The other day, I was reading one of my ohsofavorite blogs, The Pioneer Woman, and she joked about her bad ballet knees. And I thought, oh do I know ALL about that!
I may have mentioned once or a thousand times that I'm a dancer. Have been since the tender age of five. And I, as any dancer will sous sous and proclaim, have the same issues as any athlete. The best athletes I know wear leotards.
that would be me at age 7
yes, my stage mom caked the makeup on. and it was the eighties
Dancing, whatever the style, is difficult. There is a reason that ballerinas train from an insanely young age, like gymnasts do. Ballet takes an intricate and innate combination of technique, strength, balance, flexibility, and, let's not forget grace. You're expected to move perfectly and perform insanely difficult things while making it look easy. THAT is the beauty of ballet. To make anyone think they can do it. But of course, the number of those who actually can, is relatively small.
And most other dance forms have basis in ballet. Any good dance teacher will tell you that ballet classes will improve your technique, no matter the class. In the years where ballet wasn't my focus, when my love was Contemporary or Jazz or even Hip Hop, I stuck with ballet (sometimes just in my own kitchen) to keep my technique up.
We won't dwell on the fact that I'm dance classless a la moment because my dumb ass small town has a lack of good classes for us older folk. And in the dance world, I am old. I am. I'm ancient. Almost 30 for a dancer is like pushing elderly in the real world. So there it is.
25ish years of dancing has taken its toll on my body, though. And as I'm sure any athlete will tell you, while this kind of strain on the body can be beneficial to overall health, there are consequences. Tennis players have bad elbows. Swimmers have bad shoulders. Dancers have bad hips. Sometimes knees. And don't get me started on the feet.
I've escaped the bad knees. Many ballet dancers I know have horrible knees. But my hips? I feel like such an old lady when I complain about my hips hurting. And, according to a dance teacher I spent 4 years training with, I have narrow hips for a dancer, so I would always have a hard time with hip strength and flexibility. But jeebus, it sucks. And I like to be active, so I just deal, but when I've walked a ton (like when I do charity walks), they ACHE. Like an old fucking lady, yo. And I know all the remedies, so spare me that.
And the feet. The feet. I don't have the worst feet as far as ballerinas go. I spent most of my years barefoot anyway in Modern Dance and Hula classes, or in tap shoes (which if fitted correctly, shouldn't kill your feet), or in ballet technique classes in soft ballet shoes. But, I did take pointe. And pointe shoes, kids, are torture devices.
my last pair of pointe shoes, hanging in my room
If you know anything about the history of ballet, you know that modern pointe shoes are an improvement considering what early ballerinas were expected to do. But seriously peeps, think about what position your feet are in, your toes wedged into a block of wood that your turn and leap and land in. And the strain on your ankles. And the murder on your toes. Think about that!
I do have some remnants of ballet feet. I have bones spurs and my pinky toes tuck under (which can be painful, but is mostly ugly) from wearing pointe shoes. But even Modern dancers have feet issues. When I was doing Modern, I some some serious callouses and my toes were always scuffed up and I always had mysterious bruises from different floor work.
Oh and we musn't forget dance injuries! I've had numerous sprained ankles and fractured toes. And countless pulled muscles. But the worst was when I tore both my abductor muscles. Started off as a pull in one, but when I kept dancing (bad stupid young girl that I was), I tore it and tore the other one too. PAINFUL! And even after rest and physical therapy, I never was able to get my full flexibility back. And the older I get, if I don't stretch, the harder it gets. It's a bitch.
I may not have bad ballet knees. But I have bad ballet hips. And Feet. And ankles.