Embracing the Change
One of the most common conversations I have with my clients is the difficulty in wrapping our minds around the way our bodies change as we age, and how we can still embrace the beauty of our physical selves at any stage of this game we call life. For the next several months I will be photographing older ballerinas, capturing what it means to be a dancer when your body no longer cooperates with your soul.
If you think that ballet doesn’t intersect with your life, pause for a few minutes and read Teri’s story below. I think the reality of our bodies changing without our consent is something we can all relate to.
Teri’s Story: The Early Years
“I grew up in a leotard and tights. I really don’t remember a time before ballet. I loved the feel of my hand on the barre and the rhythm that every ballet class held. Even though I was a skinny little girl, I wasn’t born with all the “goods” that a typical ballet dancer has. I remember how my feet had to work hard to move onto pointe shoes and super harsh ballet teachers, but none of that mattered. I loved it so much and even now, 5’2’’ with no long legs… I still do.”
“I grew up dancing in a small town and have always been a hard worker. That dedication paid off in my modest-sized studio where I was one of the “better” dancers. I loved my teachers, the corrections and the discipline. The dance studio was one of my favorite places to be, and that has never changed. So it makes sense that I wanted to go to college and major in dance after high school, but my dad thought it would be best if I got a degree with a “good” major that I could use to take care of myself. This is how I ended up pursuing accounting, but I figured out how to get a minor in dance and I lived in those dance studios when I wasn’t in my business classes.”
The Middle Years
“Outside of my hometown, I quickly learned that I was just an average dancer in a sea of good dancers. There were definitely some tears over that, but my love of ballet loomed on and I danced my heart and toes out throughout all my college years.”
“After college and marriage, I would continue to dance even throughout the months of carrying two babies inside of me. Pregnancy changed how my body felt in ballet class, but surprisingly I performed better than I ever had previously. That is what “moving your weight forward” literally does. I actually went into labor at the ballet studio with my first child. So appropriate for me! At that point, I was teaching ballet classes and falling more in love with that side of ballet life every day. I would go on to teach ballet for a total of 20 years, with Covid being the first roadblock to end that part of my life.”
Dancing Through Life
“After so many years of dancing, and the bumps and bruises that go along with the journey, my body has gotten tired. At one point I realized I could no longer dance in pointe shoes, which was a very hard transition for me. I loved them so much, but life and time take over. I am no longer the strong, young girl who went to college to dance. My body is different, but my heart is the same.”
“I still love to dance. My hand on a ballet barre is one of my most happy spaces. At the moment, the timing isn’t right, but I do plan to return to an adult ballet class in the future. When I am holding the barre and gazing into the mirror, I will have to acknowledge that I will never again see the reflection of a 20-year-old dancer, but I will always remember how the rhythm of a ballet class calms my soul and heart.”
“I am a ballet dancer.”
Listen to an interview with Teri below…