I’m writing to you today at the end of a very long week this week, so please forgive any rambling/total nonsense that manifests itself on my blog. I swear, I’ll be back to normal next week. Maybe…
One of my students said a rather curious thing to me the other week. It’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about since. I was teaching the final class of the evening on a Friday night, showing a little combination at the barre that I initially meant to be simple, but, as usual, turned out ridiculously complicated. We paused, to turn around to the other side, when one of my senior students blurted: “Miss Eva, you look like a ballerina.” I suspected that she was slightly hopped-up on cold medication at the time, but she said the whole thing with such sincerity. It was possibly the sweetest thing I’d heard all day.
It’s not quite the first time I’ve heard something like this, but it made me wonder, what is it that makes you “look” like a dancer, a ballerina? I’ve had theater-goers confuse me with a dancer from whatever performance we had just seen. I met the man I’m currently dating, with his opening line of “You look like a dancer…” I’m usually full of excuses when this is brought up “Oh, it’s just the way I’m wearing my hair” or, “I just came from class, it’s all the Lululemon, really.” On worse days, it’s “Have you seen an actual ballerina? They certainly don’t look like me.” It makes me sad that I always feel the need to explain myself in whatever context this is brought up: “I am a dancer, but I mostly teach now…” “Well, I’m not with a company right now, but I have my degree in dance.” Truth is, I’ve been training and dancing for almost twenty years now, and it’s been a lot of hard work- not by accident. Dance is the one thing that has become a non-negotiable in my life, and I’m lucky enough that I’ve made it my livelihood. I ran the audition circuit for a while, I gave myself a few years to explore possibilities. I may not be dancing the 6-8 hour days that I once did, but I still break a sweat in the studio almost everyday, in a different way. I try to reconcile myself to the fact that I’m not necessarily the dancer that I wished to be, and that I should be grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had. But, I still feel the need to undermine myself, to explain things away. In the meantime, telling me that I look like a dancer makes a big part of me ecstatic, even if it’s a simple compliment that I can’t quite accept yet. The boss-lady tells me I’m “as much of a ballerina as I deserve to be.” I like that, the rest, well…I’m working on it.