Wednesday, November 4, 2009

3:04 p.m.

La Danse, by Frederick Wiseman

I couldn't be more excited about a film. Here's hoping it makes a grand jeté to a Columbia cinema
A scene from La Danse

Growing up, I didn’t play conventional sports. I faked asthma attacks on the soccer field to avoid being shoved. As an alternative, my parents suggested dance lessons. I jumped at the chance and enrolled in a classical ballet school.

On Christmas morning when I was nine years old, I sat drowsily under the tree, basking in the newness of my presents. As I contemplated if what my (younger) brother had told me about Santa Claus was true, my mother handed me a box wrapped in sparkly red paper. “This is the last one,” she said. I tore through the wrapping and tissue paper until I found, nestled toe-to-heel, heel-to-toe a pair of pearly, satiny pink pointe shoes.

I had taken classical ballet since I was six, and the artistic director of the company maintained the traditional belief that ballet dancers should be “en pointe” before they hit puberty. At the ripe age of nine until I quit seven years later, I bloodied my toes, sweated through six-hour rehearsals and adored every moment as a ballerina-in-training.

Ballet was my first love, but I knew early on that I was not cut out for a professional career. I didn’t have body, and although I possessed the drive, natural talent plays a huge role in a dancer’s life, and I didn’t have that either.

I haven’t danced in six years. The calluses that once battered my feet have softened, and if I point my toes for too long my arch cramps. Few things are better than a night at the ballet, and it is still difficult to forget the steps I memorized years ago. But my perspective has changed. Now I sit in a red-velvet, upholstered balcony seat with a sometimes perfect view of the stage, and no longer wait in the wings for my cue.


Jenn said...

i recently stumbled upon your wonderful blog, and i love it. oh my, oh my. such a creative girl! i think the headless outfit series may be my favorite. i started pointe in fourth grade, and it was terrible. i have flat feet and have never been remotely close to petite... i gave it up in eighth grade, i think. i remember going to the shoe store and being told by the old "master ballet-shoe-fitting woman" (whatever) that i had "the foot that could not be fit." yes, note the singularity in "foot." evidently, one of my feet (i think the left) is normal but the other is bizarre and grossly unfit for pointe shoes. such an awkward life i live.

Sarah said...

Hi Jenn, I'm so happy you stopped by. Thank you for the wonderful compliment. I'm sorry to hear about your left foot. Technically, I'm not sure any foot is meant for pointe shoes!