48 essays by Elizabeth Shé

Essay #41: support

In Love on December 19, 2011 at 11:03 pm

I am taking an aerial dance class. It’s very difficult, engaging muscles I don’t use every day. How often do you pull yourself up on a long piece of silk and flip upside down?

My favorite so far is the dance trapeze. It’s easier to get into than the sling, which is just a loop of fabric hanging from the ceiling. My mind chimes in with, “Silk is something you sew, you can’t possibly dance on it!” But the trapeze has a sturdy wooden bar I can grab and manuever.

I seem to be stronger and able to do more when the teacher is standing next to me than when I practice on my own, outside of class. I will spot you, she says, I will hold your weight. Meaning, I see you. You’re safe.

With her support I am able to get into Half Angel, Sitting Pretty, and Coffin pose. The cycle of life, yes? Born angels, we’re sitting pretty for awhile, then we’re dead. And the whole thing is easier with support.

Usually I apologize for needing help. “I’m such a loser.” But how will she know I need it unless I ask? Maybe I’ve been missing the point of this exercise. I signed up for a dance class, but what I’m actually learning is how to ask for what I want. How to receive it. How to trust. How to fly. And how to land.

Just back from class, my arms are so tired I can barely lift them to the keyboard. But tonight I was able to pull myself up higher on the silks, and hold on longer. For the first time, I held myself steady with my feet, pulled my upper body through the slit in the fabric, and performed the Diva Descent, arms open wide and welcoming as I slowly slid to the ground.

Supporting myself the whole way down.

  1. The whole thing is easier with support, isn’t it? Learning to ask for what I want, what I need is probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever learned. Or should I say learning? It’s still easy to fall back into those patterns….

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