Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Let me be your mirror
Our studios are filled with mirrors. Our images are everywhere we turn. You can't escape looking at yourself the moment you walk into the room. If you've grown up with this, as I have, it's just part of the classroom experience.
As a student, I use the mirror to check my alignment. As a dancer, I use it to review my performance quality. As a teacher, I ignore it.
Yes, it's true! I somehow manage to teach classes every single day without actually seeing myself. I mean, of course, I notice my reflection but I refer to it only when I'm demonstrating. When I'm facing the mirror, I am looking through it and behind me at my students to see what they are doing, if they are catching on. I'm at the point where I can dance with my nose pressed to the mirror and still not see myself! Sometimes I have no idea what I'm wearing or whether my earrings match until after I get home.
Many students, especially beginners or those who come to ballet later in life, don't know how to look at the mirror. Some of them can't tear their eyes away from their reflections; some can't even look at their reflections. Lots of them don't know what they should be looking at or for.
That's where I come in. Let me tell you what to look at and when. Let me tell you what I see. Let me be your mirror. All images -photographs or reflections - lie. They whisper to you that you're fat or clumsy or unattractive - or conversely that you're doing everything right. I am your teacher and I will tell you the truth. The mirror doesn't care if you improve or if you notice when you're doing things right. But I do.