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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Enjoying the Dance


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I searched for a similar topic but i could not find, so here it goes.


I took a little time to think before posting this because I was not sure of its place; buddy board or technical board... Well then I just decided that I need teachers' opinions too :shrug:


When I spend some time to watch ballet videos on video websites, I always have a weird feeling mixed with a little jealousy simply because I just know that I'm not enjoying it when I'm dancing. I'm seeing all those dancers flowing and having fun and I always think that I will never be able to feel that way. My ballet passion is unquestionable, and since I was able to speak I wanted to do it; I have some serious physical obstacles, but I'm still doing it, I'm almost all the time thinking about my technical weaknesses and looking for their solution and so on... We should call it an obsession for me.


However I'm "never" having fun, feeling happy, or enjoying in ballet classes, rehearsals or performances. I always have a serious face (well some people think that it's even sort of angry), always focusing hard, feeling clumsy and missing every kind of pleasure I could take. And I tend to think if I start to enjoy it or focus on feeling happy or on the pleasure itself, I would just lose all the technique, act stupid out of all ballet borders etc. and at the same time I'm also thinking that "this" seriousness may be the thing that keeps my arabesques, extensions down, turnings stiff and clumsy, and my jumps mechanical (because my teacher is always saying that I'm always over-tightening my muscles). Because at the basic I'm pretty much flexible and a good jumper (well I cannot say anything about turns=P) but whatever I do I cannot look good enough.


I really wonder if it is only me, or you are/were feeling this way, or you have/had a student like this... and what can be the solution for this because self-therapy does not work. I'm thinking that if I was able to do "everything" then I would have some fun; but then I also think if I cannot enjoy trying to reach that point, I can never reach it. I just cannot understand why I cannot enjoy something that I love more than everything :)

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Welcome to the existentialism of the study of ballet! :)

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Ahhh, the dedicated dancer can never enjoy the fruits of their labor until they arrive at that elusive destination called PERFECT.


I'm speaking from experience, really. Ballet feeds that kind of thinking because it takes so much concentration to minute details, the analysis of movements and outcomes, balances and mistakes...It can be mind boggling if one consistently falls short of their own goals. I think it's important to focus on the journey as much as on the arrival. I liken it to a walk in the park, ( :) well, not in the idiomatic sense) Some strolls don't really go anywhere in particular but are designed for maximum enjoyment of the surrounding. Some walks are just about getting to the other side, like marching across Central Park to catch that last subway home day after, ignoring everything on either side. Both are surely reasonable approaches to walking. But, you do too much of one and not the other and you're either a lazy daydreamer or oblivious to the joys that might surround you.


Striving for perfection is not the same as being a perfectionist. It's good to strive for something more, as long as you don't let your mistakes or failures dictate your attitude. Sometimes, it's alright to just be happy with where you're at. It's an exercise in thankfulness. Perfectionism does not allow for this since anything less is not acceptable. There is no room for the everyday peacefulness of believing that my best is good enough for right now.


I don't think anyone will be asking me to give any graduation speeches on this subject. I know it sounds kind of lazy. But, speaking from experience, learning this lesson helped me bring a lot of happiness and joy back into my life and my dancing.


Maybe I'm off base here but it seems to fit.

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Guest ingve

Hi there,


I know the feeling, and there is not much more of a way out of it, than time. When you continue to work concentrated and serious step by step these things will loosen up. Maybe provoked by a complete out of ballet experience. If anyone could give you a formula to this "situation" you are describing, this person would write a book and be stone rich. You are not allone ;-)


Just try to enjoy the struggle, instead of fighthing it.

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Skyish you are engaging in something all we humans do that is, I believe, destructive. That is, we constantly compare ourselves with others. It is totally irrational, but for some reason we all seem to do it throughout all aspects of our lives.


Since your post is on the adult ballet students group, I’m assuming that you are old enough to know your chances of being a professional are close to zero. The comparisons you make in watching videos are ones where you simply cannot win. They are professionals and you are not. Their skill level allows them to be professional and yours doesn’t. Further, they have been selected as professional because of their extraordinary skill level. Ninety-nine percent (essentially everyone) of ballet students never can develop the skill level to be professional. That’s why comparing yourself with a professional is so irrational.


Far better to appreciate that high skill level when you see it and yes, try to emulate it as you dance, though in reality you know you don’t look the same. Fantasy plays a role in all types of dance.


The good thing is that we all engage in this comparative behavior so in that sense what you do is normal. The bad thing of course is how you interpret the comparisons you make.


How to rid yourself of the comparative interpretations you make? Well, that’s your homework project. You have to figure that out on your own. I think, however, the first step is to realize exactly what you are doing and understand its irrationality. After that all I can suggest is to experiment with different things. Some thoughts:


No one cares (other than you) if your technique degrades a little or if you have a “silly” moment now and then. Besides making mistakes is how we learn. Also, improvement ebbs and flows—you get better, you get worse, you get better, but in the long run you get better.


My guess is that you have something of a tense energy about you. You might try doing some relaxation activities (yoga, tai chi, or other activities that teach you how to relax).


When you dance concentrate on the feel of the movement and its relation to the music. Become the music rather than bringing an analytical mind to what you are doing. Feel the steps and don’t try to do anything other than experience the feel.

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I'm not sure how the other dancers will feel about this.....but I am very much like you when it comes to ballet.....except for one tiny detail. (I get so discouraged that I constantly give up on myself and at times don't even go to class. :lol: Not a great helper, but I'm working on it)


However, I did find that I started having -fun- in another class. I took jazz for my musical theatre degree, and realized how much I absolutely adored it! It was just plain fun! And the more fun I had in jazz, the more I could -find- the fun in ballet. I found similarities in the two styles, and could even find myself improving in the same areas in both classes. (Kicks and grand battements were looking smashing!)


Anyway, maybe doing something a little different could help....it'll break your concentration, at least for an hour a week, on the minute details of ballet, and focus on simply moving.


Forgive me, teachers, if I'm way off-base.

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Forgive me, teachers, if I'm way off-base.



No, I think you're absolutely right. Sometimes it's just good to loosen up and have fun. If you need to take a break to do that then so be it.


I agree about other dance forms. Ballet is not the end all be all of dance. It fits for some and not for others and that's okay, too. It's like eating broccoli -when you're a kid you hate it. Then you try it again as an adult and love it. Now, what happened between childhood and adulthood to change your preference? :lol: Who knows?

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As someone with gray hair, I can tell you that life really is far too short to spend time at something you can’t find joy in. You are certainly not alone in doing something you don’t enjoy, the difference is is that many people do not have a choice. Sometimes it’s a question of deciding what you really want.


Here’s a suggestion I might offer. You said you watch video performances and feel jealous thinking how much they must enjoy dance because they are so good. Instead, get out and go watch a children’s class, a really young children’s class. Watch their faces and listen to them. Let them show you what real joy can be found in dance. Instead of being jealous of the performers, be very jealous of just how much obvious joy children can find in dance with absolutely no concern about how good they are. Don’t be afraid to allow yourself the same thing.

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As someone with gray hair, I can tell you that life really is far too short to spend time at something you can’t find joy in.




As much as I whine about combinations, or complain about AD's being uptight, and choreographers yelling at me, blisters on my feet.... underneath it all, I'm having a lot of fun :-)

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Try picking up some tap shoes and taking out your frustrations on the floor. A beginning class in that is really fun and therapeutic; like kneading bread when you are mad. You can be proud of yourself when it sounds right....not so many details of posture or line. I am sure you already know how to count.....

I just had an e-mail from the Dance Factory Outlet. They had adult Tap shoes called "Shirley" on clearance for $5.00 and there were lots of sizes available.

Just forget them if you have a narrow foot, but they are bunion friendly.

Hang in there.

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Errr :unsure:


It is not about comparing talent and because, at the basic I was talking about amateur videos, not professional ones. To be more specific, this one video finally encouraged me to open this topic which you can find if you search for "Numa Numa en pointe". This video is not by a pro dancer and it is almost stupid (because of the music) and it looks so much fun and the girl is actually doing hard things there, but with a big smile on her face. I automatically assume that she is having fun during her classes also... But according to the majority of replies, maybe she's not :shrug:


I'm just talking about the joy I experience when I'm cooking... or reading a good book.. or watching a good movie. I'm doing ballet to be happy, and apparently since I'm not able to take classes here, I'm highly unhappy when I'm not doing that, but I'm also not having fun doing that. It is really complicated believe me=)


But Garyecht, you are right for some other dancers, I know, because I've been there; at first I was doing that mistake. Now I'm not comparing technical skills, I'm just comparing happiness. Which is harder to deal with. By the way I'm not trying to be a professional but I'm not believing in "chances" or "statistics" also,since my doctors said that my "chances" to stay alive more than 1 month is highly close to zero when they've first discovered that tumor but after 3 years I'm still here, well then they said that the "chances" to be able to use my knee correctly enough for doing ballet is absolutely below zero, but I was able to go en pointe after 3 months I re-started taking classes... :innocent: So they are all over rated :thumbsup: Thank you for trying to help me, it's wonderful :)


Irishprincess, Laschwen and Garyecht yes that's what that video made me think... Maybe I should try some jazz, contemporary or some other thing (like relaxation) just to observe the fun of dancing there to later reflect it on ballet... Thank you all for good advices I still have much to learn about the life or happiness itself... I'll be watching for other experiences=P

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I would also like to respectfully suggest: therapy.


One of my loved ones go to therapy and that is one of the major thing being worked on: the constant self-criticizing internal voice.


For other fun dance activities: ballroom dancing, renaissance dancing, hip hop, african dance, and just going to the club and shaking your booty ;-)

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skyish, you're still young, and I bet that as you mature, you'll find that elusive thing you're searching for.... :)

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I'm not sure that happiness is always an ultimate goal, but it's good to get some kind of rewarding or positive feeling from your activities. Else, why do them?


Count me in as another believer in therapy if your tendency is to beat yourself up. It takes a lot of practice to give up on the "yeah, buts" (as in "Yeah, I did that battement pretty well but I still fall out of my pirouettes") and learn to give yourself credit for the things you do well. It's very much about internalizing what someone else referred to as the journey, not the destination.


My final thought is that the video is of a performance. Attitude and joy are part of the choreography. You really have no idea how that kid feels in class. All you know is that, on stage, she can give the illusion of having a whopping good time.

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And in order to find and express joy, the dancer must let go of his or her insecurities, and not necessarily care about what "people are thinking".

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