Bad Habits

We all have our bad habits, sometimes we recognize them and try to rectify them, sometimes we just live with them, and sometimes we even embrace them and stroke them like kittens.

When I was a very young child I was greatly influenced by my dad’s eldest sister who just happened to be a nun. I wasn’t raised Catholic but I found my aunt – Sister V to be fascinating. Here was a woman who could out drink any man at the table and still recite all the prayers without missing a word or a beat. She loved Neil Diamond and when my cousins wanted entertainment, they would put him on the stereo because Sister V would immediately grab the nearest man and start dancing. She was the strictest, most disciplined person that I ever saw… but she also was the wackiest, free-spirit I ever met at the same time. She taught me that there is no real freedom without discipline, that was perhaps one of the most important lessons of my life and I live that principle as much as I possibly can. Something else she taught me is the value of being still and silent. Moments of thoughtful stillness have always played a part in my life, even as a very small child. I have always appreciated quiet, alone time. One of the habits that I cultivated over the decades is the ability to take stillness and meaningful silence with me even when moving. Part of this movement is that I look down a lot. Okay, ballet friends, you see where this is going now don’t you!??!

Looking down is not a good ballet habit. It is, in fact, a bad ballet habit and one that I get called out on all the time. I understand why, I really do. I have discovered that dancing is so much easier when I lift my gaze and therefore my head up, instead of looking down. That knowledge does not, however, fix my bad habit. Last night we were doing a fun little combination in center and as usual, I got called out for looking down, “Lorry, stop looking down… Lorry, stop looking down.. Lorry, look up…Lorry, focus right here… don’t look down… I’m going to put a hat on you.” It did get easier and,therefore, more fun when I looked up but my eyes kept pulling down toward the floor. And my awesome ballet teacher always corrects in the kindest way and I do appreciate his corrections but this is going to take a while I’m afraid, to get over this ingrained habit.

Look up, think up, go up! Look up, think up, go up! Look up, think up, go up!

4 thoughts on “Bad Habits

  1. Great point about looking up. I often look down at my feet, especially since a while back when I wasn’t realizing I was sickling (gasp!) until my teacher pointed it out. But so true, looking up and beyond actually helps with a lot of stuff. And I’ve found out the important thing is to get to know what proper placement feels like on your body, not just what it looks like. That way you can move on to epaulement and so forth (I often forget that my head and shoulders are a part of my dancing body!) 🙂

    • Looking down is one of my biggest battles. Even though I know absolutely that when I stop looking down everything improves! I read an interview with my ballet-boyfriend Manuel Legris where he said that no matter what he’s always conscious of finishing nicely, closing his 5th, and making sure his head is in a nice position!

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