Unless you were born with beautiful hyperextended long legs and arms, a small head and beautifully high arched feet, its much harder to imagine yourself into a beautiful ballerina. Especially now more so with the influence of social media, as an owner of a dance brand and a dance teacher, I can see how people react when they see girls with beautiful lines as compared to those who don’t. I myself guilty, get excited when I see someone who is talented, but as a teacher I also want them to understand that being talented comes with responsibility too.
Some teachers might tellyou straight up, “look you’re not cut out to be a dancer”. Which is what I was told when I was 13 years old. Despite having long legs, I was far from a perfect ballerina, bad knees, not so good arched feet, but the only good attribute I saw in myself was having long arms and legs also I knew I had really good musicality, and not saying this to brag but I could jump really high. But if you lived in a country, where majority of the dancers average height would be 5’3 and you were 5’7 by the age of 15. You can only imagine how much criticism I had to deal with, before learning to accept what I had and to develop the strengths, rather than focus on my weaknesses.
Despite all the physical limitations I had, from watching plenty of ballets, I slowly learned that our physical attributes alone is not what makes you a memorable artist. I learned that, even physicalimperfections can look beautiful too. This is what makes ballet so subjective, not everyone will really like what I say too. Some people will really just say, its just not for everyone, but this is also what makes ballet an art and not a sport.
Of course not to disregard good technique and improving yourself. You will still have to put in more hours than those who are gifted with those beautiful lines, but discovering who I was as an artist was far more exciting than focusing on my weaknesses. I slowly had to learn to work hard everyday, double of those dancers who already “had it” and worked on cleaning my technique.
- Learn what your strengths are
It takes a while to find out what you are good at, but I’m sure there is something you are bestat that you can use to your advantage. For example, I knew I was really good in Jumps, that was what I was so good at, I knew I would get noticed for my good jumps. But of course a variation cannot just be jumping, there are other things involved. I still had to focus on my technique, but Jumping was my most favorite, and those were the variations that I got.
I remember coming into the dance studio, not even knowing how to do proper fouettes. I cried every time I could not do something. But I had to tell myself everyday, that It was going to happen, this is when i put my visualization into practice, I imagined being able to do them perfectly, I videoed myself so I could correct myself when I got home and I practiced to get them right.
I remember someone telling me once that sports and anything that require practice is 1% theory and 99% practice. I still believe this, I may read plenty of books on dance every month, but thats just to add to my knowledge. Remember to feed your brain too, not just your muscles. My mom used to say, “Beautiful dancers are smart dancers”, What she meant was if you have nothing in your brain you will dance like you have nothing in your brain too. But if you don’t practice, you will also dance like you do not practice, and smart dancers do BOTH.
I still love scrolling around the internet, looking for every dance related article I can get my hands on to learn at. But what good is reading if I cannot apply everything that I am learning? Every story, every dance learning and non dance biography i read, can teach you something that you can apply in your dancing.
So keep on practicing, even if it means not going out with your friends sometimes, or sacrificing family time for your dance practice. If dance is something you love, you will get that family time and the break you need in the future. Later on, you will face other problems, but while you are young and your obligations aren’t so tough yet, practice with every chance you have. Your parents and your family should be happy for you and your new found focus for your passions.
- Observe what’s around you and experience things
Besides practicing everyday, of course sometimes you will need a break too. So if you are going through a phase where you feel stuck, go out, experience life. It is what will make your dancing beautiful. What good is dancing if it makes you sad? Dancing is supposed to give a spark into you.
- Don’t forget to do everything with a smile
Many of us forget that, dance being our passion, we are supposed to be doing it because we love it, not because we had no other option to our lives. We choose how we live our lives, and although the current trend seems to come from a lot of hate. It should not be what defines our personality and our thoughts.
The next time you think about another one of your insecurities, take a breath, and remember why you started dancing in the first place. I would suggest writing this down on a notebook, give it some time and some thought. I myself always ask my students to keep writing down their corrections, their dreams on a notebook. This way you can read back to them, so you are always inspired to continue. And if it doesn’t inspire you anymore, keep on writing anyway. There is always something new to learn and something to be happy about.
Remember, dance is life, but not your whole life. A lot of things make up your life, its good to have dance in life, but don’t get carried away to the point it gets you crazy. Have friends, in and out of your dance life and your dancing will come out very beautiful too.