During my ballet training from about age 8 to 19, I performed several times a year with a local ballet troop. I thought I was gaining valuable performaning experience which would help my development as a dancer. What I didn’t know is that I was also learning the most important lesson in life, how to deal with the unexpected. When in doubt, chené out.
This was a phrase that us dancers coined and repeated often in rehearsal as well as back stage during performances. The word “chené” is a French ballet term which refers to a series of 180 degree turns performed while traveling in a line, on either the ball of your foot or on pointe if you are wearing toe shoes. While spinning, one can quickly move from point A to point B. “When in doubt,” refers to the moment you are on stage and you forget your step or a mishap occurs that was not planned and causes you to veer from the rehearsed choreography. When in doubt, when you are not sure what will happen next or what is expected of you, “chené out.” This means, make a graceful exit that looks like it was planned from the beginning. In other words, go with the flow.
Live performances are like life. You plan and plan for the performance of your life, rehearse and know your lines. Then, as you experience first hand the moments you have anticipated, just about anything can happen. The key is not to break from character. Simply act like you know what you are doing, make a graceful exit, and let the show continue.
In life, especially with parenting, we think we have anticipated all that is to come. And yet when we get there, the unexpected happens. So what should we do? How shall we cope? Put our heads down and cry that this isn’t how it was supposed to be? No ma’am. We change course to accommodate our new situation. And we do it gracefully as if it was always meant to be.
“Mommy, remember that time I pooped in my shoes on the playground and you were out of wipes and my brother took off running in the opposite direction?” my daughter asks me. “Yes dear, I remember,” I smile as I respond. I couldn’t forget that one. Talk about graceful exits…