Ballerina memoirs

Screen shot 2013-09-09 at 11.13.56 PMThere’s one thing I have learned during my nineteen years as a female, especially as a kid: boys do sports and girls do ballet. At least, that’s how it seemed at age four, when all I wanted to do was dance around in pink tights and a ballet bun (though I would grow to hate the latter). My mother introduced me into the world of dance without having no experience in the field, not even a childhood lesson. She wanted me to be elegant, poised and sensible to arts. Her mission was not to send me on a fast track to success as a prima ballerina, but to become a well-rounded woman who knew the difference between a demi-plie and a grand-plie and that Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky composed the music of The Nutcracker.  And so I began the 12-year-long journey that made me be just who I am: perfectly imperfect.

If you are a girl, taking ballet lessons as a child is a right of passage, a tradition. Almost every female can narrate a story of the time she used to be a ballet dancer (or at least performed as a flower at the summer recital). For me, it started at 4-years-old on a Saturday at a placing class, where I decided it was a good idea to lead the révérence (bow) at the end with no previous experience whatsoever. I should have known back then that leading others in dances would be one of my most recognizable activities throughout my life.

On the other hand, I had to be honest with myself and realize that no matter how much I loved ballet (the soft voice of the piano, the yards of tulle, the elegance of the movements) or how much I tried to get better at it, nothing would make me be Svetlana Zakharova, Natalia Makarova or Sylvie Guillem. I could not be a prima ballerina, period.

It was obvious just from looking at me: my body was not elegantly thin; I had a thick back and big bones. Whenever I pointed my toes, they would not arch in a jaw-dropping position. I could never do more than 1 pirouette to the left and that same leg could not go over 90 degrees a la second (to the side).  I didn’t even know how to make a ballet bun. Pathetic, I know.

But it took time for me to come face to face with the truth (nine years to be exact). I even got to perform in The Nutcracker and be a kind of-soloist at the conservatory’s recital. I tried so hard to be perfect, but I had to stop before I started growing swan wings and being psychotic (see: Black Swan). It was when a so-called-friend suggested I started this crazy diet of only eating cottage cheese that I realized I could never be a ballet dancer.

Instead, I married a distant cousin: fashion. And decided to make it a three-way by adding writing into the mix. I will never be perfect, but instead of dieting, I now get to hit delete and write it all again. Though, I would never hit delete on my past as a pseudo-prima ballerina.


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