What it is actually like:
My entire life I have wanted to dance. Finally, at age 23 and with lots of support from my amazing husband, I started. I was so excited on the day of my first ballet class that I wore my leotard and brand new ballet slippers around the house all day. I cooked, cleaned, changed diapers, and fed baby in them. I youtubed everything I could think of (ballet positions, things I would need, what to expect, you name it). As I drove to my class that evening I had visions of me looking beautiful and graceful at the barre and gliding eloquently across the floor during center work. I was feeling proud of myself for knowing “the 5 feet positions of ballet” (as I called it) and thought I was especially prepared because I vaguely knew what arabesque position was. I had it in my mind that these were the things that were going to make me a great dancer.
When I arrived at class and we all lined up at the barre reality set in. With each new exercise I found myself more and more confused; I looked in the mirrors and saw an uncoordinated, overweight, awkward, weak version of me. I had no trace of eloquence or grace and my entire body was shaking in an attempt to merely sustain a turned out first position. As class went on I realized that the easier something looked in ballet, probably the harder it was going to be to actually do.
Now that I am a few months into my dance training I am learning something best said by Alice Abrams- “In life as in dance: Grace glides on blistered feet.” I had imagined dancing to be this glamorous show of technique and style, but I had left out the two most important parts of the equation: hard work and heart. Ballet is hard work, repetition, self discipline, focus, and especially heart. I have to say a prayer before every class that I will have the energy and presence of mind to be focused and to give my heart to each class.
In dance I have to endure 20 failed attempts before I get 1 success. I have to get 15 corrections before I get 1 word of praise. I have to try something 10 times before my body understands it. But there is nothing like that feeling of getting it right. When I feel tired and my body is sore and my feet are aching and my muscles are cramping I hold on just a little bit longer because I know that I am on the cusp of getting it just right. Grace glides on blistered feet.
Whatever you are working on, don’t give up. Push through! Keep fighting and you will come out on top. Don’t be afraid of the blisters, they will humble you and teach you. Pray always, and there is nothing that you can’t do!