• Angie Cui's ballet lessons are bringing her closer to her daughter. (Supplied)Source: Supplied
Despite the hurdles, there is a major bonus. Ballet brings me closer to my three-year-old, because we can do a Plié or Pirouette together.
By
Angie Cui

13 Apr 2021 - 8:42 AM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2021 - 2:52 PM

I love ballet. Like the best kind of writing, ballet is elegant. It’s a canvas for the most delicate emotions — a dance like no other.

Growing up, I was a one-time gymnast. I started practicing when I was four, and gave up when I turned eight because I wanted to switch to dancing. But my parents weren’t convinced that my new obsession would take, so I put off my dance career — until now.  

At 34, you might wonder: why bother? Truth be told, I stole the idea from my three-year-old daughter, a semi-experienced ballerina. She’s been learning since she was two, so I’m far behind her. Plus, any dancing teacher would tell you that moving and stretching seems to be second nature for children her age. Me? Not so much. 

The dance crew I have joined is ‘ballet pilates’ - a progressive ballet technique that helps with muscles strengthening. It sounds hard, and it is. Though my ballet instructor Anne Marie Ludwig-Cox likes to remind me that “pure enjoyment is key”. This makes sense in theory. In practice, it’s much harder when all of your classmates are 14 to 16-year-olds and you’re the only one struggling and well into your 30s. 

It sounds hard, and it is. Though my ballet instructor Anne Marie Ludwig-Cox likes to remind me that “pure enjoyment is key”.

Granted, I trust Anne. She’s been teaching ballet for decades. Having graduated from the Australian Ballet School, she was the first Australian to get into a Singapore dance theatre. She’s also taught and performed in cities around Europe. 

At the studio, the first thing I notice is how Anne positions her feet. She keeps both heels straight up and down and then points her toes the whole time. I try to copy her every time. Often, I couldn't feel my toes. Even on good days, my legs would start cramping. 

There are about six to eight of us in the class, and all my classmates have been dancing since they were children. Most never cramp and can point their toes over their heads.

Danica Lani, a professional choreographer who specialises in working with adults who don't have a dance background, says: " If you think of 'dance' as a language, we are exploring this language even in utero through movement and continue our whole lives. If you use safe dance practices to prevent injury, then you can start dancing at any age.” 

There are about six to eight of us in the class, and all my classmates have been dancing since they were children. Most never cramp and can point their toes over their heads.

And like picking up a new language, every dance move comes with practice, and the process can feel clumsy. Yet despite the (all too obvious) hurdles, there is a major bonus. Ballet brings me closer to my baby girl, because we can do a Plié or Pirouette together. I am still a mum to her, but also someone who is pursuing ballet just like her. In the words of writer and philosopher Alan Watts, "When you are dancing, you are not intent on getting somewhere…The meaning and purpose of dancing is the dance." 

I’ve accepted that there is no specific age to start dancing. Learning to dance is a long-term process, and it may take years to make a perfect dance form, but unlike my gymnastics days, this time I don’t intend on giving up. Not when I get to enjoy ballet with my girl.

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