My 20s are solely dedicated to experience. I’ll try anything once, and dating someone shorter twice. But something that my 20s has personally proven is that sometimes the very activity you renounced as a 6-year-old because the girls were way too pretty, stuck-up, and talented could potentially be the very activity to pick back up and master — in my case: ballet.
My friends keep going on about “Zumba burns like 600 calories,” and “I just got a groupon for a 6-class series at that pretentious dance studio.”
So guess what happened just the other day? I drove my mediterranean booty over to the local intimidating dance studio, then drove around in circles trying to find the parking lot, and finally sauntered in through the lobby filled with hip pop-and-locking-dancers to the receptionist, who would sign me up for my “beginner’s ballet class.”
[Above: Me, performing for my turtle, Oats]
Receptionist: Have you been here before?
(I had, once, for a very embarrassing Colbie Callait music video audition that I did NOT book).
Me: Oh yeah. A couple times. Yup..
(The receptionist checks the system, in which I’m clearly not listed, because I never took an actual class).
Receptionist: You know what, let’s just have you fill this out again.
(She hands me the paperwork that requires I sign away any liability for when I more than likely twist my ankle, and bruise my ego during class).
Me: Totes, thanks. (beat) Yeah, I’ll just be taking one class.
Receptionist: (through a scowl) Oh, ok, just one.
(She rings me up)
Receptionist: You’ve taken a ballet class before, right…?
(I interrupt her before she can elaborate….I’m eager to prove myself).
Me: Oh yeah, totally! I mean it’s “beginner’s” right? I know all the positions — 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th….where’s 3rd right? No no, it’s like hardly ever used.
Receptionist: Uh yeah, it’s just that Nicole’s class is more of an intermediate beginner’s class.
(My stomach sinks to my cankles)
I sign my receipt & head to the bathroom to change, at which point I pass by the tiniest, slimmest little ballerina in pointe shoes. I stop, look up at the studio that she stands in front of — it’s my studio. So I ask her…
Me: Are you here for the 11:30 beginners?
Slim Pointe Girl: Yes! Isn’t Nicole great? I’m going to try going on pointe today.
Me: (to myself) Fu*k me.
Cut to 30 minutes later, after copying all of the stretching that the overly-experienced-for-a-beginner’s-class-ballerinas were doing….we get into the studio.
I find a place at the bar, look around at the perfect bodies, outfits, hair buns, ass buns. And realize that I could reclaim that 6-year-old fear and self-doubt that caused me to walk out of ballet class as a kid. Or I could suck it up, suck it in (suck in the breakfast sandwich I ate 40 minutes prior), and learn from the best.
Bottom line is, I fell on my face a lot over the 90 minutes that followed. I messed up, I copied, I wasn’t “perfect.” But I was much better than when I first walked in that door.
HOW TO TAKE A DANCE CLASS AS A NON-DANCER
1. Show Up— You can’t take a dance class without showing up, dummy! But show up with a positive attitude, a clear mind, and a killer outfit. Also, go easy on yourself, most people aren’t perfect out the door. Try to be better than yourself, not anybody else, especially if they’re really good.
2. Don’t Judge Yourself or Others — Instead of “judging,” try observing without bias — by that I mean try copying. Slim pointe girl may have performed ballet her whole life, and on this day she chose to take a beginner’s class just to nudge my ego and test my will, for all I know. Instead of judging her or myself, I stood directly behind her and followed her every move to the best of my inability. Learn from the best.
3. Keep Showing Up — I won’t lie that I felt defeated upon returning to my car after that NOT-A-BEGINNER-beginner’s class. Not solely because I’d gotten a parking ticket for taking a teacher’s spot, but because I wasn’t GREAT after my first class! WTF!? (Then I remembered that age-old thing about how most people never try because they’re afraid to fail — and I don’t want to be most people.) And while I obviously didn’t look like a Prima Ballerina on my jumps, leaps, and pirouettes, at least I tried. At least my body got the feeling of the above moves in its bones — and with more practice, and self-love, and copying from the best, I might one day look halfway sober when doing a chasse.
Now the real questions is: Who wants to take beginner’s hip-hop?!