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How do you know if you are a good dancer or not?


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I am not sure if this question does have a defintive answer. But as an adult ballet dancer who is not a professional dancer, how would you gauge if you were a good dancer or not?

How would you know? Or is this the million dollar question?

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Guest fastfeets

Here's one thought...


If other students look to you for inspiration, or emulate you, or consistantly ask your advice, then you must be doing something right. Same for the instructor calling on you to demonstrate with regularity.


It's little comfort sometimes, though. :)


...but that's just my opinion ....and someday I hope to be that person!!! ;)

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I've heard some of the best dancers in the world rip apart thier performances thinking they were horrible, all the while I'm watching them thinking how amazing they are.


Personally, it seems to me that the better a dancer becomes the more critical they get of themselves. At least that's what I've seen time and again. So I don't know that there is any one single answer to your question.


I think just the fact you can ask this question implies growth. We're always going to think our "line" looks weak, or that our legs could be more turned out. I find myself looking in the mirror and hating what I see some days. Inevitably, those are the days my teacher whips out with some wonderful compliment. So another answer could be that others perceive your growth differently. While I think I'm stuck in a rut with duck billed, sickled feet and a gross line, my teacher thinks I look great.


I try not to compare myself to others anymore. That only makes you feel bad. Some people progress quickly, others at a slower pace. If I get in a rut I just look back to where I was a year ago and realize how far I've come. That usually makes things better.


Even the best dancers in the world still take class and still have teachers.


I guess the only real answer is to feel it inside.

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Surely it doesn't matter?


I know that I lack a lot of the vital attributes for being a 'good dancer' and I will never really get that 'good' for many different reasons.


However! I enjoy ballet class and I always try my best (well almost always) and that's enough for me.


I'm with 2Left: It's what you feel inside that counts.


Oh, one thing occurred to me. I know I am 'good' at the things I do for a living (well, good enough to get headhunted and paid for it) - but would every professional dancer think they were 'good' dancers? It's very subjective because it's so difficult and it's an art not a science, so there's no proper way of measuring it. I always get confused when I think about this kind of thing so I might stop now.:confused:

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Kate B,


I don't think it can be much different for a professional dancer than it is for a professional scientist. Both probably have days when they feel they are the worst pro that ever got paid for the job - and tell themselves that they must be good enough as they are paid. ;)


(Apart from the exceptional ones that seem always to think they are as good as anyone and better than almost everyone. And I suppose every profession has its "divas", too.)


But while it doesn't really matter if you are good or not in something you don't do as a career, I'd sure like to have some objective way to measure my progress in ballet. I'd love to take exams... but none available to adult students in Finland that I know of. The only way for me to judge is from what level I'm put on classes... but how do I compare those levels to something outside of the school, I don't know. :)

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Guest piccolo



You might be better off asking yourself, "Am I a better dancer today than I was 6 months ago." All dancers, whether good or new, professional or not, need to improve over time.


The problem with comparing yourself to other dancers is this: If most of the students in your class are not very good and you happen to be the best in the class, well, that's not saying much. Or, let's say you are the "worst" one in your class of amazing, gorgeous dancers. Catch my drift?


I say if you are improving and you feel good about your progress, you're on the right track.



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Guest pumukau

I had a revelation the last two months. I went to a two week intensive, dancing from 9 am to 5 pm five days a week. I thought I was going to die the first couple days; nobody in the group was even half my age! But the second week I was doing fine. In fact I got so I resented having to leave class during the day to take care of business.


Adult ballet is not a competitive sport. It's a lot more like learning a language. You're "good" when you make progress in your ability to express youself. I've danced in two recitals this year. I HATED the way I looked on the tapes; I can take pain and injury but DON't make me look at tapes. But that's normal. I've sat with supremely talented professional dancers who screamed in agony watching themselves on tape.


What was much more important was that I learned some 100 year old dances and got out on the stage; I got to communicate with Nijinski, Tchaikovsky, Nureyev, Balanchine, and a couple hundred people of all ages in the audience.


The monday after we completed the summer recital, I started work on a commission we put together for my daughter's wedding. That was another revelation..... expressing yourself in new choreography. I was intoxicated by the process, deciding which of the thousand steps you've accumulated over the years to use for the next note, what a thrill.


If you are growing and learning, you're a good dancer. If you're in the studio you're a better dancer than those millions of folks who stayed home. There are days when I'm not a better dancer than I was 6 months ago, but I'm better than I would be if I had quit 6 months ago!

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I agree 100 percent Pumakoa! I refuse to purchase videos of my performances, I find it very painful to see my poor posture and receding hairline.

Sheila strongly recommends a good Cab before watching oneself perform, maybe a Syrah.

Who taught your intensives? I know some teachers who did a tour of the midwest this summer.



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Guest pumukau

Actually MJ I don't feel quite that bad about tapes. The good thing about tapes is that you can pick out the one or two frames in the performance where you didn't look too bad, especially if they're blurry:




That's me in Bluebird.


Actually we have our own resident ballet teachers out here in the rust belt, mirabile dictu! Not that we don't like visitors.




The intensive was taught by Raphael Delgado and Melissa Anderson, both formerly of the Milwaukee Ballet. Living in a cultural backwater like this is not really so bad, since many fine performers who have traveled the world settle here because they find that they can live quite comfortably on a dancer's pay. Similarly our ballet can afford to maintain its own orchestra.

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Adult ballet is not a competitive sport. It's a lot more like learning a language. You're "good" when you make progress in your ability to express youself.




Great response! I think I'll remember that one for a very, very long time. By the way, which of the two people in in the picture is you?

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Guest pumukau

The ancient question, how can you be in two places at once when you'er not anywhere at all has been answered. Both dancers are me.


Dance is an inescapably honest medium and television is dishonest to its very core, so between the two you can do a little magic.


Glad you liked the post.

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