A little while ago, I received the dreaded tap on the shoulder.
Having worked for the same organisation for the past 9 1/2 years, as much as I know everyone is dispensable, I never thought I’d actually have my career end this abruptly.
Amidst a flurry of phone calls and emails to seek legal and financial advice, miraculously, I was level-headed enough to contact Kate (my ballet teacher) to request additional classes for the week.
I’ve known in the past, my 90-minute class always leaves me clearer-headed. My cares and worries of the world are left behind. I have absolutely no choice but to listen to Kate and to get my head to talk to the rest of my body. For that precious 90 minutes, I focus on nothing but the music, to Kate’s instructions and to my body.
Redundancy (at this point of writing) meant a loss of control to me. It felt like I had been robbed of the control to chart my career path.
Ballet, on the other hand, has returned the control that’s been robbed. Each movement requires precision, thought, care and control. How many times have we heard our teachers tell us, “Don’t let your glissés fly away to be grand battements!”
And the only way we can prevent that from happening is to control our glissés. The only way we can avoid “sitting” on our pliés is to control our movements.
I think I can safely say that sometimes we allow our identities to be completely wrapped up in what we do. Be it our career, our role as a parent or carer, sibling, partner or whatever it may be that we are doing. In my case, I have allowed my 9 years as an IT specialist/team leader be my identity. It is that and nothing else. I have become that IT nerd everyone at work can seek out to “make things happen”.
However, being a part of Elancé has given me that one other identity I sorely needed in this process – that of an adult ballet dancer.
I may not be able to do a split (yet!), I may not have the highest grand battement nor the smoothest rond de jamb but I am dancing from the heart (and the head). Each movement requires my fullest attention. Each enchaînement requires the brain to come up with a “trick” to get it down-pat. For that 90 minutes, I’m not ‘Vicky the IT nerd who can solve this unsolvable, impossible IT problem”. For that 90 minutes, I’m Vicky the adult ballet dancer who is doing her best to make the most of the class.
Other than losing control of my career and my identity, change is always terrifying; especially change for the unknown. My source of comfort in ballet comes from knowing the correct technique I learn today to execute a step will remain the same tomorrow and the week after. A first arabesque today will be executed the same way 20 years down the road. There’s structure to this beautiful art and this is the structure that I cling to, desperately knowing it may just be the one thing that remains constant despite the world around me changing at lightning speed.
I’d love to say that I am 100% “there” or well but I’m not quite there yet. However, without ballet, it would have been a whole lot more difficult to get clear-headed to make some rather terrifying decisions and to dig up the courage (out of nowhere) to execute those decisions. There’s something very cathartic about being able to physically leave your worries at the door and focus on a beautiful traditional form of art.
I’m extremely fortunate I have found this help in the wonderfully warm and inclusive culture of Elancé.
For information visit beyondblue.org.au, call Suicide Helpline Victoria on 1300 651 251 or Lifeline on 131 114.
BY VICKY L – ELANCÉ AMBASSADOR