The Gospel According to Ballet

30 Jun

April 10, 2o12

Bienvenidos al Infierno. Aquellos que Cruzan este Puerto dejan todos sus esperanzas.”

Welcome to hell. Those that cross these doors leave all hope behind.”

Daniel, my Cuban commie ballet drill sergeant, greeted me with these cheery and welcoming words one morning before class started. I’m not sure what his religious affiliation is but I can’t help but wonder if he was raised extremely Catholic or possibly Seventh Day Adventist because his classes are always peppered with colorful religious imagery.

As I’ve mentioned before, there is no air-conditioning in the ballet studio, so Daniel welcoming us to hell wasn’t too far off the mark. But I think he also fancies himself as some sort of gatekeeper of hell or distributor of infernal justice.

“You know I wanted to be a demon,” he told me conspiratorially after one class, “But the position was already full so I had to settle for a being a ballet teacher.”

Daniel once told me that he and his wife were yogis but somehow I don’t think the entire philosophy has really sunk in with him. He definitely doesn’t believe in karma.

“Why do people do ballet?” he asked me, “They think that if they suffer a lot in ballet class then they won’t suffer in the rest of their life. But they’re wrong. They suffer a lot in both.”

He always delivers these lines after staring upward and to the left, maybe looking for divine inspiration. After sharing his little sound bites, he grins mischievously, cackles and then makes us do a complicated six-part combination that makes me think I’m atoning for some serious sin (sis, I’m sorry I put a lollipop in your hair when I was nine).

More likely I’m atoning for committing one of the sins of Daniel’s class. In his class, there aren’t seven deadly sins, only three: Don’t stop, don’t be lazy and don’t change the combinations.

I’m certainly guilty of the last, but it’s nearly impossible to do his combinations perfectly because he changes them a dozen times while he’s teaching them. Luckily, he has a few set combinations that we do every class he refers to as “our daily bread.”

Oh Daniel, forgive us our bad passés as we forgive those who chasse and run into us. Leap us not into exhaustion and deliver us from turned in feet. For thine is the class of sweat, blood and tears forever.

Amen.

 

 

Please note: I really love Daniel and my ballet classes. Besides having the pleasure of spending so many hours a week with Daniel, I’m really improving my ballet technique and believe it or not, having the time of my life.

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