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Ballet Talk for Dancers
Guest plain-dancer

Could we hear your stories?

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Guest plain-dancer

Hello. :wub:

 

I've been hopping through the archives and came across one or two thread where people told their stories of how they came to dance as adults. I found them inspiring and heartwarming. They were pretty old threads, though, and I thought maybe we could start a new one for all of us newbies.

 

Part of my story is on Blue Diamond Dance:

 

plain-dancer's story

 

I have to say that since then, my life has continued to change in all sorts of ways. I have had starts and stops in my dancing and haven't been able to keep it up for more than a month or so at a time. I stopped acting after the Gilbert and Sullivan production went south. I got strep throat and ended up being asked to step down from my role. It was a difficult time in my life, and I was just 19, and I couldn't handle it. Since then there's been adventure and heartbreak on both the personal and professional level, but very little performing arts, with the exception of singing in local bands now and then.

 

Now, three years later, I'm 22 and a half, and my life seems to have quieted down, thank God, and I'm gearing up to finally plunge into dance for good. For once I have both the time and the means. For so long I had issues of transportation (I've never had a driver's licence) and money. Now everything is in place. I am so happy to be here, and so excited to begin again.

 

:shrug:

 

Now please tell me how you got where you are, and feel free to go on and on and on. I can never read enough excrutiating personal detail, as you might be able to tell from my own writing. :blushing:

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Guest EMS_Dancer

Well, I did color guard in high school, then switched to ballet. I quit for a while because of my abusive ex, so I re-started because I missed it, my teacher let me do pointe, now, if i was about 10 years younger, I'd want to turn professional. But, I found a career which I love, I'm an EMT, I eventually want to be a Flight Paramedic. (Any questions, just ask!) It's a ton of fun, it has it's interesting moments, it has it's bad moments, but I love it. :shrug:

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koshka

Here's a thread from a while ago. Sadly, it appears that the link to my tale no longer works. If one of the mods indicates that the link is gone forever, I will try to rewrite some of it tomorrow.

 

Old thread with tales of returning dancers

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Swiss_Chard

My story is not remotely as interesting. I took some pre-ballet as a little girl that was offered through the school I went to. However, there was no serious ballet program to follow it and my mother didn't feel like driving me to another school. I don't remember having any particular desire to continue with ballet anyway. I grew up in another country and was frequently intimidated because I was not a fluent speaker of the local language. Not to mention that I was painfully shy. I did take some more generic dance classes on Saturday mornings through the school, but they were quite unstructured and divided entirely by age level. I quit once my sister and I ended up in the same class.

 

Sometime in college, I became fascinated with dance. However, I thought I was too old, too inflexible, too ungraceful to take a class. I also didn't have time, because I was running on the track team. After college, I joined the Peace Corps. At our orientation session, we all had to list one unusual item that we had brought with us. My item was a rock hammer. Another woman, however, brought ballet shoes with her. We became friends and whenever I mentioned that I was envious that she could do ballet, she encouraged me to take it up, telling me that my long limbs would be a benefit. I still thought I was too old, too inflexible, too uncoordinated, but it planted a seed in my mind.

 

After Peace Corps, I went to grad school to study geophysics. Another woman in my program mentioned taking ballet classes. She convinced me to sign up for a NYCB workout class offered through the recreation department. With the first taste, I was hooked. But I wanted the real thing. And so here I am now, taking classes at a local studio. Some days, I still think I'm too old, too inflexible, too ungainly, but I'm having fun.

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SingerWhoMoves

Swiss Chard- your story is FAR from uninteresting!! You've lived an amazingly interesting life, and adding Ballet as an adult into the mix just makes it even more so. :o I'd love to know more about your peace corp experience, if we can go more OT than usual.. (My friend is in Mali right now)

 

Plain_Dancer, My story is kinda similar to yours- except there was more of an element of mean-ness from my mother. She took me to the ballet from a very early age, then put me in beginner class, then pulled me out and never let me go back. I used to dance around the house and she would tell me I was doing it wrong. I continued to go to the ballet and dreaming that somehow they would pick me out of the audience to join them onstage. :wub: I even paid for lessons in ballet and gymnastics in JR high and she refused to give me a ride. Ah well.. the past is the past...

I also turned to singing and performing any way I could... school plays and community theatre... I was blessed to actually have a good voice, and also to get the opportunity to do a lot of theatre dance in the shows. I was naturally good at picking up choreography and looking like I knew what I was doing. I went to Professional children's school in manhattan with tons of SAB and ABT dancers, and was their little groupie.. they gave me their old pointe shoes, brought me to watch class and rehearsals etc.. it was great, but also difficult for me not to be incredibly envious.

I've become a professional union singer/actress and I have beel blessed to work- and to get to do lots of dancing in shows- and now I'm back in Ballet class and enjoying it a lot. This board really inspired me- I had no idea that there were so many adult beginner ballet students! ( I mentioned on a former post that there is also a community like this in figure skating- another childhood dream I've tried out- FUN!)

 

I thank this board an everyone who post and reads here for the inspiration. :)

 

So, Enjoy every minute of your new journey- I look forward to hearing all about it!

 

also, go audition for North Shore Music Theatre when they have local auditions... it's a great place to work!

 

Sandi

 

Oh, funny anecdote.. we had a cafetorium in our elementary school and the punishment for misbehaving was to be put to sit on the stage.. I used to misbehave on purpose and then crawl under the curtain and just lay and stare up at the lights dreaming of the day I could perform under them. :blushing:

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davidg

Plain-dancer, that's exciting to hear! Where are you studying dance, what is your plan for training?

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Guest plain-dancer

Wow, guys, thanks so much for sharing. EMS_Dancer--like many people on this board one of my dreams is to someday make it to pointe level. Congrats!

 

Yes, thank you Koshka, that's the thread that inspired me to begin this topic. I'm sad the particular link to your own story isn't working - I hope there's a way to resurrect it!

 

Swisschard--that's a beautiful AND interesting story. How many people can say that they came to ballet by route of the Peace Corps? :)

 

Sandi: your story gave me several deep pangs of recognition. I wish there was a way to go back and give the child versions of us the encouragement and support that would have meant so much! Since that's obviously impossible, I am trying to treat myself now the way I would have wanted someone to treat me then--making sure I put aside the time and money to get myself to good, regular classes, and expectig the best from myself but not getting rabid over failures. And also buying myself nice dance clothes. :rolleyes:

 

davidg: Right now I'm doing work-study at Jose Mateo's Ballet Theatre here in Cambridge. There is only one weekly class there at my current level (at least, I hope it's not too hard, the course starts on Tues!) that I can make, so for the time being I will be supplementing with classes from other studios in the area. I'm very lucky to have such a range of excellent studios to choose from. My goal is to start off at 2 ballet classes a week + 2 floor-barre classes and move up from there. How about you?

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Swiss_Chard

SingerWhoMoves, I'd love to talk more about my Peace Corps experience with you, but I think that might be a little too off topic for this board. But feel free to PM me. I was actually in Guinea, which is right next to Mali. I went to Mali several times while I was there.

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davidg

I'm taking classes in New York. Some classes at Steps, and other studios as well.

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cassy

Hi everyone,

My story is quite the norm - i think!

 

Wanted to dance from quite a young age, knew nothing about taking class and didnt know of anyone else who took class.

I spent all my time dancing about in my bedroom - to any music i could get my hands on!!

Was quite shy and its probably why it took me so long to ask my mother about taking class - i was eleven.

 

I took jazz class weekly, i loved dancing but didnt enjoy the atmosphere of the studio i attended - not having much confidence i struggled and eventually ended up quitting at the age of 16 - i told my teacher i wanted to focus entirely on exams! (dont think i was missed much, there was no encouragement to stay or come back!)

 

Eventually started taking salsa class for a couple of years - which i loved but didnt find enough of a challange - once a week was not enough!

For at least a year i tried to find a reputable ballet teacher, my salsa teacher recommended someone. I have been taking class twice a week for the last year and am stepping up to three classes a week this term :D

 

If only someone had understood or taken the time to care when i was a child, who knows :D

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Guest kella

Hey guys, you all have such great stories. I think mine's fairly standard too but I thought I might as well add it in.

 

I always wanted to be a dancer when I was a little girl. Although back then I think it was mostly because I'd get to dress up is pretty pink clothes and dance with other girls more than anything else.

 

My mum went and bought me my first pink leotard, pink tights and slippers when I was 4 years old. I was so excited the day she took me into the dance shop to buy them - it was like christmas had come early. But my mum passed away that year and my dad never took me to those promised ballet classes. Things weren't the same after my mum passed away; my dad didn't let me do any form of dance or sport but pushed my brother through instead. I stopped minding so much after awhile and had thought it was too late to start by the time I left home at 16 - so didn't bother.

 

By the time I was 17 I had my heart set on travelling the world. So I saved up for 2 years and travelled Europe last year at 19 and am now living in London (I come from Australia)

 

A couple of months ago I spotted some ballet slippers in my housemates room, she told me she was thinking about starting ballet again. I was really baffled. "isn't it too late?" I said. She said it was never too late to start. The idea got stuck in my head and in the end and we decided to go together. A few weeks went by without anything happening and in the end, I decided to just go and do it by myself (although she comes along when she can)

 

So I guess that's my story. :D

 

Kella

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olddude

Well, I guess my story is NOT the usual one, so I'll put it up.

 

As a youth, I never had any interest in dance - or in exercize of any sort. Physical education classes in school seemed to be mostly about humiliation, and I have always been pretty clumsy. (OK, we did square dancing one semester in the sixth grade - that was actually fun).

 

I've always loved music though - was a decent high school cellist, went on to a career in acoustical engineering. My wife grew up with opera records in the home, so we have maintained season tickets from the beginning. Somewhere in our thirties, I wanted to go to the symphony, and she bargained for some ballet. I figured at least they would have nice music - the ballets I had seen over the years just seemed dull and pointless. But that did the job - after a few years, I was a bigger fan than she was. Just needed a few years of educating my eyes to actually see, I guess.

 

So ... a year after taking early retirement, and with some time on my hands, I happened to see a class for "absolute beginners, all ages and shapes welcome," and one of the listed teachers had recently left the corps of our company - someone I had actually seen dance, anyhow. I signed up. I'm about to start my third year, and will step up to four classes a week. It's amazingly rewarding :yucky: I'm hooked (as long as my knees hold out)!

 

I never did get a class from that teacher, but now one of my teachers is a recently retired soloist from PNB, and an incredibly talented teacher too. I am SO lucky!

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AmyKL

I'm 26 and I just started beginning ballet. I've never danced, ever. But since I was little, I always wanted to do ballet. We never got to take lessons when I was a kid because we didn't have the money and then when we did, my mom was weird about doing stuff like that. But now I can and I'm thrilled.

 

My 2 year old is taking "Mommy and Me" classes at the same studio. She is a little ballet bug, we watch it all the time and she is obsessed with it. She calls her class "ballet", and when it's over, she tells me, "I don't want to go bye-bye" with a big frown. She has little dance shoes just like mine and she loves them so much she sleeps in them.

 

I also liked my class so much that I wonder how I ever went without it.

 

It's probably typical, but I'm awful. :D I never lost that last 20 lbs. after my daughter was born, and I used to be quite small. I feel so off-balance and stiff, even though I've been running and working out. I am not graceful and I get confused easily when I try to do something. I hope that will improve, but I have this irrational fear that I'm one of the few unteachable people ever.

 

But I'm going to keep it up. I've been counting down the days until I go back. Eventually I want to make progress so that I can actually dance, instead of flailing through a short class.

 

I didn't mean to tell my life story, but I think I'm like a lot of other people here. I didn't get the chance when I was young, so now I'm sort of living out that fantasy. I would die for the chance to actually perform even a tiny little part on stage, and that's my ultimate goal. Although I've never heard of the adult camp until I signed up here, so I just put that on my list for "in a few years" :P

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SingerWhoMoves

AmyKL,

Welcome and congratulations on taking class.

I'd also like to commend you on nurturing your daughter's love of ballet. :D

I'm sure you will see improvement the more you do- ballet is not a natural way to move the body and I also feel that it is a very different kind of "in shape".

Just the fact that you are counting the days till your next class tells me that this is something you must do!

Enjoy!

Sandi

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Garyecht

Here’s my story.

 

As a youngster, I came from a distinctly non-artistic family. My parents were creatures of the depression and they believed the best thing they could do for their kids was to instill characteristics and experiences that would result in them having a good economic life. I would characterize their values as basic rural, Midwestern, depression era.

 

Fortunately, I had an unusually dedicated music teacher in elementary school. She arranged for kids to get the use of instruments and music lessons without cost (at least for a while). I loved percussion and had my heart set on learning to play the drums. Unfortunately my mother didn’t share my enthusiasm. She didn’t want the noise in her house. Nixed. The teacher required that everyone in the class audition for chorus, as in sing alone in front of the whole class. Couldn’t sing, so that was out. She did teach us a lot of music history and we listened to a lot of serious music. She also required us to watch the Voice of Firestone on TV. That was an early 1950s variety show that featured classical music, opera, and some ballet. That was my introduction to ballet.

 

I remember thinking that ballet was kind of cool, at least as regarding what the males were doing. I liked their jumping and turning. I had no real sense of the dance and thought the females were pretty boring. I tried to keep my attention on the TV screen by telling myself that at least they were sexy.

 

In the 6th grade we did some square dancing. All boys hated that. Personally I kind of liked it, though I don’t remember if I liked it because of the dance movements or because I could dance with the girl I had a crush on at the time.

 

No one I knew took dance. There was a girl in junior high who took “toe dancing,” but she wasn’t considered cool, and boys just didn’t do that sort of thing. Though I had a very modest ability to draw, I really had no artistic talent at all.

 

My parents did encourage social dancing and everyone my age was into that. During college that desire wore off and I became pretty much your typical non-dancing male.

 

Quite by accident in the 1970s I saw Championship Ballroom Dancing on PBS. By then I had young children, and my daughter would watch the program with me and afterwards we would go downstairs and dance with each other. I think I watched it pretty much every year thereafter.

 

The big step came when I reached age 50. I had spent a lifetime in the athletic world and felt it was time to do something else. Dance entered my mind, though at the time I thought the only avenues open to me were ballroom and square dance. I chose ballroom because I liked it and felt very comfortable with the idea of competing. I started ballroom.

 

Early in my ballroom career, I made the smartest decision I have made with respect to dance. I knew dance was primarily a skill activity rather than a physical activity. I also knew that older people learn and develop skills significantly slower than do younger people. I knew that my chances of being good were nil. And that was something of a problem for me because I had always been good at the sports I had done. How would I handle that mentally? I decided, that if I couldn’t be good, at least I would have the broadest experience I could. Problem was I didn’t know what that might be. Fortunately, I had a great community college that offered a class called dance 101 or something to that effect. It was the introductory class for dance majors. I took the class. In that class I learned I could be an adult and take ballet. I learned that there was something called modern dance, jazz dance and other dance forms. Essentially, I got an idea as to what the dance world looked like. The very next semester after that class I enrolled in beginner ballet.

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