Moving Forward, Looking Back

November 28, 2001

My name is Charlotte, and I am a ballet-aholic.


I have been dancing ballet for 20 years, and besides a few forays into modern and jazz that lasted no longer than a weekly class at summer ballet camps, I have never explored any other dance style.  My ballet teachers didn’t really encourage me to try anything else, and I wouldn’t really have had time, seeing as I was doing, well, ballet all the time.  Until June, that is, when I decided to take some time off from dancing for personal reasons, and because, let’s face it, things start hurting after a while.  Not dancing was refreshing–it gave me a chance to explore some other interests I have, and to recharge my batteries.  I guess I had just burned out a bit on ballet, although I love it no less.


I’ve begun to miss dancing, though, and recently started thinking about firing up my dance engines again, and how I should ease back into it, since I don’t think it would be particularly smart to jump back into my old, rather rigorous schedule after no plies for four months.  This was a turning point for me:  I had to start considering other options, other ways of moving.  After talking abot it with a friend, she invited me to go to a Cunningham class at the company’s studios in NYC’s West Village with her on Tuesday, and I’m so glad I went. 


I loved the gentleness of the movement, and the long, slow warmup.  My ballet technique was put to good use, but I felt no discomfort, since I didn’t have to force anything.  My body already knew how to make most of the shapes the teacher asked for, but they didn’t have to conform to an ideal, which was unbelievably refreshing.  We did some simple across the floor and allegro work, and in the middle of it all, I realized: Hey, I’m dancing!  And yes, it felt wonderful.  I’m looking forward to more classes, and as I get used to turning in and out, bending, and stretching again, I will be going back to ballet.  After all, they say you never forget your first love.


Thank you, Merce, wherever you are, for helping me find what I’d lost.