I take a deep breath. For a split second I close my eyes. The air has a special feeling in it. Ready? It asks. I stretch out my arms and straighten my neck. Yes. Then the music. A gentle swelling strain. A breath of magic. And I’m gliding across the rosin covered dance floor. This has to be what a bird feels when it flies.
Clatter! Oh there goes a bobby pin… No! And then I’m distracted, what foot am I stepping on? Which way am I turning? Not another bobby pin flying! And I slipped and oh- hello floor!
Hello friends!! Welcome to another (extremely late 😬) post! It’s that time of year again when summer is just a few weeks away and finals loom before me! So here is the post: better late than never!
I want to tell you about another form of art that I use to fight the mundane, fight the dreariness and oppression that this hurting world throws at us. I like to think of it as a unique way to worship my Lord and the closest I can come to flying. Although a pet pegasus or dragon would be lovely… But it doesn’t look like I’ll be getting one of those anytime soon.
I am reading a book called ‘Adorning the Dark’ by Andrew Peterson for school (so far it’s been very inspiring! I would recommend it). I came upon an interesting quote: “since we were made to glorify God, worship happens when someone is doing exactly what he or she was made to do.” Last Summer I did a beautiful study on worship through the National Bible Bee and it showed me that there is so much more to worship than what we might think. True worshipers worship God in spirit and truth. I love to sing praises to God; as off tune and screechy as I probably sound I know it doesn’t matter to Him. But I also find a special joy when I dance to worship music. Maybe ballet is one of those things that God made me to do, to glorify and enjoy Him.
Here’s a bit of my ballet story (warning there may be hazardous bobby pins flying around ahead. Proceed with caution):
I got my first taste of ballet from one of my four “better than best” friends. She is a ballet dancer and was long before I ever put on a dance slipper. She showed me stretches and further served to spark my interest in ballet. (Check out her awesome YouTube channel, La Musseta. It is a beautiful celebration of truth and beauty).
It started out as a little thought in the back of my head. Something like, wouldn’t it be neat? From there it turned into ‘that would be amazing’. It progressed to: if I could do anything it would be ballet. But to tell the truth I didn’t think I could do it. Not a girl with a cronic illness called Cystic Fibrosis. Not when I had so little stamna and had to eat every hour to make sure I didn’t get low blood sugar. But thankfully God had other ideas.
When I was twelve years old my Mama came in and told me that she had signed me up for a ballet class. First it was the jaw drop and ‘really??’ then the jumping and hollering and then the nagging question: can I really do it? I didn’t know a whole lot about ballet but I did know that the normal starting age was way younger than I was. Oh well, I was doing this! I was doing this? Gulp. I was doing this.
I walked up the old worn wooden steps. The painted sign below me said ‘Miss Joan’s Studio of Dance’. The ballet studio was a small two room studio situated above a barber shop. I opened the door and stepped into a dream. The second I set a slipper clad foot onto the dance floor, ran my hand over the smooth wooden barre and looked out the window at the dancing poplar tree I knew it. I was hopelessly in love. It didn’t even take a whole class.
Ballet is different than other sports. In fact I think it’s more like an art than a sport and it’s my personal opinion that it’s a lot harder than some sports (Although football is lovely in its own way I’m sure…) But ballet is magic and it’s pain. It’s freedom and perfect control. When I’m dancing, I feel different than I feel at any other time. It’s kind of hard to explain. It’s like when I stand outside in the snow and look at a thousand glittering stars and just know that God is great. A feeling that is so hard to explain because it’s so real. Well, it is something like that when I dance.
It wasn’t easy that first year or so. I had my own personal little round stool that I would sit on to catch my breath. But the funny thing? That’s not what I remember most. What I remember most is that feeling of learning a new step and finally getting it. That feeling of magic as I leaped and spun and learned dances. That estacy and nervousness of trying on my first costume, the first time I walked out on a stage; I could go on and on. All to say it was amazing. But I do remember one thought that only increased as my third year of dancing came along: teach me more. I know I can do more if you show me!
You know how sometimes you know that if you pray for patience God gives you something that tries your patience? Well, this happened for me in ballet. A month or so before my third recital my family moved from the Sierra Nevada Mountains in CA to the gorgeous, rugged Northern CA coast. My amazing, amazing parents let me come back to do the recital. 🧡 One of the first things I did on arriving in our new home was find a ballet studio. It was easy this time because the friend I mentioned earlier lived close. I joined her ballet studio in the Fall. And here I got the pushing I had been asking for! I learned so much under my new ballet teacher who is also a lovely Christian lady. I also got the amazing opportunity to do worship dance. It was something I’ll always treasure. But to be honest that year was hard. I was learning the other side of ballet. Ballet is hard! I remember being really discouraged at one point. Almost everyone in the class was more advanced than me and I wasn’t improving over night (now I’ve resigned myself to the fact that that is never possible XD). I was tired of being behind, I wanted to be able to impress a new class and teacher and I was kind of failing. I was sitting in the car trying to keep back tears and my amazing Mama came to the rescue once again. It was just a few words, just two short sentences.
Remember that you love to dance. And dance for God’s glory.
Sometimes I am the queen of forgetting the simplest most important things. I do it all the time. Thank goodness our God is so patient and thank goodness I have friends and family who will tell me the obvious because I can’t see it. Remember that I love to dance. And remember that I don’t dance for people to see me or to be the best in the class; no I dance for the glory of my God.
Now I have moved yet again this time to Woodstock IL and am in my third studio. I have an amazing teacher and amazing fellow dancers. I got to go en pointe for the first time last Summer. ‘En Pointe’is the long awaited, long worked for moment when a ballerina gets to don pointe shoes and dance on the very tips of their toes. I also have had the wonderful opportunity to help teach the littles 🙂 (five and six year olds mostly) and I have found that I love it so much! It’s probably because I love ballet so much I want to share it with all the young, eager girls and boys.
Wrapping It Up💌
When someone asks me how I do it, The hours at the barre lifting my leg as high as I can, the million ‘try it again’s, getting up ever time I fall, gritting my teeth into my best smile as my toes ache from balancing on them, the sweat, the tears, the muscle cramps and pain and tiredness, I smile. Yes, it is all that. Ballet needs muscle, endurence, ballence, momentum and flexibility, but it needs something else far more than it needs all of those.
My answer to how I do it? I love ballet. I feel like my pointe shoes are my wings and the stage is my canvas and I am the color on a paint brush. And I have another answer too. I don’t dance for people to see me, I dance for my Lord and Savior. It doesn’t matter if my legs won’t go as high and my turns aren’t as long and whatever else I may worry about. I am going to seek to get better every single day but not for anything but the fact that I love it and that I dance for the glory of God.
What things has God given you that make you feel especially alive? What’s your favorite form of worship? This was a very long post 😬 but hopefuy it encouraged some of you to stick at your dreams and to do all that you do to the glory of God. He is worthy!
A large thank you and hug to Julia Cagasan for the beautiful photography! ☺️