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Training (Almost) Like a Ballet Dancer
March 18, 2019

I’m dazzled by the early-March sun as I make my way to the Grands Ballets STUDIOS. After years of being awed by the dancers’ talent, flexibility and strength, I’ve been invited to take some training inspired by their discipline. I’m a bit out of my element: I’ve got six contemporary-dance classes under my belt, and years of yoga have let me develop more than just a little body awareness, but I have the feeling that my comfort zone is stationed kilometers away from the Édifice Wilder. Never mind. In my ears RuPaul is crooning: “And if I fly, or if I fall / Least I can say I gave it all / And if I fly, or if I fall, I’m on my way!”

I come out of the locker rooms with my polka-dot leggings on, my hair in a bun, and all kinds of determination. I meet the teacher right away, Chantal Dauphinais, whom I’ve often seen on TV. Her friendliness and lack of pretension instantly set me at ease. Warmup begins. I learn what the first position is. My execution is nowhere near perfect, but I take a look at the other participants, who have better things to do than pass judgment on me, and redo it. For 45 minutes my entire body will be put to the test. Chantal reminds us, with a hint of a smile, of the relevance of the word “training” in what we’re doing. Our muscles are really working hard. We try to follow the movements. The music – soaring ballet melodies – create a bubble of intensity we can draw additional strength from.

That said, what with our holding our arms in the air with a minimum of grace, lactic acid is starting to make itself felt. I take three short breaks during the class, since I’m not out to impress anyone. I realize that we each have our strengths. When we’re lying on the ground and doing series of abdominal exercises by spinning our legs in the air, I get through it as though I’ve been doing it all my life. Obviously, when I see myself cross the room trying to imitate the dancers’ pace, I realize that Raphaël Bouchard and Jean-Sébastien Couture won’t be having me as a colleague at Les Grands Ballets anytime soon. All the same I enjoy paying my respects. And once again I feel an admiration for people who shape their bodies in order to dance professionally. I’m thinking about asking for a little more coordination for my birthday in June. But I leave there happy, energized – and as RuPaul would sing, least I can say I gave it all!

by Samuel Larochelle

My Second Time at the Ballet: Swan Lake
March 18, 2019
Swan Lake's behind-the-scene photo