Through and through, I am a creature of habit. My planner is the most important purchase of the year and I thrive off my Sunday night organization session where I outline my upcoming week in multi-colored pens. I have certain habits for grocery shopping and laundry and when I like to study foreign languages.
These routines, much like running and writing, keep me grounded and focused. But at some point, routines can become too much. It isn’t until you’ve stepped outside of yourself for a day or a week that you notice how much you’ve missed. You know that feeling of taking a long weekend trip? Suddenly, Saturday seems to last forever as you forget about buying bananas and bread and focus on enjoying wherever you are.
All this is to say that while I appreciate some of the structures I’ve given my life, I can’t help but wonder what’s just outside the box. The new idea for Sunday blog posts is to write about one experience I had in the previous week that was out of routine, that wasn’t predictable, that made me think a little differently about myself and the world I live in.
Challenge 16: Go to the Ballet
Hidden among stacks of childhood VHS recordings is a tape of one of my dance recitals. One by one, adorable little girls in pink tutus and perfected hair twirl onto the stage, their hands raised delicately above their tiny heads.
Then I walk out. Emphasis on walk. I’m not elegant. I’m not on my toes. My back is a bit slouched. My arms don’t quite hit the mark of grace. I walk to the stage like some sort of reincarnation of Frankenstein’s Monster that ended up in a little girl.
The first time I watched this video snuggled into a blanket in my parent’s living room, I absolutely lost it. They were fighting an uphill battle with me from day one. I took dance for a short period of time when I was around preschool age but quickly moved on to other things like climbing trees and riding bikes.
Years have passed since I realized I had no interest in dancing myself, but when my friends and I talked about going to the ballet for my roommate’s birthday, I was intrigued. It was something I would definitely like to experience and see. We bought tickets (with no idea what it was we were exactly seeing) and a couple days later took the train to Lincoln Center.
Picking our tickets up at the will call booth surrounded by elegance and magnificence of chandeliers and well-dressed couples, I immediately felt weirdly sophisticated – or at least like I had to keep up that act. We found our seats and the show began.
If it wasn’t apparent from my introduction, I know nothing about dance. I have no knowledge to comment on the techniques or rhythms or choreography. This review isn’t about that. This is about what I do know – how it made me feel.
The 3-act show opened with a blank stage and a row of ballerinas. I watched them glide across the stage. I listened to the orchestra below (something I’m far better equipped to comment on). Even now, I’m struggling to find the words to convey the evening. To put it simply: it was beautiful. I can’t tell you why. I can’t explain it. But there was something so raw and beautiful about it. It seemed like art in its purest form.
I wasn’t sure what to expect going into the theatre that night but I left feeling like I could see things a little different. All in all – the experience is worth having, even if you don’t understand ballet and even if it’s just a one-time thing. The more I stretch myself to experiences that feel out of the ordinary, the more I feel myself understanding the world around me. And that might be the most beautiful thing of all.