Master Class Initiation – Finding the Foundation

Carole Shashona’s Healthy Life & Style

My hand in my Grandma’s as she is rushing me to my very first ballet class. “Hurry, hurry Carole, you don’t want to be late – because if you are you will miss the class.” I run down the steps, five to be exact, and open the studio’s door hearing as I enter, the piano hitting hard on the keys and a voice saying “No, do it again. No, do it again.” You see, that is my first lesson to any new beginning. Show up and be on time and know that you need these lessons to any new beginnings.

You will also need to practice to be perfect. And this is how, as I was entering the dressing room, quite small with only hooks and a shelf, I quickly changed and entered into a new arena. The smells, the sounds are still with me now, decades later. The studio is silent and as I walked timidly over to the barre, I take my position in the front.

A second lesson, if you are early, you can choose where you want to position yourself. You can also have a few moments to reflect, to prepare. Quickly, others enter and the class begins. The foundation for any ballet class is always beginning with the 5 positions I now know and looking back at it, I question, is this the same as the 5 essences, that my Master in later years had taught me?

My third lesson, everything has a foundation, a new formula, a new step, a new awareness when you learn the foundation, you then can mix and match the steps to create and dance with whatever accomplishment you wish to pursue.

The barre, like everything else, has its fundamentals and in the five positions, the very first is feet alignment with body and arm. Perhaps this first position is about balance and harmony. One hand on the barre is a gentle reminder to me like holding my Grandma’s hand as I entered a new situation. This barre is a symbol for you – as a friend, a family member – there is always someone there to hold your hand as you enter a new endeavor. The fourth lesson.

Entering the center floor, we now learn to look at ourselves in the mirror. How frightening is that? To check to see our body alignment and to see ourselves in the physical space. The fifth lesson, not to look all around the studio and most importantly, not to look at others to see how they are doing. This lesson is teaching me to focus on my own body, learn the movement and not compare myself to others is the sixth lesson.

And then airborne we fly-leap-jeté and turn independently. Our hearts beat faster and faster, fear grips me because all eyes are on me! What if I fall? What if I look clumsy? Seventh lesson – try. I must remember we are all here to learn and we might make mistakes but most importantly, if you don’t try, you can’t learn. And then, I remember, I can always try and try again. Another word for this is called practice and with practice it can become a skill I can master.

As I leave the studio my Grandma, who is a real Bubbie, wearing her house dress and laced up shoes, bends up her legs to show me how to plié. She says, “Carole, you do it like this” and shows me in that moment – my Grandma showed me so much. She didn’t care how she looked. She only cared to help me. What an inspiration. Again, and again I would practice with my Grandma until one day, as I was leaving the studio as my Bubbie put her hand in mine, “Carole, very good. Now you can dance.”

That wisdom for dancing is a foundation for all my endeavors to this day I challenge myself. I don’t look at other designs, designers or trends, and I concentrate on what I feel I want to express through my art.

I challenge you to do the same. After all, just takes practice!

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