Ballerina Profile: Linmayu Appavu

lin in la esmeralda 2014When did you start doing ballet as an adult?

I made my final decision to return to ballet at age 35, and will never quit dancing again.

Did you ever take lessons as a kid?

Yes, a lot of lessons. From age 6 to 25. I was the worst student in class and got yelled at a LOT, until I finally learned the difference between my right and left foot. I think I was 16 by then.

Because I had danced for so many years in the past, I thought it would be easy to come back and wow everyone, but no! I had to start over from square one. My mind knew what to do, but all my ballet muscles had disappeared into the ether from lack of use.

Why did you decide to take ballet as an adult?

During the years I wasn’t dancing, I couldn’t even go to a show and watch other people dance–any kind of dance–without feeling like I was being stabbed in the heart. Then I read all the magazines and all the articles that say people over age 20 who have boobs and butts shouldn’t do ballet. But you know what, I decided I don’t care about that. We each have just one life on this Earth, and I couldn’t imagine living out the rest of mine without taking myself to the absolute limits of my ability in dance. With God all things are possible. I’m just getting started.

Where do you take classes?

Currently, I take most of my classes with University Ballet of Chicago, a student group affiliated with University of Chicago. (That’s a tip for budding adult dancers: find a local college or university group that is open to non-students! You’re more likely to find performing opportunities, and it’s easier on the psyche to go to class with college kids than with high schoolers.) If I can’t get to UB, then I take class at the Joffrey Academy or Lou Conte Studio of Dance. Both have great adult classes at all levels, from basic to advanced/professional.

What is your favorite part about ballet?

Where do I begin? I think first and foremost, I love the beauty of the art form and the fact that it carries hundreds of years of human history. I love to move my body. I love to challenge my body, to do something today I couldn’t do yesterday. I love to land a perfect pirouette. I love jumping (a little bit too much; I tend to get crazy and then get injured). I love character dances. I love the music. I love the costumes (most of the time). I love performing, and feel very fortunate that I actually get to do that right now!

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