Who is Balletcougar?
February 18, 2011 § 15 Comments
I’m Jacki and I am 36 years old. I started adult beginner ballet when I was 27. All my life, I had been an athlete: basketball, soccer, track and field, biking, hiking and cross-country running. As a child, if I had been asked what I wanted to do instead of sports, I would have emphatically chosen ballet. But I wasn’t asked (haha yes that is a poke at my parents). By the age of 27, I was no longer participating in organized sports; rather, I had become a gym-exerciser. Gym-ratting had become completely boring for me and I was looking to do some physical activity that actually engaged my brain and resulted in something besides an elevated heart rate….
I had been pondering martial arts for a while but never signed up (I admit, it was because I hated the ugly uniforms! haha). So there I was still, no alternative to the gym in sight. Then I happened to see a movie. It was Pedro Almodovar’s ‘Talk to Her.’ The main female character is a ballet dancer (ok, she was in a coma most of the movie, but anyway…), and there were several scenes of ballet classes. Watching this movie, I remembered that as a child I had always wanted to take ballet classes, and there it was decided. Yes, RANDOM!
I did some research and found a small ballet studio near my house in Berkeley, CA…I had no idea it was literally a 2 minute walk from home. It was Shawl Anderson Dance Studio on Alcatraz and College Avenues. It was really embarrassing taking my first classes, but I quickly realized that all we beginners looked pretty silly and just gave up on any hopes of looking dignified!
Soon after, I discovered San Francisco Dance Center (now Alonzo King’s LINES Dance Center). I took Sally Miramon’s Introduction to Dance for about 3 months. Turns out Sally started as an adult as well, I believe at 24! And now she is a teacher. I moved on to Kathy Mata’s ballet classes for adults and took from her almost exclusively for about 6 years. With the exception of a small two-week break in 2008 when I had a double lung transplant.
Kathy gave me the foundation and confidence to keep myself coming back 2 to 3 times a week. But more than that, she injected a sense of fun into learning ballet. For something so intimidating as our perceived idea of the ‘perfection’ of ballet, having a teacher like Kathy who diffuses the pressure by making silly jokes, or flipping up the back of her skirt to moon you really helps you to relax. The fact that she has very loyal students, even those who have advanced way beyond the beginner lever, is testament to her ‘magic.’
I left San Francisco in 2010 after living 34 years there. I take classes all over the world depending on where I am living at the moment. I am living in Berlin currently. Though I have lived, traveled and/or taken ballet classes in Berkeley, San Francisco, Paris, Valencia (Spain), Buenos Aires and London. I am moving to either Lausanne or Geneva, Switzerland soon (February 2012) and already have dance studios picked out that offer adult ballet classes! You know I will be reporting!