I vividly remember the first time I stepped foot into a ballet studio. I was 18, a freshman in college, and so excited to have discovered a new world of dance. I was wearing tight corduroy pants that day and coming in off of my psychology 101 class. Curious, excited and not at all knowing what to expect I stepped into the ballet studio.
Now, I wonder how I ever went back after that first day. Shamefaced and humiliated to find that I was the only guy in a class full of beautiful women, doing movement that I had not known previous was possible for the human body to do. And I was trying to “dance” in corduroy, where my teacher and all of the students in the class were wearing tights.
And yet, I did go back. Something about that first class and my early exposure caught my imagination. The pointe shoes, the elongated legs, the fluidity of the students taking their arms in elegant circles. The students’ limbs seemed almost to reach beyond the boundaries of the room.
I continued taking class all of the rest of that year and in fits and starts through the rest of college. Rarely did I step away from the barre, as ballet offered at Reed College was just a twice-weekly barre class – no practice working off the barre, no center work, and no leaps. And yet even that little bit was enough to instill in me an appreciation of ballet that has lasted more than ten years, and that will, I don’t doubt, last the rest of my life.