Ballet Class From Hell This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

May 19, 2011
The sugary scent of hairspray was overwhelming. I sat on a deserted plastic bench in the corner of the studio with my hair pulled back into a sloppy ponytail, as if I were going to soccer practice. An army of girls trotted inside, each with her hair slicked back into a bun that was plopped on top of each head with perfection. A whirl of stick thin legs scurried by me, not even acknowledging my presence. Occasionally, I’d offer one of these girls a shy smile, but immediately I’d get shut down, reminding me that I must have seemed like a loser. I tugged at my pale pink tights with a sigh. They didn’t seem to hug my legs the same way they did on the other girls. I, being the antisocial sixth grader with zero ability to make conversation with anybody my age or older, hung my head, and tried not to make eye contact with the cliques of ballerinas that surrounded me. Every so often, I’d try to sneak a peek at all the commotion that was going on inside the studio, but after a few seconds my eyes would shoot back down to observe my wiggling toes inside the thin pieces of cloth that covered my feet. After many moments of waiting, the wooden door swung open with a bang. Startled, I looked up and watched as an elf-like man holding a massive Louis Vuitton handbag strutted into the room.

“COM ON, LAYTEES!” the extremely flamboyant man yelped, flailing his arms in a million different directions. “WE DON’T HAAAAV MUCH TIME! LEEETZ GOOOO!”

I had never seen a man with such perfectly waxed eyebrows in my entire life. I’d also never heard such an unusual accent in my life, either. Little did I know that the petite man that stood before me would end up being one of the most intimidating people I’d ever encounter.
The fifteen or so girls in my class grasped onto the cold metal bar that lined the studio’s mirrors all the way around the room. I inspected myself in the mirror, amazed at how incredibly awkward I looked compared to the rest of the class. Most girls stood well over five feet tall while I was barely even close to reaching five feet, looking like a short stump in comparison to the others. The elf-like man, whose name turned out to be Martin, clicked on the radio that sat in the corner. A symphony of sound filled the blank room. This was when what I thought would be a fun after school activity, turned into the hellish experience that some would call “ballet.”

Martin closed his eyes, trying to “become one” with the music. All of a sudden, a word that was clearly not English echoed out of his glossed lips. In unison, my classmates pointed their wee little toes and patted the ground with a single tap. Over and over again, they would do this with such poise while I was in the corner, banging my foot against the floor trying to copy what everyone else was doing. Disgusted, Martin marched over to me.

“YOU ARE DOING DIS ALL WRONG!”

The music came to an abrupt halt. Martin grasped my feet in his tiny little hands and bent them into a point. My muscles clenched so tightly that I thought I’d never be able to move my foot again. I stared into Martin’s mischievous little eyes as he told me:

“KEEP YO FOOT LIKE DIS! YO ARE WASTING EVERYBAAADY’S TIME!!!!”

I felt all color drain from my face. My stomach clenched and my hands turned numb. Never in my life had I been so embarrassed. After class, I sprinted out of the studio, not looking back. Climbing into my mom’s car, I began to vent about how humiliating my class had been. I pledged to never step back into that horrid building as long as I lived. But of course, the following week, my mom made me go back. And when I say made, I mean physically dragged me into the studio.

I kept to myself for most of the class, trying to go unnoticed. Every so often, I’d catch Martin glancing over at me, but he would say nothing. I figured he hated me after “wasting everybaaady’s time.” By the end of the class, I was plain relieved that Martin had said nothing to me. I scooped my bag into my hands and made a run for the door. That’s when Martin stopped me.

“YO NEEEEED TO POINT YO TOES!!!!” He shouted at me, the way he always shouted when he spoke, no matter how close you stood to him. Traumatized once again, I made my way to the door. “WAIT!” he yelled. I turned around to face his wee little frame.

“You deeed very well today.” He gave me a two second smile, then turned around and walked away. Those five words brought me back to class the following week. Those five words motivated me to try harder and harder to impress Martin each class so I could feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. After just a few classes I began to not hate ballet as much. I had almost passed up the opportunity to try something that I would end up enjoying due to a little intimidation. The Martins of the world exist merely to test us and until they are defeated, no one really knows what new opportunities lay ahead.





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