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Ballet Talk for Dancers

An Epiphany


Her Royall Highness

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So last week the dance department decided that the fall concert needs to be longer and asked the ballet teacher to add a little to it. So she picked five girls out of the corps piece to perform some variations. I am not one of them. My friend, who is a sophomore, is (I am a senior). So I did what we all do: started comparing myself to her. What does she have that I don't? Why her and not me? I have a slightly better technique, I have a better shaped body, nicer feet, and a better line in general. So what does she have that I don't, that surpasses all these things? And this is not just an isolated case; it happens to me all the time. As I look back over my years of ballet, it seems like I am continually being overlooked.

 

So, pondering these things in class today, it hits me: I'm afraid. I won't let myself take chances because I am afraid that if I give it everything I have, I'll fail. I prefer to know that something might be possible, if only I were to push a little more, than to give that extra effort and find myself incapable. I sabotage my own success.

 

So now the question to ponder is, how do I stop?!?

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A favorite teacher of mine said recently, "Leave judgment in your car when you come to ballet class. It's my job, not yours, to judge the work that you are doing and to provide criticism. If you listen to the little critic inside you while you are dancing, it will kill your dancing. You'll became tentative, and nothing looks worse on stage than a tentative dancer." And I also notice that when dancers let their inside critic into the studio, they tend to make faces of disappointment, or studiousness, or regret, or self-disgust, that can become tremendously bad habits on stage.

 

I think it's very important to reflect your love of dancing in your dance, and always on your face. Increase your attack. Yup, you'll fall out of steps and turns more often, and you'll be much more off-balance.

 

So was Suzanne Farrell.

 

I rest my case.

 

So, pondering these things in class today, it hits me: I'm afraid. I won't let myself take chances because I am afraid that if I give it everything I have, I'll fail. I prefer to know that something might be possible, if only I were to push a little more, than to give that extra effort and find myself incapable. I sabotage my own success.

 

So now the question to ponder is, how do I stop?!?

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One more encouraging note from a biography of a great dancer ... Gelsey Kirkland. When she was in class with Mr. B. she put everything she had into a combination across the floor. So much so that she ended up on her rear end :clapping: I don't remember Mr. B.'s exact quote, but it was something along the lines of how Kirkland was the only one to properly execute the combination. She gave it her all and that's what he wanted.

 

It seems so trite, but if you don't leap, how do you know how far you can go?

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You might ask the teacher what it was about others' dancing but not your own that ended up in them getting picked. The answer could be something you've never thought of. I have at times asked my teacher a similar question, namely why the leading dancers were picked. The answers were always very revealing.

Edited by davidg
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