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I need some help!

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Hello all! I didn't know where to post this, but since it doesn't involve a technical question I 'm posting it here..

From the beginning of this school year, I haven't felt so eager about going to ballet class. Last year I took 3 classes a week, but this year I barely made it to one or two (at the most). At first I thought that last year tired me a bit so I thought I should take it slowly now, but after a while I realised that I was not looking forward to class anymore as I once did and I was actually happier when I didn't have class and I could stay at home after work, and read a book or watch TV with my boyfriend instead :D .

What made it worse, is that this year my teacher is teaching Grade 6 once more (that means of course the same things as last year all over again). And that might be ok for the rest of the students who are 14 years old but I am 29 and I really feel that I should have moved on to something different such as pre-elementery or something. The other girls can be patient because they can move on to the Majors in a couple of years, but for me, I really don't see the point in doing Grade 6 two years in a row - especially since I am not interested in any exams.

In case you're wondering why I don't go to another school, the answer is that the teacher is the best I 've ever had (and I've had a lot) and the school is very close to my house ( I know it sounds lame, but when you 're almost 30 and you work 9 hours a day, that is a great advantage).


But what I fear is that it is something deeper than just not liking the Grade6 syllabus - I have been practicing intensively the last years, so I can tell that I AM NOT moving on. I know I would face more difficulties if I joined a more technical class (as are the Majors compared to the Grades), but I really believe it would be a much better exercise (that's the one of the reasons I am doing ballet). This year I feel I am worse than last year, I feel stiff and tired during class and look at the watch all the time. That made me think that perhaps it is pointless to continue overall, maybe it's just not for me.

And as if my gloomy thoughts were not enough, I had an unpleasant conversation with another teacher the other day, who told me that the Grades are very low and that are designed for young students that don't have any potential at all..

And that's where I wanted to get at: I absolutely love ballet, and it has done very much for my mood and my body over the last years, but I am kind of tired of being referred to as the "clumsy adult that will never make it even to intermediate level". I know I should not bother about what others say or think, but believe me, it breaks my heart to see other late starting adults moving on (my cousin started at 21 and now, at 35, she takes a 3year professional training program) and myself being stuck with Grade6 and, what's even worse, not even knowing what my potentials are (by that, I mean perhaps taking higher classes recreationally).

I thought that since I feel this way, I should just stop for a while and take some pilates classes instead for some months and then reconsider the situation next year. I know I miss ballet ( I haven't been to class for a month now) but not if it makes me feel this way.


I am so so sorry for the very long post, but I am really confused and in need of advice..

Thank you


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Hi Elie,


I really related to you when you said you felt as if people treated you like the "clumsy adult " that would never get any higher, because that is how I feel I am seen as well.


If you are not interested in doing exams, there is not a lot of point in you being in the class you are in, especially if you do not like the work. I think the other teacher was pretty rude with what she said though - the Grades are for people who enjoy dancing rather than planning to make it their career, and hence the performance aspect is more important & technique less important. But she is insulting people who genuinely enjoy dancing by saying that.


However, this is probably why you are unhappy - you want the exercises to concentrate on technique more, but for some reason teachers don't expect adults to feel like that. (I just had that conversation with my Modern teacher yesterday & had to explain that I was interested in working on technique!)


Have you tried talking to your teacher at all? If she is as good as you say, she should be able to give you some advice. Just be honest with her & say it is not her that you have the problem with, it is the material you are doing, & see what she suggests. (She is probably wondering why you have not been going to class anyway!)


Of course you feel like you got worse over the break though - we all do! If I even miss a week I certainly know it. Don't use that as a criterion. As for feeling tired & run down - there could be a medical cause for that, or just the winter blues - it might not be ballet-related at all.


Going to Pilates is a good idea though, whether or not you continue with ballet. I hope you feel better soon though, it's horrible when stuff gets you down like that.



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Thank you Jane :)

Your response was very kind, it is always nice to see people relating to your situations.

I will try to talk to to the teacher, but I forgot to mention that as good as she might be, it seems like at the moment she concentrates more on the younger students taking the exams. Because I have already somewhat expressed my feelings to her, I know the answer will be something like "it doesn't do you any harm to continue with Grade6/ be patient until the exams are over and then we'll

have a nice two months with free classes and then next year we'll see".


And a bit general question:

I have never taken Pilates before, but do you think that it is a good "substitute" exercise for ballet? I know it is good for dancers as a supplemetary exercise but is it enough to keep you fit on its own? (I have to add though that I will be just taking the one hour long mat exercises class and not the course with the special Pilates instruments because the latter is very expensive).

The reason I 'm asking is because I wouldn't want to decide to take up ballet again next year and be completely out of shape. :D

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Two things came to mind in reading elie’s post. The first thing I would wonder about is if elie really “loves” ballet or just says she does. I believe that love is indicated by what one does rather than by what one says. Perhaps elie loves watching or being around ballet more than doing it. In my opinion, she needs to reconcile her feelings about ballet and her participation in ballet. Not easy, but something I think she has to work out for herself. Sorry, no wisdom here. The good thing is that no matter what she chooses to do, she can always change her mind later.


The second thing is something I very much dislike about development in ballet in general. That is the general “up or out” elitist mentality of some schools and teachers. I can walk into almost any ballet school, even schools with excellent reputations, and say to each student, “you have no chance of ever having a professional career.” I will be right in saying that well over 95% of the time. For almost every student in every class “out” is simply a matter of when, not if.


Contrary to the thinking of many elitists, I believe that a ballet education can be an end unto itself. Many qualities necessary for a successful adult life can be developed through a ballet education—discipline, personal development strategies, development of an esthetic sense, for example. To me music is something of a model. Many parents start their kids with piano lessons when young. They don’t believe they are going to grow up to be concert pianists, no matter how precocious their kids may seem. They do it because they think it is just something good for their children to learn (and they can even do it for fun as adults).


Ballet classes are relatively standard, which is both a charm and a deficiency in my opinion. Being standardized, the rewards are most easily seen as promotion. It is much more difficult to create a sense of pure enjoyment in movement in the relatively standardized, technique oriented ballet class than in say a modern or jazz class that includes an extended piece of choreography. Were I a ballet school, though I might boast of the successful pros that have gone through my school, I would make sure everyone in every class was getting something from my classes. At the most crass level, I want them (and their tuition) as students for life.

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The first thing I would wonder about is if elie really “loves” ballet or just says she does.  I believe that love is indicated by what one does rather than by what one says.  Perhaps elie loves watching or being around ballet more than doing it. 


Even though I am not really sure what made you think that, I have to say that now that you put it this way, I am not even sure what the answer is. When I say "I love ballet" I meant that, among other things, I love what it does for you, all the things you said about discipline, music etc. Therefore, I don't just like being around it, but I like doing it as well. There is a little problem though (and that's where you might actually be right): Dumb or pointless as it may sound, I would rather prefer doing it at a certain level where I could actually enjoy it more - at a level where I would be able to see all the progress I have made - and believe me, doing it in the class that I described above (with 15 year olds who for the second year in a row follow the same syllabus for an exam that they could have taken 3 years before), certainly does not meet my idea of "being happy with ballet".

When I said I was thinkng about taking up Pilates instead, I didn't mean that I am looking for a substitute and that I just care about staying in shape. I know I will miss ballet, but there are certainly some things that I just can not stand: teenagers or adults my age who have taken ballet forever and look at me with a look that says: "poor clumsy you, why do you even bother". I sometimes feel like answering: Yes, but I am 30, and I have other things to do as well during the day and even so, I manage to do ballet often and even so pretty well sometimes. Let's see how you would do if you were in my place". BUT IT IS EXACTLY when I have this kind of thoughts that I am starting to doubt whether I should go on or not. Believe you me, jealous or bitter or even mean are the last things I want to become when it comes to ballet.


Anyway, thank you for yor thoughts, Garyecht :D

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I think I can relate to how you feel about ballet, because I have had a similar experience with running. I used to run quite a lot and competed with our track team in university. I loved running and that was what I wanted to be doing. In recent years, however, I have found that I don't enjoy running all that much any more. I'm not getting better anymore, it doesn't make me happy, and I feel tired when I run. I started to think about quitting, but because I've done it so long, I couldn't let go. Instead, I wallowed in a half way state of not running very much but simulataneously being unhappy about how out of shape I was.

A friend of mine gave me some advice that was very helpful, although to be honest, I haven't entirely resolved the problem yet. I told him I was unhappy running and he suggested that I try taking a break from it and not run again until I really felt the desire to run. Not out of feeling guilty or feeling out of shape, but because I really wanted to run. Since then, I have found that I periodically need to take breaks. As passionate as I may be about something, there are times when I don't want to schedule my life around that activity.

So I suggest that perhaps, you might benefit from a break (which it sounds like you're taking already). If ballet isn't currently making you happy, don't go. And don't go back until you really want to. You might find, in the mean time, that maybe you don't want to do ballet anymore, which is all right. Or you might rekindle your passion. But sometimes it's good to sit back and get a different perspective. You might also want to talk to your teacher again and tell her just how unhappy you have been. Perhaps, especially that you've been gone now, she might take your concerns more seriously and come up with a better plan for you. Would it be possible for you to take a class at a higher level? You might struggle more, but it might be a nice change.

I hope that helps a little bit.

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hi elie,


i'm sorry to hear about your "dance depression". i know that the grade 6 syllabus is boring for someone who has to do it for 2 years in a row (my class did that too, but that's because we were preparing for the exams, but believe me, we complained our way through it :P).


i suppose one of the most boring part of the graded syllabus is the fact that we have to do the same exercises over and over again. after 3 years of it, i'm ready to add open classes to my schedule again. is it possible for you to find an additional open class to go to? perhaps the brain exercise that an open class would provide could help you out of the depression.


or else, why not consider joining the girls for the exam? if nothing else, it's a new experience. i actually had fun going with some of the girls to debate on the colour of our exam leotards! and even though it may not be worth much, getting the certificate was a thrill for me. i only wish i got a distinction instead of a merit (i missed by 2 marks! :sweating: )


besides pilates, how about going for a non-ballet dance class like jazz or salsa? pilates is a good core-muscle exercise, but if you, like me, love to move to music, it can be a tad boring. hope you find the joy in dancing again. :)

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As passionate as I may be about something, there are times when I don't want to schedule my life around that activity.



You actually put in words the most important thing that was on my mind and I could not find the words to express it myself! I sometimes feel the need to just sit home and watch a movie or go out or go to sleep early or in general to do something spontaneous and with those classes I knew beforehand exactly what my schedule was like in the evenings (I knew that after work I would have to stay home for just a little while and then leave for class and then caome back at 22:30 and then I would be too xausted to do anything) and so litteraly my life in the weekdays evolved around the ballet class. (that is true of your job also, but that is not something you can not do :P ). And that is why I started feeling this pressure, because I needed to do other things as well and there was no time.


is it possible for you to find an additional open class to go to? perhaps the brain exercise that an open class would provide could help you out of the depression.


or else, why not consider joining the girls for the exam?



I guess I could the additional class, but I would prefer not to do more than twice a week. I tried 3 times last year and in the end I was very tired.

The exams are out of the question for me. I knoe it would bring a new interest in class, but I really do 't go to go through the anxiety and pressure the week before the exam.


May I say once again, thank you all for your answers, you are really kind! :)

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Going home after work before leaving for class is hard. You probably just want to be comfortable after work.


Maybe you could try going directly from work to ballet and then go home.


I don't know. You're only taking 2x a week. That's not really very much and if you're dragging yourself to those classes, then maybe it's time to just stop for while. Or change to a school which doesn't do a syllabus, so it's more interesting.

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I TOTALLY understand what you and everyone who replied is going through by "not wanting to always revolve life around ballet." There are times that I just want to go home and relax after work or go out to dinner with a friend and I feel pressure to go to ballet and then after so many times of feeling pressured ballet becomes more like a chore than something FUN. I also work all day and ballet is VERY far away. So just the act of actually DRIVING there and back can make me not want to go. I've been having the same problem recently. I'm trying to get myself out of it....because the fact of the matter is.....I really do love doing ballet and dont want to quit because I know Ill regret it later. Im just in a little bit of a rut....maybe you are too. That could be all that it is.

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I'd agree with Lampwick; avoiding the trip home is always helpfull for me. Can you find an earlier class?--Or perhaps plan to run errands those nights?


Also, although this probably isn't your problem, I just had a class that i didn't enjoy at all and was literally forcing myself to stay in. I came home and still felt awful...it turned out though, that I just needed some food. I'd really like to go back in time and do that class again after eating something, oh well.

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I also dislike going home between work and dance class. Once I get home I rarely feel like going out again.


When I have a later class, I stay in my office for the extra time and read Ballet Talk. :)


I also like getting to the studio 20 minutes early to stretch and/or watch the class before mine.

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Elie, it just sounds like you're burned out and bored stiff. If the class is not interesting to you then it is hard to continue in it. It then becomes a chore. Personally, if ballet felt like a chore to me, I wouldn't go. There have been times when I didn't feel like going because I was tired etc. but I always felt better afterwards. It's more than just physical, though. Ballet needs to meet some other needs like artistic expression, creativity, musicality. If you aren't getting what you need in those areas as well it may just be that you are bored and need something more. It's not ballet itself, just that particular class that's not giving you what you want.

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I just got an amazing feeling by reading those replies because you understood completely what I meant !!

Nevertheless, I didn't want it to come out as if I am bored of ballet in general. As someone pointed out, I feel that it is this particular class.

I lost interest in the particular class a while ago and I think I just stayed there because I just wanted to get the body exercise ( :) I don't like what I say, but I want to give you an honest description).


Perhaps Pilates is a good idea if I want to get some exercise, but the most important thing is that it will allow me to re-evaluate my interest in ballet. If I miss it that much (that is something that I wouldn't know now, I have been doing it intensively for very long and have not had the chance to really miss it yet) I will go back next year.

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