Let’s talk about the most embarrassing moment I’ve had so far in Minneapolis.
I arrived at a class at my gym called, simply, “barre”. I had been to a class like this before, one of those trendy new workout classes that basically promise a dancer’s body by doing tiny squats barefoot while touching a ballet barre. I had loved it, despite being unable to walk for two days afterward.
As I took off my shoes, I noticed several people in the room were wearing ballet slippers. I rolled my eyes. These people think they can do tiny squats better than I can because they have legit ballet shoes, I thought. I’ll show them.
The class started with 30 minutes of abs and stretching to classic Al Green. In this room in the basement of my gym, with exposed pipes and a warehouse-esque feel, I felt pretty... urban. Basically, I was feeling very positive about the experience.
And then we were told to stand at the barre.
And then some classical music straight out of Swan Lake or something started playing.
And then everyone started plie-ing. Except me.
Let me back up and tell you about my ballet experience:
2. Watching this over and over again with my best friend in high school:
When I was a pre-teen, it seemed like all of the girls I knew were dancing, and, more importantly, learning important life skills like how to be graceful and confident and poised. Here's what I was doing as a pre-teen:
Back in the “barre” class -- which I was quickly learning was actually a “ballet” class – I had somehow ended up at the front of a line of people, so I wasn’t able to watch anyone’s feet (a trick that’s gotten me through many a zumba/hip hop class). It was... a mess.
After that excruciating minute and a half, Black and Gold by Sam Sparro started to play.
(you have to listen to get the full effect of my description)
As the first few notes began to play, the entire class seemed to know what to do. It was exactly like this scene in Center Stage: (I'm assuming all of my readers have seen this movie -- after all, if you and I are going to be friends, a deep appreciation of the greatest movie of our time is mandatory. However, just in case you need to brush up on your Cooper Nielsen, here it is:)
You guys. I did not look like any of the people in that video. When the rest of the class was up, I was down. At one point I stood completely still and pretended like I didn't exist. It was bad. Case in pointe (ha!): while doing one of my signature completely wrong and out of sync moves, I must have gotten really into the [horrifically awkward] moment. I pushed too hard on the barre -- which was freestanding -- and moved it halfway across the room, leaving the people behind me balancing on thin air.
From that point on, the person behind me started hissing at me.
"Demi-plie means half bend!"
"Repeat this three times!"
"Jump after this!"
I looked over my shoulder. It was a 60-something man in a leotard (I swear he was not wearing a leotard at the beginning of class. Otherwise I would have gotten the hint). This man, tall and poised, was obviously a professional dancer.
"How did you know I needed extra help?" I mumbled sarcastically.
He turned away with a snobby smirk on his face. "Some questions, you just don't answer."
We all love a good story about two unexpected souls becoming the best of friends, yes? Usually it's animals. A dog and a cat, a fox and a hound.
In this case, it's a spaz with two left feet and a 60 year old professional male danseur (I just read that's what you call a man ballerina, although I prefer mancer).He spent the rest of the class genuinely trying to help me, and encouraged me to come to another class. And you know what? It was fun. And so I did.
And now I'm pretty much a ballerina.
(In my mind.)