"The body never lies"
February 15, 2017 11:11 AM   Subscribe

Swan, Late: "My inability to dance became a matter of faith, something I believed in unquestioningly for the next two decades. "
posted by Lycaste (10 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
This is so relatable to me. I started ballet at age 7 and kept at it until age 12 when my teacher told me I'd never be a pro because I'd be too big (I was 5'7" at 12). I loved dance more than anything and was crushed at her assessment. I did go on to teach ballroom but never allowed myself to dream anymore. I think I'll try bellydance. Thanks for this post.
posted by MovableBookLady at 11:37 AM on February 15, 2017 [3 favorites]

Came in expecting to hate or at least grrrr about a writer espousing about the unimportant

Everything about ballet felt wrong to me: all that Pepto-Bismol pink, ribbons and tulle, polished princesses executing their steps in martial unison, tight little buns behind tight little faces.

and a lot of serious dancers detest the "dolly dinkle" elements used more as a marketing tool for third rate local dance studios than anything to do with dance. Dance/ballet is one of the fine arts, not a sport but there is athleticism beyond many sports. It has more centerdness and calmness than a lot of yoga. It's wide ranging in style, theme and quality. (omg the range in quality). Certainly profoundness and crypticness of poetry.

I knew a math professor/lawyer balletomane that finally started taking beginner classes (part of me can't even imagine) but he loved it.

By the last paragraph this essay had me itching to get to a technical class.

Take class!
posted by sammyo at 11:43 AM on February 15, 2017 [5 favorites]

“Yeah, well, no offense, but maybe I need a little more instruction than just "tappa-tappa-tappa".”
posted by thelonius at 11:57 AM on February 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

Some teachers don't realize the impact their words can have on impressionable kids. I had a music teacher in 8th grade who told me I'd never get in to Julliard for piano because I wasn't advanced enough at age 13. His tone was all "give it up now." I took that to heart and didn't pursue piano performance (going so far as to avoid universities that required a piano performance for composition admissions) until I became an adult and started taking keyboard gigs.

I left a review on his ratemyteacher.com page but it looks like he had already retired by that point.
posted by grumpybear69 at 12:26 PM on February 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

I had a music teacher in 8th grade who told me I'd never get in to Julliard for piano because I wasn't advanced enough at age 13. His tone was all "give it up now."

Some of these people seem to think they are inspiring kids to excellence, but the message that goes over is often, unless you are the very best, you are shit, and you should feel bad and give up.
posted by thelonius at 12:28 PM on February 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

I will say that the best advice I ever got re: dancing (in the at-the-club sense) was, in reference to The Hot Girl At Work laughing at my attempts to be silly on the dancefloor: "Dude, she's not laughing with you, she's laughing at you."

Now, the guy was being an asshole, but the truth was that I was dancing in such a way as to say "dancing is so ridiculous, see how I mock this pointless social ritual, also I have low self-esteem." From that point forward I decided to dance without reservation for the joy of it.
posted by grumpybear69 at 12:51 PM on February 15, 2017 [8 favorites]

My childhood dance instructor gave me to understand that I was useless, and I dropped classes in pretty short order. Only the passage of many years gave me to understand that this was not actually true, and that if I had just done the thing, the way Leslie Hall does, no one would have thought I had anything to be ashamed of.

I've hardly ever had a body that was fit for anything but holding up my brain. Recently I had a chance to ask a former dancer: if you're fit for these dances, really fit for them, do they still hurt as much as they look like they would? Apparently, they do.
posted by Countess Elena at 1:26 PM on February 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

Started going to dance classes about five years ago. Lowkey changed my life, in particular it stopped the assumptions I'd make about other people's physical capacity based on what they looked like - pretty soon in, you realise that often the best dancers in class look nothing like your vision of what a "good" dancer looks like. And I began to slowly get more coordinated, understand more of my body, listen to music in a new way. After seeing La La Land last month I was happy thinking of all the audience members who would be inspired to go dancing for the first time.
posted by Gin and Broadband at 1:50 PM on February 15, 2017 [4 favorites]

I was the WORST ballerina in all the land. Madame Le Shine was an imposing figure- I can still see her perfect black ponytail and erect carriage, one that I was unable to emulate. I was even "lithe" at that stage of my life (as much as my blocky, stubby self ever would be) . I still danced my way through my teens and 20's- club dancing did not require anything but a desire to move to the music. I'm actually glad I sucked at it- my niece is a competitive dancer, and she appears to have sheared off her sense of humor in her attempts to leave the earth.
posted by LuckyMonkey21 at 4:22 PM on February 15, 2017

I relate to this. I love dance, but I have very little leg flexibility, so I was doomed at ballet from day one and was always the worst at my ballet school. I kept going anyway, I've tried multiple forms of dance. I'm probably not considered good at anything beyond club dancing due to the leg flexibility issue, but oh the fuck well. If you enjoy it, you enjoy it.

Ballet is pretty much the judgiest, snobbiest form of dance in a sense though. There's definitely a culture early on about only the cream of the crop is any good going on there that certainly doesn't encourage anyone who doesn't have a perfect perfect perfect body.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:27 PM on February 15, 2017

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