Monday, July 30, 2012

Stop! Older Dancer Crossing...

One thing was for sure.  I was going to escape during the kids’ nap. 

But, Mani/pedi or ballet class?

Let’s see:
Mani/pedi - $50 (Really, Chi-town? In NYC a fab mani/pedi is only $25)
Ballet class - $0  (Hallelujah, faculty comp!)

And then there was the fact that the other day Mr. R asked me if I had a baby in my belly.  And I was lying down.  You rip yourself down the middle for these kids, and three years later they're calling you Fatty Boombalatty.  

Ballet it was. 

I left not as early as I should have, but not late so that I had to drive like a bat out of hell. I found a parking spot quickly and dashed in the studio to register and change, still with ten minutes to spare. 

I had time for some quick hip opening exercises to get my rotators firing, my pelvis properly situated, and my core engaged. For someone who in one month would enter the category known as Dancers over 40, I was feeling pretty good.  The correct muscles were turned on.  And mentally, I wasn’t worried about who was in class, feeling intimidated or dismissive. 

The class, taught by a friend of mine, was one of those classes for a blend of ballet students: young students looking to keep in shape over the weekend, workaday folks looking for an artistic workout, former advanced students and pros looking to keep dance in their lives, and older dancers like me, sporadic class takers looking for something that would injure neither body nor spirit.

Even though my vehicle felt in good shape, less than a minute into pliés, the first hubcap flew off.  My shoulder was BURNING, and I wished I’d had a crane to lift it to high fifth.

I knew too much blogging, texting, lifting kids and driving like I was trying to stick my face through the windshield had jacked up my shoulder.  The only way to get my arm up was to employ some kind of heave-ho motion where I threw my right shoulder in and down and jerked it up over my head.


I began wondering how I was going to do center.  Should I leave after barre, get myself a big ol’ box of ho-hos, go home and sit on the sofa and stuff myself?  Then my big toe began throbbing.  It was all I could do not to cry out, “Oh, for the love of God, my bunion!  Anybody got some Advil?”

I couldn’t relevé on my left foot worth two cents.  Between my good-for-nothing right shoulder and left  foot, I looked like someone who’d never danced a lick in her life and had wandered in off the streets and stuck herself in an intermediate class.

The ho-ho option was looking mighty good.

But I stuck it out.  Even though I was nervous about pirouettes, they went great.  Maybe I really got on my leg from working solidly on flat.  Or maybe it was that I was just letting things be natural, instead of overthinking and getting psyched out by turning.

By petit allegro we were all running out of steam -- even the younguns who appeared to be in great shape.  Unable to fully stretch my feet, during jetés, I felt like black Popeye dancing a jig.   

Somehow, I did the entire class.  Whether this was a testament to my dogged perseverance or stupidity, I was not sure.  My sweet friend, the teacher, complimented me by saying I looked the same as I did five years ago, before kids. 

That was a compliment. I think... 

While changing in the dressing room, I chatted with a girl nowhere near the Dancers over 40 category, a coltish girl with lovely extension, who admitted that she hadn’t felt so great either and had also been tempted to dash. 

No one is perfect, I remembered.  Even that younger dancer who looks fabulous, may be plagued by injury and self-doubt.

I stopped at the grocery store, where I skipped the ho-hos, and went home.

The kids ran to me as I opened the door.  With dinner, and playtime, and bath, and bedtime ahead of me, the real push to the finish line was about to start.  


  1. Keesha, you are seriously such a great writer. I love the last line, especially. Aging is tough. Getting used to our post-pregnancy bodies is also tough. But the toughest part is how hard we are on ourselves. Good for you for sticking it out until the end of the class. Plus you saved $50 by skipping the mani/pedi!

    1. Awwww, Laura! Thanks so much. Motherhood has made me tougher on myself, than I ever was - and I've always been one of those type A folks achievement-wise. Where do they sell giant bottles of Effitol :) ?

  2. Keesha, you drive like I do. Add in "reading to small ones, and the effect of having breastfed for a combined 32 months", and you have my tense shoulders and pecs. My guess is you bring some artistry to the class that others soak up, so don't sweat the other stuff. At least you got your butt there and showed up, that's more than half the battle!

  3. Gina, you are totally right about the reading and nursing! I remember some idiot massage therapist suggesting that I nurse sitting straight up like one of the ladies on Downton Abbey. As f-ing if!


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