My ballet teacher told me yesterday that I have hyperextended legs, which makes it difficult for me to close my feet in fifth position.
See how their legs bend back at the knee? This is good and bad. It’s good in that hyperextension is considered aesthetically pleasing in that it elongates the line of the leg, and like having beautifully arched insteps (which I sadly do not also possess), it’s part of what gives ballet dancers that ballet “look.” It’s hard to find a professional ballerina who is not hyperextended. However, it also means that it’s much easier for me to injure my joints because they’re naturally extra-stretchy.
It’s good to know also because it explains why it’s so damn difficult for me to keep my feet in fifth position. And I thought it was leg chub this whole time.
Must be more diligent about warmups now. A girl snapped her achilles in class the week before last. You could hear the loud pop! and then a heavy thud as she crashed to the ground. Once you snap your achilles, that means surgery and 8-9 months of no dancing. And no walking without crutches, for that matter.
Overall, though, I am very pleased with my progress so far. Most people at the studio now assume that I had danced intensively as a child or teenager. But the greatest pleasure I’ve been getting out of ballet lately is the fact that it’s not academia. In reflecting on my what–3rd full year? in ballet, I realize what a relief it’s been as a stress reliever. Dancing is a wholly separate system of thought; it uses completely unfamiliar parts of the ole noggin. I can focus solely on breathing, movement, muscles, and music; there’s none of the achey immobile processing that rules most of my day.
It usually takes 3 hours for me to get to ballet, dance, and go home. I enjoy every second of the process, from the moment I climb onto the bus to my teacher’s corrections (“do it again”) to climbing off the bus a few hours later. Next term, I hope to up classes to 4 a week, with pointe preparation classes.
I realize that I will never be “good enough” at ballet. To some degree, I will always suck. But it’s a refreshing reality check, because I don’t have to worry about perfection, as I do in my writing and academic work. Since I’ll never be good enough to be a professional, I can really just enjoy the challenge without the massive expectations of my adolescence (which hover now over my graduate studies).
Vive la danse!