Becoming The Silver Fairy


Silver Lining

If you haven't already surmised by now, being an adult ballerina is hard. It's an uphill struggle to do everything and I mean everything. Yes, we can throw a nice pose for IG, but when it comes to actually dancing, it's a whole other matter entirely, especially for those of us in our 30's and beyond, where we have to fight hard against everything our bodies are telling us. I'm afraid there are no adult prodigy ballet dancers, just sheer hard work, determination and the occasionally hissy fit.

Our teacher for two of our classes likes to occasionally mix up our technique based classes with some actual dancing. The technique work we do is advanced, but sometimes she simplifies the combinations to allows us actually dance it, to feel it. Our graded class is very much about dancing and artistry, now we are at Elementary level, but our intermediate/advanced and pointe classes have always been about technique, so when she simplifies it down so we can dance, it's very freeing. The only issue I have encountered is the fact it's hard to feel like a ballerina when you've never actually been one.


One of our former pointe teachers used to shout at us when we were being less than balletic, "YOU ARE PRETTY BALLERINAS , NOT BABY ELEPHANTS!!!" Mercifully our current teachers aren't quite like that, but they will give us analogies to help us understand positions, but frequently they are based on things only a ballerina would know: "Imagine your arms are just above your tutu" or "Pull up at the sides as you would when you are wearing a corseted costume". Huh?

Context is everything and I have none.

In pointe class last week we started learning the Silver Fairy variation from Sleeping Beauty. It's a lovely, if very sprightly, variation but to help us to feel it more, we got to wear tutus in class!


Up and over

It's the simplest variation we've done so far and we had learned it in few minutes, but it's quite fast, which is the trickiest part.

In it there are poses, which you can see after about 1 second in the video and on the photo, right. The arms are in third position, as in the photo, and frequently when we do these poses in any normal technique class, we are told our bodies should be up and over, so we would just be looking over the edge of a tutu. Until Monday night that was always hard to imagine, but now we do that very position in this variation and wearing tutus, it all makes sense.

It made a big difference mentally too. My friend and I both agreed we felt it more. Looking in the mirror and seeing something closer to a real ballerina definitely helped us feel more mentally prepared to take on the role. Is was almost as if we didn't want to let the imagine in the mirror down, and we danced much better for it.

Then I got a very exciting message from the draper of the New York City Ballet, who told me that sometimes they decommission costumes when they are past their best, and she said next time they decommissioned costumes, she would pass some along to me as they would serve as perfect practice tutus! I cannot imagine dancing in tutus from the actual New York City Ballet!

I haven't felt great in pointe class for some time now, and this was just the tonic I needed to help me back to enjoying it once more.