Talks from the heart… Ballet

One of the goals I have set myself for 2020 is opening up about things lying close to my heart. It’s those things that really mean a whole lot to me and that I am really passionate about and it’s those things that are bound to give me loads of energy.

By talking from the heart, I hope I can motivate you to search for things that lie close to your heart and you know what… those things may be right there around the corner, waiting for you to grab them…you’ve just got to see them!

Don’t be afraid, don’t let anxiety hold you back… because whatever you want to do from the heart, whatever lies close to your heart, whoever lives in your heart will help you, will motivate and support you along the way. It’s those things and those people who make life worthwhile, who will help you through difficult times.

Doing something from the heart will give you a kind of happiness and liberation you have never felt before♥

This first ‘From the heart’ is about something that has been in my heart since I was a little girl… ballet!

I have been in love with ballet for nearly as long as I have memories… I was (and still am) in love with the tutus and the pointes, the elegance and the poses, the strength and the frailty…

Let me tell you a bit more about this passion of mine 🙂

When I was a little girl, I had this animated book of a young girl doing ballet. The book was filled with drawings of ballet poses, including the basic positions.  Then I got this book from the library, which was about pupils from the English National Ballet School. There was a lot of information in this book and it was filled with beautiful pictures. I wrote down all the advice in a notebook and I copied a couple of pages out of this book.

Unfortunately I couldn’t attend ballet classes in real as there was no ballet school in my neighbourhood. So I decided on teaching myself, using the books and copies I had… I also started doing gymnastics so I could practice my flexibility and although I loved those gym classes, it just didn’t seem as light and airy and elegant as ballet to me.

As I grew up, my love for ballet remained. I went to the theatre to see ballet performances and even after I was married I was looking for a ballet school that would take on adult beginners, but unfortunately I didn’t find a school to fit my needs.

When my eldest daughter was about 7, she started doing ballet and I loved seeing her in her leotard practising her poses. She was admitted to a professional ballet school at age 9 and kept on doing ballet on a high level up until the age of 14. I loved it, needless to say… I was the mum driving her from here to there, attending rehearsals and performances, I motivated and supported her during this hard education. I learned a lot about ballet those years, but only in theory though!

At age 15 my daughter attended a ‘normal’ school again and stopped doing ballet, but with her as well as with me, the love for ballet remained…

But then a couple of years ago, I noticed an ad on Facebook of a girl that used to go to the same professional ballet school as my daughter did. This girl, Tatevik, had started her own (amateur) ballet school in Antwerp and was promoting beginners classes for adults… no matter what age, no matter what size, no matter what ballet experience… The ad instantly caught my eye, but two things were holding me back: first of all the location (I would have to travel twice as long as a ballet class lasted) and second of all my back (I was having these constant back aches which made me think ballet was just not possible for me).

One year on and Tatevik had moved her ballet studio to a location which was easier for me to reach… in the meanwhile I had done specific fysiotherapy classes for my back and it dawned on me that I had run out of excuses not to attend the adult beginners ballet classes. It still took me a couple of months to summon up the courage…until that one evening at the beginning of February 2019!

Picture taken by Tatevik from Ballet Workout Belgium

I attended my first ballet class aged 47 and 4 months…  and I didn’t feel ridiculous at all! I felt relieved that I finally had found the courage to do so, I felt happy, content, proud… and my back didn’t hurt at all!

Besides the regular ballet classes, I also started the stretching classes which I also enjoy very much. I am still very flexible and it makes my heart sing whenever I can show off my grand écart.

I work hard, I attend as many classes as I can, I  listen to all the instructions given and I try to do my utter best to do the steps as well as possible. I can truly say that I give my absolute everything every single class.

Stretching at home (don’t mind the hair and bare face!!).

Now believe me… when you see those ballerina’s twirling away on stage, it all looks so easy… but the moment you’ve got to do a couple of simple steps yourself, you realize how freaking hard ballet actually is. You’ve got to think of so many things doing one simple step… pull up, shoulders down, long neck, point the toes, mind the arms, relax the fingers (but in a correct way), stretch the knees, turn out, oh… and smile!!! Ballet is intense, difficult, actually it’s pure torture… but a nice kind of torture 😀

Doing ballet has also a positive effect on my health. My back has strengthened and therefore hurts way less than before. My posture has improved and all the little muscles in my feet are strengthening. Before starting ballet I went to an orthopedist as my feet started hurting regularly and at night they were becoming stiff which made walking in the morning a bit hurtful. The orthopedist gave me a prescription for orthopedic insoles. But then I started doing ballet, my feet got stronger and I never had to buy those insoles!

And also my mental heath benefits from the ballet lessons. During the ballet classes, I am completely isolated from the world as a matter of fact… I am actually in a bubble… a ballet bubble so to speak. It is so difficult to explain, but actually whilst doing ballet there are only a couple of things that matter… my body, the music and the steps.

Besides the tutus and the pointes, the elegance and the poses, the strength and the frailty, I have now also fallen in love with the thought of having a ballet class in the evening, the discipline during the classes, the sense of solidarity with the other pupils, my eagerness at doing the best I can, the intense feeling  of happiness and fatigue I have after a ballet class,… Yip, ballet really has become an addiction!

Sometimes I think that when I would have started ballet as a kid, I might have become rather good at it. This thought makes me regret not having started 40 years ago, but I don’t want to have regrets and I don’t want to let those sad feelings kick in too much.

Most of the time I just feel so grateful and thankful that I have started ballet despite my age, despite my thoughts of me being incapable of doing ballet and despite what everybody else may think.

Ballet feeds my body, mind, soul ànd heart. It has become an addiction I hope I never have to let go off…

Love, Kathleen

PS: Special thanks to my husband, he’s my number one fan and he’s always so supportive!

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