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Ballet Talk for Dancers
hlambers

Dealing with discouragement

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jd29   
jd29

I'm not really accomplished in my day job, but it's a really stressfull job (for now, I think of changing career at the end of this year, but that's another story).. I dance 5 days a week because it's a stress reliever. I think I'm quite in the hyperactive side, as if I don't do something physical/energy draining each day I'm not able to stand still and work in front of a computer all day. I also horse ride and both are therapeutic and complementary. One year I stop horse riding and develop achilles soreness, I think horse riding is completmentary it stretch my achillis and muscle your inner and back tight, and the core and sense of flawlessness (??), beeing able to do 4 different thing with all your 4 limbs (arms and legs) help to really follow the horse (it's kind of dancing too). It's therapeutic for the mind too, both in their different manner, when dancing I feel like your in synchrony with music, body and mind, you use your life to put emotions in your dancing, it's not meditation but their a sens of harmony, with the spirit disconnected to the "real" life things, with horse it's different, they react to your emotion and usualy always find out how to cheer you up and when then can be fool (kind of like dogs in a way...).

With dancing, I feel like an artist, and when during that hard pointe class (which technically isn't that technically demanding (no fouetté, no triple or more pirouette, no real variation....), we're not talking about americas "advanced levels") I'm not feeling like an artist anymore. I have the impression to become a robot moving mechanicaly, loosing the control of the core (and my hyperextended knee) and it's not dancing anymore... the harmony is not there anymore, then I lost the "I like dancing" because it's not dancing it's just moving winds (that's literal translation from my language meaning you move and move the air with you but just for nothing, their no purpose behind it, english expression as something related to "hot air" in it but I cannot find it out, sorry)

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gav   
gav

Ballet is hard, but pointe is HARD. Being up on pointe is the easy part, relatively speaking. The transitions on and off pointe are really, really difficult -- they demand foot and leg strength, core strength, back strength, using your plie, alignment, proper weight placement (and transfer of weight placement) -- and those are the things that make it feel like dancing. Stick with it!

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munchkin16   
munchkin16

I know this feeling, I dance with people younger than me and it's so hard not to compare yourself. But I've learnt that if I relax and stop caring what they think (and honestly I don't think they'll be judging you at all) I feel less pressure and dance better.

 

I'm sure the teacher would say if she thought you were not keeping up and were unsafe. She probably knows you are capable but just need a little more time to settle in and figure things out. I used to stress exactly the same thing but my teacher knows what she is doing, that's why I take her class! Take small steps in concentrating on one small thing that you really want to take away from the class rather than just 'keeping up with the kids!'

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jd29   
jd29

Actually on flats I'm keeping up with the young ones (I have a new teacher this year with the same young ones and he was quite surprised of that). The pointe teacher, I not even sure she would say so, she never say negative thing except the that was not the exercise I dictated again. Corrections are NEVER negative with her. At the barre I'm quite fine, last year I got a teacher who made me do barre at all classes with my pointe shoes on so just walking around and flat things (balancing on flat, dégagé,...) it's OK, but once we go through real pointe work, I'm a mess just think about échappé 2nd is ok, do it to 4th and that's a mess add speed and at some point I though I look like those video with beginner trying dangerously stuff on pointe. Plain and simple pirouette exercise, quite decent actually but that the same add a little speed or linking step and I loose my pirouette

I agree with you munchkin16 the stress is not helping at all, but I'm quite stressfull person and my job at the moment is not helping. I'm quite relax in flat classes but on pointe the "I am afraid to break/twist my ankle" is not helping either.

 

I sure the young ladies aren't judging at all, I've been knowing them since last year and they are quite nice, they talk to everyone in the class. They are quite looking at the first class but when then saw that you fit in, they opened up. I think I am more afraid to dispoint the teacher that let me in this class (we're only two newbies in this class, me and another student coming from outside but she got the national degree corresponding to the level above this class), and to loose myself and hurt myself, more than the young ladies opinion. I'm not there to be able to do fouetté or 10 pirouettes on pointe or this kind of stuffs, I just want dance and look (and feel) like I'm dancing and that what I'm doing is not looking dangerous from the outside.

 

I need to find a way to be more relax in this class, how is the good question...

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munchkin16   
munchkin16

I'm a very stressful person too so I know how that feels. Every class dynamic is different so it's great you feel comfortable dancing with them. It sounds like you genuinely feel worried in that pointe class doing the exercises though, have you discussed it with the teacher?

 

My only suggestion would be take a step back to where you do feel confident and relaxed until you feel ready to take the next step. I took pointe class on Demi pointe today because I knew I wasn't ready and strong enough to be confident doing it en pointe. It wasn't going backwards because I gained so much from the class. I was dancing with a new teacher and new class so I got to know how to make myself relax in that environment and got a feel for the combinations. I was also very aware of my body and gained strength and balance. Next time I might go in but ask to adapt things to a slightly easier level so I'm not worrying about the combination or my feet and really able to dance. That way I know I'll be relaxed and enjoy it, which is the most important thing!

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jd29   
jd29

Yeah that's right I'm worried, I haven't talk to the teacher about that yet, I will try next week, maybe she'll have helpful advices. Last week she was in a hurry to leave after class so I didn't try.

I already modify some exercises, like doing only single pirouette instead of trying 2, or just simple relevé-retiré if I don't feel it, reducing the number of déboulé/chainé (divided by two usually to stay with the music),... Teacher hasn't really said anything abut it except try at worst you fall. Last time I try something and fall, it was in a masterclass and I fell on my bottom end with rebound and end up at the feet of the teacher (big star dancer),I was kind of ashamed... and she just said good at least you try ! My bottom end hurt for a while after that... So now trying is not my favourite thing to do !

I'll see how it goes next week.

 

update: got to the class this week, I must say that having no pain and not having the shoe dying on my feet help tremendously. I've gone through the class (no blister, yes!!), it wasn't perfect (will never be) but at least I wasn't feeling discouraged. The class was pretty small this week due to diverse school mandatory school meetings for half of the class, which I think helped to. The teacher told me that my single pirouette where good and I should aim for 2 (tried it and wasn't able to do a half turn on one side (too much energy) and did push enough on the other which resulted in 1.5 slow turn and finishing facing the girl behind me weird !). Some things were still really bad though but at least there was more good than bad this week...

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jd29   
jd29

Again another update after the nice class last week this week was awful, I almost hurt my ankle as my shoes (3weeks old roughly 4,5h in my hem) died in the middle of a chainé. And that was just this end of the class even the barre this time was a real horror story (part of it is due to my brain beeing tired this me forgetting half of each exercise). Felt like my right foot was going to collapsed each time. I felt so clumsy

Even my "easy" saturday pointe class was awful like really awful. I cries during the class as it was so bad (wasn't able to go on my box on one leg nor in second position,...). I had to change shoes in the middle the one I was using were dead (again) but it's getting really frustrating even more each week.

And then I managed to do my first ever double on pointe (mystery happen sometimes) just to notice that these shoes were dead too. So 2 pointe class 3 pairs of pointe shoes to the bin (2 box dead first, one everything together).

Next shippment need to arrive soon otherwise I am in trouble. And I need to find longer lasting shoes.

I spoke/email the wednesday teacher (I wasn't keen on speaking as I was too afraid to cry in front of the teens) about that. She just said it's normal too feel like that as it's a hard class. She just told me to stick with it and to continue to try hard (at least she saw that I tried my best) and to go to the lower level if I can (but I can't I'm working at that time) but she felt it's going to be a little easy, I'm right in between this levels, but it can help confidence wise). However even if she didn't say so in class, I am authorize (only me) to modify the exercises to ease the wed class (one turn instead of 2, fewer chainés). I don't want to ease things but I guess I won't have the choice until I gain more confidence ...

The Saturday teacher just said: I know you can do better, it was just the worst day I've seen from you. It happens, it's going to be better next week.

Family and friend are not helping wich let me cuddling with my dog (who have enough of it at one point,...)

Discouragement is getting stronger and going into a bad circle... I don't know when it's going to be more hope and going up kind of circle.

After next wed class me have a week off (school holidays) hopefully the break will be beneficial.

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gav   
gav

If the teacher says to stick with it, it's probably within your reach -- maybe not this week or next, but in the reasonably near future. If it makes you happy to keep trying, take her word for it and keep trying.

 

That said, while we support and encourage each other in these threads, I think support can also include the following: if you don't like your class, don't feel safe in your class, or feel like your class is negatively affecting your self worth or self esteem, give yourself permission to stop going. Maybe just for now. Maybe forever. But don't make yourself miserable. Life's too short to be unhappy doing things we aren't obliged to do.

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iceberg*lover   
iceberg*lover

I agree with Gav, in that it might be ok to take a break.

Although I will say, there is something to be said for sticking with it. Three weeks ago, I left my "harder" class almost in tears. I needed to really give myself a stern talk about attitude before the next weeks class! Now that I've done it a few more times, it's not as hard as it was, still not easy, but not as frustrating.

I think those of us who take up ballet as adults tend to be a bit of perfectionists which leads to us being hard on ourselves. And if I'm very tired I won't go to class. I need every bit of my brain cells to be functioning well in class, as I am not a coordinated person!

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jd29   
jd29

Gav, I agree, the break going to be beneficial (at least I hope though). The class will not be held for 2 wednesday (8 days of school holidays so no ballet class while this time). I'll be taking 2 modern classes while this time (it should help to). I'm still happy to go there, it's after that it's hittng me in the face. The teacher thinks it's normal to be discouraged and that I should stick with it with adaptation not too feel too discouraged. I have another class next Wed, I'l see, she'll probably want to speak with me about it

Unlike you, iceberg*lover, even though I'm tired, I still felt like it's a need to go to class, I'm always happy to go there (patiently waiting all day), is after that I felt bad. And I think I need it to (my day job is quite hard on the brain right now, ballet makes a good brek as well as a motivation, if I finished that or that I can go...).

Iceberg*lover, definitly, perfectionism is the key.... my day job is so picky, with perfectionist bosses (it's perfect or you don't do it at all kind of thing), and like you say in ballet we're allmost all perfectionist

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Guest Pas de Quoi   
Guest Pas de Quoi

I will begin by saying I commend you on your dedication and excellent work ethic. and perhaps injury.

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jd29   
jd29

About the shoes, it's a fairly recent problem with my favourite shoes (beginning last january), I haven't had the problem with the bloch serenade strong I used to use (but they are not my favourite at all at all). I've post pictures for Clara76 in case, it's a shoe problem (my feet changed, so maybe it's a wrong fitting shoe, teachers are not very strict about shoes fitting, I've seen a few teens with ill fitted shoes and noone sais something).

There a definite fear of twisting something that's definitly holding me back to try new things, but as far as the Wed classes, no new things have been introduce only things I have already done just faster or more difficuties at the same time (combination wise).

I have taken a few privates last summer (before going to intensive) and none of the teacher (two ladies) had said anything about how I use the shoes/my foot strength, except when your jumping point more but that's all. I took adult class with both so they knew me beforehand. They also notice that my feet sweat a lot (you can see my toes sweat marks on my flat shoes (doubbled upper canvas), it's the first sweat mark that appear, they though that it might be the source of my problem. I think it's a combination of maker changing something in the shoes ( I'm not the only to notice a reduce lifespan but not as much as this) plus sweating a lot PLUS technical issues (due to fear, tempo to fast and my trying to keep up). I won't be able to take any private before christmas. I plan to take classes during my christmas break, far away from were I live, maybe one will spot the problem.

I've seen a dance physio last year and she also said that my feet were strong, so I do not think that's the main issue, (I landed badly on a jump without twisting the ankle, it was compressed around the cuboid joint causing bruising)

Twice a week I'm doing foot strengthening excercises (natural flexible ankle, twisted them multiple times when I was younger, and once 2 years ago, since that : strengthening 2 a week) : mainly Lisa howell exercises (piano tos, toe swap..) as well as balancing eyes close, single leg elevé on one leg, and balance board series (two legs (flat turn in, relevé turn out), one leg turn in and turn out, and relevé) and if I have time. When on break I take pilates classes (or do a combo at home).

That's a shame no one really car about adults. The phylosophy here is either you're an adult "I give the combo, you do the stuff, as you just want to move I won't give any correction" or you're adult you're never going to be a pro, who matter how it's looking, if it's good or bad whatever... Even though being a pro is out of the way, as adult we still want to improve.... (even though family doesn't understand, nor friends, I have one who said you should be a pro by now, seing as much you train, lol)

I have a teacher that really care about her adult class, unfortunately she only teach this class on Sat, hence the local conservatory to complement (it takes adults and it's not like "whatever, we don't care" as the design adult class)

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Guest Pas de Quoi   
Guest Pas de Quoi

From your response, above, it seems you have dealt with foot strength, technique and pointe shoe issues (although I would still wonder about someone having to change shoes in the middle of a class and having "dead" shoes so many times).

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jd29   
jd29

The shoes that died this last Saturday were quite old (may and end of august, they had around 12-15h of wear, on the pair I have to change the shank got unglued from the shoe) so for once I feel that they had their time...

The barre work is long enough for me with a slow beginning to warm up both shoes and feet. The tempo as well as the fact that movement are one after this other quite fast and in quite long combination is the main problem I think. I also fear to hurt myself (young one are never afraid).

I will try to modify the exercise to at least feel that what I am doing is right and look like dancing.

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jd29   
jd29

Last class before school holidays tonight. It was good. Barre was not so bad (I had a really really really hard day at work, I almost missed the class) I had a harsh beginning as it took me time to be there but after the middle of the barre It was good. As the last class before holiday the teacher wanted to do something special so center was us creating a choreography with sone imposed steps.. We had a pianist and he proposed a few tempo (is trying each time, with modification if needed). We choose the one that was the best for our choreo and for us. And perform it alone. I choose one of the slower tempo. Teacher was pleased and said that my technique is ok I just need to master the speediness (and the confidence). I mean that slow fouetté arabesque on pointe was really good (for once I was pleased with myself) ... if I have time to prepare I can do things.

I really need new pointe shoes though, I realise I only had one pair left, one with a soft shank (perfect for performance) but the shank is not going to last long for class. I have others on their way but they are stuck with the the local post (I don't why it has been sent a while ago and still hasn't made it through half of the journey...).

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