It seems like everyone’s got a hobby – a fun activity that people do outside of work that brings them great joy. As long as I’ve been an adult, I have not had a hobby. I tried to change that this past summer when I took up endurance racing. With a lot of prayer and a lot of walking, I managed to complete a half marathon in September and a 10-mile race in October. The problem is that I hate running, so now it’s time for something new. Over the next few months, I’m planning on trying my hand at a number of different hobbies with the hope that one will become my new favorite pastime, and I’ll be chronicling my adventures here. The first hobby up is ballet.
I’ve always secretly (and sometimes not-so-secretly) dreamed of becoming a ballerina. They’re beautiful and graceful and they get to wear really pretty costumes. At thirty years old, this dream has not died, so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to give it a go. In the past month, I took four adult drop-in intro ballet classes at a ballet academy nearby.
The school’s website recommends that students wear a leotard, tights, and ballet slippers, so before the first class, I made my way over to the Capezio store in Times Square. After walking around in a state of confusion for a while, with the help of a kindly sales associate, I ultimately left the store with a black long sleeve leotard, light pink tights, and pink ballet slippers.
I was a little nervous when I got to the school for my first class, and my nerves were not eased when I found out that I was the only new one in the class, and, therefore, they were going to be moving through everything relatively quickly. We first did work at the barre, which actually wasn’t so bad. At one point, the instructor even came over and told me that I was following along beautifully. She did correct my form a few times, though. I needed to have my body and legs straight, shoulders relaxed, stomach in, and thighs tight. It is surprisingly difficult to keep your stomach in and relax your shoulders at the same time.
After the work at the barre, we started doing some more complicated steps balancing in the middle of the floor. I zoned out a couple of times and that’s when things got bad. Legs and arms started going in all kinds of directions they shouldn’t have been. The worst part, however, came at the end, when we had to chassé across the floor. A chassé looks like it’s supposed to be some elegant cross between a skip, a hop, and a gallop. I don’t really know what I did, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a chassé.
In the second class, I watched myself much more intently as I chasséd across the floor. While others glided like graceful gazelles, I looked like Quasimodo doing some sort of jacked-up hobble-skip hybrid. It was so bad that I kind of wish I could have filmed it to show and amuse others. In that class, I also learned that I have tight Achilles tendons, which are severely limiting my ability to plié.
The third class didn’t do much to increase my confidence. There were four totally new people there. My initial thought was, “yay, other people like me,” but then they all chasséd across the floor like they’d been doing it all their lives. We also had to cross the floor doing this step-hop movement, with the back leg in arabesque. There aren’t words to describe what I looked like doing that.
In the fourth class, I had a different instructor and she positioned me at the front barre, which gave me a wonderful opportunity to stare at myself throughout most of the class. I concluded that I look like a short and stout ballet-dancing little teapot.
Despite my being a hot mess, all in all, I actually kind of liked ballet and will probably go back again. It was a nice change from my usual exercise routine and I felt like I was learning something (albeit very slowly). I talked to a couple of other women in the class and they assured me that everyone feels like a mess for at least the first six months. I’m definitely never going to be a prima ballerina, but at least there’s a glimmer of hope that things may get a bit better one day.
Cheryl Espinoza is an attorney and aspiring puppy-owner. She is a lover of coffee, Christmas, and all things Disney, and is in constant search of the best food and fancy cocktails in Manhattan. You can generally find her struggling to figure out how to decorate her apartment, watching bad reality TV, or playing board games far too competitively. She was born and raised in the Bronx, and currently lives with her husband in midtown Manhattan.