On ballet and emotions

Engage your center! Your hips are not aligned – is your weight over your standing leg? No floppy feet – point them! Strong arms please – but graceful! Where has your turnout gone? What are you doing?!

Yesterday I had my first ballet class after a two week break. Anyone who dances regularly knows that two weeks might as well be two years because even a single day without training takes its toll on your technique and physical condition.

I can’t deny I was scared to go back. The days before all I could think about was how sore my muscles would be afterwards, how badly I would dance, how my teacher would be particularly hard on me as she always is with students who are away for longer periods of time. I entered class weighed down with all my thoughts and guess what, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be – it was worse (please re-read the first few sentences of this post – my poor teacher was so frustrated with me)!

At one point I was making such basic mistakes that I seriously considered pretending I had hurt my ankle (UEFA league style) and then sitting out the rest of class – shameful I know, but I didn’t do it.

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On my way back home from class, I started searching for excuses for my poor performance. I am tired, two weeks is a long break, I think I am coming down with something. The truth is, I sabotaged myself long before the class even started. I was unfocused and scared, two things that will sabotage any endeavor in life.

One of the beautiful things about dance is that your internal state always shines through. Happy, angry, in love – it’s all expressed in your movements.

The true professional learns to channel their emotions, using them to express whatever the choreographer wants them to. The amateur (that would be me) cannot channel their emotion (fear in my case) and this can have a negative (or, like my class yesterday, disastrous) effect.

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Me, post class. Please notice the heavy beads of sweat adorning my brow.

I have another ballet lesson this evening and I have been pumping myself with positive talk all day. I am determined to do better today which should not be hard as it can’t worse than yesterday.

Bring it on!

Dancers’ delights

Ballet dancers really are a crazy bunch. I say that with love, fully aware that as an “amateur ballerina” I’m part of the club.

If you think about it, no one in their right minds should willingly want to put that much stress on the bodies or, in the case of female dancers, balance their entire body weight on their tip toes. Crazy, dangerous and painful? Certainly, but ballet can also be deeply rewarding, healthy and fun.

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It’s hard to explain ballet’s appeal to people who are not into it – first, you have to overcome the initial misconceptions and stereotypes of ballet being “unathletic and easy”, “something for rich Caucasian girls” and “all about swans, pink tutus and glittering tiaras ”. Should you manage that mammoth task (and have any energy left), you might then be able to describe your love for the art form to your (most probably skeptical and uninterested) audience. When I started the blog, I knew ballet had to be part of it.

Ballet (and dance in general) forms such a integral part of my life that it would be strange not to include it.

So I’ve decided to start a feature called “dancer’s delights” in which I’ll chronicle my love for ballet and all things dance. So dig out those dancing shoes and dust off your old tutu, I hope to getting you dancing soon.

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