Wanted to share with you something personal that I’ve been working on for a while. A year ago, I set a goal to get back into ballet shape and capture it in a creative way. This is a sneak peek of a partner shoot I had with two dear and talented friends: professional dancer, Daniel White, and commercial photographer Tommy Crow. It’s a pictorial story of truth, beauty, and love.
Given all of the shadows in our world today, I can’t think of a better image to illustrate what we all need right now: trust, love, kindness, and belief in one other. Leaning on each other. An authentic human connection.
Again, this is just a sneak peek. I’m so grateful for Daniel and Tommy sharing their talent in this series (wait until you see Daniel’s solo shots, he is ahhh-mazing!!). I always say Daniel is 6’3 of pure extension and dance artistry. No one moves like him – he’s like watching a gazelle. For those of you in Virginia, Daniel is joining the Richmond Ballet – be sure to go see him in motion this season.
Tommy’s photos are pure art. He knows how to capture the magic of a moment in a way no one else can. You may recall seeing his work in this room of the Coastal Living Idea house designed by Erika. And yes, that art is still available. Check out Tommy’s work on his website here.
SETTING GOALS AT ALL LIFE STAGES…
For years I’ve shared with you my designer, mom, and writer side…but never really my dance artist side. I’ve mentioned before how ballet is a part of my soul, a side of me that I learned I could never live without. Without ballet, I feel like part of me is missing. Due to parent responsibilities and limited access to quality classes, over the years I had to set ballet aside…but I always held out hope that there would be a time I could enjoy it again.
This past weekend was my birthday. I love that birthdays mark a momentous life moment and give us the opportunity to reflect on all the blessings, growths, challenges, and gifts we have experienced over the last year. For me, each year of life is more meaningful and educational than the last.
I think it’s critical to keep pushing yourself and setting goals at all life stages. Sometimes those goals have to wait or maybe take a little more time to achieve. And sometimes your goals change. That’s okay! This past year I made a decision to take a break from teaching and focus more on my family and things that inspire my creative side. I decided to set some goals for myself: express more artistry, get back on pointe, and build my strength, stamina, and flexibility. I’ve been taking ballet class for the past few years, but in August of 2015, I dusted off my pointe shoes and started more intense ballet training – fortunately I was able to take classes while the kids were in school.
Here is my first moment going back en pointe before sewing on my ribbons and elastic. Exciting! This shot was in one of the studios of Northwest Florida Ballet, which offers fabulous classical ballet classes for all ages and levels. I take there every week! You can see their schedule of classes offered here.
The training has been fun and extremely challenging. And I have a long way to go. Ballet takes an exorbitant amount of strength and patience, even though it looks totally ethereal and easy when performed. You push through a lot of pain, repeat the same exercises day after day, and never see “instant” results. It all takes time. In fact, training a professional ballet dancer takes a minimum of 10 years. The beauty is born from pain.
THE AGE TOPIC…
I refuse to ever give a number any power. I do not assign my body to an age. Instead I focus on energy, effort, and expression. Age is a material concept that can give us a false sense of confidence or unnecessary doubt. Think about it, if we are truly spiritual beings with eternal souls, then age is completely irrelevant.
“Time is an illusion.”
Sure, we can experience limits with the physicality of our bodies, but our souls are our true expression of achievement, beauty, creativity, and love. What matters is your attitude and how you express and share your God-given gifts.
When I started training on a more serious level last summer, one message I would hear over and over again (and still do) in class is “you can’t improve ____ at your age” or how certain things are no longer possible “when you’re older”. I learned to immediately replace that message with “I can do this with practice and time” and move on. Whenever I face an obstacle in class that seems too difficult, I silently think to myself, “thank you God for giving my body the strength and stamina to do this.” I’ll tell you it really helps.
No matter what your age is, there’s no reason to give up on a goal or not try. Never. I would rather die trying than simply give up on a goal. And may I say that I defied 90% of what was told I could not do. I still have more to work on and improve, and that’s okay. I look forward to more training and dancing.
After 11 months of training and achieving a dream, I feel stronger. I am stronger.
I close my birthday with thoughts of gratitude for life, the love surrounding me, and the belief that I will use my gifts to make a difference in this world one step at a time. One small, meaningful moment at a time.