Since I started ballet again I’ve often felt I’ve had more downs than ups. I try to take class at least 5 evenings a week and although I notice improvements, I often feel behind the others in terms of technique and flexibility. In all honestly, I am my worst critic. I find it hard to acknowledge my successes, focusing on what I could have done better instead.
Yesterday in ballet class, we practiced a new and challenging variation. I tried my best but every time I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror all I could see was bad feet, poor turn-out or off-kilter alignment.
After the class, defeated and exhausted, I slowly collected my things and was about to leave when my teacher called me to her. My teacher, Ms. R, is a real inspiration. She has a way of speaking that radiates authority, experience and wisdom despite her young age. I thought I knew what she would tell me – I should have pushed up higher on relevé and kept my arms strong- but that’s not what she said.
She said “You have improved” (please read in slow, eastern European accent). I honestly cannot tell you what she said after that because I kept replaying those three words in my mind. I have…improooved? I have… improved. I have improved! Suddenly it hit me – she was right. I thought of the silly mistakes I used to unintentionally make but could now intentionally correct. I thought of how shy I was to “preform” during class and how confident I had grown since then. I thought of how I used to ask other dancers for help and how newer dancers are now asking me. Of course I had improved!
I am still making mistakes but now they are better ones. I still have a LONG way to get to where I want to be but I’m headed in the right direction.
Sometimes it’s easy to lose the big picture when our heads are buried in the details. But if you take the time to look back to where you began, you realise how far you’ve come.