Monday, June 22, 2009

Excuse me, I don't speak Ballet.

Everyone knows the story of the ugly duckling, right? Whatever happened to the other egg? You know, the actual ugly duck; did it get adopted and accepted into its graceful surrogate swan family? Or is it still blundering over its webby feet, getting equally teased by the swans the same way its pseudo duckling switch was abused by the duck family on the other side of the lake?

If I am that bad egg, or ersatz swan, I'm happy to admit that at least my swan family in Utah is treating me well. Maybe it's not unlike the special student in class that everyone likes, but the teacher insists that if you point out their limp or speech impediment you'll surely burn in detention. Frankly, it's quite the opposite in my classes. In this case, it's the teacher pointing out my flailing while the students rally around and encourage me to flail on.

I'm not sure how I made it this far since February 2007 in Rome. Walking into IALS (Istituto Addestramento Lavoratori dello Spettacolo) beginning ballet class was the first step, not understanding the language and the potential sarcastic self-esteem crushing jabs was the second. I remember being given the schedule of classes by the receptionist the first time Chris took me to visit. The next day, I showed the foreign list of teachers and hours to some of my friends with dance experience at the National Film School. Determined to try and make some sense out of it, I disregarded the fact that my friends didn't speak much English either. Picking classes from the list soon turned into pointing at certain names on the crumpled paper with one of two motions: 1.) *point into open mouth* Gag, barf noise, or 2.) two thumbs up and a big grin and nod.

I squinted at the the names and times, repeating outloud, "Marcello Raciti, Danza Classica, livello principianti" and flashed the same thumbs up. Little did I know that he was only the start of my first physical introduction to the world of Russian/Vaganova ballet.

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