Warning: semi-rant follows
Sometimes I suck. And not just at ballet.
If I were to say that last wednesday’s class – and all the flashbacks it brought back – have not been circling my mind obsessively the last several days, I’d be a liar. A big liar. Truth is, I’ve thought very little about anything but that.
I hate the new fears that have awakened inside me. I worry that I’m the worst wannabe-dancer ever, and that the only reason anyone offers any encouragement is to be polite. Because enough other teacher’s have said what they had to say, or volumes were spoken by their silence. By now I’m wondering if Nice Teacher’s compliments are true, or if she’s just being excessively nice. I wonder is all my “dancing” is good for is a laugh.
Living in worry, fear, and doubt is the worst.
About a week ago, I had a dream I didn’t bother writing about. Mostly because I forgot the specifics right away, leaving me with only a vague idea. In it, my first ballet teacher and latest teacher (NiceTeacher) were having some kind of meeting or something. Don’t know why or how, but I burst into the room and started tearfully explaining how much ballet means to me. Sometimes my dreams come true in an indirect way, but now I’m paranoid: do the teachers talk among themselves about the students and their progress or lack of?
To my first teacher, I was practically invisible. Of the whole semester I took ballet with her, she corrected me only a handful of times and, since I sucked horribly there was probably a lot of correcting possibilities. It was ok, I wasn’t expecting much, but what had made it almost intolerable were the other students in the class.
This was the semester of overhearing the loud conversations about other students body types, the semester of the live pianist staring at my pathetic attempts to jump, the semester of avoiding standing where the class’ “Best Dancer” could see me at barre (and of course she had her barre, where only those she deemed good enough to stand next to her could stand. As she loudly proclaimed more than once). But I would have taken being seen at barre over being seen by her in center. At the barre she would just make this face, I can’t describe it in a way to do it justice, but like if you’re some kind of idiot for not being able to do it right. During center, then she would straight out laugh. And point (and I don’t just mean her feet). The teacher had nothing but praise for the “Best Dancer” despite her terrible attitude (though she may have just not noticed?). That class had made me feel unwelcome like no other. Like if my clumsy, two-left footed, big chested self was trying to infiltrate their exclusive dancer world and they were just not going to grant me admission.
On the last day of class, as we all sat in front of her in a haphazard semi-circle, the teacher had asked who planned on continuing on with ballet. When no one volunteered (though in my mind I already knew I would), she had started calling on people and offering encouraging words, trying to convince them.
She did not try to convince me.
It’s really hard for me to not focus on that. To think that she deliberately didn’t tell me anything because she thought that I’m just not good enough, that all the practice in the world won’t make a difference. At the time I channeled all those feelings into sheer determination to practice and improve.
With my next teacher (Strict Teacher), I didn’t fare any better. She did give me plenty of corrections, and I know my ballet-ing improved while I was studying under her. But she was not sympathetic to my limitations at all. Overall, I would say that she did help me a lot with the study of ballet. But did I feel at home in her class? Honestly no. When it came time to give out grades (since this is a community college class), she gave me an impossibly low grade. As in I added up the points and there was just no way. So I wondered, was this my second hint to get the hell out of the dance world because it so clearly doesn’t want me in it?
This summer when I took my first non-commmunity college ballet classes, I felt comfortable. Yes, I was super anxious before actually going – obsessing over what could go wrong – but after my first class I was just so happy. This studio has been the only one where I have truly felt at home as a “true” adult beginner, not as a young adult who is already a dancer and is considering returning to ballet. This studio has been the only place where I didn’t feel that exclusivity vibe, that feeling of not belonging. It has been the only place where no one has tried to make me feel unwelcome.
But by having that sub from first semester the feeling has been ruined.
It is not my intention to be melodramatic. Sometimes just talking about my feeling helps me move past them, to let them go. And no one I know in “real” life cares to hear about this 31 year old woman’s ballet class drama. No one understands. They just say “Oh, it’s not something you’re going to do for a living anyway, who cares,” or something along those lines. But I care, and there’s just no way that I can explain to them how much ballet means to me, how much this obsession of a hobby has helped me make it though these difficult times.
If I didn’t love ballet so much, I would have given up by now. Why try so hard to be part of a group that doesn’t want you in it, and all. But I love ballet, so I will keep going.
I realize this is a pretty negative post. Sorry about that, but with the highs come the lows and all that. Have a great day and thanks for reading.