Meet Me at the Barre


Like most middle class little girls, I took ballet lessons from age 4. I continued doing ballet up to my teen years, not because it was something I particularly enjoyed doing, but because it was routine and I thought it was “expected” of me to put on a leotard, scrape my hair back into a bun and show up once a week (it later became twice a week) at the studio.

It was around my pre-teen years when I started to really hate going for classes. I didn’t understand what I was doing, and nobody told me why I had to do it – I was just expected to do what I was told. Show up for class. Spend the first 10-15 minutes sitting uncomfortably on the floor, crammed with my classmates, copying notes off a whiteboard into a notebook (I hate hand-copying notes and my handwriting is atrocious), then go to the barre and go through a series of plies and tendus and battements, then to the floor and saute and changement and chasse, then go through choreography, then one by one take turns on the floor and be roundly criticized.

Eventually I hung up my shoes and threw away my leotards (as well as thousands of dollars of my mom’s money) and quit. What’s the pointe?

However, I love ballet. I just hated classes. When I got older, I finally understood why we had to take notes (so we can visualize the steps in our head and internalize it). Why we had to do the endless plies and releves and tendus at the barre (to strengthen our muscles and perfect our form in order to execute choreography). Why we had to saute and changement at the floor until we felt like dying (to build up stamina so we can last through a two-hour ballet). Maybe if this was explained to me when I was younger, I would’ve had more purpose during class, and who knows, I might’ve become a professional ballerina.

Maybe not.

Anyway, for a magazine article I went and tried out a barre class at a new studio. I was hooked. It’s like ballet, but it made sense. It had a purpose, and that purpose, though not as “noble” as creating art in motion, is valid all the same: to sculpt and tone your body and improve your strength and stamina. So I went back. And back. And back again.

And guess what? I ended up doing it so much, I’m going to teach it. That’s right, darlings. I’m now in barre instructor training, and it starts next weekend!


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