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!