on three

When I was younger, I went to dancing school.
I'm not sure how long I went, but it's one of those memories that takes over other memories so it feels like I was there all the time.  Just tap and ballet and jazz.  Maybe a modern dance class.  I don't remember which I liked best.  Or least.  They all sort of run together.

I remember being told that my boobs were too big and my feet were too small.

Over and over and over again.

Another instructor told me she doesn't know how I support myself.  How I didn't fall over every time I tried to stand up.

Another told me that my hair was too thin for a proper bun.
She said I was too tall and probably wouldn't have a chance to ever Dance the Ballet with a boy because he wouldn't be able to support me.

Dancing class is supposed to be good for your self-esteem and self-discipline and stuff.  I'm not so sure it helped me in those ways.

I still have hair/feet/chest/stature issues.
Some related to what I heard at dancing, some completely unrelated.
None of which I can really control by changing my habits.
That's a shitty feeling.

When you get to a certain level in dancing school, you have to do a tiny solo.  On stage.  In front of everyone.
There are other people on stage with you, behind you, but you have to do a little bit of something all by yourself.

"Your First Big Moment" is what the instructor called it.  Our first time Up and Center in front of God and Everybody doing something that no one else is doing.

It was scary.  The teacher was scary.
She's dead now.
But I still dream about her when I'm feeling Not Good Enough for Something I'm Trying to Do.

Right before the show that night, she pulled us all aside.  She said to us that we can't screw something up if we are the only one doing it.  We can't fall out of step because the only steps to be had are our own. We can only fall out of time but she has faith that we have enough training and experience to keep that from happening.

She said to let that be a lesson in life.  As long as we aren't trying to be like everyone else, as long as we weren't working hard to fit in, as long as we are being true to ourselves, it is impossible to fall out of step.

Just watch your timing.


marilyn said...

I took jazz, ballet, and tap as well for about 7 years. Those were some of my favorite and worst memories of a girl growing up. Yep..the teacher- specifically the ballet teacher gave me a weight complex. It was strange...I felt confident about my body..until she would say something. ALl I know..is this makes me not let my little girl take dance lessons..( when I eventually or if I have a girl)
I guess now that we are older..we can take some of the lessons our dance teachers taught us..without the body image stuff..but it is hard. The body issues really took control of what I remember as a teen. But there were some great lessons..like do not give up..keep practicing..and do not have a negative attitude..and good posture as well.

Brenda said...

On the flip side of that, maybe, getting up in front of an audience doing stand-up comes from that inner ballet-tap-jazz student who found something better or more suited to her talents.

Listen to your timing. Watch your steps b/c only your steps are the ones that matter for you!

Maybe the scary teacher knew sometin' after all.

;-) How was Vegas?

Just Jane said...

That's some pretty amazing advice. I need to remember it.

Also? The first teacher you linked to? Her statement of belief is quite interesting in regards to this post. Her words most certainly did have an impact for a lifetime :/

Lucy said...

Teachers (me included) forget that all our words are heard and we need to choose them carefully.

I think teachers make a huge mistake when they try to teach non-failure, failing is a part of life, they are mistakes and we learn from them and we make them all the time, teaching our young to handle mistakes and failure is more important to me then teaching not to fail. I mean, I think we strive to not fail but it is more important to teach that it happens, it is not the end of the world, learn from it, pick yourself up and move forward. Hell, I am still making mistakes at the age of 46 and I suspect I will continue but I hope I learn from my errors and go on!!

Susan said...

Love it, so needed this.

Andrea said...

Very well said! I always wanted to take ballet as a girl, when all of my friends were, but I studied piano and clarinet. Not sure if it would have helped my gracefulness (which needs help) but it was yet another way I was different. Sorry to hear you have body issues, but I sure do, no ballet to blame!!

Leah Rubin said...

That took an interesting turn! I love it-- and I've been offline for a long time, and have missed your voice. This was a lovely post--provocative and insightful. Thanks!

SueAnn said...

Well at least she had some good advice there!!

Amanda said...

Sadly, I knew exactly who your dance instructors were as soon as you mentioned the issue. I took one class at age 8 - for fun. I was tall and awkward and gawky, but still criticized nonetheless. It's almost like being permanently scarred by them to some degree is a right of passage for girls in that area.

Andrea (ace1028) said...

I like the moral - morale (hmmn, a typo and NOW I get it) to the story, but the whole stature and boobs/feet? Not cool. You didn't deserve to be talked to that way. I hate that adults think they CAN talk that way to kids, ya know? As someone with big boobs and big feet, I never took dance, but I hope my daughter someday will and nobody will deter her!

Señorita Andalucíana said...

Great lesson, even if she did add to the list of future issues.

noexcuses said...

I just took ballet when I was 7 to about 12. I don't remember my weight being an issue with dance. My teacher was scary, because she yelled if I didn't do it right. But then I would always get a hug afterwards. I'll never forget that. We finally figured out I would never dance in toe shoes because one leg was longer than the other and I would always be off-balance. So I started taking piano lessons....

Great post!

Salty Miss Jill said...

That IS a great lesson.
FYI, I went/was forced to go to Little's Dance Studio right on Perry Square. ;)