Monday, December 14, 2009

A Brief Word About Ballet

I know that this might sound strange, but I am 54 years old and saw my first ballet Saturday night . . . and that's the first ever! Of course, it was the Nutcracker Ballet. It was incredible. The fact that we were on the second row from the stage of the huge auditorium added to the experience. You could almost smell the feet of the dancers . . .and certainly you could hear them panting beneath their frozen smiles after a rigorous movement.

I don't know why I've waited so long to experience ballet in person . . . I guess it wasn't even on my radar. None of our kids participated in any form of dance. Sometimes I'm tempted to blame it on my Evangelical background . . . but I'm not so sure that it is that simple.

I sometimes feel I'm entering my second adolescence. Just last year I discovered fiction literature for almost the first time and now ballet.

While I've learned to enjoy the visual arts, film, paintings and the art of music, I didn't realize how much art and beauty that could be carried in the fine movements of the human form.

Maybe the reason I had avoided ballet all those years was not just the "sissy" factor (real men don't eat quiche nor go to the ballet) but also fears about watching beautiful women prancing around with little clothes on. I have to admit, especially with seats so close to the stage, that there were moments that my mind wanted to take a more erotic path. But to avoid the cheapening of the dance, I learned, during the evening, to focus on the women's wrists (which had a beauty of flexion and extension that is beyond words) and their toe work. I was stunned by the amount of body memory that is involve in such a performance . . . in the same way I was stunned by the heavy loads that the short, Hobbit-like, Nepalese could carry a few weeks ago.

I only feel regret that I had never gone before . . .and can't wait until I have the opportunity again. In the dance . . . I sense God's soft touch or His warm breath blowing a snowflake across the sky. Maybe in the new earth and with our new bodies that we will all move from point A to point B via balletic moves.


pennyyak said...

Ballet reminds me of nothing else in the world - it is extremely beautiful.

One of the more sacrificial things one can in do for a living, if Off Balance: The Real World of Ballet (Gordon, 1983) is correct. Only book I've ever read about it, so I can't say more than that.

MJ said...

That's really to the point.

I was thinking about Frank Schaeffer's Crazy for God. He describes one of the women workers at LAbri who had been a great opera singer but who said many times that she had, "Given it up for the lord."

I hope no one has ever been under the illusion that they had to give up their ballet "for the Lord."

E. A. Harvey said...

I've loved ballet since I was a child, but since I was only able to take lessons a few years, I'm now living vicariously through my daughter. She's taken lessons for over 3 years, and she simply loves to dance. OK, so she's only 6, and there isn't much gracefulness in 6 year olds trying to pliƩ and such. But every year, watching the juniors and seniors at the recital, I literally weep for the beauty of it. And they make it look so easy, when I know that it is anything but!

Anonymous said...

I hope no one has ever been under the illusion that they had to give up their ballet "for the Lord." -- MJ

In a church environment where only Soul-Winning (TM) and Praise & Worship Music (TM) has any status and everything else Is All Gonna Burn (TM), I expect a lot of people have, and resent the hell out of "the Lord" for it. A LOT of them.