceive children at all)
2) if you have ever danced and are looking for a challenge for your mind and your body, being in class with these women make you think murderous thoughts
3) because these mothers want to be in something they can dabble in and be mediocre at, all anyone can find in the line of Adult dance classes in a small town is Adult Hip Hop (it would be one thing if the classes were good but damn….they just aren’t)
So over the course of the years when I was desperately looking for a class I would readily find in a large city, I actually found it in Belleville (who knew?) and now I dance at the Quinte Ballet School of Canada and while it is not The National Ballet of Canada (which is an impossible commute for me), I have found something very close to what I had been seeking.
After months of learning choreography and perfecting the timing and the steps, it was time for the four Adult Ballet 2 students to perform in front of a bunch of people there to see their young sons and daughters. I was going to be dancing before the three most important men in my life who were thrilled for me from the day I told them I was thinking about performing. This afternoon was an intimate thing between them and me as this was a moment where I was able to show them a piece of myself they had never seen before and a chance to get them to understand who I was and what moved me. I had always felt I knew everything about the three of them but they had only ever seen pictures or heard me speak of the things I was passionate about and today they got to see the rest of what Mom is made of.
At 11:30 this morning, I did my stage makeup, wound my hair tightly in a bun and made my way to the school. I took two Advil (because that is where the wear and tear from all the sports has me now), warmed up at the barre, stretching my limbs as far as they could before putting on my costume and doing my final dress rehearsal. When it was time for our performance, I was waiting in the wings and in those brief seconds, every moment I performed at Queens Hall, at Bishops Anestey High School Stage, the hall at Chinese Association and at Dance Works at Syracuse University came rushing back to me. I felt that exhilaration over the pride and joy of being able to dance in front of an audience and just enjoy what I have always loved to do. My leg does not go high enough to have my foot by my ear anymore and Christ Almighty, everything hurts but the four of us did that choreography without a hitch and hopefully it looked as good as it felt. Ballet is a beautiful deception. It is a commitment at any level and age and it is as gentle and serene as it is difficult and athletic, so you have to work hard to make your body do what your mind wants it to do and it can only come from a place of love for the art, otherwise you are just doing moves. It isn’t for everyone, but if you have a sleeping ballerina inside you and you are able to find the right classes, go wake her up and get moving not just for your body but for your mind and your soul. My ballerina is awake again and she is going to dance right to the end of her days.
Today, eight months before my 50th birthday, I had the first ballet recital I have had in what seems like a hundred years and it felt good and I felt alive!