Ballet classes are notoriously intimidating, even if you’ve been dancing your whole life and in your native tongue. I have seen teachers excoriate students for all manner of infractions, from not sporting the proper ballet bun to forgetting the steps. I wasn’t sure what type of dance world I would be walking into — supportive and fun or drop-dead serious.
Either way, I knew I was going to stick out like a sore thumb.
What did it take for me to get to German ballet class? Jet-lag induced delusions and absolute newness in this country. I’m glad I didn’t wait even one more day, or the temporary insanity may have worn off.
It was a messy and confusing experience, but I lived through it. Even though I arrived late. Even though I accidentally took a place at the head of the barre. Even though the teacher only spoke German. It was adding up to be a comedy reel of my faux pas, but I gritted my teeth and pushed on. The gracious and lovely Nina bore with me all the way to révérence at the end of what ended up being a very pleasant — dare I say easy? — hour of dance. What had I gotten so worked up about in the first place? All I had to do was watch and repeat. Words were hardly necessary.
Movement is our primary form of non-verbal communication, but most of us would never trade in our beloved words for dance. We’ve learned how to say what we think, not show what we think. Still, how do we talk to each other when words fail? With our hands.
We might feel stymied learning a new language or living in a foreign country, but we have a secret superpower: Our bodies. When we don’t have the words, we always have our arms, legs, hands, and facial expressions. I’m not saying I’d dance my way through the line at the grocery store, but I know that in a bind, I could get my point across.
It's endlessly comforting to bear this in mind.
(Still, let's hope it doesn't come to that.)