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By Alex Wolfe
Despite training in my sport for more than 15 years, I have no trophies or medals. Despite practicing for at least 12 hours a week, nine months a year for the last four years, I have no varsity jacket. And despite all my aching muscles, oozing blisters and cramping and bleeding toes, my sport – ballet – is only considered a hobby by many people.
I am proud to be a ballerina. But it can be frustrating when people hear that I dance and say something like, “So, you do ballet? With tutus and sparkles and stuff?” With a culture that seems to worship football players and the stereotypical jock, most people I know are oblivious to how arduous ballet can be.
I push my body past the breaking point every day and play through the pain, just like any other athlete does. Three years ago, I badly tore the ligament in my big toe and had to perform three shows for a full audience the next day. You do what you have to do to succeed at any sport.
Even Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker, appreciates the value of ballet. After taking ballet classes at The University of Georgia, he eventually went on to perform in a show with the Fort Worth Ballet. He did all this to improve his flexibility and football prowess.
Ballet is just as hard, if not harder, than football.
Imagine what goes into the average dancer’s life. For performances, I wear insanely tight corsets which only fit when I can no longer breath. I balance my entire body weight on two or three toes in excruciatingly painful shoes. Then, I dance vigorously for eight minutes straight without stopping. On top of it all, I’m expected to smile the entire time. It adds a whole new layer of difficulty to the sport.
My motivation for dancing has never been to receive a trophy or medal; I dance because I love ballet and performing. When people start discrediting ballet, however, I take offense. I want to be acknowledged as a ballerina…and as an athlete.
Alex Wolfe is a senior at Grady High School.