Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows that I figure skate. What people don’t know is how closely related competitive figure skating and ballet are to one another.
Competitive figure skaters don’t just practice on the ice, but spend hours also practicing off ice. They do this by taking specialized ballet and yoga for skaters that allow them to practice their on-ice positions, spins, jumps, etc in a safe environment. When you’re on the ice, the feet and arm positions used are the same as in ballet.
You can’t just strap on a pair of skates, and contort your body into strange positions on day one. Like any sport that requires using muscles that most people never realize they have, skaters spend months training their bodies to get into these positions, and months more learning to do it while standing on a 3/4″ blade.
After years of being in and out of the sport, I finally have returned. My last absence was due to breaking my ankle, and needing to recover from surgery. A titanium plate, and 8 screws still aren’t enough to keep me away. The sport is in my blood. I can’t run away from it, because I love it with all my heart. You have to if you’re going to devote the time needed to be good enough to compete.
There’s something intoxicating about being able to do something most people can’t do. It’s not because of ability (though I’ve seen many who lack it), but about fear. The idea of turning, spinning, and jumping on a thin piece of metal scares the crap out of most people, so they never try. The horror stories skaters tell tend to run off those who do.
When I first saw the promo for the CW Network’s Breaking Pointe I was thrilled. I’ve always loved ballet, and even tried my hand at it. Unfortunately, I was too young to appreciate it.
I’ve known ballerinas, and seeing how much of their lives they give to the sport is inspirational. Yeah, you hear me, sport. They suffer blood, sweat, tears, and more often than not broken bones. To get anywhere in the world of ballet you have to start young while you’re still growing. That’s the best way to train your body to do what it needs to do to be successful. It also scars you for life.
Being young, your body is still growing, but you spend hours with your feet bound. If you’ve ever seen photos of Chinese women who have bound their feet to meet this barbarous ideal of beauty, then you know how horrid this is. Yet these men and women dancers push on to obtain perfection, so they can bring us beauty.
For years they toil for a dream than the majority of them will never achieve. Being the best. Most of them will end up in the chorus, never taking center stage, told they aren’t good enough to shine in the spotlight. Despite knowing how slim the chance to shine is, these dancers never give up. If they make it, they do the one thing billions of others couldn’t. They become legends.