Thursday, June 15, 2017

Yes, you may have this dance!

Some of my awesome beginner students
Recently I was reviewing the progress of a student who is fairly new to ballet (and honestly, if you haven't been dancing for a decade, you're still new in the eyes of ballet!) and I noticed that he was only now - after a few years with me - starting to make his presence known on-stage and in class.

In other words, he was giving himself permission to dance.

What does that mean - permission? We are all adults. Can't we do whatever the heck we want?

Yes and no.

We absolutely can do what we want but often there is an internal voice telling us not to. It's telling us:

You're the wrong body type.
You're too slow.
You're not smart enough.
People will think there's something wrong with you.
People will laugh at you.
Only privileged people are allowed to do that.

And for "privileged" you are welcome to insert "white, rich, thin, and female" because if we are all adults here, we need to be honest about how ballet has always been represented.

Nutcracker Party scene 2016
You all know my philosophy about ballet being for everyone and you all know I try to be as inclusive as I can with my classes and my performances and now with my company, Leigh Purtill Ballet Company. I don't need to talk more about that.

Look, you're an adult. You've decided to come to class. You bought a class card and some new slippers and tights and you've made some friends.

Now tell yourself it's okay for you to dance. In fact, it's more than okay: it's a must. You must dance. You must make your presence known in class and on stage. You must dance as big as you can be, as tall as you can stand, and as expressive as you can feel.

copyright 2016 Bill Reiss

You deserve a spot at the barre so take it and stand there and dance, damn it. Work your turnout and lift your arms and your chin and open your eyes and see that everyone in your class wants to be there too. That's the beauty of adult ballet: you all are choosing to be there. No one is forcing you. Your mom isn't dropping you off while she goes to the grocery store.

Each of you has your own story to tell - now tell it through your body. We want to hear that story.

Happy dancing~

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