Would You Care To Dance?

In an alternate universe, I’m a prima ballerina. I’m performing jetes and arabesques and other fancy-sounding French words. I’m twirling across the stage in a flowing costume. I’m curtsying to my adoring fans while they toss roses at my feet.

However, in this universe, I’m a . . . what’s the opposite of ballerina? Whatever that is, that’s what I am. I’ve fought a lifelong battle with grace and gravity. My family watches in horror as I ricochet off doorknobs, fumble down stairways and trip on carpets.

I tried really hard to be a dancer. I enrolled in classes when I was 5, and wore pink leotards and white tights, creating some serious panty lines. My mom pulled my long hair into a bun so tight I looked constantly surprised. Every week we’d butcher a series of ballet steps while my dance instructor tried not to handcuff us to the barre. She often sipped from her “dance thermos.”

I’d cut up the Arts section of the newspaper, snipping out photos of Ballet West dancers to glue into my scrapbook. I had ballerina paper dolls, ballerina coloring books and ballerina dreams – but a giraffe-like body with knobby knees that bent in several different directions.

As a child, I went to see “Giselle” at Kingsbury Hall. The ballet is pretty grim. A disguised prince breaks the heart of a peasant girl who kills herself then becomes a ghost who has to dance the prince to death. Dancers are pretty melodramatic.

For weeks after the ballet, I wore tutus that draped toward the floor and floated when I jumped. I channeled Giselle through my 7-year-old body. Picture a little girl evoking the devastation of betrayed love while falling on a sword that ends her life. I’m pretty sure I nailed it.

When I was 12, I was finally able to go en pointe. That’s French for “Standing on the tips of your toes until your toe-knuckles bleed and you’re crippled for weeks, all for the sake of those beautiful satin slippers.”

The purpose of pointe shoes is to give the illusion that ballerinas are weightless wisps, floating gracefully as swans or nymphs or any type of ethereal and doomed young women. In reality, learning to dance en pointe is similar to putting your toes in a vise, then running a marathon. 

But I didn’t give up. I continued to practice daily in the hope I’d channel Anna Pavlova, the acclaimed Russian ballerina who died at the age of 49, probably from gangrene from her pointe shoes.

Because I’m writing this column instead of performing in “Swan Lake,” you can correctly surmise that my ballet career fell flat. I tried out for Ballet West’s “Nutcracker” a couple of times, to no avail, and after years of practice, I hung up my pointe shoes and succumbed to gravity.

I never transformed from gangly giraffe to graceful swan. I never glided across the stage, hoping to lure a young prince to his death. (At least, not as a ballerina.) I never received standing ovations for my role in “Coppelia,” the ballet of a young woman pretending to be a mechanical doll. (Because that makes total sense.)

But. In that alternate universe, I’m soaring, twirling, spinning, leaping and gliding en pointe, hearing the crowd bellow “Brava!” as I take a bow at the edge of the stage. And because in this alternate universe, I’m graceful and lithe, I don’t fall into the orchestra pit.

Originally published in the Davis Clipper–http://davisclipper.com/life/would-you-care-to-dance/

 

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Questions I’m Often Asked

Now that I’m a super-famous blogger, I’m always getting stopped in the street and asked questions. Usually those questions are along the lines of, “Can you get out of my way, ma’am?” or “What the hell are you doing?” but once in a while, someone surprises me with a true inquiry.

Because I don’t know how to talk to strangers, I usually stare at them for 20 seconds, then turn and run the other way. But once I get home, I realize what I SHOULD have said. So here are the answers to all those unanswered (or unasked) questions:

Q: How do you write funny?

A: I have a clown costume that I only wear when I’m writing my column or blog. Plus, Mad Libs.

Q: Why did you become a writer?

A: Because my dancing career never took off.

SCAN0027

(I still know the Bat Dance if you’d like to see it performed.)

Q: What is your biggest regret?

A: The 1980s.

Q: How do you get your ideas?

A: I turn my constant rage into manageable humor.

Q. Why is writing so hard?

A. I’ve already answered that question: Top 5 Reasons Writing Sucks

Q: Do you ever find swearing tiresome?

A: Hmmm. &*#@ no.

Q: Have you ever been arrested?

A: Define “arrested”.

Q. Do you have a favorite book?

A. My favorite book changes based on the day, time, season, what I’m wearing, if I’m in a good mood and if I’m hungry.

Q. How can I get past writer’s block.

A. I’ve answered that question, too: Top 5 Ways to Get Over Writer’s Block

Q. Who will win the next presidential election in the U.S.?

A. Not the American people.

Q. How can I become a writer?

A. Write.

Sorry, but that’s all the time I have for questions. If you want more answers, I suggest you buy a Magic 8 Ball.

Top 5 Things Driving Me Crazy At The Ballet

When I was five, I decided to be a ballerina. However, Ballet West wasn’t hiring kindergarteners, so I had to put my dream on hold for a while. But I danced.  I danced for eight more years before realizing most ballerinas weren’t 5’9″ with size 10 feet. It was a horrible moment when I understood I would never dance the pas de deux (French for “graceful stumbling”) from Swan Lake.

royal

(My bible for 13 years.)

So I stopped dancing, but continued to love ballet. My husband would rather undergo a bone marrow transplant than watch a ballet, so I’ve endured a ballet drought for years. But now I have granddaughters. I took my 10-year-old granddaughter to her first ballet in the newly renovated Capitol Theatre to watch Ballet West’s The Sleeping Beauty.

beauty

(Only in ballet is floating around in a big leaf acceptable.)

It was beautiful. The costumes were gorgeous, and everything was wonderful–except:

1. The man behind me who kept reading his program using his cell phone as a flashlight. I turned around to give him my Angry Mom glare. He was oblivious.

2. The woman who brought her TWO-YEAR-OLD to a TWO HOUR ballet. What the hell were you thinking? And when the child started shrieking during the last act, the mother WOULD NOT TAKE HIM OUT OF THE THEATER. “Hello, ma’am. Do you mind if I taze your screaming child?”

3. Unless you’re willing to fork out big bucks, your seats will be crap. I spent $100 for two tickets. Our seats were placed directly behind the big heads of the people in front of us. I could see half of the stage fine, but my granddaughter had a very obstructed view.

aurora

(Picture this with a great big head covering the dancer.)

4. The Final Act went on forever and ever. It didn’t help that a toddler was screeching like a cat in heat, but on top of that, it seemed EVERY dancer in the ballet had to perform a solo/duet. We get it. It’s a wedding. People are celebrating. Move on. Sheesh.

5. Parking. Like everything in Salt Lake City, parking is unusually difficult. Luckily, I found a spot where we only had to walk five blocks, go up seven flights of stairs and run across several busy streets. Plus, Capitol Theatre doesn’t validate. Boo.

But I’m all in for the next ballet!