By Mary Hierholzer
Ballet is my favorite form of exercise (unsurprisingly), so when I have time after work I love to take adult classes. It’s been 10 years since I danced seriously as a student, and, admittedly, about a year since I took a class. It’s an interesting experience to dance ballet casually after all these years, and it’s also interesting to get back in the studio after a while. Here are a few thoughts that floated through my mind as I recently danced:
- There’s nothing like a wide-open studio.
Ballet fashion is so fun. I totally get why some people have closets full of leotards.
Feelin’ this stretch in the glutes. Definitely gonna feel that tomorrow*.
Is my hip supposed to pop like that?
As a kid, I thought barre was so boring. But now I love the opportunity to focus on technique.
It’s amazing how much attention to detail and body awareness dancers have—toes flat on the floor, feet turned out and rolled up, knees straight, thighs turned out, hips aligned, bum tucked under, core straight, chest lifted, shoulders down and pulled back, elbows rounded and lifted, wrists soft, fingers in line, neck long, head up… and that’s just first position.
This is why I respect dancers.
I’ll never forget one of my teachers telling us to pretend we had a little mouse under our arches, and if we rolled our feet in, we’d smash it-- an oddly effective thought exercise.
Arm in second. Elbow. Up. (A dancer called me out on that once in a master class, so now I’m legally obligated not to forget, or something like that.)
Petit battement: TURBO MODE.
Oh no, foot cramps. This is how it ends. BEAT THROUGH IT.
Grand battements. Hips STEADY, shoulders DOWN.
Yep, still better at balancing on my left leg.
Don’t give up this balance. Eyes up.
Another classic piece of teacher wisdom: When balancing, imagine a ribbon is pulling straight up through your body and out the top of your head. It seriously works!
Wow, that dancer was right, I really have a lazy elbow issue.
No, lady, don’t walk into the studio while I’m practicing my splits! You could NOT choose a more humiliating moment to return your yoga mat!
And now for fouettes.
Do I look like Iana Salenko yet?
SOS someone help me with spotting.
When you stop looking in the mirror and just get your head in the game—that’s when you get it right.
That freedom of knowing your steps and just feeling the music, living in the moment—truly dancing—is unparalleled.
The first class back after a break is always tough, and I may not be a pro, but it only gets better from here! *claps for self*
Now I’m going to go home and eat everything in my refrigerator.
*I felt it.