I can’t really say how old I was when I started down the road of ballet, what I can remember was the black leotard, the pink tights and the leather full-soled pink ballet shoes. I had an adorable dance bag that was everything that a seven/eight year old very klutzy, girly girl could want and it was wonderful.
Fast forward a few years, high school Whitney spent a lot of time in a dance studio and she loved it. I wasn’t the best but I managed pointe work, triple pirouettes, big jumps, petite jumps, and the Nutcracker…year in and year out. There were children’s shows, more rehearsals then I can ever recall, countless laughs, lots of stretches, and even more legwarmers. So many legwarmers.
I left for college and I left dance behind. I was supposed to be intellectual, I was going to change the world, and ballet wasn’t part of that plan. Every now and then I would moonlight in a random ballet class here and there. I channeled the need for creativity into photography, taking much of my inspiration from the portfolio of the amazing Rosalie O’Connor (former dancer with the American Ballet Theatre). Then a couple of years ago something changed and I went back to the world that I had assumed was done when I became an adult (a term I use loosely). Though not into the ballet world, but into the world of contemporary jazz through Joy of Motion (a group of studios in D.C.). Slowly but surely I ended up in small performances and let me tell you, 28 year-old me doesn’t hold up as well as 16 year-old me. I’ve never bruised so easily in my life.
Let’s fast forward to a couple of weeks ago (we’re doing a lot of fast-forwarding in this post). I contemplated hanging up my camera strap, the way I hung up the pointe shoes all those years ago. Instead I did something different. For three weeks I hauled my camera to rehearsal with me. I recorded the moments, the image of someone stretching. I used sections where I wasn’t dancing to capture movement and emotion. And when there was a part when all I could think was, “I need this on film” I stopped mid-movement and picked up the camera. Clearly, I’m the dream dancer for a choreographer. But, maybe just maybe it’s also time to pick up the pointe shoes again.