Method Writing: Ballet Dancing

by Shona Husk

I like research. I enjoy learning new things. Sometimes though reading or even talking to others isn’t enough. Sometimes the only way to get a feel for it is to get out there and give it a go.

So in October last year I decided I’d give ballet a try. I did ballet in grade one, jazz ballet around grade six, and belly dancing my twenties, so it wasn’t as though I had never danced before. Yet somehow I had forgotten what hard work it was (I had also forgotten everything about ballet except first and third position and good toes/naughty toes–in my adult beginner class my toes were never called naughty even though they were…).

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I’d also forgotten how much fun it was–way better than turning up at the gym. I was getting fitter (ab and thigh work out as well as cardio) and learning something. I think dancing is now my preferred work out. Well, aside from karate 🙂

In both cases though there is footwork and posture and names and routines to learn (and after years of sinking my weight and keeping my knees soft it is really hard to turn out and keep my legs straight). I’m getting there, though I don’t think I will ever be graceful.

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So how does this help my writing?

Experiencing new things sparks new ideas. And the people watching is amazing, really. New things means new people to watch and it’s always interesting to see how people pick up a new skill–the drop out rate was surprisingly high. Some people came all done up in leotards and skirts for their first class…some of us just wore our gym leggings.

Even though I had spoken to a professional dancer (hi Tamsyn!) while writing In the Spotlight–and I spent far too long watching things like world ballet day on YouTube (it’s a thing, check it out) and watching interviews with dancers….watching dancers…  OK I spend a lot of time on You Tube–there is nothing like actually giving it a go. Being in a class and hearing the corrections, being singled out, trying to memorize the routine and then keep in time with the music while drawing in your stomach, pointing your toes–but remember not to be wooden! It’s different to watching. It’s more fun. And I’m getting better. When I started I thought I’d just do one 5 weeks basics course, but it’s been close to a year.

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Giving something a try adds a layer to the story. While no one wants to read about all the research, there are little bits that can slide in and make the scene more real. As a bonus you might get a new hobby 🙂


29604A diva who lives for the spotlight, a sailor deeply in the closet, a love that will change them both

Ripley Malone is returning to Perth in triumph. A principal ballet dancer in a production that has critics raving, he is an unqualified success, and all the small-minded  people that made his life hell can kiss his lycra-covered ass. But behind the makeup and the glitter and the costumes, Ripley is beginning to tire, tire of the competition, the drive, the endless parade of meaningless lovers.

For Pierce Lovell, joining the Navy was a way out of rural Victoria, but becoming a submariner comes with its own set of challenges. The close living quarters and long months away are awkward enough without adding any extra tension around his sexuality. The fear is probably in his head, but he isn’t taking any chances with his career. He gets by on anonymous one-night-stands every time they come to shore and keeps his heart well-shielded. But one night with Ripley opens the tantalising possibility of more.

Through a mistake Ripley is injured. He can’t dance. His wings are clipped and he crashes down and hits the earth hard. Pierce knows their affair can’t possibly end in anything but heartache, but he can’t stay away. As Ripley heals and reassesses his life, he is determined not to make the same mistakes again. That means letting someone see the vulnerable side of him. But vulnerability for Pierce could cost him everything

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