Tomorrow marks the start of my last week at Ballet Divertimento. Although I have enjoyed my time here, I am happy to say I won’t be returning to this specific school. Today was a wake-up call for me in terms of ballet and I saw exactly how the art I had fallen in love with could slowly kill me.
I met my friend for breakfast this morning. She is everything a ballet dancer should be – kind, resilient, strong, devoted, passionate, hard-working, loving, etc. She had been using this intensive as an audition for the academic program at the school and had been rejected on Friday. They rejected her for a few reasons, one of them being her weight.
I want to make it clear that she is not in anyway overweight. She is not unhealthily thin, but she is certainly not heavy. She, on the other hand, very much thinks she is. I left the cafe a little bit later with a lot on my mind. On my way to the metro station, I came to the conclusion that I would not pursue a professional career in ballet or even entertaining the idea of it.
It’s funny because I say this as if I ever had the chance of having a professional career, which I really didn’t. However, my friend’s disheartening end to her time at Ballet Divertimento did remind me of how unwilling and unkind the world of classical ballet is. Considering that I started late and do not have a body well suited to ballet has made it very difficult for me to find training, let alone perform.
Reality dictates that we acknowledge certain truths. We can choose to fight these truths or allow them to exist within their given plane, choosing to abdicate instead. I chose abdication. I could force my body into an unnatural state, get my way into a dance company, and say “ha! I won” before dropping dead. But I would rather live my best life and allow my love for ballet to persist.
This past week, I watched another friend break her foot. She was also at the intensive to try and get into the school’s academic program. I think her and I both knew, deep down, that she was a beautiful dancer, but the school was so skewed in its perception that it would never want her. Despite this, she soldiered on. Working hard through every class, every boring lecture, every plie. Now, her foot is broken, it may never be the same, she may never dance again, and it’s all because of a stupid school that didn’t care about her.
But I do. I care about her. If I were her, I would want to scream at the artistic director. I would want to write and write and write about how angry I am that young women such as her would endure such immense pain for the attention of those that would scorn them.
I love ballet. I hate ballet culture. I’ve never even really enjoyed performing ballet. All I want out of ballet is the opportunity to progress and find the beauty in my efforts. I refuse to break my back while trying to fit into the mold of a dancer. Ballet brought me life and joy when I was in 10th grade and I will never allow a school or a company to wring that happiness from it. They would take my love, they would take my passion and hard work and dedication and wring it from me until I had nothing left. I refuse to hate ballet, even if that means it will never be my life.