Ballet to Me

By Courtney King

courtney_kingI recently washed my ballet tights and somehow they all ended up grey. I now have four pairs of pink, grey-tinged tights. Of course, this does not pose an immediate problem, but for the day I enter a ballet class, I do not desire that my tights are what makes me stand apart.

I do not take ballet daily, or even weekly, and I don’t have a strong relationship with it though we have been in each other’s company a long time. I long for ballet as I simultaneously ignore it. I think of it as the base of dance in which one roots their technique and the knowledge of their body. I feel that it helps one better understand their center and begin to trust what extends out from it.

I believe our past experiences reside in our bodies. They lay like dust over our bones, muscles and nerves. Each interaction we have gives this dust an opportunity to dislodge, unmasking memories and lessons learned. When I find myself in ballet, I am usually afraid. I bring with me all the past connections I have had with it, positive or negative. Whether I acknowledge it or not my body holds a deep history interacting with ballet.

What I want from ballet is the ability to find myself in it, but I am instead clouded by the idea of perfection. It haunts my perspective as a past conception of what I should look like. It lines itself in tour jetes, petit battement, and port de bras. Whether simple or complicated movement, this one idea tries to diminish the reason why I come back to ballet.

I think ballet is most inspiring when I can identify someone’s individuality as they do it. This is the issue I find; I don’t feel like myself in ballet. I tuck my personality away as I rigidly approach the idea of perfection. I tend to shrink, growing smaller in the presence of grandness. I seek invisibility rather than boldness.

Individuality, expansiveness, and confidence: this is what I desire in ballet. When I next take a ballet class I intend to begin solidifying these traits. I intend to be aware of the dust from the past while establishing a healthier perspective.

Courtney King is a woman, a dancing woman. She attends the University of San Francisco as a Communications and PASJ Dance major. She loves her dog Rigby and gives her bountiful kisses.