As a child, it was made clear to me that ballet classes were out of the question.
That was not the sort of thing "people like me" could do.
I waged a war of attrition upon my mother until at the age of eleven she grudgingly allowed me to go to "acrobatics" classes, to learn how to do a forward roll in time to music.
This was not really what I had in mind and I was not very good at it.
|Unpublished illustration for "Ballet Shoes" from the Seven Stories Collection|
I read everything I could on the subject of dance.
In those pre-internet days, this was confined to the snatches of information I could glean from the novels of Noel Streatfeild.
Fame was a defining cultural moment for me.
There was lots of leaping about in my room after I saw that.
I had the soundtrack on vinyl.
At University, I was sufficiently bendy to get myself cast as a very stretchy cat in the garden of Eden, followed by the narrator in a Victorian melodrama, which involved lots of lunges with a lantern and a cloak.
But as a grown-up, the opportunities for expressive movement are more limited.
I have a few "exercise" dvds, including two from the New York City Ballet, which are amazing.
I used to entertain FL by bouncing around the kitchen while I cooked.
We had a long-running game in which I would wait at the end of the farm track for his car to appear on the "main road" and explode into a dramatic dance to suit whatever opera was blasting from his open windows. More than once I surprised a neighbouring farmer who was coming from the opposite direction...
I still dance around the kitchen.
But I needed more.
Currently I attend Jazzercise classes twice a week.
I am on the point of increasing that. By the time I get to Sunday I am blazing with untapped energy and running round the fields is just not the same.
I have discovered that I have a need for particular movement patterns, and if they are missing from a Jazzercise class, I am disappointed.
I am gradually learning the language of choreography.
A "Contraction and release" improves my breathing and posture like nothing else I have ever known.
"Triplets" are the grown up equivalent of playing ponies - they make me laugh every time.
I have found some amazing technique videos on YouTube.
But I would love to take myself to a grown up contemporary dance class next year.
They are pretty thin on the ground in my part of the world but I have discovered that they do exist under the horrifying umbrella of "mature moves" for the over-50's.
Own it, girl.