Let me tell you a story.
For nearly twenty years, almost every day I stood in front of a mirror with a brush and a pile of bobby pins and I worked a sort of magic.
It was a brush designed like the kind you’d use on your teeth, only bigger, with lots of short soft bristles, intended to scrape and shine.
Everyday I’d plow it through my hair, until every last curl was as smooth as the skin on a wet seal. And then I’d pin it into a knot and check it from every direction and regularly deem my work displeasurable and take it all out and do it again.
One day I didn’t brush it. I don’t remember why. Maybe I forgot my brush. Maybe I was running late, or I was tired, or maybe I was feeling cheeky. I still pulled it back, pinned it down tight, smoothed back the little soft bits around my face. It didn’t pass muster. At some point PB came up to me to tell me that I had lovely curls, but that my hair needed to be tidy. “You know you can’t wear it like that,” or something, he said.
Maybe it’s hard to imagine now, now that my hair doesn’t even cover my ears and I couldn’t tie it into a knot even if I wanted to. But let me tell you, when it was happening, it was all real. So don’t tell me that when I wear tights and a leotard and I demonstrate proper epaulement in petit allegro that suddenly I look like a “real ballerina.” Those words don’t mean anything and they make me queasy.
Don’t tell me I’m thinking too much and don’t use canned music when you have the luxury of a pianist sitting ten feet away. Don’t tell me the reason you do a given movement is because it feels good. I can assure you that you have no idea what feels good to me (thxs Descartes).
It doesn’t have to be this way. It doesn’t have to be disingenuous and depressing and disempowering.
So don’t ask me if I’m homesick. You’ve just made me sick.
There is hope.
I got through the first full week. Not surprisingly, the hardest parts were the bits I least expected, namely, ballet class and being around people.
I don’t want to have ballet class baggage. I really don’t. But I do. And pedantic academic Vaganova classes don’t help. I’ll adjust. But in the meantime, I just want to be able treat my ballet practice the way I treat the rest of my movement practice — in a way that respects my body and the energetic pathways inherent in the technique. That’s all. Is that really so unreasonable? Please don’t make this about choosing sides. And please don’t tell me that the Balanchine pirouette preparation I worked so hard to master is “wrong.” I’ll respect your preparation if you’ll respect mine. And I’ll even try to respect yours knowing you don’t respect mine. But for the moment I’m still splashing through my puddle of disappointment. Give me another day or two and I’ll reemerge somewhere on the other side. Ca va?
People. Nothing like people to remind a person of their introversion. I often enjoy being in the proximity of people, and there are times when I really crave their presence. Mind you, I generally only crave interaction with people I know really well and really like. People that I don’t worry about offending or having to explain myself. I don’t mind being around people I don’t know, but I don’t want to have to interact them. I want to be left alone until I decide that I want to engage, and then I want it to be easy and painless to retreat back out.
In my current situation, where I’m effectively glued to the same people all day everyday (who, it should be emphasized, I don’t know very well at all, and won’t for awhile), this all gets rather troublesome. I’m quickly realizing that I have to be careful, because as the shiny veneer of newness wears off, and the physical and emotional stress of dancing all day in a place far from home where even sounding out a street sign is a production, I really need time to myself. Miraculously, I still have my own room, and now it’s back to looking like it might stay that way. However, (PSA to Hannah) I have to make sure that I take advantage of this luxury, and that I find other ways to keep enough distance between myself and the rest of the house that I don’t end up in a state of chronic disgruntled crankiness (that was the story of yesterday).
Otherwise, la la la everything is great. I have real coffee now and a mostly working french press. It’s been cold and rainy much of the week, which has been unpleasant to walk in, but on Wednesday we were at the eco-village and the sudden downpours created a series of incredibly dramatic visual and sonic vistas out the long windows in the studio. We’ve now met nearly all the teachers we’ll be working with in the coming months, and have started learning some of the rep we’ll eventually perform. I have a new and impressive array of bruises and blisters, but have also discovered the wonder of knee pads, which has vastly improved the situation.
On Thursday I went out dancing in Tel Aviv, which was fun, although not as cathartic as I had hoped. As I don’t know much of anyone there either, it was another evening of trying to balance my wanting to dance with people against my not really wanting to talk to anyone. Buh. In better news, I won a shim sham contest which, at the end, involved three people doing a dance that is organized into sections of four little phrases, creating a super crazy 3/4 hocket effect. It was really fun, and seems like a great way to really make sure you know a piece of choreography.
That’s all. I’m going to see if I can’t encourage my heater to produce a little more warmth and continue to nurse my introversion. Cheerio.