Recently, I wrote about how I was inspired by Garance Doré’s post on the New York City Ballet.
Last week I checked out IALS (Istituto Addestramento Lavoratori dello Spettacolo) aka the Fame school in Rome. It was a straight-up disaster.
I had signed up for a Beginner’s class. There were three other women in my class who looked like ballerinas. The teacher, an older gentleman from Eastern Europe, quickly shouted out some choreography. I was overwhelmed within sixty seconds.
I thought I was doing this:
But it was more like this:
Not a good look.
The teacher stated, “You’ve never done ballet before.” No, that is why I’m taking a Beginner’s class! The other women had excellent turnouts. It was obvious they had experience. There are three different levels for Beginner’s and I was in the first one. What the heck was going on?
During one routine, we had to put our legs on the barre. I’m short and my leg could barely reach it. The only time the teacher walked over to me was when I was struggling to reach the barre. He pushed my torso closer to it and I thought my body would split in two.
When the three ladies started pirouetting across the floor, I had to pull over to the side.
I felt very discouraged after the ninety minute class was over. Clearly, I was too short and too old to take ballet lessons. I walked home (of course it started to rain) in a funk.
I spoke to my friend Courtney who studied ballet as a child and to this day still does the warm-up exercises she learned. She told me not to give up and to try another teacher’s class.
I already had a monthly pass, so why not? I did and it was a revelation.
The teacher, a svelte Italian man who could probably lift three times his body weight, introduced himself and asked me if I understood Italian. There were ten of us in the class and it was co-ed. He showed us the choreography, calling out the different positions while drawing our attention to his hand movements. As we danced, he would correct our form.
He had two assistants and they also demonstrated the moves. If a sequence was too difficult for some of us in the class, he told us to watch the assistants, the more advanced dancers, and to do our best, “tranquilla!”
During my first lesson, I felt clumsy. In his class, I felt graceful. I appreciated how he would walk over and show us where our hands, feet, and/or head should be. When we executed a move well, or corrected mistakes on our own, he would say, “bravo/brava!”
At one point, while he was changing our music, I could hear the music from the Advanced class in the studio across the hall. It was “Concerto for Two Violins and Orchestra in D Minor”by Johann Sebastian Bach.
This is one of my favorite pieces of music. I was so moved, I had to choke back tears.
Once the class ended, we thanked Il maestro and his assistants. The ninety minutes had flown by. The next group of dancers and their teacher rushed in as we put on our street clothes in the hallway.
I know my turnout will improve and it’s okay that I didn’t start lessons when I was four. I’m starting ballet now and I love it.