I have always admired the sinewy beauty of the dancer’s body. The greatest artists of the ages dedicated their lives to attempt capturing the harmony, balance and intricacies of the human body. To appreciate the sophistication of our form, take a look at the anatomical studies of Leonardo da Vinci or any photograph of a ballet dancer such as this one of the sublime Mikhail Baryshnikov.
Strength is power. Strength is speed. Strength is alignment and symmetry. Being strong makes me a better runner. When I am strong I can push longer and harder, particularly during those last few miles of a race. For me, and I think women in general, it is important to keep the glutes strong. Yesterday I went to a barré class, more to connect with a lifelong love of ballet and dance, but also to move my body in ways that running does not allow. Running is one directional. Ballet is movement “in the round”. Today I am sore in deep and small muscles that I have not felt before. Challenging my body in new ways can only be a positive thing, for my running and for my soul.
I love this photograph of Mikhail Baryshnikov . I’ll never forget the first time I was exposed to his lyricism. It was 1985, I was eight and the film White Nights starring Baryshnikov and Gregory Hines just came out. At the time I wanted to be a ballet dancer. I watched the film only because my parents had a personal connection to someone working on the film. The movies had a profound effect on me politically (yes, I was only eight but I became fascinated with the Cold War and the concept of defection) and also in terms of dance. I was transfixed by the smooth and lithe way Baryshnikov moved across the floor. Plus, he’s just so cool. Sometimes when I’m running over puddles or jumping curbs on my commute home, I imagine I’m flying across the stage with Baryshnikov. Here is the dance that kicked it all off for me: