March 14, 2012

Pink Presentation


It has been now about one month since I ditched my trusted black leggings in favour of pink tights. Never imagined I would go this far without the force of a dress-code. But here I am, and let me say that I have seen the light. Coloured like a summer dawn, it is indeed ballet-pink! Seriously, my fellow dancers, it is not as daunting or embarrassing as I had feared. I'm not entirely comfortable, but there have been definitive advantages. Enough so to outweigh the con of feeling thigh-thunderous! ;)

For one, I'm much more aware of my knee-heel-toe alignment, at least when I can see myself in the mirror. And it almost seems to me that my teachers are more aware of it too. That or they have simply noticed me working harder. Anyway, lately I have been getting a lot of fine-tuning corrections about my feet! And there has been some progress, too! It is hard to believe that after all these years I'm still capable to produce a better en dehors. Or as my teacher keeps telling us: "Present your beautiful heels!"

Now I have to confess that I haven't gone entirely pink for ever. Occasionally, I have felt the need to wear black, and I still keep spare leggings in my dance bag. Also, it is more fun to mix it up a little. Confession number two: I have been wearing knee-length cut-off shorts above my tights. I roll the legs up, just a little, but it has been my safety gear of sorts. It's silly really, no one else but me cares about the size of my thighs!

Yesterday, in pointe class, I finally decided to brave it. I was hot, the shorts added extra bulk under my new and pretty red polka-dot skirt, and we were facing the barre. Everyone was concentrating on their own thing, the teacher knows how I look already, and does not care - so what the heck! I stripped down to my leo, tights and skirt combo and preceded with the class. No biggie. No, wrong. Big suprise! I did not see the dreaded thunder thighs, what I saw instead were nicely muscled and strong legs. Not quite the preferred lean ballerina-look, but I do have dancer's legs is all I'm saying!

Five years ago I was in black yoga-pants and tunics, today in skirts and pink tights. It may seem like I'm making a lot of noise about appearances, but for me it signifies a milestone. I feel finally at ease with my ballet-shaped body - and proud of what I have achieved.

20 comments:

  1. yay Johanna!! i totally understand. I started out in yoga pants and a sports cami as well. only when joining a studio (teen classes!) was i required to adopt pink tights and black leos. that was a milestone for me, like i was an 'actual' dancer. i can't say i don't still look in the mirror and think my arms are stick like or my knees are ugly or all the myriad other body issues we can come up with so easily. but i can say that putting on my pink tights and black leo makes me want to look like the best version of the dancer i can be. you're right that you do work harder in that outfit!! on another note, did you see this article? http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/newsnight/9705123.stm

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  2. Interesting article. Though I have to admit that I have never seen SP perform live, so I can't quite relate to all the fuss. But it is good to follow your instincts and your heart's desires, even if you end up ruffling a lot of feathers! It may be a loss for the ballet world in the long run, but there has always been new talent waiting to be discovered! I do hope SP lives out his dreams, whatever they may turn out to be.

    About the outfit-issue.. Oh yeah, extra hard work is a must, even more so! Those pink tights are pretty damn unforgiving :D

    Glad you're feeling all dancer-like! We as women can be so critical about our bodies, but it's really such a waste of precious time. We need to own our shapes, and focus on the dancing. Period. :)

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  3. Good for you, Johanna! I feel like women (and I guess men to a certain extent too) nowadays are so critical of their bodies: diet this, surgery that, cosmetic makeover, 10 tips to burn fat etc etc. No one ever stops to look at all the beautiful things our bodies can do. Even a simple pirouette is such an awesome thing physiologically: there are hundreds of muscles working in perfect harmony to produce a beautiful movement.
    Like you, I used to have a case of ballet clothes phobia, but for me it was the leotard. I could never go to class unless I put my "fat t-shirt" over the leo so that no one would see my stomach when I bend over for port de bras. But that was just silly. No one cares about my stomach fat. I've been to many many different dance schools and skilled adult dancers come in all shapes and sizes.

    I'd like to throw in this quote by Agnes De Mille,

    "To dance is to be out of yourself. Larger, more beautiful, more powerful."


    On days when I feel like my "popo" sticks out or my stomach is fat, I think about this quote.

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    1. Yeah, what's up with that? But is it any wonder with all the photoshopping and dietary advice? And then you have ballet with its long and lean über-bodies..

      You are right to put the focus on the awesome capabilties of the moving body instead. What counts is what we can do with our bodies, not whether there are voluptuous thighs or tummy rolls in cambrés.

      Love the quote by De Mille, one of my all-time favorites!

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  4. When I started my ballet journey a long time ago, I for some reason chose tan tights. Ahh! Why would I do THAT? The receptionist at my ballet school told me that I looked like a figure skater. Hah! So yeah, pink is better for sure!

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    1. Nothing wrong with tan tights per se, it's simply a matter of tradition.. And there are also ballets where ballerinas either go bare-legged or wear tan coloured tights (and pointe shoes or flatties to match).

      It's kinda funny though.. When there's no dress code, you see pink tights, black leggings, blue and purple and even green. But not tan. Only on ice! ;)

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  5. I have always used pink tights when I did ballet in the Netherlands, then I moved and in this school no one uses pink for some reason (we even have ladies in jogging pants, augh- that really bothers me a lot!)... so I got black tights because I felt uncomfortable.

    But you have inspired me and I just got my pink ones out of the bag and will use them tonight :D Long live pink! Besides, spring is here already and it fits better with the weather in a way :p

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    1. You just might start a new trend in your school! :)

      But I understand about not (always) wanting to stand out in a crowd. In my first school, no one wore traditional ballet-school attire - it was pretty much anything goes! Which is not bad at all, as it is especially important for beginning adult students to feel comfortable in class.

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    2. True :) I understand for beginners it's scary to wear tights or a leotard- I had it too-, but these ladies in jogging pants have been there for several years now- it makes me feel like it's not ballet class in a way, I wish we had some dress code, at least wear tights.

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    3. It's a shame that these ladies have not gained that confidence over the years of dancing. I'm not a fan of jogging pants either, but they could trnsition to slimmer jazz or yoga-style pants first. Black leggings with longer shorts is also a very "safe" look. Tights are really optional, and in my opinion should remain so.

      However, most schools strongly recommend wearing form-fitting practice clothes. It is near impossible for a teacher to see your alignment under baggy pants and shirts. These ladies are waisting precious learning opportunities! The moment you see your legs (black leggings or pink tights) and your knees in the mirror, you understand to stretch and lengthen! And will be a better dancer for it!

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  6. Yay, you go girl! Besides ballet makes you and your body beautiful, I'm sure. It's funny that I bought my first pink tights just after a few months of ballet classes and worn them (and white ones too!) ever since. But then I need my (short) shorts and t-shirt over my tights and leo. :-)

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    1. Thanks, Sara!

      I know other beginners who did the same as you, and a good thing too! It really does not have to amount to such a big deal as it did for me.. ;)

      Short shorts are nice, but do you need that t-shirt? I took the plunge with pink and now I'm daring you to ditch the tee! :)

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    2. I know, I know, it's just been so easy to keep the t-shirt on especially now in wintern as the studio has been so cold. But you are so right, I should ditch it and I will! Moreover I have so many pretty leos it really is a shame to hide them. :-)

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    3. If you're cold, but still would like to wear something form-fitting that doesn't hide your pretty leos, try this:

      Take an old pair of leggings or tights, cut out the gusset and hey, presto - you have skinny top to pull over! Oh, with the tights you would have to cut off the ends as well, obviously ;)

      Even better, don't bother with old hosiery but buy some new instead. You see a lot of fun colours on sale, like coral or bright blues. They don't look so great on legs, but fab on top of leos!

      You might want to get one size larger than usual. Leggings with gussets are easiest to convert. Turn inside out and cut along the outside of the seam. The fabric will stretch enough. It will also snag and run, but I don't mind.

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  7. I know what you mean. Ballet has made me both more aware and more accepting of my body. At first I would wear plain T-shirts but now I don't even think twice about sometimes wearing sleeveless shirts or tank tops. Also, I figure most of the girls and women in my class wear leotards, so why should I as a guy be hung up over exposing my upper arms and shoulders? :)

    We all have issues but class is (or should be) a "safe" space for just dance! Random other thing: I have added the footless or capri tight / nude shoe look (that I remember you recommending to me long ago) to my repertoire and am liking it! Soon I think I'm also going to branch out from basic black tights! :)

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    1. Jeff, thanks for your input! Us girls tend to forget that men feel the pressure too.. But I have never judged any of our dancing men according to their looks, only on how they dance and present themselves in class. You know, whether they know to behave gentleman-like ;)

      I also like to check out their jump, but don't pay any attention to how upper arms or shoulders look. Long sleeve or not. Unless there would be partnering involved. In which case you would need the muscle! :)

      I'm glad you like the footless / nude shoe look!

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  8. Good for you! You should feel at ease about your body.

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    1. We should all feel at ease with our bodies.. It's just harder if you don't fit the ideal ballet mold, and are surrounded by ballet visuals everywhere! Of course, recreational dancers do not have to look the part. That's left to the professionals. All we have to do is focus on clean technique and the joy of dancing. Which is beautiful itself.

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  9. Oh Johanna, I'm so pleased for you.

    What a wonderful realisation, the mental images we carry of ourselves and our bodies can be so hard to over come, and when in a dance studio, surrounded by mirrors on all sides, it can sometimes feel you are in one of those "house of mirrors" where you see all sorts of distorted images reflecting back at you.

    But there are those moments when the reflection you see surprises and delights you, and thanks to a moment of bravery on your part, the pinks tights have rewarded you by showing how amazing ballet can be for our bodes.

    Be proud, be happy, tell everyone, you've worked so hard and deserve these little moments of triumph!

    Becca

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    1. Thank you, Becca!

      You are so right. In fact one of our studios has those dreaded "house of mirror" -mirrors - it can kill your confidence in an instant. If you don't laugh it off immediately! Next to the fat mirror is the most flattering slimming mirror, which is actually just as bad. You should be happy and proud with what you have, not fall in love with a photoshopped version of yourself!

      It has taken me some time to get (back) here, and I sometimes still cringe if I catch my derriere and thighs at a less than advantageous angle. Luckily, dance is about movement and not about striking one pose after another!

      Us women an dancers (men too) come in a wonderful variety of shapes and sizes - and we should all be proud and happy of our individual strengths, quirks and triumphs alike!

      Becca, thanks again for your lovely words and support! :)

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