Nowness.com presents:​Portrait of a Dancer: Lauren Cuthbertson

Truly beautiful and inspiring…

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Lauren Cuthbertson is a principal dancer with the Royal Ballet of London.

The T.Ruth of the Matter

The irony of life never ceases to amaze. Daily we are in are hot pursuit of the perfection, we take class adding, subtracting and re-draping warm-ups, retouching our hair, and touch and pat ourselves during combinations to make sure everything is just so. Even on our best days in the thin leotard, when the body feels good, and we are on our leg there is something that just isn’t right. No matter what we can always find something about ourselves to hate. Let’s face it the ritualistic practice self-debasement is almost a prerequisite for being a dancer. Around the same time we learn to Tombé pas de Bourré, we learn to think “Gee I suck today”. To tell the truth there is a whole body of things to loathe in all its parts, there are technical shortcomings, the things that never seem to get better even after years of effort, not to mention the things we can’t do anything about (bowed legs are bowed legs get over it and wing your foot) However the package of self deprecation would not be complete without the futile wanting to be the very thing we are not.
We could go our whole lives thinking little of ourselves but the Universe has an equalizer, nothing snaps us into the state of appreciation like being broken down. When you’re sitting on the PT’s table getting an assessment of what has you on ice and Advil, when the doctor is assuring you that it’s just a few weeks before you can start to take class, when you’re rehabbing with electric stem, reformers, exercise bikes and therabands your thoughts go back to the good old bad days when you weren’t hobbled and ginched. It’s hard to believe that just three weeks ago you dreaded facing yourself in dance clothes, now you miss the sight of your jiggly ass, and thought it wasn’t perfect you could arabesque without that shooting pain in your back, though your foot didn’t point like a cashew you could land from jumps without thought, and even though you were never a multiple turner you could do a clean two and finish without that twinge in your knee. You watch class or rehearsal and dance the steps in your mind, remembering when you could work that out. Isn’t it ironic that when you can’t dance the teacher gives all the things you used to do well? It’s as if the Universe means to anchor the lesson “You never miss a good thing until it’s gone.”
After the swelling goes down, the brace comes off, when you get the okay to jump and you make it through you first pain free week of dance, just when your starting to feel secure on your feet again, you’re feeling strong enough to try dancing without the worry of re-injury, you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and spy that thick thigh in the crooked arabesque with the biscuit foot at the end. It’s then that you realize that you’re back!

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