Saturday, April 30, 2011

Paralyzing fear

I was really hoping this morning's ballet class would be therapeutic to my already bad mood but all it did was turn it further south. I walked in the studio ready to forget about the rest of the world and morph into a ballerina. I never did, because my teacher changed this plan by me telling me she hoped I hadn't eaten to much breakfast this morning and informed me that she had plans for me. Okay.....that couldn't be good I quickly reasoned in my head but wisely kept to myself.
"All we're gonna have you do is demonstrate a shoulder lift with one of the guys. You've done those before right?"
I really wanted to say, "Oh sure, I could do them with my eyes closed. After all, it's only a shoulder lift." But I had to speak the truth and shamefully admit I hadn't.
"Don't worry,” she said.  “I'll be right behind you so you won't fall. The rule is not to let the ballerina fall on her head." Or she at least said something like that. Whatever her words were, it was equally as comforting.  Meaning it wasn't.
At first I was excited. I'm eighteen, and I still haven't gotten the chance to partner. I also felt honored that only me and one other girl were picked to practice it while the rest of the class would only look on. But with this honor came the added nervousness of eyes watching me, an awkward beginner.  What made it worse was that the other girl already had experience.  My teacher said she wanted everyone to observe the lift so they would know how to do it in the future. To my ears that sounded like, “Okay everyone, lets view this spectacle and see how long it takes for Elizabeth to fall backward off his shoulder!"
 My heart was racing before we began.  I didn't jump enough at first so I couldn't get on my partner's shoulder.  I jumped higher and he lifted me in the air. Up till that point it was no problem. It was almost fun. Then came the getting me up and over the shoulder. I felt like I was a sack of potatoes being thrust over this guy and I was going to end up splattered on the floor.  It was shaky no doubt, but once I settled on his shoulder I thought I had done it. That is until he so helpfully informed me I wasn't exactly in the right spot. All I knew was I didn't want to try it again. But I did.  Teacher's orders.  I went up as before, I went back on to his shoulder as before, but then my upper body got a little to excited and I found myself on top of his shoulder, leaning backwards, my legs splayed out to try and compensate but looking horribly ugly. Unfortunately nerves kept my body loose like noodles, which caused this to happen more than once.  Take it from me, it's best to use your abs if your going to get thrust in the air and plopped on a strong guy's shoulder.  Each and every time I performed this lovely feat I got a collective gasp from my audience, which I must say did nothing to inspire the slightest bit of confidence.
The other guy was a rookie like me and got paired up with the more experienced girl.  At first my teacher even said she wasn't going to put two newbies together.  That made sense of course.  But she ended up doing just that anyway. 
My partner and I were having timing issues so my teacher told me to pair up with the other guy. "Okay," I said, letting a little fear sneak into my voice. I felt bad that he most likely sensed my hesitance, but he probably wasn't to happy about partnering me, miss loose-like-noodles, either.  I almost got a couple with him, but I never really ended on a good note. I feel pretty depressed about the whole experience. That lift is so incredibly easy.  If my fear paralyzes me on that one how could I ever move on to a fish dive, or anything else scarier?
It was a terrible feeling to know that I was about to jump up and almost go backwards over the guy's shoulder unless I did it right.  I know it wasn't the boys' fault.  It was all on me, and they were probably frustrated.  I wanted to stop, but every time my teacher told me what to do I said, “Okay,” with as much fake confidence as I could muster, took my spot, along with a deep breath to sooth the butterflies in my stomach, and tried again.  I wanted to appear like I had everything under control, but I think my class knew better.  It was humiliating and depressing.  I don't know If I'll ever get over my fear of this, but I better If I want to become a ballet dancer.

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