Hurting My Brain

As I was writing my “What I Learned from Dance” post, I came the meme of little girls at the ballet bar, most not facing the correct direction. While being a rebel never appealed to my rule-loving heart, I did see myself in this picture. I was the girl facing the wrong direction.

I laughed when I first noticed her because I knew exactly what caused that situation to happen. In ballet classes, often the instructor will turn her back to the class to show the routine so everyone can follow her feet. With the mirrors, she can still make sure that everyone is following along. The second girl in the picture was trying to follow exactly – turning backwards because the teacher had. I know all this because that is how my brain works, too!

My first (and only) ballet class was as an adult. I took it to help my ballroom dance, and boy did it. It also really hurt my brain. I often confounded my instructor, Miss Heidi, with my responses. I remember leaving her speechless as we were practicing jete combinations. These are the split leaps that you see in ballet posters.

photo of ballerina split jumping in the middle of the road
Photo by Gesley on

We did not look like that at all, but everyone starts somewhere. As I was leaping, Miss Heidi shouted out, “Opposite arm!” to which I responded, “Opposite of what?” She just shook her head.

I can still remember the exact logic I was using that caused the confusion during that exchange. In my head, the leg that mattered was the leg that was pushing off making the leap possible. So if I pushed off from my right leg, my left arm went forward – that is the opposite arm. The fact that that meant that my left leg and left arm were both forward at the same time was killing Miss Heidi’s sensibilities. Finally she was able to state what she was looking for in a way I could understand it, and the correct arm would then go out, although it felt so wrong.

Have you ever encountered a situation where your brain did not work the way it needed to for success?

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