Saturday, February 13, 2016

Big Ballet

Rebecca Dutton
Home After a Stroke
June 15, 2014

I love dance so I watched a mini-series called Big Ballet on the Ovation channel. The show is about overweight women and men learning to perform the ballet Swan Lake. My intuition told me watching them struggle would help me with a dilemma in my stroke recovery.

Who made this project possible? Wayne Sleep choreographed the ballet. He is a 5 foot 2 inch man who refused to leave professional ballet because he was too small. Monica Loughman who trained the dancers is a retired ballerina. The cast had to gain strength, flexibility, and endurance, learn the steps in the ballet, and express the emotions of characters in a classic story of love and betrayal. Watching a brave group of people triumph over fear of failure and rejection was thrilling because everyone has struggled with these emotions.

How does Big Ballet relate to my dilemma? Occasionally I see people staring at me with a look of horror on their faces. They are imaging something that has nothing to do with me, but it is hard not to take their negative reaction personally. I have thought of several nasty things to say but never followed through because this would intensify the negative feelings I have at that moment. What I learned from watching large men and women dance is they can be graceful. The next time people stare at me I will try to remember the satisfaction I felt when I learned to push a garbage can to the curb. This is not a small thing. You cannot live alone in your home if garbage piles up.

Big Ballet reminded me I also have prejudices. I think the head of the Northern Ballet is an elitist who believes this project besmirched the good name of ballet. He was on screen for maybe two minutes so I know very little about him. Yet every word that came out of his mouth was filtered through this judgment I made about him. When people stare at me with horror I hope this ballet director will remind me to forgive myself for judging other people. Forgiving myself will make it easier to forgive others. I do not want the time I have left to be high jacked by others peoples' disgust.

Wayne is right. Everyone deserves to have a personal connection with some form of art.
I think art is powerful because it tells stories about the human condition and creates community. Technology has propelled human civilization forward ever since someone discovered how to make fire. But art has stood the test of time because it addresses primal human needs.

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