7.00 – 8.30 pm – Beginner Ballet, taught by Teresa Anne Volgenau @ Joffrey Ballet School
Nestled between some of NYC’s hippest happeningest neighborhoods, the Bleeker area, Union Square, and Washington Square, the Joffrey Ballet School is as much fun to find, as it is to be in. That hip happening eclectic vibe definitely continues indoors at Joffrey, where tango dancers teach ballet and ballet dancers teach core synergy.
Tonight’s class was Beginner Ballet taught by a spicy redheaded instructor named Teresa Anne Volgenau, who also specializes in tango. She began her love affair with Argentine Tango in 2004 and has since traveled to Buenos Aires to study with maestros, as well as collaborating with numerous partners to further develop her authenticity and style. Her teaching clearly expresses her passion for the art of movement. The class that I found myself in was full to the brim with eager dancers of all different levels and ages, from pretty experienced to no experience whatsoever. Teresa was able to accommodate all of the participants, always showing variations to allow beginners to catch on at their own speed.
Now here comes the part where I divulge my love/hate relationship with ballet. I hate that I love it, and it loves to hate me. Yes, I have personified a dance form, mainly because my struggle with it has been so visceral that it’s palpable. From the beginning of one’s dance career — mine started at age 6, you are told how important ballet is as a fundamental element and vocabulary in your training (or at least that was my experience). And yet my body was always more suited for more rhythm-based dances that require undulation and gyration, dances that are more forgiving of full figures and celebrate things like…hips. What a conundrum for me as a young dancer, knowing that dance is one of my gifts and my preferred form of expression, and yet feeling separated from my own identity, in a sense, by not being able to perfectly grasp this exquisitely beautiful but extremely difficult dance form that I had been told is fundamental to me improving my gift.
Every single time I’ve walked into a ballet class, from age 6 to now, these thoughts are somewhere rolling around in my head. Even if I am not specifically thinking them, I am feeling them. We all have our challenges and this one is mine. Thank goodness for maturity and spiritual awareness though, because I am now able to see that my fears are much like Don Quixote and his windmills; there, but only in my own mind. And as such, I can control how I react to the fear and if I even allow it to exist at all. The fact is, I love ballet. I relish every time I get to take a ballet class. I love the way it feels when I try it on, luxurious, regal, elegant. It is like breathing in a rarefied air for a brief moment, taking it into my lungs and body and making it a part of me.