Yesterday, I took my first ballet class in a studio since March. It's been FIVE MONTHS since I've gotten to do that and it was quite an experience. The photos accompanying this post are screenshots from videos I took of myself dancing alone at my local Rec Center while studios were closed. They are far from perfect, but they are representative of the realities of dancing during the shut down, so I wanted to share them.
Getting Ready to Go
I pulled my tights and leotard out of my dresser with feelings of both excitement and apprehension. I couldn't wait to get back in a studio, but I was also nervous. I'd never gone so long without taking a dance class before, so even though I'd been exercising a lot I knew I was out of shape. It was a strange feeling to slip on my leotard and look at myself in the mirror again.
In The Studio
Things were different from the moment I walked into the studio. I had my temperature taken by my teacher and then was placed at a socially distanced spot at the barre (and we all had masks on, of course!). I started warming up as usual, and then we started the barre. Staring at myself in the studio mirror for the first time in months, I was forced to confront the realities of my time off. I realized that, though I had cross-trained diligently, I was definitely not where I was five months ago as a dancer. I noticed a significant lack of strength in my feet and holding my higher extensions was definitely harder than usual. I even found I was having to re-acclimate to learning combos and applying corrections simultaneously.
Frustration to Motivation
Another significant difference was being surrounded by my peers. At home in my basement I had no one to compare myself to, but back in the studio it was hard to fight the temptation. I immediately entered a self-destructive thought pattern: telling myself I had gotten worse, being frustrated I was struggling to do things that are usually easy for me, feeling like I should have done more. Then, I paused (mentally) and I reasoned with myself. I reminded myself that I am never 100% on the first day after any time off of dance, so why should I expect that from myself now?
Then, I realized that instead of being frustrated and feeling regret for not dancing more during the break, I can take this opportunity as a positive. It made me realize that I have so much left to learn and improve on- and that’s exciting!! Instead of being frustrated that I don’t feel as good as I used to, I can get excited and motivated by the idea of building back up to it. Maybe this is an opportunity to relearn and reexamine things I thought I was doing right before. Maybe instead of being a setback, this is what will allow me to grow more than I ever would have.