A State Of Confusion; The Recreational Dancer's Reality
Learning real variations is all I ever wanted to do when I began my ballet journey. I wanted to have something tangible to show for doing seemingly disparate exercises; something that meant I could go home to Prince B and say "look, here is the Kitri Variation from Sleeping Beauty" and proceed to dance it in the living room. I imagined practicing it over and over and over until my body could perform it without me even thinking about it, that the movements were just somehow inside my limbs, etched forever.
The reality has been somewhat different.
The recreational dancer does not benefit from many hours a day spent in a studio. The recreational dancer must be content with merely 1 hour at a time, 1.5 hrs if she's really lucky, and in that hour she must learn the finer points of technique, of making her face do something other than look like she's constipated, of unlearning a lifetime of bad posture and balance. If she's super lucky, she gets to spend the last 10 minutes being a ballerina - learning those hallowed variations and actually dancing.
In our last class, our fill-in pointe teacher gave us a variation to perform, from which ballet I'm unsure, after our 'medicine'. This, she said, was where we get to dance, to be ballerinas, to let our bodies move and feel the music.
Well, that was the theory anyway.
The reality is that with the best will in the world you cannot learn any variation in 10 minutes. Rather than a studio filled with dancing ballerina's what we actually had was a studio filled with confused women, fumbling around trying to decide if they should be facing upstage or downstage, left foot in front or the right. It was chaos to the backdrop of Mozart.
This is the world of the recreational dancer; she will need spend her 1 hour increments in a constant state of confusion.
When learning a variation it feels there is never a point when it's actually learned. I am yet to be able to show Prince B any of the variations we've touched upon in class, since we never get the chance to see it out to the bitter end, the dramatic Dying Swan conclusion. Instead, we limp our way through it for a while before the Swan simply sinks, ungainly, to bottom of the pond.
Of course, this is not the fault of our teachers, it's the downside of the drop-in class, where the students are, for the most part, transient. The few of us who do attend week in, week out, could easily learn variations if they were part of the schedule each class, but sadly the moment a new student appears then the variation progress is halted, if not ended entirely.
Therefore, as a recreational dancer I must accept a never ending; the paradox of an unconcluded conclusion. I just need to learn to really enjoy the journey because it's going to last a looooong time...