The music stopped and I calmly brought my arms down into bra bas position. I couldn’t help but smile – I was adamant that I had done the combination perfectly. I knew my teacher, Ms. R had been watching and I was certain she would compliment me on having done just as she asked.
I got no such compliment. I was confused. Had she not been watching me? Class continued and I watched Ms. R walk around, correcting the other dancers. Every time she corrected me, I examined her face for signs that she was pleased with what I was doing. But I couldn’t read anything from her expression.
After class, I approached her. I didn’t know exactly what I would say. I figured I would just ask a basic question about my pointe shoes and see how she reacted. Before I tell you how she reacted, you need to know that Ms. R is one of the best “people-readers” I’ve ever met. She knew, long before I approached her, what was on my mind.
She answered my “pretext question” about pointe shoes. Then, as I turned to leave, she casually planted this bomb of wisdom, “Don’t get complacent, Tochi. I’m happy to see you are more confident and you’ve really improved, but you must not stop here. You must never stop pushing yourself”. She smiled and I understood.
We all know the old cliché about how the destination is not the goal but the journey is (terrible paraphrasing, I know). Well, ballet is the perfect example of that.
With each accomplishment and each ballet goal achieved, you have to push the destination further away.
The best dancers never get complacent – they never stop striving and improving. Of course, it’s important to recognise the milestones and celebrate them, but ballet milestones never really mark the end. They mark the beginning of a new journey.