Catching up #2
Here's another blog I would have posted last year, if our internet service provider hadn't thought it a good idea to stop providing us with broadband ...
The Camaraderie of Ballet
This blog is based entirely on observation and speculation ...
There are just a few elements of our son's life that inspire envy in me. The main one is that he seems to have found his vocation so young and is showing such tenacity and strength as he continues to focus on his goal. I don't think I have ever shown such determination and discipline. Recently, I became aware of something else of which I am a little envious. Like the proverbial thieves, there is an code of honour among dancers. It would appear that despite the rivalries and competitiveness, they do all they can to help each other get through a day full of the expected hardship and trials. It seems that even though they can do nothing about each other's physical pain, they can help to alleviate each other's emotional trauma. The long term is at odds with the short term. Ballet is a competitive world, and as the future unfolds they become rivals for the same positions, but from day to day, it would appear that they do all they can to stand united.
One Monday morning, he forgot his ballet shoes. He had spent Sunday at school, and we picked him up just so he could have a bit of the weekend at home - a few hours on Sunday evening are better than nothing. Whereas a year ago, this slip in memory would have caused an emotional meltdown of a size which might predict the end of the world; now he just shrugged and announced that one of his classmates has the same foot size, he'll see if he can borrow a spare pair from him. More recently he left his track suit at home for the entire week. This is an essential part of his school uniform. It is what they are expected to wear when arriving and leaving ballet class every day. A year ago we would have got a phone call and felt duty bound to somehow get the track suit to school by any means possible. Now, we don't even know about the missing item until he returns at the weekend. He borrowed someone's spare top, and improvised by using a pair of his own non-regimental tracksuit trousers which were a similar colour. He sounded almost boastful as he announced that he has been doing this for a week and 'no one had even noticed'. I suspect that when it is his turn to share and support that he willingly steps up to the mark. I know this because the shorts are still missing.
I imagine that he has learned something that some people never really learn: genuine camaraderie can eclipse many of life's worries. Even the punishing austerity of classical ballet crumbles when faced with tacit friendship. Their bond affords resistance and, when needed, subversion; it helps each of them to survive in an environment which to twelve-year-old boys must sometimes seem as hostile sometimes as a battle-field. Instinctively they know that the key to survival is offering help and standing united when the collision occurs between human error and a grumpy dissatisfied ballet teacher. Tribal allegiance, kinship and historical arguments become insignificant. The instinct for collective survival dominates in the moment, and this instinct has altruism at its heart.
Apparently vampire bats function in a similar way. They are hard-wired to share when they perceive a fellow bat in need. It has been observed that they are willing to regurgitate food for a needy bat more often than they are willing to receive help. Assistance is offered regardless of family group and independent of any harassment. It amuses me that somewhere in their DNA, young dancers share a tiny strand of it with vampire bats.
This response to their environment is instinctive. They are unaware of the 'leave no man behind' credo of the American military, or the 'bind and drive' mantra of the rugby player. They have probably not read or heard Henry V's 'for he that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother'. Their bond is intuitive not intellectual; and I find it even more inspiring and enviable because of this. It is our son's confidence that the bond will support him that I find so moving.
There is a chance, however, that it is not instinctive, but a well-known moment from film that has taught them these deep rooted ethics:
If you've got troubles, I've got 'em too
There isn't anything I wouldn't do for you
We stick together and can see it through
Cause you've got a friend in me
You've got a friend in me