Are you a ballerina?

I was at work a few days ago when someone asked me:

“Are you a ballerina?”

The question did not come out of the blue. No, he wasn’t impressed by my gracefulness, he did not think I looked like a ballerina in any way.

“Are you a ballerina?”

He asked because I had been blabbing about ballet again.

“Are you a ballerina?”

“No.” I said. But for a tiny nth of a second, a pause that no one but me noticed, I hesitated.

“Are you a ballerina?”

My head said no. Of course not. My heart also said no. But the hesitation was there. Of course I am not a ballerina. But something in me desperately wishes I was.

Can you only be called a ballerina when you are a professional dancer with a ballet company? If so, how about thousands of ballet students?  Are pointe shoes the hallmark of a ballerina? (are they?)

Is it the clothes you wear? White tights, black leotard, and pink ballet slippers? Tutus? Pointes?

Is it just taking class? What level of class?  What frequency of class?

Is it loving ballet?

All of this was in that split second of hesitation, as something in me tried to answer “Yes.”

There is only one way I can call myself a ballerina: in my head. Because when I close my eyes, I dance. I am graceful, musical, and I am on pointes.

But that is not enough.

That is why I search for class, that is why I wear my leotard, tights and ballet slippers.

As the lovely Johanna from Pointe Til You Drop said:

“You may dream of pas de deux with Marcelo, of octoplet pirouettes and standing ovations, but even simple tendus and pliés already equal happiness.

They do equal happiness. Because they make you feel like a ballerina.

And perhaps, with your eyes closed, for a moment as your work through those tendus, a part of you feels like answering “yes”.

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11 thoughts on “Are you a ballerina?

  1. I never think of myself as a ballerina. I think because of the whole “ballerina body” thing, but shortly after I started classes I started thinking of myself as a dancer and a ballet student. I am still an utter novice, but I go through my days on my toes (when nobody’s looking.)

    That hesitation, than moment when you almost said yes, was your heart talking. Get to class!

    • You know what, you are so right. I’ve been dilly-dallying long enough. And yes, there are still some financial issues, but I know I can afford at least one class a week. At least I hope so.

  2. Pingback: Ballet Ballerina Slippers

  3. On twitter, we have had this discussion about what we call ourselves over and over. I think it’s a little silly that we spend so much time and effort discussing the semantics of what we call ourselves… and I’m all about semantics 🙂 I dance in my heart, in my head, and on my feet, therefore, I am a dancer. I don the tights, the leo, the slippers or the pointes and I dance classical ballet; I may not be great, I may not even be good but I love it with my heart, my head, and my body and when I dance ballet, I am a ballerina.

    You, my love, when you dance you are a ballerina too – we are always ballet 😉

    xo, lorry

    • Well said, Lorry. Nina, this blog is really touching. I also struggle with a lot of body issues, identifying with my body as who I am, and denied the fact that I am, indeed, a dancer for over 12 years. I put it away in a box and died a little every day. I am thankfully, gratefully, happily back to dancing…but it looks differently than I’d ever imagined. I thought that you were either a professional or you were nothing when it came to being a dancer. I did not have a “dancer’s body” so I gave it up. I love ballet and think it is the most beautiful thing in the world…except for maybe a Latin Rumba. I got back into dancing with ballroom, though, and nurse my body and my heart back to life a little bit with each lesson. Keep dancing, whether in your head, heart, or body…and YES….you are a ballerina. I acknolwedge the ballerina in you.

  4. Thanks for sharing this! And I totally agree. I am not a ballerina. How could I? I’ve just started. But I feel a little like one when I wear my ballet shoes and do my plies. Yes, that makes me happy, too,

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