Ballet Train Wreck

Birdie totally drove me to tears on Friday.

I really hope no one noticed. I had to focus on silently reciting «The Old Astronomer» by Sarah Williams, which is my mental equivalent of white noise. I cry extremely easily and complete distraction is the only way to stop myself. All because of that negative self-talk thing I mentioned before – once I get upset, I can reliably count on myself to make myself even more upset. Or something.

Here’s a funny thing: The input that prompted that particular reaction was not a correction. I can deal with corrections fairly well, even if they are frustrating. No, Birdie almost reduced me to tears by praising the class.

Maybe it is something in the way she does it. She will give precise individual corrections, but then she’ll get worried that we’ll think we’re shit (which, at this level, we admittedly are) and so she’ll try to cheer us up with a speech on how we all look great and are doing so well. Which, for some reason, makes me feel incredibly inadequate. Maybe it feels patronising. Maybe it feels like getting a consolation prize and being told you’re not a loser but the last winner. I hate stuff like that and always have, no matter how well-meant and sincere the praise is.

Which makes me quite happy that my regular ballet teacher, M., doesn’t do it. She offers constructive praise, along the lines of «Yes, that was much better» or «Good job on those tendus, now try to hold your hips straight». She also praises the whole class occasionally, but in a completely different manner. She’ll say «I know you probably can’t see it yourselves, but you’ve made real progress in the past few weeks.» And that is the kind of praise that doesn’t make my thin-skinned self feel terrible.

I’m still learning a lot from Birdie’s class. She focuses much more on arms and core than M. does, so it’s a great counterbalance to my regular class. My school offers the option of going to another class if you miss your regular one for some reason, and I will certainly gladly go to Birdie’s Saturday class to catch up. But I’m still really happy she’s not my usual teacher.

Oh, and I have one-upped my weirdest place for tendus already. A friend invited me to attend Zurich’s Street Parade, which is one of the largest techno parties in the world. And while we were there my friend suggested I show him some ballet moves. I did. We were in the VIP area with an all-you-can-eat buffet and free drinks, so I doubt it looked very elegant!

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