Two Crucial Steps To Learning To Like Ballet
When you see the body outside of a costume and see the strength it takes, people would look at dance a different way. You’re not just born like that.”
– Misty Copeland
In my last post on ballet I ended by saying that, if you want to be a better dancer, you have to go to ballet class. That doesn’t mean just showing up and going through the motions, thinking about all of the other places you’d rather be, and resenting your teacher.
So how do you learn to enjoy it?
The first thing you need to do is change your expectations. Accept that you’re not going to dance like Karen Kain or Chan Hon Goh by the end of this year. Who are Karen Kain and Chan Hon Goh? Look them up and be inspired. Take note of how long they trained before they became famous Canadian ballet dancers.
Now that you’ve accepted that becoming a great dancer isn’t going to happen overnight, what should you focus on?
You are the only person who can answer that question. What is your ballet teacher always reminding you to do? Work on that one little thing and see if you can perfect it before the end of the year. Maybe you will work towards maintaining perfect body alignment while doing a basic skill, something that, up until now you’ve just been doing over and over, not really thinking about it.
You may be thinking, “That’s way too slow! I’m not doing that.” But think about it. How long did it take you to learn to walk? Ask your parents. You probably started walking, without holding onto something, around your first birthday. That means that you worked on that skill for a whole year or more before you actually got up on your feet. And you fell a lot too, that first year of walking. In fact, you probably weren’t perfectly balanced until you were two or three. What would have happened if your baby self said, “This walking thing is just too hard to learn! I’m going to let Mom and Dad carry me around forever.”
Apply your baby attitude to ballet class. Will it be easy? No, of course not. Any skill you’re proud of takes time and dedicated work to accomplish. Settle in, get focused, and, believe it or not, you will begin to enjoy ballet class.
After 12 years as a competitive dance mom, Jan Earnshaw is so happy to be able to share the benefit of her experience with the other families at Dance Extreme. Jan says that supporting her daughter Maggie Kelly, throughout her time on Dance Extreme’s competitive dance troupe and now, as she pursues a professional career in dance, “has been one of the greatest joys in life”. Maggie is currently attending the Joffrey School of Ballet.