It dawned on me as I was driving to the ballet school for one final class that it will be 10 years this fall since I first walked into the studio for the first time as I returned to dance as an adult.
I was nervous, thinking it was absolutely crazy to be trying ballet again at the old age of 39.
I found myself in a class of some amazingly encouraging, inspiring women who redefined my definition of beauty. I was content taking class, and fellowshipping with them in the lobby. I was content with class, how it was cool that it destressed ne. It was good exercise.
I had no desire to perform, but a friend talked me into being in the party scene with her in The Nutcracker, and I was bit by the performance bug.
Around the second year I was there, our school changed artistic directors and brought in a new ballet mistress.
Suddenly, ballet went from being just a hobby that was good exercise to becoming a passion where I set goals I never thought I’d set.
I went from being in class with adults around my age, to routinely being outnumbered in classes full of company kids. Because of the shortage of male students, I found myself in partnering classes, working with girls who were my daughter’s age and eventually performing a pas de deux myself.
And I went from being a deer-in-the-headlights party dad in The Nutcracker to performing as a Chinese lion, priest, brawling cowboy, frothy hairdresser and court man in Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet, Firebird, Dracula, Billy the Kid, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.
I also ended up helping with fundraising and performing tech crew duties when I wasn’t on stage performing.
My ballet family expanded from a wonderful group of ladies that I still call friends to dance teachers, company kids, parent-volunteers and the wardrobe ladies.
I’d been focused on my move to New Mexico that I ended up missing a lot of classes at the end.
But I felt the need to make one last class.
I was surprised by Mr. O as we left barre for center work when he entered the room with a plaque to show his appreciation for the work I put in at the ballet.
Mrs. O, our ballet mistress, taught the class. I gave her a tearful hug when class was over.
And I said a tearful goodbye to friends and faculty before walking out of the building. It was tough because the school was overrun with parents and kids registering for fall.
I do not know where my dance journey will lead from here. I hope to find a challenging open class in Albuquerque and build some relationships there.
But now, I’m kind of sad.
I started my journey just renewing a hobby. And somewhere along the line I gained a family.