Awesome Ballet Teacher: “To really get the most out of ballet class, you need to think of it like dancing, not just standing in positions. We stand, get prepared, work through the steps, and then just slump over. You don’t want to do that, we are always ballet. Standing can be powerful. You end the way you prepare – beautifully. Then we are ready to immediately move on to the next exercise. Let’s dance.”
I’ve been fortunate, I know, I finally found an amazing ballet teacher. I’ve found a teacher who takes teaching adult beginners seriously, a teacher who wants to share the love he has for ballet with the love that the student has for ballet. My ABT sends out weekly emails with notes, class calendar, and a video clip to watch. Yesterday, we both got so excited talking about last weeks video clip, I realized that we were both kind of dancing around as we talked about it!
Every class ABT says something that resonates with me without fail. Having a ballet teacher like ABT is like being able to meet with a sage philosophers every week. This class was no different and his words stay with me… we are always ballet, I am always ballet. What he meant was that it’s important to stay in ballet dancer mode, to stand ballet, move ballet, rest ballet, stretch ballet, think ballet while in ballet class. I thought that I was present in ballet class before but I realized that I lose being ballet from moment to moment and every time that I do, I need to refocus and reconnect with being ballet.
As an adult beginner, I think that I, like many of my fellow beginners, have a sense of imposter syndrome, the idea that we are “pretending” to be dancers or pretending to do ballet. And because of that, it sometimes feels odd to stay standing ballet, walking ballet, thinking ballet… we’re just civilians after all. It’s been the same problem for me even in just wearing ballet clothes. My usual outfit of leggings and tee shirt reflect my self-conscious thoughts of not being a “real ballet student” rather than my desire to wear a chiffon ballet skirt. Having forced myself through some of these issue and donning a leotard, tights, and ballet skirt to class has been an odd revelation that not only do I enjoy the process dressing the role of ballet student but I definitely feel a little more elegant and graceful. I like the look of my changing leg muscles in ballerina pink tights and how I can see the line of my arms in port de bras without the break of the tee shirt sleeve. I have to admit loving the twirl of my light ballet skirt turning.
Being ballet is about being present in where you are and what you are doing, it’s about finding that place where what you do is part of who you are. I know that well. I am science, I am scholarship, I am thought, work, and creation. When I work, I am intensely part of my work – I think about it, I talk about it, I dream about it. It’s actually one of the things that drove me to not only want to watch ballet but to learn ballet. I spend so much time being science, being scholarship, being thought, word, and research creation, that I wanted, I needed something that could remove me completely, to allow me to have a real break from it. At the same time, I’m not a lie around on the beach sort of person, so my “diversion” needed to be something challenging, something of substance. Ballet allows me to become something else for a few hours. And now I am ballet. It’s like that buddist idea that we are all buddah, you know, be where you are.
Let’s be where we are and be what we love, always being present in the joys and challenges of our lives. We are always ballet. Now, let’s dance!