The Ballerina Catch

When I feel restless, it’s time to try something new. So I quit the college wrestling team (I was 3rd ranked in Canada) and took up a minor in modern dance. Rugby, cycling and dance are an odd mix. I was trying to regain body control after knee surgery, but more importantly, tie into the underlying power, movement & music I saw in modern dance. 

My off/on again girlfriend had dragged me to a show and I was mesmerized from the very first number. Jeff M., a guy I knew from the sports world, had the lead in a number based on American prehistory; the voyageur era. Just a simple canoe for the opening shot, with the only movement the paddle strokes, then it grew.

A few years into the minor, I had done a few stage shows with the ballet professor, Darcy. One day she asked me to help in the Intro to Ballet class, so she could teach proper jumping & lifting technique. It started pretty rocky! The 2nd woman jumping had poor body coordination in the first place, made much worse by her panicked leap. She came flying in, knee first, arms flailing the air, and nutmegged me hard.

Darcy stopped the drill and told them “your only job is to make a smooth leap and hold the correct body position. Everything after that is trust. He’ll make the catch, if you stay steady and make it easy. Watch.” 

Darcy made a short windup for momentum, then made a beautiful, picture-perfect jump; a study in practical elegance. But… We had been drilling with straight-on jumps, into me. Darcy’s leap was going by me: I was set up wrong! But she had this beatific, serene smile as she sailed by;I knew she’d crash & burn rather than give up on the catch. So I lunged backwards while dropping to one knee, trying to get into position. I somehow managed to get my right hand down far enough to reach her; a no-look, one-handed catch, behind my back, inches off the floor. But it worked! Her knee dropped perfectly into the palm of my hand, and we both had the body control to keep balanced in the new equilibrium.

A spectacular catch that, alas, we knew we couldn’t build into the next show. The catch  was far too risky to try at all, left alone pulling it off with the same level of elegant flair.

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