Happy World Ballet Day from Oklahoma, USA!
In honor of one of the best days of the year, and in light of recent events, I’d like to share a little bit about why ballet means so much to me.
What inspired this post was going to class on Tuesday night and breathing a sigh of relief when my hands touched the barre after such a terrible Monday.
Since I got back from Australia, I’ve been struggling to get back into the routine of going to class, and I’ve been dealing with the pain and stiffness of not having consistent class over the summer. I’ve temporarily forgotten how it feels to dance for the pure joy of it because I’ve been so focused on getting my technique back. But after what happened in Las Vegas late Sunday night and the consequent stress and pain that enveloped the world on Monday, I was reminded why dancing is so important to me.
It is needless to say that when horrific events like the Las Vegas massacre take place, we all become lost for words. Our hearts collectively ache for the loss of so many innocent lives and their loved ones who have to endure such unimaginable pain. We can’t comprehend why anyone would commit such an act of terror. The world seems such a dark place, without hope, without answers, and without love. But the fact of the matter is, no matter how hopeless things seem, this is simply not true. Ballet serves as a constant reminder of why this is not the case—it is a brilliant ray of light that brings us together in times of darkness. It is this and so much more.
After wrestling with all of those emotions on Monday, as I’m sure many of you were, I came to class on Tuesday exhausted and drowning in sorrow. But for the first time in a while, I was looking forward to being able to dance away those feelings. When I put on my canvas slippers and entered the studio, I felt at home in a world that didn’t or couldn’t understand me. Inside the walls of my dancing home of the last five years, on that flooring that has seen better days yet doesn’t let us down, I was safe.
Once I started dancing that night, it hit me how grateful I should be for the opportunity that I have. I may not be a professional, I may not be at the top of my game at the moment, I may not be where I want to be in terms of progress, but I can still dance. I can still choose to get off the couch, put on my leotard, and go to class. I can still choose to take class with my friends and enjoy the laughter and great instruction our teacher brings to us. I can still appreciate the opportunity to do something I love.
For the 58 people murdered on Sunday, they no longer have that choice.
So for them, and all of those hurting in this world, I danced. I savored it. I remembered how my love for ballet heals me and gives me so many gifts. I got lost in the music, focused on making my port de bras more expressive, and let my emotions pour out. For them and for me. To bring me back into a special place in the world where I feel like nothing can touch me, where I feel like I can truly be myself. To quote myself, “When I am dancing, I am me. When I am me, I am dancing.”
Of course I love ballet for many reasons. I don’t have enough time or space to go into all of them. But what I was reminded of on Tuesday was how much I love dancing because I can express myself through movement, which releases my fears and worries and lets me escape. This comfort and safety is not easy to find and should not be taken for granted. It’s a valuable asset of dancing that I often forget when I get caught up in my perfectionism and only focus on improving. Of course technique should never be forgotten, but it is good to let go and dance simply for the love it.
So here’s to World Ballet Day—a celebration of an art that transcends culture, language, time, and ourselves. Tonight, I will dance for more than myself. I will dance because I can. I will dance because it makes me who I am.
I will dance because I love to.