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My fabulous new life as a senior ballerina

My fabulous new life as a senior ballerina

The sad truth is that people often lose a part of themselves in relationships. Or maybe that’s just me.

"The dress code was relaxed, but I opted to wear my pink socks with the glittery mercats. I had to wear something pink, after all."

It’s never too late to raise the barre

The sad truth is that people often lose a part of themselves in relationships. Or maybe that’s just me.

I desperately want to be the best partner and unfortunately don’t always prioritise what makes me happy.

A year ago, I walked away from the most serious romantic relationship of my life. The closest thing to a divorce, in the circumstances.

I don’t want to say that I was suddenly free, but I found myself with the freedom to re-invent myself. The freedom to follow some of the dreams that I had filed away under “someday”.

I have wanted to learn ballet for many years. Having, never done any kind of formal dance class, this was a daunting idea. (I don’t think that a lone Zumba class counts.)

I have always enjoyed dancing, but it has been more of a case of freestyle over choreography. As a child, I loathed the idea of having to learn the basics.

My dad tried to teach me to play the piano, and I was more interested in composing my own music than learning which key was middle C. This might be the reason that my foray into the world of pink tights and pliés was so greatly delayed.

I casually mentioned to my sister-in-law that I had done a half-hearted Google search for adult ballet classes in my new neighbourhood. Within days she had forwarded me a flyer for a beginners’ ballet workshop at a friend’s studio.

The dress code was relaxed, but I opted to wear my pink socks with the glittery mercats (yes, mermaid cats). I had to wear something pink, after all.

I loved the class. The next day, I rushed to get myself a ballet outfit. The ballet shop did proper fitting for my ballet shoes. It felt good to be taken seriously as a dancer.

Later that day, I donned my lacy leotard, gauzy skirt, tights and shoes. I felt beautiful as I posed in front of the mirror and snapped some selfies for my mom. I was excited to start my weekly classes.

To my horror, I found out later that week that they weren’t introducing a Saturday morning beginners’ class. I’d misunderstood. And now I owned the whole outfit.

I was assured that it would be okay for me to join the level 2 class on a Tuesday evening – I was sceptical.

At my first class, I was the only student who was dressed for the occasion. What I lacked in physical grace, I more than made up for in style. (Insert a cheeky wink and finger guns here.)

Over the last year, I’ve grown as a dancer, and only sickness has kept me away from the barre on a Tuesday evening.

I’ll never be a Prima Ballerina, but I am a ballerina. I’ve joined some of the other classes that the studio has to offer and particularly enjoy a regular “barre class”.

It’s a high-impact workout that combines elements of ballet and Pilates. I like to think of it as my intense ballerina training.

Besides being the first exercise programme that hasn’t resulted in an injury, ballet has been a positive addition to my life.

When I enter the studio with my little pink tote bag, I leave the world behind. I slip on my ballet shoes, adjust my bun, and get lost in the music and choreography.

Believe me, after a full day at work, I don’t have the mental focus to think about anything other than the steps of our latest routine.

There is something beautiful and pure about ballet. I don’t have the pressure to be perfect or to pass exams, so I can just have fun. I can giggle when I mix up my left and my right.

When I go to the studio, I know that I am doing something completely for myself. I’m not going to pretend that I always feel beautiful and graceful, but my legs have got stronger, my movements more precise.

I’ve found a part of myself that I didn’t know was missing. It doesn’t matter that it took me so long to answer the call of the barre. I got there eventually, and when I most needed it.

A few months ago, after mentioning that I’d just returned from a ballet class, my neighbour exclaimed, “But, you don’t look like a ballerina!” It’s okay. Because I feel like one.

Sharon Paine

Change expert, Sharon Paine, believes that the big change equals big opportunity.

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