Milestones

Break out the champagne, let’s toast a milestone! It’s been one year with my Awesome Ballet Teacher! I’ve been flailing around in ballet classes before that but now more than ever, I hardly count that time because mostly it was just traumatic experiences and discouragements.

This last year with Michael, the Awesome Ballet Teacher, has been the most wonderful first hand experience in dance and actually one of my most wonderful first hand experiences in practically anything. As I think of my first hand experiences in music, scholarship, sports, mostly those things have left me questioning myself, my abilities, learning how to berate myself into submission under the false pretense of being discipline, and feeling overall, less than up to par, thereby making me somewhat paranoid and defensive and always competitive.

This last year with my Michael has been, yes, about learning ballet technique. He is a real stickler for beautiful, clean technique which I love because I adore beautiful, clean technique myself. But also about the process of learning ballet and that means about the learning process itself. As an academic, I find this fascinating because academia, the birthplace and crux of learning, can be a cruel and frighteningly, ruthless place. As a student, I find this wholly luxurious. I’ve actually never been in a non-competitive, always encouraging, never intimidating environment before. I know that sounds incredible but when I think about it, the only other place that I’ve experienced this is in my own home and there are only two of us in the house… and I think I may push us into competitive zones every once in a while.

I fully credit Michael with creating an environment that fosters and nurtures joy in learning ballet. JOY!  I take a moment to pause over this because it is an amazing, amazing thing – joy. Before Michael, I can recall walking out of a ballet class practically in tears and I don’t cry… over much of anything. There were classes that left me feeling the weight of being completely unworthy and so far removed from something that I loved so much. It actually made watching ballet sometimes painful. I went to one class where the instructor was so horrid that I, who cannot go a day without some sort of connection to dance, couldn’t even bear to listen to classical music, much less anything else ballet related, for two months following. It was a quiet two months.

What I stand most amazed at is how much I now enjoy the process, how much I look forward to classes, the joy that ballet now gives me that spills over into every other part of my life! This year of ballet has made me an entirely healthier person. Physically, it’s been the single best thing I have done for myself, even as a long time runner, ballet has been 100% better for my body in strength, flexibility, posture and stamina. But that’s just the beginning… I’ve become healthier in so many other ways. In the last year, ballet has played a huge role of making me a healthier and happier human being. That’s intense. And it’s real.

If you’re a dancer and you don’t have an Awesome Ballet Teacher of your own, I highly  encourage you to search until you find one… and if you have one, I know you understand exactly what I am talking about and I know you dance with Joy… and if you are one, I love you, YOU RULE!

I’m looking forward to this second year of ballet training. I hope you stick around with me – I think its going to be epic!

6 thoughts on “Milestones

  1. I think I’m going to pack my bags and move to L.A. right now. Your ABT sounds awesome!!! Finding a qualified, professional person who truly cares about teaching (and correcting) adults is a hard thing. I’ve had about 11 teachers over the course of 3 years, and only a handful of them really cared enough/were patient enough to correct the same mistakes over and over again without becoming bitter and harsh. Teaching adult beginners is a challenge, because most of us have bodies that were not meant to do ballet, and I have the utmost respect for teachers who can teach technique effectively without sacrificing musicality and expressiveness.

    • Do it because my ABT is awesome! I’m not surprised to hear that you’ve been through so many teachers, saddened by it, but not surprised. Teaching is a difficult job and its compounded by teaching adults, who I think are infinitely more difficult than teaching children, and teaching beginners, because that must be frustrating actually.

      I’ve discovered that my classmates come from all over the city to take class with Michael because they enjoy his classes so much and learn so much from him. I’m not sure that I would still be trying to learn ballet at this point if not for him. I have gotten brave lately and started trying out more classes, just to see different methods and options for days when I don’t have class with him. But my bravery comes from knowing that even if I had a really bad class elsewhere, I can go running back to Michael’s class and even complain to him about it!

      He really has found a way to not only impart ballet technique but musicality, grace, expression, and an amazing sense of what it is to dance ballet even through our limited skills. The man needs to be knighted… or something equally cool.

  2. I think I’ve found my ABT, along with my ABS (Awesome Ballet School) as well. Like you I had issues with previous ballet teachers, there were a few days that it was all I could do not to walk right out of the studio and drive straight home. I stuck it out until the term ended and have never gone back. Cee ya, wouldn’t want to be ya’!

    My time is far to important to put up with a class that makes something as wonderful as ballet an undiserable chore. I sometimes I feel like I’m counting the hours or minutes until my next class. You are so right, I feel the joy in each and every step I make while dancing, even if I screw up.

    • High five, Chris! I’m glad you’ve found a great place with great teachers! I agree with you, I will not go to a class with anyone who could suck the happiness out of ballet! What kind of person does that!!! I actually don’t mind when I make mistakes now because I know that I’m being challenged! That’s another thing that I credit my Awesome Ballet Teacher with! He created an environment where its okay to make mistakes… even a lot of them… even the same ones over and over. We are improving and learning but screwing up happens and its okay, we can still love ballet and be joyful in our dancing!

  3. High five back at ya! I love challenges and love to be challenged and finding the right mix of school and teachers make all the difference in the world. I love getting corrections now, I know both of my ABT’s want me to succeed and be the best ballet dancer possible. I leave class knowing I’ve learned something new or fixing a nagging issue, a great feeling. Having those bad classes make my current classes so much better.

    • Isnt’ that amazing… I love corrections! Of course, I still love it when my teacher points out improvements but corrections are awesome! Knowing that our teachers want us to do well, to improve, and believe that we can is such an amazing gift!

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