So, on Thursday for the first time, I attended a ballet class. Now, this is not actually true. I took ballet classes from the age of 5 to about 10. However, that still means that I haven't been to ballet class for 25 years and given the fear I felt as I walked in, it counts as a first time (my blog, my rules, my friend). I thought I had chosen well - an adult evening ballet class for beginners. Note that word, it will become important. OK, so fair enough it was at a well-known ballet school near my home, but nevertheless, an adult beginners ballet class. Does that scream tiny girls in white tights and pointe shoes to you? No, exactly. So imagine my horror as I turned up, in a pair of sweat pants and a rather ugly t-shirt (printed with 'Royal Mail Letters' for some reason), to find the class absolutely full of those young women, plus a token few young men, all attired with tights, leotards and ballet slippers, all limbering up at the barre, looking like they were about to audition for Bambi or Swan Lake or something. I immediately walked out, backwards, and walked into Helen, my new friend and the only other person who was in socks and not wearing tights. She assured me that we were in the right class - she'd been once before - and we stood skulking at the back watching all the Margot Fonteyns showing off (well, just stretching at that stage, but you know what I mean).
Eventually, I plucked up the courage to speak to the rather formidable guy beside me and said (accusingly, you bet) "You don't look like a beginner to me!" to which he replied - "oh, we're not, we just love the teacher." Hm. Anyway, you're probably expecting me to say that I'm never going back, but you'd be wrong. I loved every moment (well, except one, which I'll explain in a moment) and I can't wait to go back.
So the teacher then arrived, and all I can say is that he is the weirdest yet most inspiring teacher in the world. I felt like I'd stepped into a parallel universe. Earlier in the day I had been at my desk being a lawyer and then here I was, practicising demi-pliées in fifth position, whilst having my rib cage position corrected by an Italian man who spent the class coming out with phrases like: "Close your ribcage until you feel like you will suffocate! You won't suffocate, you won't die. Remember when your husband left you and you felt like you would die? Well, you didn't did you?" I was enchanted.
Helen and I lumbered about at the back for two hours whilst watching the stars (pretty much everyone except us) until towards the end of the class, he shouted "Beginners, at the front!" and made us stand in front of the mirrors. I thought he hadn't noticed us, and I genuinely almost walked out. But instead I lumbered about while he watched us, until he dismissed us with a mysterious: "Not bad, you know more than you think you do". I can't wait for next Thursday.