Thursday, 8 December 2016

Advent-ures: Number Eight, Dance

I have always harboured dreams of being a dancer.
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Unpublished illustration for "Ballet Shoes" from the Seven Stories Collection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.


  1. This is fantastic, and you're wonderful!

  2. totally fab-u-lous dahling (as Craig RH would say).

    I also desperately wanted to do ballet as a child. I hear that there are adult ballet classes too...

  3. I am Loving this series of you postings! they are giving me ideas for what I want to do, too...

  4. I am enjoying your Adventures posts SO much. Your spirit is shining through in everything you write. It's joyful. I am so happy for you but it is also making me think about my intentions for 2017. As mother to a 5 month old I feel like I have somewhat lost myself. It's time to find a few pieces of 'me' again. Thank you for the inspiration.

  5. I did ballet for a long time as a child and then went back as an adult- one of the most depressing things I've done - all those lovely steps that I could do so amazingly in my head just didn't work with my middle-aged body. I'm now sticking to yoga!!

  6. Yes, dance - miss it so much. The jazzercise is fun, I'm sure - nothing like jazz dance, in which your body is a skeleton. (Whereas my memory of contemporary dance is visualizing the energy centre as an inch or so below the navel.) For a few years aerobics classes were generally pretty choreographed and then they changed - I'm with you on the "particular movement patterns". Only things on offer in my new small-town location are line dancing (fun and good exercise but can't somehow get on with it) and tai chi - good but not the same. Do enjoy yourself with this patterned movement - there is really nothing like it. I like a home double bill of Fame and All That Jazz. Am enjoying your process of coming into your own.

  7. I know of someone who took up ballet in her fifties and now has ten years of it under her belt - all power to your elbow! Really enjoying your Adventures - very inspiring!

  8. I know of someone who took up ballet in her fifties and now has ten years of it under her belt - all power to your elbow! Really enjoying your Adventures - very inspiring!