Also known as, My Ballet World – Week 3
This week was really about control and I believe that this is the appropriate theme for the year! I love really beautiful, perfect technique. I am of the belief that there is no true artistry without a foundation of skill. I realize that there is a whole school of thought that it’s perfectly okay to sacrifice technique in favor of some amazing bravado. I’m not in that school.
We are in control of our bodies. Not everything, all the time. Sometimes this fact saves us and sometimes it is our downfall. When I am in ballet class, I am in control of my body. There are lots of things that I can’t do; there are things that are outside of my range. At the same time, I do have a range of possibilities; my body is still capable of more than what I did yesterday, what I was capable of last month, last year. I am perfectly capable of more. It’s my decision to be the best dancer that I can become and then to work to do better tomorrow than my best effort today. Wasn’t it Baryshnikov who said that he only strove to dance better than himself?
First steps to becoming a dancer that has control:
- Learn to use the mirror. I’ve talked about this before, the dreaded mirror. It’s interesting to talk to “real” dancers who have been looking in the mirror since childhood. They don’t understand the same dread of the mirror because they know how to use it properly as a tool rather than an instrument of torture. The rest of us, however, will do anything to avoid looking at our own reflection. I have begun to realize that it is an incredible tool, the ability to watch your own movements, your own lines and make corrections. I am beginning to learn how to look at myself as a dancer and not as a girl who can be made to feel bad about how she looks especially in tights and a leotard, who will continue to judge herself harshly for ridiculous things like being short.
- Find my leg and get on it. This is my number one job. Get on my leg by myself. These are my two legs, they are short, but they are strong. There is no reason why I cannot balance while standing on one leg, this is not rocket science. The more I tell myself that it’s a hard feat that is beyond me, the more that I doubt that I can do it, the more that I make it an issue. It’s not an issue; I can balance well, no wobbling, no wiggling. I can balance. I will balance strongly. It’s my leg, no excuses; I will get on it every time.
- I will not over complicate things. I have a bad habit of over thinking just about everything and making it at least ten times harder than it is. My awesome teacher has said to minimize movement in order to maximize impact. That is, clean up the technique! Beautiful movement doesn’t require a bunch of complications. Ballet is actually a very clean, pure art. It does not need me to throw in a bunch of nonsense to clutter it up. In law enforcement, we are taught that in moments where panic would be a normal response to rely on training and continue to do what must be done. There it is. Stop analyzing and start relying on good training.