What Happens When Prince Charming Teaches Ballet Class

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Today Joanna Marsh is sharing a ballet class memory from many years ago when someone unexpected showed up to teach her adult ballet class...

On this particular day, I noticed an extremely handsome man walking into the studio. He was very fit, had impeccable posture and was almost too perfectly groomed, with a pile of blond hair parted on the side and combed up in a little swirl, like Friedrich Von Trapp or some '40s movie star.

Hmm, I thought. We don't see many men around these parts. I wonder why he's here.

Fascinated by this strange man, I went to the barre and wondered if he would reappear for class. Sure enough, the director walked in with him a minute later and explained that mystery-man, whom I will call Friedrich, was a friend from such and such company and that he would be subbing for our class that day.

The giddiness in the room was palpable. I was already smirking as I turned to observe the reactions of the other girls. One in particular had me holding back laughter, as her face was frozen in the most hilarious, starry-eyed grin. I'm certain that every woman in that room was thinking, this beautiful creature is going to teach us ballet today? Jackpot!

For looking so confident, Friedrich was actually nervous. I'm sure a room full of women staring at him didn't help. He led us through pliés with profuse apologies for getting us confused and losing count. After some eager encouragement from us, however, he began to seem more comfortable. He started giving the typical, metaphorical pointers, mostly about food.

“Fondu with extra-melty cheese, ladies!!"

We all giggled. Then, during rond de jambe, he said the most unexpectedly profound thing.

"Remember, ballet is your fairy tale. It's not Cinderella's or Princess Aurora's. It's yours. This is for you."

I saw the girl in front of me practically swoon. I, who am happily married to an equally beautiful man, even felt myself blush a little. It was just the perfect thing to say to a bunch of women who are secretly pained by their love for ballet. You know, women like me who discovered it later in life and love it so much that it's almost heartbreaking to think of the time spent without it. Women who are wondering, What if I had started earlier? Could I have been really good? But this man was telling us that we were already in our own fairy tale — that ballet is not just for ballerina-princesses, but that we had the right to enjoy it, just as we were.

Later, during grand battement, he went on to say, "You can convince your body to do anything. The only thing stopping you is fear."

While that sounded nice, I wasn't quite sure I could buy it. The fairy tale thing was great, but no amount of convincing could get my leg higher in arabesque. Or make my piqué turns to the right — or anything to the right, for that matter — as good as the left. The starry-eyed girl, however, was looking up at Friedrich with even more admiration. She even seemed a little teary-eyed. I could tell that she had been an amazing dancer at one point in her life. Had an injury crushed her ballet dreams? Was Friedrich’s encouragement bringing her back to life?

Eventually, we moved to center, which was incredible. This dude's développés put all of ours to shame. The combinations he created were full of character and freedom, but were also very challenging. We did adagio to “Tale as Old as Time.” Friedrich attempted to sing along but, surprisingly, had to use silly, made-up lyrics. More giggles ensued. After watching us stumble through the last eight counts, he shared another memorable piece of advice.

"There's too much fun in ballet to be upset! So you forgot the combination. Who cares? Start well and finish well. That's the only thing that really matters."

Yes! This stretchy, plastic man is so wise!

After executing the most complicated combination I had ever done, complete with pirouettes switching from en dehors to en dedans— that always freaks me out — class was already over. Determined to thank him for the perfect workout, I made my way over to him. He was already swarmed with admirers. Girls who normally head straight for the door were conjuring questions to ask. Finally, I was able to take my turn.

"Thank you so much," I said, looking him in the eyes. They were pale blue-green. "That was a lot of fun."

"Of course! Thank you."

While looking at him, I realized he reminded me of Jude Law's robot character from that horrible A.I. movie — perfectly airbrushed. And then he seized the opportunity to get out of that sticky, estrogen-filled studio and disappeared.

Disappointed that he left so abruptly, starry-eyed girl lingered around the front desk for a while, probably wondering if she would ever see him again. I doubt that we will, but that's okay. He left us with one of the best classes we had ever had. Maybe that one class was enough for starry-eyed girl to make ballet her own fairy tale again. I hope so. Funny, I haven't seen her since then.

Joanna is a professional librarian and archivist and the author of the adult ballet novel Cantique. You may know her on Instagram as @balletlibrarian. She lives in Kansas City with her husband Michael and her cat Caspian. Check out her author website and shop The Cantique Shop. Thank you for sharing this fun story, Joanna!