Saturday, September 21, 2013

My First Day at the Colgate Ballet Company

    Ballet Company. No experience necessary! Alright. So, I scribbled my name and e-mail on the sign-up list during club rush. For the next few weeks proceeding my decision to pursue my childhood dream of becoming a ballerina, I found myself disheartened by the fact that the ballet classes clashed with my current lab-and-work-filled first semester schedule. But a few days before the "Nutcracker Auditions" day, my schedule opened up, and I thought, "Guys, I'm going to be a ballerina."  That Saturday, I went to Payless and bought pink children's ballet slippers for $19.99. 
     They were the same type of shoes I'd purchased from Payless in 2004 or some time ridiculously long ago. There were ballet classes being offered at the day care to which I went in 4th grade, but poor nine-year-old me already had a bad case of, what my friend, who also suffers from such a problem, calls "old-people joints." Every plié was coupled with an echoing crack of my knees, and being in a room full of silly nine-year-olds, everyone laughed at me. Thus, after three practices and our first rehearsal, I quit out of self-consciousness for my crackly knees. 
     Since then, I've had this burning desire to be a ballerina. I don't know what it is. The fact that I get to parade around in cute tutus? My appeal towards the prettiness of the dance as a who
     On Thursday, I put a too-big t-shirt, my four-year-old, paint-splattered black Soffee shorts, and my brand new slippers into a purse and headed down the hill to Huntington Gym, Room 303. At the gym's entrance, I saw a girl wearing a black sports zip-up with a white ballerina embroidered on the left side of her chest. Her legs were dressed in semi-transparent nude tights and a brunette bun sat atop her head. "Hi," I said. "Is the ballet class over there?" I motioned to the stairs leading up to the third floor. She said "yes" in reply, smiling. I told her I hadn't been to any classes, and she said not to worry. These auditions were just to see how everyone could do, and everyone would have a part. Cool, I thought. This'll be fun.
     I rushed to the locker room, put on my exercise gear, and raced up the several flights of grey, stone stairs to the third floor landing. Oh God. Ballerinas. Like, legit ballerinas. What am I doing here? I took the sign-in sheet from a petite Asian girl in a bright green leotard, black tights, and ballet shoes that appeared to be 200 times better quality than my flimsy things. Her hair was in a perfect bun. I walked into the dance studio. Every other girls' hair was in a perfect bun. Several groups of girls sat in stretch circles or clustered together, displaying their flexibility while chatting. I sat in between two circles around which three other misplaced, non-grouped girls sat stretching on their own. The girl immediately to my right wore a burgundy v-cut camisole leotard, which barely held in her much-more-voluptuous-than-any-other-girls'-here chest, with a tulip-petal-shaped, sheer skirt draped over her hips and chalk-white tights. "Does everyone have to wear her hair in a bun?" I asked her. Her mascaraed-eyelash-boarded eyes looked slightly befuddled, "Uh, no, but most do." The fair girl stretching in front of me turned around and giggled a bit. Her black hair sat in a perfect bun, dark as the black of her intricately-backed camisole leotard and spandex. And she was so thin. Come to think of it, most of the girls were incredibly tiny. I suddenly felt like my calves were the hugest calves on the entire planet. 
     One of the Ballet Company leaders took her place at the front of the dance room, her voice, though, could not be heard over the roar of a giant fan. Someone had enough common sense to turn the fan off, but her voice still didn't carry very far. All the ballerinas and wanna-be ballerinas (i.e. me) clustered around her. "Okay," she said. "We're going to start of with ballet exercises on the bar." Everyone rushed to find the ideal spot, and I followed a girl with a perfect bun who looked like she knew what she was doing. I ended up between the girl dressed in the maroon leo and a tiny brunette in a grey cami, black spandex, nude tights, and pink shoes. 
     "Do we have to wear tights?" I asked.
     She glanced over at me. "No," she replied. "I just don't think I've ever not worn tights before, so I always wear tights." She smiled and introduced herself. Her name is Olivia, and she's been doing ballet for four years. Her friend was beside her in a red top, and a black skirt, tights, and shoes. Her name's Amanda. 
     "Alright," the Asian ballet instructor announced. "Well start off with a combination sopahc fdioahpwk dfafdjaldlhgoia ladpoafd..." Wait, what? "Adhupagda slafhweiofnkda opahfoisa. Okay?" Whaaaaa? A classical music piece started playing from the speakers. Oh no... 
     "I'm just going to follow you," Amanda told Olivia.
     "Aw," Olivia said. "I'm not very good..." 
     I faced the girl in maroon. Her hand rested gently on the bar. I looked at her feet and quickly mimicked her stance as well as I could. From the meager experience I'd had, I knew this to be first position. She did a plié, so, I did a plié. What I heard next made all of the awkwardness I'd been feeling since stepping on the dance floor worth it. My knees cracked to the resounding crack of several other paris of knees. Something inside me came alive, and oh my gosh, this sounds cheesy, but I suddenly felt a sense of belonging while doing a dance so unfamiliar to me. I copied the other ballerinas who actually understood the foreign dance routine. We performed several more bar routines for the sake of the instructors learning our names in order to take notes regarding our skill level so they could determine our Nutcracker roles. Pretty exciting stuff. 
    And then we left the bar...
    And shit got real.
   "Okay, we're now going to do some fhdaopghioa fhiodaphfioajfs hodphaifwhialjdsioahfpa hoisdahpds!" Wait, what? "Let me demonstrate." Alright. Okay. Right. Alright...okay... No. Wait. It's kinda like a grapevine. Cool. Uh.. And then you leap with your arms in the air and spin like, seven times? Oh God. Can I even spin? I spun around a little. Nope. Notttt a good spinner. 
    So, we got into groups of three and had to dance across the room to the song "Come On" by Ke$ha. Then, shit got even more real. I didn't think that was possible. "I wish we didn't have to do it by ourselves," Amanda said. Wait, WHAT?
     "Don't worry," said the only guy in the room. "I'm supposed to be the comic relief!"
    "Uh, we can both be the comic relief!" I said. And then, I spun for my life to the song "Secrets" by One Republic. Across the room. On my own. Supposedly doing what the instructor had instructed but actually just spinning pathetically and happily and what it was over and they were going to do extra auditions for girls on pointe, I left the room with Olivia. She told me how her old ballet studio was super chill and that the Nutcracker wasn't too intense. I'm so excited to go to the next ballet class(: 


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