Thursday, February 26, 2015

Jane Austen Days

Much of my life has been spent in the pursuit of creativity and art. Throughout my younger years, nearly every day after school was filled with theatre rehearsal, dance class, or various forms of musical education. In school, I was in band, choir, orchestra, drama club and all the rest. I went on to study theatre in school, continuing to sing, learn a bit of guitar, and head off to NYC to try my hand at performing in THE city. While none of my passion or interest has waned since then, I have never been one to have a single focus that dictates all actions in my life. In addition to the performing arts, I love writing, travel, language, and above all, people. I adore my friends and family and often get completely distracted by them as much as my own nonsense. Not to mention the fact that I am a hopeless romantic who loves to love and simultaneously a hopeless financial planner who loves to screw up a lot.

I say this all mainly as a rambling prelude to the fact that I sometimes find it hard to focus and have time and money and the right cosmic energy to really delve into my creative pursuits. Fortunately, it seems that the stars have been aligning lately and I find myself with a certain amount of flexibility and support that allows me to make the appropriate efforts while also feeling that magical inspiration that comes along every once and a while. Perhaps it's the cosmos or perhaps it's just the fact that spring is hinting its way over the horizon.

That being said, yesterday I had one of those days that truly made me feel like a Renaissance woman. I began my day at French school, a place I am not always fond of being at 9am across Paris during winter when I don't feel that I learn all that much. I had a test, however, so I took it and tried to absorb just a bit more of this crazy romance language. I then proceeded to my first dance class in what feels like decades. My American Friend and I went to try out a dance studio near Bastille, choosing a modern jazz class for our first foray. To be honest, I don't think I've ever actually taken a jazz class, nevermind modern. I was always a tap and Irish Step Dancing type of gal, with some jaunts into the land of ballet and of course whatever Broadway jazz was thrown at me in musicals. But I have been craving some full body throw yourself into a song sort of movement lately, and I wasn't disappointed. Though it was a class for "debutant" or "beginners", it's clear that you have to at least have danced a bit before in your life and have a relatively sound heartbeat to keep up. Luckily dance is one of those universal languages, so despite the fact that the eccentric and highly energetic instructor was speaking rapid French in his flamboyant and thoroughly entertaining manner, I was able to keep up both mentally and physically. Only during the middle of the class, when we were sitting on the floor and doing various leg extensions that my vehemently inflexible and surgically fused together frame was rebelling against did I want to die a little on the floor with a pillow. However, when we finally got down to an upbeat routine in the last half hour of class, I was sweating, working hard, and amazingly content. After class, I had about an hour to run home, shower, grab my guitar, and jump into my third creative pocket of the day. While my fingers rebel against bar chords as much as my legs battle against floor stretches, I am a much happier little student with my new (slash old, recently mailed from the U.S... thank you, Daddy!) guitar in my tiny little hobbit hands.

On my way home from such a cultured interval, I thought to myself about a time when women (privileged women at least) were often expected to do nothing other than the activities I engaged in all day long. French and dance and music, honing skills for entertainment and pleasure. I can't pretend that I would particularly enjoy the pitfalls that came along with that time. Lack of independence, inability to make most life decisions, and a very real necessity to live by social rules and structure. The fanciful romantic in me, however, would not remotely mind throwing on an empire-waisted dress, talking like Emma Thompson, and taking a stroll about the room with Mr. Darcy.


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  2. Yea, I'm that friend! ;)
    Who does that make me in the Jane Austen novels?

    1. Haha tricky! I normally fancy myself Marianne from Sense and Sensibility, which would make you Elinor. Or obvi we all want to be Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice, making you Jane!