I watched the documentary A Ballerina’s Tale last night. It’s the story of Misty Copeland, the first African American principal dancer in any international ballet company. She dances for the American Ballet Theatre at the Met in New York City. It’s a pretty big deal.
Misty is a beautiful dancer, but she’s not your typical, waify, pasty white ballerina. She’s muscular, has a “big” chest (for a ballerina), and she has a few curves. And she’s brown.
When I was young, my mother asked me if I wanted to take dance lessons, but I was a tomboy and you wouldn’t catch me dead wearing a tutu. No ma’am. That is probably one of my bigger regrets in life along with quitting piano lessons after I had moved beyond my teacher’s ability to teach me. I wish I had stuck with piano and I wish I had been able to see past the tutu.
My sister was better suited to be a dancer, though. She was the petite one, the girlie girl. I didn’t become interested in it until she started dancing in the local Nutcracker performances. At first, I was forced to take her to rehearsals, but soon I began to look forward to taking her. I would watch them dance for hours and I got to the point where I knew all the steps by heart. But it wasn’t something I would ever do. That was her thing not mine.
Only once did I consider taking a ballet class and that was at West Texas State. I used to hang out a lot in the art building, because my best friend was an artist. I loved being around all different types of artists, from musicians to dancers, although I wasn’t one myself. I chickened out, though, after watching a class or two. It was too intimidating.
To this day, I love all kinds of dance from Bhangra to hip hop to ballet to clogging. I love to watch other people dance, but I don’t dance. The last time I did was at a party and this guy pulled me aside and told me I danced like a white girl. He tried to show me how I should dance, but the die had been cast. No more dancing for me.
I think that’s why I love yoga so much. Yoga is as close as I’ll get to dance. It’s not set to music and you don’t move off of your five and a half by two foot mat, but it is somewhat choreographed and particularly in vinyasa, it’s flowy and body alignment is key. And you wear about the same amount of clothing although we don’t wear tutus in yoga.
And now you know my secret passion. So, if you ever see me watching a Bollywood movie or watching a flash mob or Missy Elliot video or in my car blasting Britney Spears or at the ballet, just know that I’m dancing on the inside.