It was time for me to get out of the driver’s seat and slip into my pink, satin shoes and dance but first I needed to buy the shoes. Not that ballet shoes maketh the dancer but every bit helps.
I’ve had enough of being the driver’s seat. While it sounds like you’re in control, choosing your own direction, being a trail blazer; as a parent, it’s more of a passive role. You’re a taxi driver being told where to go and quite often, due to your passengers’ lack of planning and what organization???, you’re having to floor it. Anyone would think the kids had robbed a bank and you were driving the getaway car. (Did someone say something about sirens and flashing lights??)
Beyond parenting, I’m anything but passive. With a carpe diem seize the day mentality, I can’t stand watching my clock ticking away while the kids flounce around.
I don’t know if that’s why I decided to attend an adult ballet class. That as much as I love watching ballet, that I now wanted to experience dance for myself. That there was a dancer busting to get out of my soul and even if I couldn’t dance much at all, I’d tried. I’d stepped into the world of dance and had a go. Moreover, with my daughter dancing, I wanted to understand it better.That’s not being a helicopter parent, but showing an informed interest.
If nothing else, I’ll have brushed up on my French! After all, French is the language of ballet.
After attending my first class barefoot, I decided I needed some real ballet shoes. They had to be pink. They had to be satin and they had to have pink satin ribbons…just like I had when I was a little girl. I might be 40 years older but I wasn’t living someone else’s dream. I was going to live my own.
I found out that there’s a Bloch’s Dance Store in Newcastle and decided to drive there after my daughter’s violin rehearsal. If you’ve been following my trip to Newcastle, you’ll already know that I got completely lost trying to find the dance shop and even went into Westfield in the wrong suburb!
However, we finally found it and I felt so elated, like a little girl again, only with the appreciation that comes with not being a little girl anymore. I guess if you were being nasty, you could say these ballet shoes were my personal equivalent of a midlife crisis vehicle…a variation on the red Porsche. As such, everything was a bit exaggerated but I was having so much fun and who wanted to be plain Jane anyway?
I wondered what it was going to be like walzing into Bloch’s as a middle-aged beginner. I wanted to buy a pair of pink ballet tights and I seriously doubted they even came in my size. I also needed some sort of dance wear. That is, other than a leotard. I might have been dancing back to the future but the leotard wasn’t going to be part of the deal. Not yet, anyway. Who knows, all this dancing might really payoff. It’ll be like Clark Kent dashing into a telephone booth and emerging as Superman. I’ll walk into Bloch’s as Mum and emerge as a young Margot Fonteyn…Mummy Butterfly emerging from my chrysalis.
Obviously, while I might be a fledgling dancer, I do have a fully-developed imagination!
To be perfectly, honest I expected something like that dreadful scene in Pretty Woman where the shop assistants vilify Julia Roberts. Perhaps, you remember her revenge:
Shop assistant: Hello, can I help you?
Vivian: I was in here yesterday, you wouldn’t wait on me.
Shop assistant: Oh.
Vivian: You people work on commission, right?
Shop assistant: Yeah.
Vivian: Big mistake. Big. Huge. I have to go shopping now.
Well, of all places, you’d think a dance shop would have to be the domain of the petite. I am anything but petite. I’m 5ft 10″ tall and let’s just say I’m well padded. Considering I find it almost impossible to find ordinary stockings which are long enough, I couldn’t see how they’d have pink tights which fitted…or anything else!
However, I was pleasantly surprised.
Not only by the fact they had stockings and leggings which fitted, but also by the respectful attitude of the staff in the shop. They weren’t snooty, condescending or nasty just really encouraging and supportive. I can’t tell you how much that meant to me.
After all, I was picked on at school about my shocking coordination and was the epitome of “unco”. You think of girls being pretty and sweet, but when you’re unco or break the mold in some way, you soon see the ugly nastiness which can lurk just beneath that perfect smile.
I was lucky. It turns out my coordination troubles were caused by undiagnosed hydrocephalus. I had brain surgery and had a shunt inserted. It took awhile for me to come good and I’m still not perfect, but who is?
Perhaps, some of these horrid people should be forced to have personality transplants where the nastiness is surgically removed and replaced with pure nice. Wouldn’t that be great!
Anyway, I went off to my ballet class wearing my new shoes last night, beaming from ear to ear. I’d tied the bows at the front, which in retrospect looked a bit ridiculous but I had a lesson on how to tie my shoes afterwards. No bows!
By the way, I also wanted to mention that I sewed the satin ribbons onto my shoes myself. As one who inevitably complicates something utterly straightforward, I really managed to make this difficult.
Once again, my fear of making a mistake grabbed me by the throat. My problems started with having to cut my length of ribbon into 4 lengths. This was child’s play yet there was this caution in my head. What if I make a mistake? What if I cut it in the wrong spot? We’re just talking about cutting a silly ribbon in four. It’s not rocket science. Snip! It was done. However, I then had to sew each length of ribbon onto the shoes. There was the shiny right side of the ribbon and the wrong side and to me they didn’t look that different under the dim lighting at home. Naturally, I didn’t want to look a fool turning up at the dance studio with my ribbons sewed on back to front. I am seriously short-sighted but now need reading glasses so I have bifocals but I often read without any glasses. So with all of that going on, you can imagine that I was having trouble sewing on these ribbons, especially as I couldn’t tell the different between the front and back of the ribbon and was fiddling round with my glasses trying to see. I ended up getting my daughter to help. I should be embarrassed but these eyes aren’t what they used to be.
After all of that stress getting lost trying to find the ballet shop and my struggles with the ribbons, my shoes were ready for action. Time to put on my pink stockings and head off to class. Of course, I was beaming like the Cheshire Cat. Last week someone came in a tutu but my ballet shoes weren’t a joke. They were saying that I’m taking my dancing seriously and I’m ready to learn. Do what it takes to get somewhere. Not aiming for the Opera House. Just somewhere out of the couch, beyond the driver’s seat and in my own way, soaring for the stars.
I am still getting myself organised to photograph my new shoes so stay tuned!
Have you ever learned ballet or another form of dance? How did you go?
Looking forward to hearing your stories!
PS My grandmother met and possibly interviewed Margot Fonteyn on her 1962 Australian tour. Need to investigate this further.