“The unwise dancers blame them. He didn’t like me… she was unfair… I should have had that part. The smart ones know where to look when things get rough. It isn’t there. (Walks to the barre) It’s HERE. No matter what happened in class, performance, last week, 5 minutes ago… if you come back here… you’ll be home.”
If you have seen Center Stage you may recognize that quote, if you have ever been a dancer you likely understand its signifcance and truth. As a ballerina every class, every learned piece of technique starts at the barre, with two, then one hand for support. Eventually you are able to accomplish the same pieces of technique in the center of the floor, on a stage unassisted, or with a partner; every little ballierina’s dream. So many hours of my life have been spent at that barre. Learning tendus and plies, frappes and developes. Much of the time however, was spent learning to balance. When you balance at the barre you get into your chosen position and begin slowly lifting the supporting hand from the barre. If you aren’t stable you place your hand back on the barre and adjust your positioning; the placement of your feet, your hips, holding your core, adjusting your ribs. Each of these adjustments flow through your mind. Area by area you adjust until finally, everything is in place, and you lift you hand, then your arm, and you balance. Suspended in time. The feeling is exhilirating, after so much work you have adjusted everything and have achieved balance.
Really, it is no different than adult life. We all strive for balance. We throw the term around like a tennis ball. We need balance, we are searching for balance, we have found balance. But rarely do we say we are working on balance. Standing at the barre, trying your hand off of it, seeing the current method is flawed, making a slight adjustment, and trying again. In addition, even once you have balanced, tne next time you try, even if it is moments later the same adjustments occur. Yes, they become slighter and fewer, and less work is involved in reaching that moment, but still, adjustments are always needed to make the balance work.
I think these realizations have been helpful to me lately. I am learning that balance is going to be constant work, then I need to be willing to make adjustments, even if slight to get to a point of reaching balance. But more than that, I am learning balance isn’t a goal, it is an unending, ever changing process. I am not going to get there and give up on working on it. Balance is achieved in moments but doesn’t last without constant adjusting and working. It was almost a relief to realize this. It is ok that I feel like I am working on it daily, its ok that adjustments sometimes exclude things I wanted to do, or leave out time for places I wanted to go. It is ok that even after I feel like I have gotten it I have to work on it again. Coming back to the barre, to home.
Balance has been big for me lately, the busy Holidays mixed in with a new priority on exercise has left me feeling like I am constantly missing things rather than balancing my priorities. I missed a week of crossfit for holiday trips to NYC and Boston, I slept instead of a 5am workout, I made dinner for my boyfriend rather than going to yoga. I often have felt that I have too many priorities to give them each time. I haven’t enlightened past this yet, but I am hoping to find a way to be satisfied in my balance of my priorities. On top of all of these priorities, I am learning to allow myself to prioritize my health. I spent years feeling guilty or even angry for missing out or saying no because I needed rest, needed to take a break. This is the body I have though, accepting that, and allowing myself to treat it how it needs to be treated rather than treating it how other people may get to treat theirs has been a huge step forward in balancing. A big adjustment I needed.
So the Holiday season has come to a close. I have my mom’s knee replacement this monday, a new schedule at work, a plan to delve into crossfit and yoga more consistently, and a desire to maintain or even improve my relationships. So here I am, taking my hand ever so slightly off the barre, sure to return it soon for further adjusting, but confident that in the next weeks or months I will lift my arm into postion, and even if for just a moment I will balance. Suspended in the air, every area positioned correctly, each part aligned and working together for the perfect balance. I hope you balance too, it is best when we do it together. If you have seen it you know the beauty of many ballerinas, balancing together, like it is no work at all, completely still, completely beautiful.