ballerina

She’s a dancer, and, by definition, she moves. All day. Every day.

She’s a classically trained and highly experienced ballerina who auditions for the musical CATS . . . and gets the part. She’s that good of a dancer: she’s versatile enough to dance at the highest levels in many different styles.

And then, the performers of CATS are required to sit in chairs for two days, as they learn about the history of the musical. Here’s how that felt:

“I’m used to constant motion, and sitting still for hours on end is my own personal hell—it physically hurts . . .”

That’s Georgina Pazcoguin (Gina for short) of the New York City Ballet, a self-described “rogue ballerina,” in her wonderfully written, fast-moving memoir Swan Dive.

Many of us moderns are expert sitters. Sitting still in front of screens is what we do. I never thought of it as a skill that one could excel at, and maybe that’s the wrong way to think of it anyway. But it’s instructive to remind yourself that the body does what it’s used to doing, and anything else hurts.

An even more telling detail from the memoir is that Pazcoguin isn’t just a lover of movement due to her training and career; she was always this way. Here’s a story she tells from her girlhood:

“I was incessantly twirling around in the kitchen making a real nuisance of myself while Mom was trying to make dinner and dealing with all the kids alone. My father was stationed at Fort Benning and would remain there for the duration of the Gulf War. The TV was blaring in the background, and my younger siblings were running around like maniacs following my lead.”

That’s when, Pazcoguin explains, her mother grabs the phone book, finds a dance studio, calls, and signs Gina up for lessons.

So apparently it wasn’t dance that made Pazcoguin an incessant mover; it was incessant movement that made her a dancer.

This makes me think of my girlhood obsessions. Was I constantly twirling around the kitchen? No, I was reading and coloring and writing little books.

What were you doing as a child? Does it relate to what you are doing as an adult?

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