Thursday, November 4, 2010

dancing dreams.

As a child with a petite frame, I assumed I would be a natural gymnast. I begged my parents for lessons at the local gym, certain that with a little practice, I could become a member of the Magnificent Seven. Of course, my parents saw what I couldn’t see: a little girl without a bit of muscle or the ability to touch her toes.

Instead of gymnastics, I took piano lessons and studied, which to be honest, was fine by me. I cheered for the Magnificent Seven from my imaginary balance beam at home, and after the team won gold, my infatuation dissipated.

This temporary obsession with gymnastics was the closest I ever got to being interested in dance. Growing up, my best friend was a dancer — a talented one — but at 13, all that meant to me was a friend who was off dancing more than she was spending the night at my house. I was unimpressed.

Years later, in a moment of maturity, I attended that same friend's dance recital, and my indifference turned to fascination. My quiet, studious friend completely transformed on stage. Her movement and grace astounded me (so did the tons of make-up, but that's not the point of this post). The caterpillar to butterfly metaphor developed before my very eyes.

Still, I knew, perhaps more than ever, that dance just wasn't for me. The costumes, the rhythm, the flexibility: I wasn't interested, neither was I capable. Even girls with high self-esteems know their limits.

Now, though, looking at these pictures, I regret my ambivalence just a little bit. These girls can move, bend, stretch. They are grace defined.

The one comfort in my inadequacy, I suppose, is that I know every dancer's dirty little secret: their feet. Battered and bruised and tortured, a dancer's feet are permanently scarred from the movements we all admire from the sidelines.

It's funny, isn't it? How even the most graceful and the most beautiful have something to hide?

These photographs astound me, amaze me. They make me wish I could dance and twist and turn and move.

But I am okay with the fact that I dance and twist and turn and move in other ways, ways that are not as photogenic, but are certainly just as beautiful.

And I happen to really like my feet.

* all photos from The Ballerina Project, here.


Staley Mc said...

These pictures are so gorgeous! It is just amazing how graceful and flexible they are!

Cindy P said...

Wow Annie! You expressed my feelings exactly! I had always wanted to be a ballerina when I was little but I wasn't coordinated enough and my parents saw the non-potenial in me that I didn't so I also took piano lessons and sang, and studied. And same as you, I saw friends that were beautiful dancers and desired to be like them. But I have my gifts and it is not to be a dancer. Plus, like you said, I really like my feet. =) Thank you for expressing so eloquently my feelings!

Heather at Blessed Little Nest said...

beautifully said!

Lauren said...

I just stumbled across The Ballerina Project today via another blog! Too funny...

I cannot dance, but I am in love with the art itself - whether it is hip-hop, b-boys, or ballet, I am in love with it. I got to go to a B-Boy competition in NYC and see the Alvin Ailey Dance Company in DC and both were so moving and unique in their own ways!!

stephanie said...

i had wanted to take a ballet class when i was little, but never had a chance :( i stuck with martial arts instead.

Claggie said...

I just came across your blog and I'm so glad I did! What a great post. I always wanted to be a dancer, but I'm too clumsy and am not flexible at all. I still wish I would have tried, especially after looking at these photos. They're beautiful!