Ballet is everywhere

I feel like Ballet has snuck up on me.

Last year I thought it would be fun to take a ballet class, but honestly, a ballet class for a 31 year old who hasn't done it since she was, oh, 8 or so, is just kind of weird. I looked into it and never found anything that seemed accessible, so, bar class it was. But I still had ballet in the back of my mind.

Then, I saw this amazing website, portraits of Heather Ogden by Christopher Ogden that shows how athletic and difficult ballet is:

And Ballet started popping up everywhere, or maybe I just noticed it more. The elegance, the beauty, the athleticism, it's all so impressive. I'm not elegant or coordinated or very athletic, but I wish I was all of those things.

Here are a few ballet things that popped up and really stuck with me lately. Maybe it's time to reinvestigate beginner ballet for adults again?

The whole Free People Ballet video catastrophe let me to hear about a wonderful campaign by  Under Armor had used an awesome prima ballerina named Misty Copeland. I had to investigate and came across this:

Which led down the rabbit hole of ballet athleticism and I found this video that is just impossibly both athletic and beautiful.

And now, I'm about 60 pages into "Astonish Me" by Maggie Shipstead and am LOVING it.

From the author of the widely acclaimed debut novel Seating Arrangements, winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction: a gorgeously written, fiercely compelling glimpse into the demanding world of professional ballet and its magnetic hold over two generations.

Astonish Me is the irresistible story of Joan, a young American dancer who helps a Soviet ballet star, the great Arslan Rusakov, defect in 1975. A flash of fame and a passionate love affair follow, but Joan knows that, onstage and off, she is destined to remain in the background. She will never possess Arslan, and she will never be a prima ballerina. She will rise no higher than the corps, one dancer among many.
After her relationship with Arslan sours, Joan plots to make a new life for herself. She quits ballet, marries a good man, and settles in California with him and their son, Harry. But as the years pass, Joan comes to understand that ballet isn’t finished with her yet, for there is no mistaking that Harry is a prodigy. Through Harry, Joan is pulled back into a world she thought she’d left behind—back into dangerous secrets, and back, inevitably, to Arslan.

Combining a sweeping, operatic plot with subtly observed characters, Maggie Shipstead gives us a novel of stunning intensity and deft psychological nuance. Gripping, dramatic, and brilliantly conjured,Astonish Me confirms Shipstead’s range and ability and raises provocative questions about the nature of talent, the choices we must make in search of fulfillment, and how we square the yearning for comfort with the demands of art.


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