We have an assignment in my web design class to create a poem page based on our favorite poem.
It did not take me long to come up with my poem. “The Road Not Taken” seems to be a constant theme in my life. So many of the roads in my life have been the roads less traveled, most of my choice, but others not so much.
The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of Robert Frost’s poem is my love for ballet, and that very first ballet class I took as a teenager.
I can’t really remember what the lure was that had me wanting to try a class. I saw “Children of Theatre Street” when I was about 10, and an ABC Afternoon Special called a “Special Gift” when I was in middle, and it struck a chord with me.
I don’t remember what was harder, telling your parents you wanted to take ballet, or actually scraping enough courage to walk into a ballet studio for the first time. But I do remember hearing from my father that ballet “was for girls,” and in Alabama back in those days it was true (and for the most part, still).
The road was full of boys on the way to football, or baseball. And for the record, I traveled both of those roads. I love both sports, although I was lousy at baseball.
The road on the way to a ballet class, or just about any dance class, for that matter, was pretty much empty for me.
My heart was pounding that day I walked into that class on the top floor of Fort Decatur, a former National Guard Armory that was converted into a recreational center as a 16-year-old. And the class was a recreation sponsored one (which they no longer have), taught by a young teacher who was still dancing in the company I now perform with on occasion.
“I can’t believe I’m doing this … What have I done … I don’t belong here … what if someone I know finds out I’m doing this,” were the thoughts running through my head when I saw my classmates … leotard clad teenage and preteen girls. There were about 10 of them.
I think they were as shocked as I was that I was there.
Madame Sherrie, our teacher, gave about a five minute speech about the fact that boys and men belong in ballet, and that ballet, in her opinion was not complete without them.
It made me feel a lot better. And I think it made the girls feel better, too. To their credit, they made me feel welcome. And one remains a friend. She now sits on one of the local school boards.
Yeah, I took a little ridicule going down that road not taken. It wasn’t easy.
It introduced me to things that most boys in the South never experience, ballet shoes, tights, unitards, jazz class and dance recitals.
It also introduced me to a lot of fun that I would not have experienced had I not taken that road. One cannot put into words how it feels when you are caught up in a dance, or how it feels like flying when you’re sailing through a tour jete during a grande allegro.
It was a lot of fun I missed out on when I gave dance up after college.
I’m so glad I rediscovered that less traveled road later in life as an adult … and let’s face it, it’s still a road usually not taken if you’re an adult, male or female.
But like Frost says in his poem, taking that road not taken has made a huge difference in my life.