When a dancer is on stage, it looks easy and effortless. It is the pinnacle of what the human body can attain. But these artists are decidedly human with bodies that will someday age. When the dancer is in class, you see that being a god or fairy is work, grueling hard work and you can see the strengths and the weaknesses. They don't always get it right. They are not always together. They are not always that kind of beautiful. But in the way that we broken and damaged souls are all the more beautiful for our flaws, somehow seeing the heart and effort is more moving than the show. At this the final company class of the season, it is morning, after a night of full out performing. I see the bodies are cold, achy.
My friend was amazed at their attire--no pink tights and black leotards! A dance company at company class looks like a group of skinny refugees from a badly stocked and highly picked over rummage sale. Footwear ranges from mismatched sox to down booties to truly ratty ballet slippers in a host of colors and materials.
Some dancers carry in their coffee in Duncan Donuts carry out cups. Some have water bottles. Some wear entire wardrobes of layers and avoid smacking into the giant duffel bags below the bar. I explained to my companions how, in a company class, everyone has a place at the bar--its a territory, and there is an unseen hierarchy. You dare not take a higher ranked dancer's place. It is fascinating to watch how little is demonstrated. They speak in code. Ballet code.
Company class is like daily mass for priests. Its the ritual that holds the world together. You may be hung over or injured or nursing a fever, but your entire known universe will fling apart at the seams if you don't go to class. Something about the regimented order of plie to tendu to degage keeps the earth spinning on its axle and allows you to go on. I have been retired for almost longer than my career lasted and I still want to kill something if I miss dance class. Nothing works right if I don't go to class. Once you have been a dancer, it lives in your body,and your body cannot live without it.
I could have sat in that theater and watched class for the rest of my life. Don't worry Dancers. I will be back next year.
Special thanks to Linda's Iphone for the pic!