Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Are you coming ballet?

For some reason, I've been getting a flurry of emails and phone calls this month from potential new students. Is it the weather, I wonder, the promise of spring ahead, with longer days and more hours to do things? Or better yet, to return to things...

The new contacts I've heard from are primarily returning students, those who took class when they were kids and want to come back. Maybe they miss the discipline of the barre or the camaraderie of a class. Perhaps they've tried various types of exercise and they realize nothing quite satisfies body and mind like ballet. Whatever the reason, I want to say a few things to them (or is it you?):

1. Give yourself room to fail. You may recall the perfect pirouettes you used to do when you were a kid and now you can't get over your leg. You could do a full split but now you're a mile from the ground. Heck, you once did fouette turns! And now? Well, now, time has passed and your body has forgotten all those things. BUT IT WILL REMEMBER. It will! You have to trust me on this. I see over and over again students who come back and flail a bit but the ones who don't get upset with themselves improve with consistent attendance. They do - I guarantee it. The ones who berate themselves or refuse to accept their bodies have changed don't stand a chance. Don't be that person.

2. Be consistent in attendance. When you were a kid, you could probably attend a class a week and everything would be in its rightful place. Your jumps would be high, your turns would be smooth - you didn't even need to warm up or cool down, am I right? That was me too! Rushing into class at the last second because my mom was late but still ready to do a grand battement. Now? Uh-uh. I need time to warm up. I need to be in class regularly to get my leg high. Even if you can't do everything in every class, try to be there at least a couple of times a week. It will help your technique pick up immensely, not to mention it won't feel like the only time you can do something. You need to believe, in your mind, that if you don't get something in one class, you will get it in the next. If you only take once in a blue moon, you will never have that peace of mind.

3. Have fun. Back in grade school or high school, you might have been in a studio where there were a few coveted roles each year, or you participated in competitive dance. There is no competition in my class. I give everyone equal attention. You don't need to be better than anyone but the person you were yesterday. My students encourage each other and support every new person who walks through the door. Attending my class is like going to the Cheers bar, where everyone knows your name and they're always glad you came. "Norm!"

4. Slow and steady wins the race. Race? What race? There is no race in ballet. It is one long continuous journey. No matter what level you are or how many years of experience you have, there is always something new to learn. And as we get older, there are new ways we need to approach dance. When we have a chronic injury, we need to work with it, not against it. When we can't jump, we need to express ourselves in other ways. When we have flagging energy levels, we need to learn to pace ourselves and not burn out. That's the slow and steady I'm talking about.

5. Don't give up. Please don't. And I'm not saying this because I want you in my class. I don't care if you end up going to another class that is better suited to you for whatever reason. There was a reason you contacted me. There was a reason you Googled "adult ballet classes." It's not like my face and email are plastered on bus stops. You had to actually seek me out. That's the first step - and it's a hard one. You called me; you asked my opinion on which class to take; maybe you came and took one. Don't stop. You are a busy person and you went through all that trouble - ballet means something to you. It's not a silly or selfish wish to want to get back into it.

Happy dancing~

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