Reflections on a ballet recital

Yesterday my ballet studio had its regular summer recital. My experience of it was different from all the others, and I wanted to capture that briefly here.

The background is that the past few months were busy and stressful — perhaps no more than my work usually is, but I had expected and badly needed a quieter summer, and was not prepared for it to be as hectic as it was. What that meant for my dance was that I attended regularly but not as frequently as I wanted (once a week instead of twice), and even then often had my mind on problems at work. As a result, I had trouble learning the barre program that we wound up doing for the recital. Even in the morning rehearsal, I realised I didn’t know what was coming for any given exercise. Conversely, I found it pretty easy to learn the choreography for our little dance at the end.

Usually I am nervous either before a recital or during it — or both. But a funny thing happened this time. I didn’t have it all down, and I knew it. And I also didn’t care. I was completely calm and relaxed throughout. Instead of thinking about what my feet should do, I focussed on having an integrated posture, on the quality of my movement, and on relaxing my face. I made mistakes, but I left them behind somehow. I truly did not care about the mistakes.

Now if you know me, you know I very much do care about mistakes. But I didn’t yesterday. It was such a peaceful, happy experience of dancing. I’ve wondered why this happened yesterday. Was it that I was so stressed out in the previous months that dancing was allowed to be an escape? Was it my new, beautiful Bloch leotard that made me more aware of my posture? Was it the five Tibetan rites I did for the first time that morning? Who knows! Physically, I was not at my best for a number of reasons, and yet I had a lightness and sense of beauty in the dance that I rarely do.

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