I felt the sweat run down my forehead and along the bridge of my nose.
“Don’t be afraid! Push, push!”
I gripped the barre a little tighter, bracing myself for the extra effort I was about make.
“Aaand up! And up! And up!”
I kicked my leg as hard as I could to the beat of the music.
By the end of the “grand battement” I was so out of breath, I doubled over to clutch my knees and breathe.
I thought I had done quite well. My leg went up high and I made sure I controlled it on the way back down.
But, as usually is the case in ballet class, there was still a lot of room for improvement and I knew my teacher was about to tell us how.
She walked up to the woman in front of me at the barre and asked “Which of your legs is more important?”.
Ha! What a question! I was glad she hadn’t asked me!
The woman shrugged, looking to the rest of us help.
We all shrugged back.
“Ladies!” my teacher continued, “When you are dancing, which leg do you need to pay special attention to? Which is more important?”
Someone mumbled “both?”
“Of course both legs are important, but one leg really makes the difference. Which one?”
Sensing a response would not come soon, she answered her own question.
“Ladies, the standing leg! The standing leg is the one that makes all the difference. You are all concentrating on the active leg – the leg that gets all the glory, the leg that does the fancy moves – but it’s the standing leg that you should keep your mind on. Is it stretched, is it turned out, is it stable, is it ready for the action you are about to perform? Your standing legs, ladies, can make you or break you!”
Dramatic, but true.
Later that day, I started thinking about the value of the standing leg.
It keeps the dancer upright and well connected to the floor. It bears all the weight of turns and leaps yet still it’s overshadowed by the active leg doing all the “fancy tricks”.
My mind does some crazy things when I’m the right mood (usually after a good ballet class).
At some point, thinking about my standing leg led to thinking about the men and women who form the “standing leg” of society. The ones engaged in the thankless and undervalued jobs that actually keep society “upright” and bear the weight of our collective “turns and leaps”.
Housewives are the standing legs of their families, nurses are the standing legs of doctors and patients, secretaries are the standing legs of their bosses, the list goes on.
Despite the significance of their roles, they are still often overshadowed by the “leg doing the fancy moves” (e.g.: working spouse, doctor or boss).
It’s Friday everyone, let’s shine a bright light on the “standing legs” in our lives this weekend. To use my teacher’s words they are actually the ones who “make or break” our world.