About

One day a seagull dropped a can of orange paint and it left a big orange splot. The splot wasn’t cleaned off and instead it became inspiration for people to follow their dreams.

It’s a book by Daniel Manus Pinkwater. You should read it to your kids.

Get in touch if you’d like some paint spilled on something.

bethany@merindolhall.com

Twitter: @bethanykeats

Instagram: @bethanykeats

Umbrella handle in the style of Mary Poppins (green parrot head) resting on books on a shelf. The books are all bird directories.

A note on me and books:

I believe reading is for everyone.

I read books. I review them as a reader, not as a literature-educated critic. Which is probably why I frequently don’t agree with award judges.

I studied literature in year 12, and did Spanish and Latin American literature as part of my Spanish major at university, but my formal qualifications lie elsewhere.

I believe that books and reading are for everyone and sometimes we are at risk of presenting it as a high-brow activity, limited to those who have intense analyses and profound things to say.

I think there can be a gate-keeping around literature, but there shouldn’t be. When you look around you, the people who read are very average and come from a variety of backgrounds.

The way we talk about books should reflect that.

I don’t aim for my reviews to sound like formal critiques. I don’t want them to sound like formal critiques.

I want it to sound like I’ve read the book, and I’m not out to impress anyone with my honest opinion.

A note on me and ballet:

I started ballet as an adult beginner when I was 26.

I started dancing at The Loft Studio Space in Geelong, until I moved to Townsville and I now dance at The Ann Roberts School of Dance.  

I dance for fun, but that doesn’t mean I don’t take it seriously. I believe that if you’re not having fun as an adult dancer, why are you there?

What makes ballet fun is different for everyone.

For me, I have fun challenging myself, setting goals, doing things outside class to achieve those goals, and seeing myself improve.

Others have fun by going to class simply for exercise, enjoying themselves while they’re there but not thinking about ballet until class rolls around again – and that’s great too. I’ve met people who do adult ballet to improve their musical theatre auditions or to improve their weightlifting posture – and I hope they’re having fun while they’re doing that.

I have no time for people who think it’s OK to shame others simply because they have different ballet motivations. This includes studio owners I’ve heard in interviews make disparaging comments about adult dancers whose dance motivations don’t align with their elitist, gatekeeping attitude. Shame on those studio owners. And shame on everyone on social media who thinks that just because they do 10 hours of ballet classes per week then anyone who doesn’t is inferior.

We’re adults. We have other shit going on in our lives.

I don’t dance to a specific syllabus, having been taught by many different teachers over the years who worked to different ones. But what does it matter? I’m not trying to audition for a professional company.

I’m an adult and I know my limitations. This isn’t some kind of lack of confidence and putting myself down; it’s reality and it’s not a lack of confidence to acknowledge that. In fact, it’s empowering to be able to understand my body in this way. I hate toxic positivity; it’s not actually helpful.

I do wear tights and a leotard to class, but occasionally I wear what I was wearing to work (I have a few work dresses I can dance in). Most of my class wears gym clothes. I’ve been to four different adult ballet studios and had more than 10 different teachers and not a single one cared about what we wore as long as we could move.

Although I don’t “look like a ballerina”, I’m taller and slimmer than the average Australian woman, but my classes come in all shapes and sizes. I’m conscious that because I am slimmer, people don’t believe me that their own size/shape would be welcome in my class. Trust me, you will be.

I went en pointe after a year and a half, dancing twice a week, every week during the school term. I also come from a background of pre-elite sport, which played a part.

My first pointe shoes were Bloch Heritage, and my current pair is Repetto La Carlotta.