Some Classes, And Thoughts On Childhood vs Adulthood

This past week I continued my schedule from the week before, three classes at New Studio and then youtube classes for the other days. Mostly I’ve been concerned with not losing the strength that I gained during summer session – cutting back on class hours will do that to me. Luckily, fall session at my regular school will resume next week, so it’ll be a full ballet schedule again.

At home, I’ve been mostly working on a better, more controlled passe releve, hoping that it will traslate to better pirouettes. It appears to have worked! I’ve been doing the combinations in Kathryn Morgan’s youtube videos Easy Ballet Center and Classic Ballet Center, but during the pirouettes I just go up into passe releve instead (the floor at home is pretty terrible for turning). So then, when I was in class at NS and we went across the floor (tombe, pas de bourre, chasse, pirouette en dehors, repeat), I was actually getting all the way around on my pirouettes, even to my harder side (right). I got to be honest, I was surprised to be getting around consistently! This must mean that it’s been working though, so I will continue on with the video practice.

I had committed that I would be doing the Classic Barre this week, but then I found a newer video class called Pointe Barre. After giving it a quick view, I noticed that the combinations seem faster and more involved, so I just had to try it. It was a bit more challenging that the Classic Barre video, but I was able to keep up (except for the frappes on releve, but I just did them twice through in flat). I’ve actually gotten better at customizing the difficulty so that I can get through all the exercises, and even start to memorize them. However, I don’t know if I should be working on the same barre video to focus on technique, or if I should switch up the barre videos so I’m forced to learn to remember combinations faster.

My timing was a little bit better during class, not like how I kept starting too soon in all the combinations last week. So perhaps last week I was just having on off week after all. During sautes I got a little bit ahead of myself, but once I realized it I was able to settle back down to the correct speed. I’ve gotten so much better at remembering to breathe during my jumps instead of holding my breath, and as a result I feel like I can jump for longer and longer.

And then, something else, something I almost feel like I’m not supposed to/allowed to say… I feel like it’s as though i’m saying ‘why does everyone say the sky is blue?; it looks green to me’… but since it’s my blog I’ll say it anyway, even though it is not the experience for the majority of people (and besides, if you want the majority opinion, there’s plenty of other places to get it) – it drives me absolutely nuts when other adults keep going on and on about how easy everything is when you’re little. Or how flexible you are as a child and how it all goes away. Not that you can’t have that opinion; your opinion can be whatever you want. But I can’t stand it if someone whom I barely know (new classmate) starts going on and on to me about how this would be so easy if we were children, and don’t I remember how easy everything was back then, how can I not remember? And it’s like no, I can’t remember because it was NOT easier for me to do physical/kinesthetic things as a child. It just wasn’t my experience. And flexibility? Back then I couldn’t even reach my  knees, much less touch my toes, and my extensions would have been nonexistent – all my flexibility came as an adult (though my hands and locked knees do indicate possible hypermobility, even then). But for whatever reason people always seem to look put out when I express my truth, and it’s not that I’m trying to be deliberately contradictory, but if it just wasn’t my experience for things to go a certain way why should I lie about it? Am I supposed to lie about it, in order for them to have the piece of mind, to keep believing that their truth is the only one? Is this one of the reasons why I can’t even have simple small talk conversations with most people, because I refuse to give them the answer that they expect (if it’s not true to me), so they move on to those who will just echo their sentiments?

But if I may be honest, even though I may sound irritated or angry in my little rant, I’m actually lonely.  It can be very alienating not having anyone to relate to. I mean, sometimes they all start having a group conversation about how great things were when they were little girls and I just feel so lost, so unrelateable, like there’s something wrong with me. I often feel like no one can relate – I know what it feels like to be an adult who can do somewhat awesome things, but I don’t know what it feels to be a child who could. And since it’s presumed to be easier to do things as a child – no one expects a grown up to be able to jump and skip and dance and cartwheel – there’s this feeling of failure that I carry around with me, like I was an inadequate child, like if we were living in caveman times I would have been left by the group to die as the weakest link (I know that sounds so dramatic, but I think about stuff like that…).

Anyway, I’m trying to find something constructive in all of this….Yes, I may have been a disappointment as a child, but at least now I’m not full of excuses? Or at least since I don’t have those memories of the happiest childhood ever, it makes it so my adulthood is really fun in comparison? I feel like if I was more motivated, and social, I could turn this around and have it be somehow inspirational, to not let your past define your future. But I’m not really that motivated (except to practice ballet!) – or social – so it will be up to someone else, if there even is anyone else like me out there. There probably is… they’re just not coming to my local classes, or writing about it on the internet (yet – if you’re different that the “norm”, please share your story; we need it).

(p.s. yes, I know that it’s easier to recover from things like falls as a child, and that bone remodeling rate or cell growth slows down when one is older, and these things may apply to everyone, even me. But I’m not really talking about the physiology of it, so much as the mental/cognitive aspect of it. Even though I had healthy bones as a kid, and if I scraped my knee it would scab quickly, that doesn’t mean that I could do all the things that other children could do. I just couldn’t do it. And the whole thing about kids being fearless? Uh-uh, not this child.)

8 thoughts on “Some Classes, And Thoughts On Childhood vs Adulthood

  1. Irene

    Have been reading your blog off and one for awhile and this post inspired me to comment. My story is bit different but I CAN relate–I danced as a kid, but grew up in a rural area and didn’t have access to great training, plus I started “late” (age 11), plus I am/was frankly not that talented. By dint of practicing hard, I got to be decent-ish but didn’t feel that comfortable in my dancing and my technique was lacking in certain areas. Now in my 30s I have much more control and mastery, more comfort, a much better ability to figure out what I’m doing wrong and fix it myself, etc etc. A lot of this is due to better teachers. The only thing I can think of that I was better at in my youth is pointe work, but that’s because I don’t do it anymore. (Not because I can’t, but because I don’t want to.) By all other measures I’m a better dancer now, and I can trust my body far more than I could back then. This feeling carries over into real life, too. Sometimes I think adults use their age as an excuse not to get better at things–they say “I can’t because I’m too old” when the truth is that they can’t because they don’t want to put the effort in. I would guess that if people respond poorly to you when you tell your story, it’s because you’ve shown them that YOU’VE made progress at your age, which shoots down their excuse for not making progress. It is delicate indeed.

    1. kit Post author

      Thank you for the comment. I do agree that adults (and even teens, to a much smaller extent) like to use age as an excuse, when the real issue is lack of effort. And, as much as it pains me to admit it to myself, I simply did NOT put in the effort required to improve at anything as a child. Part of it was lack of talent, but another part of it was my erroneous belief that some things are just “easy”, and don’t require lots of work. This attutude – which thankfully I am over now as an adult – combined with my natural lack of skill was a recipe for disaster.
      Also, I’ve had a variety of teachers and can definitely see how better teachers make a huge difference. Or a particular teacher’s style will just click better.

  2. Holly

    You know that kid who was so uncoordinated they couldn’t catch a soft ball from 1m away? Yeah, that kid was me. I couldn’t do anything physical -skipping, running, whatever. When I got older, I was always that ‘gangly’ child, who couldn’t dance or play sports to save their life. And yet, I am that person who wishes I could have done ballet as a young child, because then I might have gotten over all that, because being a gangly-can’t-dance kid is easier than being a gangly-can’t-dance adult. But perhaps I’m being forgetting I was also the kid that cried whenever forced to speak to teachers. Who am I kidding, I wouldn’t have lasted in ballet as a kid. It would have scared me for life. Okay -I’ve just changed my own opinion completely. This comment has no point but I shall post regardless.

    1. kit Post author

      I’m glad you commented anyway, because it was so relatable – I understand perfectly, and I’ve had that same exact conversation with myself, many, many times.
      I often think about how ‘if only I’d tried it when I was younger…’ but then I realize that since I, too, was the kind of kid that would start crying at a harsh word from the teacher it probably would have destroyed me. I mean, maybe if I had been sensitive but talented, but no, I was also the kid who couldn’t catch the ball – I think I got hit with it a few times… – or run, skip, jump or anything.
      You are right though that being the can’t-dance-adult is somehow harder – or at least more awkward – than being the can’t-dance-kid.

  3. Dork

    While I was marginally more flexible and certainly more adaptable to increases in training as a child, I had extremely poor coordination and was anything but graceful. This has only improved with years of repeated training and also the increased self-awareness you gain as an adult. (Not that I’m automatically terribly graceful now, mind you, but it has gotten much better.) I also had a wagonload of free time, but did I ever use it for targeted practice or self-improvement? Oh well.

    I just read this post on another blog, which does a good job of highlighting Olympians and others who are still – or newly – excellent at their chosen sport at an age considered too old for it:
    I know some find excellence discouraging and not at all inspiring, but I think these people prove the point that not everyone was better at everything as a child. I think if you continue sharing your experience, some people will relate. And if not, it’ll give them something to think about, at least!

    1. kit Post author

      Thanks for the link! I just read that first post and, Oh my gosh!, an Olympic gymnastics contestant in her 40’s?! RAD Grade 6 at age 71?! That’s amazing! I did find it incredibly inspiring, for sure.
      And yes, much can be said about that self-awareness that is gained as an adult. I’m fully aware that most of the corrections or descriptive language my teachers use in class would have completely flown over my head as a kid.

    2. rinceoir

      I’m so glad you both found inspiration in these folks too! Adult dancers unite!

      While sometimes I wish I had known about Irish dance as a kid, or been able to stick with my dance classes past elementary school (we moved and there was no studio near me), I was a pretty terrible dancer as a child. I’m not sure I would have taken it as seriously as I do now. I was also terrible at all manner of sports that I tried in youth (basketball, volleyball, track, tennis…I only ever made one team that did cuts!), so I’m happy now I can do a competitive sport that I actually seem to be okay at that also incorporates my first love: dance.

      1. kit Post author

        Thanks again for the very inspirational post! I love hearing about folks who don’t let their age stop them from their goals (and the fact that the 71-year-old ballet dancer lady was an adult beginner was even more impressive).
        I don’t now much about Irish dance, but that’s great that you’re able to compete in something you love. Now I’m wondering if we will ever see ballet competitions for adults, and what the levels would be like (I browsed through your blog a bit, and I remember reading about “dropping down” to compete not jut against adult beginners, and the commitment that is taking that step).

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