Balancing Boxing with Ballet

I love going to Title to feel fierce.  But it’s also nice to feel graceful and beautiful too.  So for that, I take ballet at the Lawrence Arts Center.  I took Ballet as a child at the Lawrence School of Ballet and loved it.  Sometime in Junior High, I discovered boys.  Well, I’m sure I “discovered” them before that, but I became more interested in chasing them in my teen years, and it was then that the beautiful art of ballet became intrusive in my newly discovered favourite sport of boy-chasing.  So I quit.  And it’s one of the few regrets I have.  But now I’ve learned that you’re never too old to rekindle an old love.  In 2008, when Sophie was old enough to audition for the Nutcracker, I took her to the auditions and discovered they needed some Adults for Act I (speaking parts) as well.  So David and I also performed that year. Being around all of that dance inspired me to get back into it, so in January of 2009, I enrolled in Adult Ballet I.  Later that spring, my iCafe adventure began and my renewed passion for dance had to be placed on hold and remained on hold until Summer of 2011.  By then, I had a good and reliable staff at iCafe, wasn’t regularly working until midnight, and I still longed to dance.  Also, at this time, the Lawrence Arts Center had created a class between beginning and advanced….Intermediate!  Why, that’s EXACTLY what I am.  So I enrolled in the class that summer, and stuck with it the following fall, and once again performed in the Nutcracker that winter – mostly as an actor, but with a bit of dancing too.

stilt practice I continued taking Ballet II for the entirety of 2012 and once again performed in the Nutcracker.  To my delight, I was cast in one of the dances in Act II.  Then the fear set in – not a fear of being on stage….but of being on stage, ON STILTS.  The role I was cast in was that of Mistress Ginger, who has 8 children, all of whom come tumbling out from underneath her massive hoop skirt at the beginning of the dance.  So in early November, I strapped on a pair of drywall stilts, and then looked with confusion at Debbie Bettinger when she said, “ok, now stand up”….???????  I had no idea how to even accomplish the standing part.  Once I accomplished that, I had to learn to walk.  I practiced walking up and down the wall (which conveniently had an 7′ tall ledge that I could grab if I needed too).  Next rehearsal, I was off the wall, and then a couple rehearsals later, I was on the stage, then they added the hoop & harness, and then the skirt (which weighs at least 5 pounds….doesn’t sound like a lot, but believe me… it is!!! AND, it’s as wide as I am tall…so not the easiest thing to maneuver in!  performanceBy performance time, I didn’t even need a spotter under the skirt!

Once again, I am taking Ballet II this semester.  Although Debbie thinks I’m ready to take the Ballet III class, The Tuesday night class fits my schedule a lot better, so I’m just staying there for the remainder of this year.  BUT, I did think that it might be time to add a new challenge…I asked my instructor, Cindy Crews, if she felt like I had built back the ankle strength necessary to go on to pointe.  I had been on pointe as a young girl for about 3 years before I quit.  I have to take a moment to brag on my ballet instructor.  Cindy is a wonderful and rare find.

Cynthia Crews, as the Snow Queen

Cynthia Crews, as the Snow Queen

She danced professionally as a principal with Tulsa Ballet Theatre for nine years, including productions of the Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Giselle, and Coppelia and has been teaching at the Lawrence Arts Center since 2004 where she founded Lawrence Ballet Theatre, a Pre-Professional Ballet Company.  Not only is she a beautiful and elegant dancer, and a skilled choreographer, she is also an excellent teacher for ballet students of all ages and abilities.  In addition to teaching me, she teaches Sophie and Daphne as well.  She is able to not only demonstrate a new step, she can also give verbal explanations in a variety of ways.  She also is able to challenge each dancer to push their skills further, giving individualized feedback, even in a classroom setting.  I am so lucky to have her teaching me every tuesday night!.  But back to pointe.  It’s been over 20 years since I danced on my toes.   Last week, Cindy was kind enough to stay after class for nearly a half an hour so my friend Kitty and I could put on our pointe shoes and do a series of barre exercises in them.  My hope is that the Arts Center will be able to find a way to make that a regular class that I can enroll in so that I can ease back into pointe.  With some hard work, I might be ready for the 2 classes a week – Ballet II, in which I would do barre work on pointe, and Ballet III with the extra half hour of adult pointe after.  Of course now my fear is that by the time I’ve worked myself back up to the level of the advanced dancers at the Lawrence Arts Center, I’ll be in the same classes as Sophie…but hey, at least we can carpool!