Notes from an Adult Struggling Beginner Ballerina- Part 1

I sat down to write this post several times, but all of the glamors of being a mom got in the way. A toddler was climbing on glass furniture, a toddler emptying Capri Suns on my freshly cleaned floors, a toddler opening all of his sister’s markers and creating artwork on my new walls. The usual. When I started Brown Girls I remember joking with a friend (Hey Toni) about taking a ballet class but I never found the time. So when my daughter’s ballet teacher announced adult ballet classes, I knew I had to take the leap. I’m excited to be sharing my journey as an adult BBT (Brown Ballerina in Training) for the organization. It gives me the chance to not only learn what my audience goes through, but it gives me the opportunity to see the business from a whole different perspective and remind me of the different ways that I’ve failed my body over the past “29”+ years. This post chronicles the events leading up to my 1st time ever taking a ballet class. I hope to continue to record my journey here on the blog, so check back often and see if I continue.
Photo Credit: Esther Huynh

Photo Credit: Esther Huynh

Hi, I’m TaKiyah. If we haven’t met in person, in 2012 as a photographer, I started shooting ballerinas of color. It’s since morphed into Brown Girls Do Ballet. Now, I get to add one more accomplishment to a list the size of a Post-It note...I’ve started ballet. Last week I nervously walked into my local Capezio store, found who I thought might be the least judgemental associate and had her walk me through everything I’d need for my 1st ballet class. I got fitted for shoes, she found my size in tights (a miracle in itself), and then I bravely wandered into a sea of leotards. In my mind, I’m still the size 4/6 that I was before two kids, but the 1st leotard I tried on quickly told me differently. Have you ever bought a sack of potatoes at the grocery store? You know how they sit in that plastic bag, all lumpy and heavy? That’s my butt in a leotard, a sack of potatoes. I knew right then I had work to do. The 1st part of the job was coming to grips with the fact that I was far from a size 4/6. My lovely sales associate then “suggested” the correct size (I complied even though my butt still resembled that sack of potatoes), made my purchases and left the store feeling empowered and ridiculous as the same time. Isn’t ballet for the young folks? The kids that have been dancing since they were 3? The ones that don’t have so much extra baggage in the back (read rear), and in life? Nevertheless, I was committed to at least trying.

Day 1 of Class:

7:30 am
On the morning of my 1st class, I thought I’d at least try and be mentally prepared by having a light breakfast and doing a little cardio. Honestly, I was thinking how embarrassing it would be to run a ballet organization and be the 1st person to tap out and sit on the floor before class ended.

12:00pm
For lunch, I met my mother who decided we should have Wienerschnitzel chili dogs for lunch. She was gracious enough to have already picked them up. She’s my mother. I had to eat 2. Food is my religion. You can’t offer me two chili dogs at lunch and not expect to me stand at that altar and partake. It was a terrible decision; I have no willpower and yes you can judge me. I documented my chili dog consumption on social media to let young people know that peer pressure is wrong and to hold myself accountable.

5:00pm
I had a light protein snack consisting of almonds, cheese cubes, and turkey. An excellent recovery effort but we all know the damage had already been done.

5:30pm
I got dressed in all of my new gear. I remember buying tights often for my daughter and thinking of how great dance tights seem to be at keeping everything in place. Perhaps even contouring if you will.  Tights are what keep Beyonce’ magical too right?  As soon as I put those tights on- my legs did this thing where they looked a little amazing. Like my thighs were still touching of course, but they weren’t fighting each other to move like they normally are. Thighs that fight each other in Texas during the summer are not fun.

7:00
 Class time. Now pay attention because this is where things get a little fuzzy in my memory. Not sure if it was due to hunger, too many chili dogs earlier in the day, or the fact that as much as I go to the gym, that I’m still so out of shape that both my brain and body have caved in on themselves. I seriously thought Melissa (our amazing instructor) would be going easy on us. We’re adults, most of us had never taken a ballet class ever, and it WAS the 1st class day. I was WRONG! I thought I was going to die right on those brand new wood floors! Below are some of the thoughts that occurred during that 1st 60-minute class:

-She said First Position; I know that one, perfect. Ballet...ha….I’ve got this.”
-Wait...1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th,...can we just do one position per class, I can’t keep up with this.

I’m really trying to point my toe, but my toe is insubordinate like my 2-year-old son.

-8 counts, 4 counts, 2 counts. Only counts that I’m good at remembering apparently are Count Chocula, Count Basie, and Count of Monte Cristo. Too many counts to keep up with.

-She said we could hold on to the barre for extra support. Why am I the only person hugging the barre?

-The lady next to me told me she has only taken a few barre classes but why is she dancing like Misty Copeland?!

-She wants us to do WHAT across the floor? How did I get put in line to go 1st? Jesus, please don’t let me die in front of all of these lovely people.

-There’s no clock in this room. How long has it been? Is it time for a water break yet? I'm sweating to death; I just know it.

-Lift my leg where? Why is this hurting so much?

-YES, Finally a water break! *looks at phone* It’s only been 30 minutes. OMG!!!!

-Holding this Passe’ is about to make me passe’ out.

-Okay, now she wants us to put all of that together. Crap I forgot how to count again!

8:00 pm

Class is over. I’m still alive. I did not die. I feel fantastic. I know this is a trick. I know that tomorrow I will need a walker but I’m excited and ready for the next class.

Photo Credit: Monica Gosselin

Photo Credit: Monica Gosselin