I’ve been trying to blog about this since I got to Japan last April, but it always lacked a bit of inspiration. Since I began dancing, I wanted it to be a part of my life. Well not always, of course there were the days when you feel like “Why am I still dancing?!” And my mom always had to push me on the worst days, but then you land a perfect pirouette that day and change your mind about quitting. (Sounds familiar? Always happens . . . Haha!) Ballet is mentally tiring as much as it is physically. Sometimes I don’t understand why I still love to dance. (I think Im a bit crazy already)
Months after I stopped dancing with the ballet company, I had every intention of quitting. I was so frustrated, I even told my mom that I never wanted to dance ever again. Of course my mom wouldn’t allow it, and also my best friend from ballet, they both pushed me to try to get back into dancing. I knew I was hooked again that moment I got back on stage for my first recital in many years. I had forgotten how to love dancing as it is and not as work and I was encouraged to dance some more. Now, after all those years, I am studying a second degree but at the same time keeping ballet in my lifestyle and I have never been happier!
For those however who I know have quit dancing, for whatever personal reason you have. I want to share with you a bit of the things I have experienced in Japan. I can’t speak for other countries but I noticed that in where I grew up in Manila most of the dancers dance as a hobby, they dance ballet when they are young then they quit. Their parents will say something like, “ballet is just your hobby and studies are more important”. So you see them slacking off in class because to them it is dancing “for fun” and it is “just a hobby”. That may be the case for some people but I’m sure a part of you will think, all of those years and now it’s time to quit, that’s it? Is this really just a hobby? My mom always pushed me no matter what to dance and I wondered why she was different from the other parents. (Of course other than being a Japanese, she is really different.) I began to see where she got that way of thinking.
In Japan whether young or old, you will see anyone of any age dancing. My grandmother always tells me, The Japanese are very “gambariasan” (they work very hard in anything they do) People in their teens, 20`s, 30’s, 40’s and 50’s just enjoy ballet classes for hobby but not quite either. They make it a part of their lifestyle, and I can`t say it’s a hobby even if they call it their hobby. Because they dance like the company members I used to dance with and they even take workshops, character classes and contemporary classes. Old ladies taking pointe class, Pilates, ballet, character class just for the love of dance. They do their own stretching without being told and they read books about ballet while waiting for ballet class, I was so inspired.
And you can make all the excuses you want and tell me that, these ladies have a lot money and all the time in the world. I won’t have it, some of them even work long hours and make time only to have ballet classes a few times a month or in between their work schedule. Others of course really have money but it’s no joke to them that they dance, and ballet classes in Tokyo are not so cheap either!
I am now more than encouraged to keep ballet in my lifestyle as long as I still love it. Of course if you see ballet as completely being out of your life then I know there’s another path for you. However, if a part of you still wants to dance, I really encourage that you continue doing it. If these dancers dance like that and just for hobby, I am so embarrassed by the way and the reason I have been dancing.
I see so much passion in the eyes of many dancers here in Japan. I once talked to a woman here who was in her 40`s going on to her 50`s and still dancing. While we were talking I complimented her and told her that she was such a good dancer. She told me in Japanese that “I may not be able to dance like Yoko Morishita but I like to dance so I will”. So what if you don’t have the stamina anymore or the same height of your leg extensions, if you love it all that much you should do it. Just like that… We really don’t have to complicate it. (Also sports doctors explain that developing your slow muscles are very good and then I guess ballet is best for that. And think about how young you will look, I noticed that many dancers weather old still look young. ) I always tell myself that there’s nothing to hold me back, Even if I have a lower back condition or if ballet won’t be a regular thing for me. If you love it, that’s all you need to start dancing again and to keep doing it for the rest of your life. Water, plenty of Salonpas or some liniment of your choice, a massage after your first ballet class, and most importantly, your heart for it are all that you need to dance ballet. Again. And over again.
Channel your frustrations into something you love. Then you will realize that frustrations are non-existent and what you are or have experienced is just plain and simple stress.
What great difference I notice with them is that they define hobby as a part of their lifestyle or their actual lifestyle, for that matter. I have seen many Filipinos (though I know this also happens to many from other races) who give a lot of excuses, like family, work, problem, etc. why they cannot sport a hobby anymore. They say that they cannot add another cause of stress to their already stressful life; without actually realizing that they are being stressed by what they are doing. Stress comes and a passionless attitude which is caused by busying and forcing ourselves to be doing a lot of things without a break. We need an outlet—something different from what we routinarily do. Dance, ballet, is a very effective dose of “destresser”. It allows you to move fluidly, expressively, and freely like no one is watching you (of course keeping in mind that you are not a professional and stressing in mind that you are only doing it to enjoy what you love to do). Doing any form of a hobby is psychologically essential to humans. We may be doing something very far from what we professionally or academically are focusing on but this helps—a lot. The Japanese I have talked to and observed keep themselves young and stress-free by dancing. This is an awakening realization for me: making your hobby a part of your lifestyle and not just simply a random-hard-to-find-time-for activity.
Proofread by: Ron Archie Austria and Miguel Antonio B. Gonzales