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Dealing with discouragement


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#1 hlambers

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Posted 21 January 2014 - 11:03 AM

Is there any part of your ballet training that's taking a very, very, VERY long time to improve? For me it's pirouettes. Many of the women I started dancing with and have progressed with can easily land a double, while I'm lucky if I do a passable single.

 

I know I have to keep practicing and eventually it will come, but I feel like the mental block surrounding pirouettes grows every day. Improvement is so painfully slow that I often feel discouraged and even a little scared of doing pirouettes, but I know that all this negativity does is slow my progress down even more. Do any of you have any tips for overcoming mental blocks like these? Of overcoming discouragement?


Edited by hlambers, 21 January 2014 - 11:03 AM.


#2 Reece

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Posted 21 January 2014 - 11:32 AM

ALL of it!

 

Everyone learns at his or her own rate. Taking classes more often will generally help you learn faster, but everything takes time. I've been taking class for almost three years and I've just started to be able to do single pirouettes with some consistency, and did my first double (not pretty, but controlled) this weekend. Try not to measure yourself against others; they aren't you.

 

One of the things I've found that really helps deal with discouragement is to keep a journal of some sort after every class. Write down what you're working on, what you've done well, and what you're having trouble with. When you feel like you're not making progress, go back a few months in your journal and you'll probably discover that the things you were having trouble with then aren't as much of a problem now, and the things you're having trouble with now seemed impossible back then. I happen to keep my journal online (Dancing over the Hill) but a little notebook you keep in your dance bag works just as well.



#3 judymoody

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Posted 21 January 2014 - 12:45 PM

You are my twin!  I began ballet at 40 and I am not a fast learner when it comes to body coordination.  My pirouettes have been very slow in coming.  I have seen improvement lately because I take the time to balance in passe every day, either on releve or flat. I also try to work on one aspect at a time, like maintaining my turnout, or keeping my shoulders down, or my spot.  That way you can see the improvement more and stay positive.  Good luck!



#4 Garyecht

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Posted 21 January 2014 - 02:33 PM

I think the first thing is to accept yourself for being who you are. Don't waste time comparing yourself with others. Make your priorities in class doing the best you can, enjoying what you do, and forgetting your goof ups. I've been in class with many a professional dancer who has goofed up something.

The second thing is that when difficulty comes (I think every adult faces this prematurely in his or her mind), you need to work on whatever it is outside of class. If you do that and persist you will learn a lot about yourself as well as whatever the skill is that's giving you trouble. Learning dance skills is largely a matter of repetition. We are talking thousands for difficult skills.

With regard to pirouettes, when I began doing them I was terrible. I worked and worked, making only very slow progress. Eventually, I pretty much gave up. And that is when I improved the most. I was more relaxed and when I goofed up, I didn't let it bother me. Even now, Ill have a bad pirouette day when working on my own. When that happens, I quit and go on to something else.

#5 AndrewUK

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Posted 22 January 2014 - 04:24 AM

Think we all get discouraged at some point !.

 

I find sometimes walking away for a while, move on to something else for a short time , as Garyecht says above, then come back .

 

I think also you can try to hard sometimes to get things right, so relax more and try adding your pirouette to something else so you are not so totally focused on the pirouette alone.



#6 hlambers

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Posted 22 January 2014 - 09:37 AM

Thank you all for the advice. I'll try not to beat myself up about it, and be patient (a virtue I've never had :grinning:). It's also nice to hear I'm not alone in the struggle for graceful pirouettes! Andrew UK, you're spot on about incorporating pirouettes into combinations. I think that really diminishes the anxiety, and now that I think about it, I do loads better when I have to turn quickly and don't have time to fret about it! We all need to celebrate even our smallest accomplishments.



#7 Sharon B

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Posted 22 January 2014 - 11:56 AM

For me there is always something to work on, not only those things I have difficulty with ( predictably pirouettes and  certain pique turns). I love the challenge of trying to constantly make something better. My nemesis definitely is petite allegro., well petite allegro at the appropriate tempo. I can do the steps individually, and at a slower/beginner pace, but in the intermediate classes I take, petite allegro is difficult. But I keep trying, breaking things down, marking i the back  and doing the combinations with the last group. I can see progress, the progress is slow, but it is there, Keep working, slow and steady wins the race....



#8 txballetmom

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Posted 22 January 2014 - 08:59 PM

I think ballet is one of the hardest things I've ever done.  Our teacher told us she worried we'd start feeling sorry for our daughters.  I told her "No way.  They're younger and have been doing it longer."  



#9 hlambers

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Posted 25 January 2014 - 02:37 PM

A little update if anyone's interested: It's amazing what you can accomplish when you chill out!! Today in class we did a combination with a pirouette from 4th, and beforehand I reminded myself just don't stress about it and do what you can...and I did beautifully! I also landed a halfway decent double when I got back today (just once though, ha). I think what I've learned is that you just have to trust that improvement will come, and sometimes forcing improvement or worrying too much about it just hampers the process.



#10 Redbookish

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Posted 25 January 2014 - 04:07 PM

And there's a weird thing about pirouettes -- well, for me at least: that if I relax, they'll be fine. And then if I get obsessive, and do then over & over in a class, they'll gradually get worse. Friends I dance with find the same.

 

Whereas the more I mark and practice and then do petit allegro in each class the clearer it gets. So I've learnt that if I get the pirouette exercises and I manage OK on the first go across the floor or in the centre, I should just leave well enough alone and be pleased!



#11 Ludmilla

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Posted 25 January 2014 - 05:12 PM

hlambers, and Redbookish -- Amen to these comments!!      (Many above have added very helpful thoughts; these right above, to me, 'hit the nail on the head.')  Also what comes to mind: if I have some slightly discouraging moments in a class, I borrow from Scarlett O'hara and tell myself, "Tomorrow is another day.".....  in the next class i have an opportunity to work out some of the issues, and sure enough, next class when I am mentally rested, I can tackle the issues anew and just as you've said, when relaxed, approaching it with renewed confidence...  lo' and behold, progress is made............. I like to say, "One step -- or pas -- at a time".....      :)



#12 morninglorie

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Posted 27 January 2014 - 11:41 AM

And there's a weird thing about pirouettes -- well, for me at least: that if I relax, they'll be fine. And then if I get obsessive, and do then over & over in a class, they'll gradually get worse. Friends I dance with find the same.

 

Whereas the more I mark and practice and then do petit allegro in each class the clearer it gets. So I've learnt that if I get the pirouette exercises and I manage OK on the first go across the floor or in the centre, I should just leave well enough alone and be pleased!

 

YES!!  I also find that if I think about things too much (turns and petit allegro especially), it all goes haywire, whereas if I just relax and let myself move, everything flows and I do much better (yes, even petit allergo, weirdly).


"You have to love dancing to stick to it. It gives you nothing back, no manuscripts to store away, no paintings to show on walls and maybe hang in museums, no poems to be printed and sold, nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive. It is not for unsteady souls." ~Merce Cunningham


#13 LaFilleSylphide

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 11:13 AM

I still cannot fouette on pointe, and I probabky never will. Oh well! Doesn't keep me from loving class still. :)

#14 Garyecht

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 02:56 PM

No matter how good you are as a dancer, there is another dancer who can do something you can't do.



#15 hlambers

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Posted 02 February 2014 - 05:15 PM

While we're talking about priouettes, I have one more question for you guys:

 

When doing a pirouette from 5th, do you turn in the direction of the foot en devant? (So to turn right you'd put your right foot in front.) I noticed in class yesterday you couldn't successfully do this combination we were doing unless doing it that way, but I swear I learned you turn in the direction of the foot en derriere. I asked the teacher after class and he confirmed the former (foot en devant).

 

So did I go crazy 2 years ago and just make up this idea? Or is it actually the "proper" way to do from en derriere in some styles? I have to say it is easier this new way....and probably why it took me forever to learn!




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