A Living Contradiction

April 27, 2011
By Sitara Sankar BRONZE, Danville, California
Sitara Sankar BRONZE, Danville, California
4 articles 0 photos 0 comments

A Chinese football player.
A Bulgarian sumo wrestler.
A Ghanaian skier.
An Indian ballerina.

All of the above can be broadly classified as contradictions. While the general public recognizes the Chinese for their superb intelligence and talent in classical music, American football isn’t usually considered a forte. Most would assume that the Bulgarian sumo wrestler would be annihilated within seconds, when facing a typical Japanese opponent. It can be said that a Ghanaian skier may face problems developing his skills in a country with no snow, and most would be willing to gamble that an Indian ballerina would be much better suited to pursuing a traditional Indian dance. The stereotypes of modern day society have deemed that the previous individuals do not belong in their named categories, but in reality, perhaps they do. Certain individuals live as contradictions, with the purpose of proving that they can exist.

I am of Indian descent, but for thirteen years, my life has revolved around my pursuit of classical ballet. As a four year-old, I shared the dream of only every kindergarten girl; I wanted to be a ballerina. However, it was with the complete conviction that I would give up in a week, that my mother signed me up for my first ballet class. After all, art class, piano, and gymnastics had all been over much too soon after they had started. To the dismay of everyone, soon enough I had discovered my first real talent. Much unlike my abysmal navigation of a soccer field, I could naturally and uniquely navigate a stage.
Every time, stepping into the open theater, an exquisite transformation begins. Vibrant lights penetrate the darkness, blinding, yet I somehow see more clearly. With massive blocks of satin-covered wood on my feet, one would think that my natural clumsiness might be aggravated a notch or two, but rather, from that moment on, every step I take is one of pure perfection. As I glide over the surface of the stage, the layers of my too-tight tulle tutu float gracefully behind me. As the music begins, there is a rush through my veins. Beauty. Passion. Perfection.
While deeply immersing myself in ballet at the age of four, I would never have anticipated that it would serve as a daily reminder of how much I didn’t fit in, but over the years, that is exactly what it has become to be. The community that surrounds me is bound rigidly by stereotypes, and being an Indian ballet dancer, I have been looked upon constantly in an abnormal light. I am given looks of both confusion and disgust by parents and students as I excitedly entered my dance studio and pull on my Pointe shoes for Nutcracker rehearsal, rather than entering the ongoing Bollywood class. On multiple occasions, I have been accused of ruining group photos, being the only snowflake with curly black hair in the flurry of golden locks. As the first non-Caucasian girl in my company to get the role of “Clara”, I spent months of overhearing murmurs of “being a misfit.” Entering an audition, I am naturally singled out, and am often thrown looks of contempt as I unexpectedly pull off a clean double pirouette. Unwillingly, I am mixed into a pool of spiteful competition as those around me discover that I too can be a ballerina.
Thirteen years of living as a contradiction has only reaffirmed my love for ballet. What others see as a refusal to conform, to me is an expression of unyielding passion and individuality. Every criticism or denunciation fills me with satisfaction rather than disdain. Defying the stereotypes that have been placed upon me, I relish being free of shackles. Now after I lace up my Pointe shoes, I smile brighter, jump further, and turn stronger, while following nothing but my dance.

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