Ballet seemed like a nice hobby to re-have, so I picked it up. I began last Fall taking an intermediate ballet class thrice weekly, offered through the University, free of tuition for me, a doctoral student.
When I started the class it was my first time in a ballet studio in about 10 years, so I didn’t know what to expect.
Well it was brutal. Just absolutely brutal, at first. Psychologically, I mean. For one, it is all in French. No one helps you. No one talks. No. One. Talks. By an intermediate class, you’re supposed to know, and if you don’t know or don’t remember? Then for two hours you are very silently mortified.
"Tombé, pas de bourree! glissade and Pas de chat! (Land) Arabesque……Then Piqué!, . piqué!, . . piqué turrrn. Chainé turrrrn. (Land) chasse! Tour Jete! . and Tombe, pas de bourree! glissaaaaaaade. Hmm glissade… Saut de chat., .. SAUT de chat! (Land [en Arabesque] ) Plié, Relevé. Then Arabesque! en attitude. Okay? Everyone got it? "
Roughly 30 dancers stand stoically before her and one or two nod.
Someone asks “So. Is the plié releve en retire, or…?
"Yes, en retire. and stay in retire en attituuuude, exit. ? Okay, in groups of three, please. "
And we do. Sort of. No one nails it. I personally remembered like two words of the entire allegro and veritably fell across the floor. No one smiled.
But early on, the instructor told me I was lucky to have grown up taking ballet, because my body would eventually remember all the tiny little muscles and ligaments in my feet and ankles, and in my calves and knees, and eventually those would start to click in again.
Well I’ve been puttering my way through classes, practicing when I can and doing my best, enjoying slow improvement, when suddenly about three weeks ago, I started hearing faint clicks around the sides and backs of my knees, each time I pliéd. My toes started cracking when I moved them, and the little bones running along the tops of my feet, and the bones and joints in my ankles started popping like popcorn. So lately I’ve been having like 300 pops and clicks a day, and also little morphings in my calves and shins, feet, ankles and all around my knees THAT I ACTUALLY WATCH HAPPEN. It’s like I was just a little intricate machine that hadn’t been oiled! Feels great.
A poetic invocation of Venus, goddess of love and fertility, as the muse for On the Nature of Things, his famous treatise in defense of Atheism.
Mother of Rome, delight of Gods and men,
Dear Venus that beneath the gliding stars
Makest to teem the many-voyaged main
And fruitful lands- for all of living things
Through thee alone are evermore conceived,
Through thee are risen to visit the great sun-
Before thee, Goddess, and thy coming on,
Flee stormy wind and massy cloud away,
For thee the daedal Earth bears scented flowers,
For thee waters of the unvexed deep
Smile, and the hollows of the serene sky
Glow with diffused radiance for thee!
For soon as comes the springtime face of day,
And procreant gales blow from the West unbarred,
First fowls of air, smit to the heart by thee,
Foretoken thy approach, O thou Divine,
And leap the wild herds round the happy fields
Or swim the bounding torrents. Thus amain,
Seized with the spell, all creatures follow thee
Whithersoever thou walkest forth to lead,
And thence through seas and mountains and swift streams,
Through leafy homes of birds and greening plains,
Kindling the lure of love in every breast,
Thou bringest the eternal generations forth,
Kind after kind.
DIANA: It was a situation … where you had to either sink or swim, and you had to learn that very fast.
BBC: What did you do?
DIANA: Mm. I swam.
DIANA: We went to Alice Springs, to Australia, and we went and did a walkabout, and I said to my husband: `What do I do now?’
And he said, `Go over to the other side and speak to them [the crowds].’
I said, `I can’t, I just can’t.’
He said, `Well, you’ve got to do it.’ And he went off and did his bit, and I went off and did my bit. It practically finished me off there and then.