I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I’ve taken up ballet. I never did is as a child as I was just slightly too old to start it when my sisters did, and the only reason they started was because the podiatrist recommended it. I didn`t mind though, I was happy with my Irish dancing, which comes in handy when you`re asked to teach an Irish dance at an International Festival.
I was persuaded to start a class by my friend Liz who took it up as an adult some years back and is now able to do the splits both ways. I can hardly touch my toes. She found a dance studio in the centre of town which is just around the corner from her house and she convinced me to come along with her. The studio is state of the art with mirrors everywhere and the instructors are really lovely and helpful. We`re quite lucky in that we take the adult beginners class which has at most five people and sometimes it`s just the two of us getting taught by professional dancers. Of course it`s hard not to feel like a turkey, waddling around ungracefully as I try to mimic the movements of these petite Japanese dancers, but it`s enjoyable nonetheless.
It`s quite a serious ballet school in comparison to what my sisters went to, and girls as young as ten learn to dance en pointe. The advanced class is on before ours and it`s amazing what these girls can do. The school put on a show on Sunday with the real dancers, and Liz and I got free tickets because we took classes at the school. It was incredible the level of their students, even the `babies` of four or five years old were able to memorize their steps and move in sync, instead of getting stagestruck or distracted by their families in the audience.
My camera has a very good zoom for a compact camera and we were sitting so far away from the stage that it`s only by looking at my photos (which I took sneakily in case it wasn`t allowed) that I can see the detail of the people and costumes. It was strange, and culturally significant I think, that when I was watching them dance, even though I knew they were Japanese, I could only imagine them as Western ballet dancers.