My first memory of dancing: learning actions to Agadoo, before performing them on the local community hall stage, resplendent in taffeta frills. By the time I finished pushing those pineapples, I was hooked.
Most of my school years was taken up with dance classes. I was your typical bunhead. I was never going to be a professional, but when I put on my pointe shoes and pirouetted across the room, I was an unstoppable force.
On moving out of home to the bright lights of university in the big city, I found it more difficult to get to (not to mention pay for) classes and my passion weakened as competing priorities took over. Classes taken here and there reduced to a trickle, until one day I stopped going altogether.
More than 10 years later, my sister and I started taking classes and I was hooked again. However, after a year of classes I still cannot help the shadow of dismay whenever I catch myself in the mirror. My body no longer resembles my 17 year old bunhead self. Far from the graceful sylph of my imagination, I see weak arms and legs at half mast. Plus, I doubt a sylph would give such a red-faced grimace of concentration.
Part of my lack of progress is due to unrealistic expectations. You cannot take a decade long break from almost daily classes and expect to pick up where you left off, especially when that picking up is only once a week. However, after a year of easing back into it, I need (to paraphrase Daft Punk) to be at the barre harder, better, faster, stronger (for longer).
And so, this is the year of dedication, daily stretching … and pointe.
Last weekend, my sister and I each bought pointe shoes. The lovely Lauren of Bounce Podiatry allayed my fears of being out of the game for too long and I was soon the proud owner of brand new Grishko Novas. (By the way, if you are in Perth, I wholeheartedly recommend Lauren. Not only is she the wonderful combination of knowledge that comes with being both a podiatrist and an adult ballet dancer, she is just plain lovely.)
I don’t expect that I will be dancing en pointe any time soon. I expect a lot of strengthening exercises at the barre before even contemplating pirouetting across the room. But just slipping on the satin and rising up en pointe gave me an inkling of being an unstoppable force again.