If you’re been to my house, you’ve undoubtedly noticed what I refer to as my “ballet wall.”
It’s covered in dance-related things that each have a story of their own, which brings me such joy to look at.
Since it’s garnered such interest, I figured I would make a post with the story of each of these things.
First, let’s start top left.
This is actually first mentioned in this post. It may be pictured previously, but only coincidentally. It’s a picture that hung on the wall in the hallway of my old studio. When we would wait for our class to start, we would sit in the hall that was covered in pictures–most from past recitals. But between two doors hung this picture. It was my dance teacher’s from when she was young, and when the studio closed she gave this to me and signed it. My cherished reminder of my humble beginnings.
Below that is a signed picture of Diana Vishneva.
When I first started dancing, I would soak up any and everything ballet related that I could get my hands on. (Who am I kidding, I still do.)I would hear the “older” dancers in class talk about this ballerina and that brand of shoe and this ballet showing and that theatre and I had no clue what any of it meant. I couldn’t tell Baryshnikov from a beagle, and marveled at how these people were able to retain so much information about all these people. Like baseball fanatics spouting off facts about the players records like they’re quoting their favorite poem. Diana Vishneva was the first I remembered, and it was right away. I saw her in a magazine and was taken by her seemingly effortless charisma and grace. Fast forward to having followed her on Instagram and seeing they were doing a kickstarter campaign to fund a documentary featuring her. One of the perks was this picture, and considering a pair of her signed pointe shoes was going for $500+, the donation amount seemed like nothing to me. (The only other ballerina specific I’ve done this for is Misty Copeland. Because queen is queen, obviously. So much respect.) It reminds me of where I want to go and why I love this so much. I know I’ll never get to that level–that’s impossible–but I owe it to myself to strive to be my best every day.
The three to the right are my newest additions.
My best friend and I met almost five years ago. When they got the house they’re now selling, she had these. Ever since I fist saw them hanging in her guest bedroom (“my room.”) I fell in love with them. Of course I wanted them, but it made me feel like a piece of me was with her having them there. Now that they’re packing up their three bedroom house and having to drive 7 hours to an apartment they’ll be living in until they can really get settled, they’re selling as much stuff as they can. She text me asking if I wanted these. Obviously I said yes in a heartbeat. Probably in all caps, let’s be real. Now I feel like a piece of her is with me even though we’ll be hundreds of miles apart.
Bottom right is a signed program by *almost* the entire cast of Season 10 of So You Think You Can Dance.
The story to how I got to see them on tour in San Antonio, and how we happened to meet them can be found here, complete with why it was almost the entire cast and how incredible that experience was. I’m pretty sure I was shaking with excitement the entire night. Sometimes I still can’t believe it happened.
Above that is a signed program by the entire cast of Season 11 of So You Think You Can Dance.
Notice this one doesn’t have the *almost*. I wrote about that experience here which completely blew my mind. It was also really interesting to experience it without knowing who this season’s dancers were (except for the ones I had followed from their auditions the season before when they got cut earlier than hoped.) Such top notch people, really.
Last but not least, the center piece.
This is Baby. She’s from Paris. I don’t think I wrote about her before, or maybe I did and just didn’t tag it. Regardless, the story goes that once upon a time, I was in Paris last summer. (hehe) It was the middle section of an almost two week trip to Europe that also involved Amsterdam and London. I had been to Paris before, but before I began ballet again. I also had broken my toe just shortly after arriving last time, so most of my memories are spotty. (Except for sitting in the park with a view of the Eiffel Tower, and a French couple letting me hold their baby. Really neat memory there.) This time I really wanted to explore the art that vendors at the Green Boxes that line the River Seine sell and hope that there was something ballet related I could bring home. (Can you believe I didn’t see a Degas while I was there?! How does one even miss that opportunity?!) We got there right before they all really start closing up, and walked the line of green box vendors that were still around. I found an interesting one that was done using shadowing with spray paint. (I snuck a picture of it illegally. oops.) I made a mental note and kept walking, trying to not give in to my spontaneous nature. (Ya know, the one that called up my friend and said, “Hey, let’s go to Europe!”) (No regrets.) A few boxes down a man had these paintings. Most were city scenes in various color schemes, but hanging in the back was this giant painting of a ballerina. I swear I had seen it somewhere before, but I couldn’t put my finger on where. I checked all the various website I have things like this saved to, but couldn’t find it. (Did I dream it? Who knows. Surely I saw it somewhere…) The other larger pictures he had hanging had smaller versions also for sale, so I looked through to see if there was a smaller version of the ballerina painting. When I couldn’t find anything, I even broke my normal fear of questions and asked the man. He said the big one was the only one. I asked how much it was, he told me 90 euro. Ouch. That was almost all of what I had budgeted for Paris, and we still had a day left and souvenir shopping to do. We continued on through the rest of the green boxes (how I managed to not come home with a million of the books this one vendor had is beyond me) and I gave myself time to think it over. But the more I thought, the more I knew if I walked away from that painting, I would regret it. After all, this trip was about letting go of the voice in my head trying to reason me out of things that make me happy for whatever reason it presented; fear, logic, “adult.” I went back and after he finished helping a family, I told him I wanted her. He looked at me and said, “Are you sure? You know the price?” I told him I had to have her. He took her down and wrapped her up in paper and she was mine. I can’t tell you the sense of euphoria that came over me. I’m pretty sure my friends were sick of me being completely giddy over it, but I didn’t care. I couldn’t remember feeling that happy in a long time. There I was, twenty-six, buying a piece of art on the streets of Paris that I would frame in my home. A piece of art of my favorite ballet picture that I still don’t know where I saw it from before then. I asked the man if he was the artist, he said no. He is the art teacher, and these are his student’s paintings. I was completely floored. And elated.
I got her framed and my Dad helped me hang her once I moved into my house. I still can’t get over that memory and that it was real and that I managed to get her through baggage claim and home unharmed. (And not lost.) I have a picture of her in my carry on somewhere, but it’s not on my phone like I thought. I’ll check my laptop and see if it’s there. If so, I’ll post it here later.
The ballet barre was given to me by an old family friend. Her daughter used to do Irish Dance, but quit a while ago. She was cleaning out her house and found it and remembered I did ballet so nonchalantly offered it to me like she was offering to drop a letting in the mailbox or something. I don’t think it hit me that she was giving me a real ballet barre until I got home. I was so excited.
On the barre is what I call my pointe shoe grave yard. You can kind of tell some of the shoes aren’t dead just by the state of their shanks while hanging, but some of them didn’t even get to be worn all that much before I had to move on. The trial and error of shoes can be found in blog posts from 2014, leading up to the pointe shoe fitting that changed my life. (Shout out to Amanda at Capezio in Austin for ordering my shoes for me all the time and for introducing me to the new shanks from heaven.)
This wall is full of wonderful memories for me. It makes me feel like life is something worth living, something I enjoy. Full of experiences and stories that make remembering sweet.
I have more ballet things that aren’t on the wall for aesthetic sake. Most are on the wall right next to my bed in their own collage of sorts, complete with ornaments, (especially Mrs. Jane ornaments [these are super special, hand made ornaments to match your Nutcracker character. Mrs. Jane made me a Rat Queen this last year and it’s the best.]) pictures, paintings, posters, and just about anything else you can think of. The wall by my closet has a collage of different things pinned to yarn strung about, including the newspaper article I was in (the background of) from this last year’s Nutcracker (fever and all) as well as notes from younger dancers, gift tags, and little things from the season that remind me of those I love. (Santa Mickey Mouse ears, anyone?)
Life may be really difficult sometimes. It may not be fair. It may not make sense. But if you fill it with the things you love, simply because you love them–no excuse or guilt or repercussions holding you back–you’ll find them to be the warm blanket on those cold, lonely nights.