The Royal Ballet does this cool thing where they’ll live stream a performance into theaters around the world, and somehow Corpus Christi is cool enough to be one of those theaters.
The schools here are on spring break, so our studio follows their schedule for their breaks and scheduled ours this week as well. The showing of Swan Lake happened to fall during our break, giving us the perfect opportunity to go since we didn’t have classes.
Not having classes had more of an effect on me than I thought it would.
I’m really glad for the teachers to have a break, especially with the show going on, and I’m grateful to give my body a break with my knee and ankle flaring up, but mentally is where it ended up effecting me in ways I didn’t expect.
I had time and it got spent pretty quickly between friends and photography clients outside of the dance world. Most of this was wonderful, albeit exhausting with it’s long days/nights, but the pros far outweighed the exhaustion. Except for this one day.
I’ve known these friends for quite a while, but it seems they’ve grown without me. It makes sense; they are active in the same things and it has nothing to do with dancing so we’re around different people and places and scenarios. Which is fine, right? Friendships shouldn’t have to be so set and specific all the time. If they really care about you, it’ll last even with distance.
And it has. We’re still friends, but the attitude difference took me by surprise.
I found myself feeling shame for things I’m passionate about. Or stupid for liking the things I like. I found myself feeling like being a ballet dancer was somehow a weak thing and nothing to be proud of. That it wasn’t as good as whatever it is their doing and therefore made it something to be laughed at and looked down on.
Long story short, it was very frustrating.
Now, I’m not gonna go cry in a corner over hurt feelings or anything like that; moreso it bothered me because I don’t know how to react to it. Instinct is to chunk the deuce and avoid them since I don’t like the after taste left, but these people are important to me and I don’t want to just throw it all away. Plus, I don’t think any of it is intentional. I think it’s mostly influence–I act differently than them because my influences are different, and vise versa. It’s at least logical.
I found myself doing a self-evaluation–I want to make sure I’m not contributing negativity to this situation and that if I’m going to stand my ground, it’s done in a positive way and not in a way to just heap on more coals or make someone else feel how I’ve been made to feel.
Then I went to the Royal Ballet showing, and being surrounded by my dance friends, my heart felt light again. We made ballet puns and marveled over children’s insane arches and 32 fouettes, with the first 8 being DOUBLES and all of it flawless–things non-dancers just don’t understand. I emerged myself in the ballet-world ocean and let it wash over me and remind me who I am and what I love and that it makes sense.
During intermission I was talking with one of my adult dance friends that I was sitting with and I mentioned how (long conversation condensed) my friends look at me and my ballet and think that I’m weak, physically and emotionally. That I’m somehow not tough because ballet is my passion and it’s not as difficult or whatever as other things. She looked at me and said, “Your friends at the studio??” to which I said, “No! Oh, no, not those friends! No, the non-dance friends.” and explained a little better. She laughed and said, “Oh! I was gonna say, no one thinks that of you!” Which, without even meaning to, made me feel great. To know that the people who know this world and what it requires don’t see me as weak. That’s all the validation I need.
I can’t expect people not of this ballet world to understand what it’s like. Just like how there are certain things that I believe spiritually that I just don’t expect people who weren’t raised in this to understand. It doesn’t make them any less than me, just different. They still deserve respect. That doesn’t change. And in the same aspect, I feel I still deserve some respect for my art.
Unless you’ve strapped on a pair of tights and sweat your way through a ballet class, you don’t get a say in if what I do is weak. It’s not. It takes a lifetime of training and dedication. All that, and it requires us to make it look easy and effortless, which is even more difficult.
TL;DR My dance friends have a way of reminding me that I have a place in this world where I belong, even if life-long friends cause me to question it sometimes. I am who I am, and I don’t need to apologize or alter it for anyone.