MY INSPIRATION : BALLET
Ballet has been been omnipresent in my life; my Mother is a retired ballerina and I began ballet classes within weeks of being able to walk. I danced up until my late 20’s as an escape and fun way of staying fit, but a broken foot sustained in the dress rehearsal for a ballet gala ended my days of dancing en pointe. (I’m pretty sure that ignoring the pain coming from my foot and dancing the four gala performances anyway didn’t help*).
Ballet taught me many things and it instilled in me a sense of dedication and attention to detail and form.
I was twelve the first time I saw a ballet at the theatre - Cinderella - and I was transfixed by how the dancers made the choreography look so effortless and graceful. The lines they created and the way time seemed to stretch and accelerate at their behest was completely captivating. I knew from my own training the strength and attention to detail required to execute such complex movements with such apparent ease and grace. From that evening I set about trying to copy their grace and build the strength and technique I needed to achieve it. Over the years I began to ‘see’ the paths of the movements in my head as though they left traces in the air - like a motion blurred photograph. This helped me refine my technique but it also became something of a fascination in its own right.
This grace, elegance and fluidity of movement is feature of all of my design work, initially it was without intention or realisation. However after I realised what I was doing it became a primary focus, I guess having danced for so long myself it is inherent in me and as my jewellery design is also a part of me it is inherent in it. (How’s that for a profound statement?! Reading it back it sounds a little pretentious but I hope you get my meaning)
It is an element of my design style that is also influenced by my time as an aerodynamicist. Ballet and the laws of thermodynamics are two things that aren’t normally talked about in the same sentence; but there are actually a lot of similarity in how air passes over a surface and how a ballet dancer moves. Both movement trails are also unseen by the naked eye and I like the idea of playing with something unseen and making it tangible.
I have often thought that how a chiffon ballet skirts moves and morphs as a ballerina dances is reminiscent of how the petals of the flowers such as roses and peonies move in a gentle breeze; and in that sentence you have the link between all my main inspirations.
*In my defence I didn’t actually realise my foot was broken at the time - I just brushed myself off from the rubbish landing I’d just done to a grand jeté and carried on. It was only when I got home that evening I realised it was a bit more serious, but I wasn’t about to let a swollen sore foot ruin months of work learning the choreography and the chance to dance a fun solo that I had choreographed with the teacher. So me being me I ignored the fact my foot hurt, didn’t tell my teacher about it and instead took a load of pain killers, strapped it up tightly and put on my pointe shoes and danced four performances in four days…result very sore foot that was later revealed to be broken and that took months to heal! But hey I enjoyed the performances and the adrenaline of performing was enough to override most of the pain!
I was never destined to be a ballerina myself - I’m too short for a start! It was my way of keeping fit and healthy and I found dancing to music far more appealing that running around a muddy field in the freezing cold! I could loose myself in the beautiful music and feel things I shut off away from the dance studio. I guess in a way it was one of my safe heavens.