TURN TURN TURN
As someone who started dancing at the rip old age of 38, there will always be things that are difficult, if not impossible, to master. I have many a nemesis in ballet but pirouettes remain the most consistent. Just when I think I have finally mastered them, they suddenly disappear. It's frustrating as hell.
There are fundamental points when doing pirouettes that must be adhered to in order to even get close to doing a pirouette properly or well. Spotting, for example. You may get round without spotting but you just look like a slow moving spinning top. I go through all the checkpoints before I attempt and turn but even then, annoyingly often I fall out of the turn.
I was at my wits end...until 2 weeks ago.
BREAK A LEG!
With the weather becoming much colder, the dance studio is not a place to go into without your ballet layers, so I dug out my original Danseuse rehearsal skirt to keep my legs nice and warm. I hadn't worn it for the longest time.
It was a Wednesday where we have 2 back to back classes - Intermediate/Advanced followed by Graded. We do pirouettes in both classes. Our first class teacher gave us our pirouette combination and low and behold I was able to do all three turns contained within the combination. I even managed a double. It was then onto graded class where we do 2 lengthy pirouette exercises. The first exercise contains 8 pirouettes in total and the second exercise contains 4 which is then repeated to the left, so 8 turns in total. By jove, I managed all of these turns. What was happening? The only thing I had done differently....was wear this rehearsal skirt!
Superstition is an integral part of the theatre and I think I just developed my first one. I have a Lucky Skirt! So the following week I wore it to class and again, I could do my turns. Damn, it IS this skirt!
Prince B is doing his best to get me out of this damaging way of thinking because of course when it comes to exam time I can't wear the Lucky Skirt. He told me that when he was a footballer he had lucky football boots, but really the ability to score goals didn't come from the boots, it came from him, just like my ability to turn isn't powered by the skirt, it's me. But godamnit I cannot stop wearing that skirt!
What's really going on is that I feel confident for the first time in years. I have lost a few pounds and I actually feel good in my ballet clothes, which I haven't done in forever. Middle-age is cruel to the body but somehow I managed to lose just enough pounds to be able to fit better into my ballet clothes. The ability to turn is really more about the ability to look in the mirror and focus entirely on my technique, rather than cringing at my reflection and then avoiding the mirror completely.
They say confidence is the key to everything and I think that's true. There are average people everywhere doing brilliantly just because they have tons of confidence, and it sure is the key to turning.
But next week, I'll still be wearing that skirt...just in case.