Friday, March 11, 2005


I love ballet, but one thing I don't love about it is that it's a performing art. I do not really like performing. I participated in a conference this weekend, and gave a presentation. It went well, but I did not like doing it. It's like writing: I like having presented, not presenting itself.

So I have this weird deal going on about loving doing performing arts (I love singing, playing music, ballet) but not liking to perform.

In ballet, we're always looking in those mirrors, always being told to look toward the "audience," even when we're just having a class. If we are to be what I imagine we’re supposed to be in ballet--a beautiful physical embodiment of music--we need to be aware of whether we are indeed beautiful. So in class, of course, our audience is the mirror, which is a bit creepy to think about.

When I look toward the mirror as I'm supposed to, I think about moving with grace and beauty. That’s OK, but when I stop moving, I often begin to do this silent, female critique thingee that maybe other women will recognize: "are my upper thighs fat? Wow, my arms are skinny. I should have put on makeup this morning--I'm too old to go without it." That's one thing I do not like about ballet: the constant attention to appearance.

It's not that way with the kinds of physical activities my sister likes: basketball, softball, that sort of thing. You just do them, and it only matters HOW you do them, not what you look like. More healthy for a girl or woman's self-image, I would say.

That's one thing I do like about Tae Kwon Do. There is attention to how your form looks, but you wear this--OK--rather UGLY uniform, so you aren't able to be critical of your own body in the way you are in ballet. Still, you're being watched, always, like during the whole-class chun jee and the flying side kicks yesterday. And we do have mirrors (you may remember that the dojang used to be a ballet studio . . . how appropriate!)

Maybe, though, this is only my weirdness and other women dancers aren't so aware of those critical voices popping up. Oh, and there ARE praising voices, too ("my waist is still small! I hope she notices my feet! Look at my great battement! I am feeling so graceful today") but just that attention to looks--positive or negative, though it's PART of ballet, seems also to distract from it.

But I love ballet!

I guess I love it most because I get to BE music when I’m doing ballet. I really think that being the incarnation of music is the best part, and when I think about that, I’m OK. I’m even beautiful.

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