Every time I think about what scares me, one of two things come up. Either the movie ‘Signs’, à la Mel Gibson, where aliens rain down on the Earth and permanently scar a nine year old Cella to the point of sleep terrors, or ballet.
Ballet for me was a little odd; I was a disgustingly double-jointed, twiggy kid, and I was a girl, so ballet seemed like a good fit. Plus, my mom seemed to have a nice time with my friend’s moms and it wasn’t like I was doing anything particularly exciting on Wednesday night (seeing as I was, like, 7). There was music and sometimes a water break, and we’d learn cute little things and had our hair in cute little buns and it was all cute and little and cute.
As I got older, though, I realized ballet wasn’t really for me. There was a period of time when I felt like I didn’t match up to other students in my class; I was wider than them, and taller than them. I wasn’t uncomfortable or awkward, but I also wasn’t really there. It wasn’t as enthralling as before. Ballet kind of sucked. Like, it kind of sucked a lot.
So I decided to quit. My “unfit” for ballet body type could be used in other fields. I took a kick-boxing class with the incredibly talented Olivia “The Predator” Gerula, who is a ruthless, adorable fighting machine. Olivia would smile with every punch she threw, and was never surprised when students vomited after a class (it was actually expected). From kick-boxing, I moved into rugby with my all girl’s school team. I earned the nickname ‘The Goon’ because apparently I’d make some sort of horrifying, intensely angry monster face while running through oncoming opponents (think ‘Beastman’ from Masters of the Universe).
After a while, though, I realized I kind of missed ballet. Maybe I had given up on it for the wrong reasons. I had left dance because I was embarrassed of my body and feared being judged by other people in the profession. Whether I was good or not was another question, but regardless, I knew I had stopped for the wrong reasons. I’ve done some research since and found that Big Ballet is a thing, and it’s quite lovely to watch. These women are proving that despite their size, they still dance elegantly and entertain the masses. Ballet is no stranger to weight shaming, and it’s refreshing to see people doing what they love despite a judgmental public opinion.
But now, why would I talk about dancing on knives?
Earlier last week, I came across a project by artist Javier Pérez. The piece was called En Puntas. In the video, a ballerina wears a pair of pointe shoes with massive kitchen knives attached to the toe and dances as hard as she can on top of a piano. Not only was it a stunningly beautiful masterpiece, but the video gave me horrible anxiety because she’s DANCING ON KNIVES (click to see video). By the end of the clip, I had held my breath so long I gasped for air, and it made me remember those feelings I had at the end of a dance recital- panic and fear. Was everyone looking at me because I was good, or because I was fatter than the other girls? Was my butt hanging out of my leotard? Could you see my legs jiggle? Was I sweating more than the other dancers? Was it obvious that I really wanted a chocolate bar? I’m happy that I no longer feel that anxiety, and even though my desire to feel good about myself at any size will always be a quest, I have my fingers crossed.
As well as my toes.
And my ballet-knife-shoes.