March 7, 2014

Ballet Collage 1
"It is with your feet that you move, but with your heart that you dance."
Ballet Collage 2

Ballet Collage 4
I know to many of you, these probably look like an old ratty pair of shoes . . .

Ballet Collage 3
but to me they are so much more.

They are filled with memories of a past life.
At one time, ballet was my everything.
I ate, slept, and breathed it every second of every day.

I found these shoes on Sunday morning.
Rosin still on the toes to keep me from slipping.
Water stains from trying to soften them.
Burnt ribbons to keep them from fraying.
and the smell of hard work and determination.

Ballet was ultimately my first true love.
but with that love, also came hate.
The love was for the beauty of the movement
and the feeling I got when I soared across the room in class or on stage.
Living in constant pursuit of perfection for the art and for my body.
Well, that is where the hate comes in.
It was a constant struggle for me personally.
My body although more than willing and able to achieve the movement,
did not produce the beautiful long willowy lines that were desired by company directors.
At just over 5 feet tall with a more athletic build, it was a constant battle.
The inner turmoil began at the age of 16.
It was mind of matter and the passion for the art that drove me to be "perfect" at all costs.
Even if it meant being unhealthy.
At the time I did not think there was such a thing as being too thin.
Looking back now, I thought I was carefully balancing,
but I was dangerously teetering on a scary ledge.
I was in a very bad place.
It was dark and lonely, but my love for ballet kept me there.
Hard work, passion, drive, and desire could conquer all,
so I thought.

Eventually, my body gave up.
It was telling me, it had nothing left to give.
An injury snapped me to my senses, literally.
It was not easy, but after many conversations with my family and close friends,
I hung up those shoes for good.

Finding these shoes this past weekend in my closet was somewhat of an emotional journey.
Photographing them, was incredibly therapeutic.
These shoes are filled with both joy and sorrow, but I still love them so.
They are part of me and although I am no longer a dancer and at times really miss it, I am still an artist.
Just in another sense. I no longer use my body to create the beautiful art for a packed theatre.
I am sitting in the audience of life, capturing it with my camera.

Inspired by my friend and former choreographer Kathryn Craft, who just released her incredible new book.
The Art of Falling.
Click HERE to read an excerpt from the book or to purchase your copy.


4 Lettre Words said...

Beautiful photos...and story, my friend. XO!

Tamar SB said...

Love! I used to dance and it is still a love of mine - I find myself doing turns and balancing in the apartment all the time (-:

Kathryn Craft said...

I love this Lisa! What a courageous post. I just love the pictures. I think you achieved here what I try to do each day with m y writing about my first husband's suicide: use it, contextualize it, and examine it, to find the core of its horrific power and reveal its tender beauty. Well done.

Gina Kleinworth said...

Ahhhhh - so many similar memories Lisa - also cut by an injury. Beautiful images - you know how to get it all flooding back.

faith ann raider said...

This is SO beautiful!! Beautiful words, beautiful images. I, also, did ballet as a young woman. I was too curvy to go very far, but I loved being in a Praise and Worship company for a year when I was 13. We moved away when I was 14 and I pursued piano, since it was a more socially acceptable art form within my peer group.
I still LOVE dance and especially Ballet, I think it's something fellow former dancers get. We all know that we left it behind for good yet I know for me there is a little hint of longing to have it in my life again, just a little...

tiarastantrums said...

thank you for sharing something so deeply personal! Beautiful!

Serendipity is Sweet said...

What a beautiful and heartfelt post Lisa! Thank you for sharing your story and your memories. So much of what you said echoes true for me as well. Such a deep passion, but such a double-edged sword. I succumbed to anorexia at 16 and my hopes of a professional career quickly unravelled. I still miss it very much.

(◔‿◔) said...

Wow, that's realy a courageous post and your shots are interesting.
Thanks for sharing, for hosting this nice project and happy weekend, Wieczora (◔‿◔) | my photoblog

patty said...

just lovley. i often worried about my tall, long legged daughter in her dance journey and the demands placed on their bodies {and spirits}. and then suddenly, unexpectedly, she decided to quit and play volleyball. i miss watching her. but i'm a firm believer in the journey and all the gifts given us as we make our way, no matter the end. you certainly got to where you were meant to be. your art is amazing.

Frogmum said...

Beautiful :D

snekcip said...

Love the transparency of this post!! Sometimes we fail to see that others are human and have "difficulties", just as we do. So sorry that you had to experience this but I feel without that experience you would not have known what other talents that was hidden within.

Just last night our family was at a church revival and the Pastor's sermon was about "The 3 P's of life" Promise, Problems and Prevail. God PROMISED us that He would not leave us even in the midst of Problems. If we just continue to TRUST IN HIM and hold on to our Faith, that He will bring us thru it all and we shall Prevail.

Unknown said...

Photography is without a doubt therapeutic! These are gorgeous Lisa

carolinagirl said...

I absolutely love these photos, but I love your story more! Beautifully written!

Anonymous said...

I was a chubby little girl that loved to dance. A forth grade teacher introduced our class to classical music,, It opened a door for me to day dream and how I loved the image of a ballet bar and worn out dance floor, I loved worn out ballet slippers and pink tutus.. I wasn't meant to be a ballerina but the love and appreciation for dance has remained. Have you ever seen Messianic worship. I have in the past learned some movement. If I were to do anything it would be my choice... Now I am a over the hill but the little girl in me will always my heart. Lovely photos!ps

Tara said...

I bet you were amazing in those shoes Lisa! They are beautiful as is your story.

Love Letters To China said...

I have to tell you Lisa these photos take my breath away. I simply adore all of the pictures you take, but there's something special about these. They are so symbolic of the hard work and endurance you paid in your youth. Absolutely love them in black & white. It captures all of the details perfectly. Love them!!