Why I

Why I ... Returned to Ballet Dancing

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Photo of Erica Parsons
Left: Erica Parsons now ..., Right: ... and as a young ballerina.

As a child, I spent hours dressed in a pink leotard and tutu, turning circles in front of my mirror. I dreamed of my destiny as a prima ballerina. Or the Queen of England.

As I grew up, it became increasingly apparent that I was not destined for either. I lacked the skill and physique of truly gifted dancers, and I lacked the pedigree and connections to ascend to the throne. So I went to law school instead.

Though 25 years had passed since I donned that first pair of tiny pink slippers, the love of ballet had never really dissipated. One afternoon, I decided to take a break from my six-minute increment existence and began searching for adult ballet classes in the Atlanta area.

Since age and gravity were already working against me, I knew I didn't want to share a barre with a 16-year-old, junior company member whose 32 fouettes would make me feel even more self-conscious than I already did.

That's when I happened upon Dance 101, an adults-only dance studio that catered to beginners as well as seasoned dancers. I screwed up my courage, bought a new pair of ballet shoes (and tights and a leotard and a skirt and legwarmers, because why not?) and headed into the Discover Ballet class one Tuesday evening. An hour later, sweaty, humbled and ecstatic, I walked out of the class, signed up for a membership and have been dancing (again) ever since.

I am not a talented dancer. Despite the herculean efforts of teachers Melody Smith and Lauren Banks, I still have bad feet, poor technique, and almost no rhythm. But for one hour (or two or three or 10) each week, I can be that little girl again, turning circles in front of a mirror.

It doesn't matter if the judge just ruled against me from the bench or if yesterday's deposition of my client tanked our case or if I have an appellate brief due in two days. When the music (everything from Ray Charles to Outkast) is playing, I can't think about all those things. I can only concentrate on the movement, the rhythm, the desire to not trip over my own feet and drag my barre-mate down with me.

I have attended the same Discover Ballet class for almost five years (despite the teacher's insistence that it's time for me to move up to the next level) and the days I dance are the days I'm a better lawyer. I even put a ballet barre in my office, shut the door for a few minutes each morning and afternoon, and just stretch.

I may never dance en pointe again, but that doesn't mean I have to stop dancing.

Erica Parsons is of counsel at Carlock, Copeland & Stair. She practices in the areas of general liability defense, insurance coverage and bad faith.

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