Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Passing the barre

Trish Clark Ryan ’91Freshman year, I needed a gym class. I’d done gymnastics, but Wheaton didn’t offer that, so I picked “Modern Jazz Dance” instead. I’d never studied dance before. It was fun, and I did OK.

Sophomore year, I auditioned for the Wheaton Dance Company, and made it. The first day of rehearsal, our director, Cheryl Mrozowski, lined us up along the back of the room and led us through a ballet barre. I’d heard of barre before—it involved things like knee bends and going up on your toes. I was sure I’d be fine.

I was wrong. Barre was the worst thing that had happened to my 19-year-old body. By the end of the first week, I looked like I’d been in a car accident, with bruises all over my legs, hands and (inexplicably) torso. There was this one move—frappé it’s calledwhich in the rest of life means “yummy cold beverage,” but in ballet terms means “kick yourself repeatedly, as fast as you can, until the music ends.” I flapped and flailed. But these embarrassing times at the barre didn’t make me want to quit dance —they made me want to conquer it.   [Read more...]