I spend a lot of long haul flights wishing that I’d studied Russian Vaganova ballet over French – truly, no born and bred French ballerina could exude the degree of power and sex appeal that Svetlana Zakharova’s Carmen or Don Quixote manages. Brutal training breeds stamina, drama, and force – the first time I witnessed the Imperial Russian Ballet rehearsing, all I could think about was gunpowder exploding from the ends of dancers’ limbs and grand gestures. Though, perhaps it’s just Svetlana – suitably synonymous with God.
Or, perhaps I’ve finally reached a stage in my life where Nike feels like more appropriate dance attire than my standard lace and feathers. Dancers are athletes in disguise – you couldn’t hurdle a hundred yards in a tutu, but you sure as hell burn through just as much cardio a minute into a routine…
Even so, any French art form seems to instill an inherently haughty dismissal towards any École other than their own (similar, it would seem, to Paris vs every other Fashion Week) – indeed, I proudly defend my footwork against those friends of mine who studied with the Italian Cechetti.
Technique and bravado aside, it is the raw emotion available to the performer in this category of the arts that makes the whole affair so addictive. The same can be said for playing the piano – between my Yamaha and pointes, performing makes me truly happy. Even when nobody is watching.
Certainly, nothing grinds my gears more than a ballerina who is so calculated and blinded to the character she plays (which, as it happens, French schooled performers can often be), that the result is painfully mechanical, with beautiful arches and precise timing, but a frozen smile… and precise timing. In the same vein, how so many people endure years, decades even, without pursuing some fiery passion (after hours on the side at least), is a mystery to me. How can anyone produce any quality work without being happy? To that, I suppose mortgages do hurt, and one has to do what one has to do. Oh, society.
So, one dreadfully anecdotal story later, for all of you who have been Tumblr-asking me what inspires me in my day-to-day work, studies, hours on public transport… it’s dance and music. Inspiration doesn’t need to be anywhere close to your career trajectory (I’m absolutely certain if I had allowed myself a concert pianist or ballet career, I would have ended up hating them both, and wouldn’t have a University degree to fall back on) – it is simply what makes you forget about your career (or that mortgage) whenever you need to.
Kind of like how I just forgot that I have a meeting on the other side of town in 20 minutes.
Over and out.