A variety of topics…
Lately I’ve been continuing to focus on finding and exploring that balance between dance and life, between dreaming about ballet and focusing on the bigger picture. Since my last post I have confirmed that I love dancing, having spent a good amount of time dancing by myself, working on my own choreographies, and just enjoying myself. My foot has finally been feeling back to normal, so I was able to do more actual dancing during class instead of just marking anything harder than tendus and adagio in center. I even started jumping again, in the studio with the sprung floor.
I thought I’d write about something that I have been puzzling over for a bit this past week. After rehearsals, one of my teachers said to me that I need to have more confidence, that I need to “be proud of it” (exact words), if that makes sense. I explained that if I’m worried about losing my balance while doing that particular step, then I’m not feeling very confident, and thus, not feeling very proud. I also made sure to mention that while doing steps that I’m more familiar with I have become more confident as time goes by. He replied something about how the confidence should come first, not be a result of the familiarity with the step. Whaaaa…?
This is a rather odd concept to me, but appears to be an extension of the Fake It Till U Make It sentiment I briefly touched upon on a previous post. Let’s just say I struggle with this concept immensely (although I have managed some basic levels of “faking”confidence, such as holding my head up high and keeping my shoulders up and back, all thanks to pilates). When it’s codified ballet steps, especially beginner level steps, it’s no problem by this point. I may be terrified on the inside, or having a bad anxiety day, or something, but I’ll still hold my posture and not give into my tendency to shrink. But when it’s new-to-me steps, especially more contemporary stuff that really tries my balance in new (and terrifying) ways, I guess my inner lack of confidence bubbles to the surface…
What will I do about this? The obvious answer to me is to practice the troublesome steps more, since I did make the commitment to do the school performance (and then once this commitment is past I will cut down a little on my dance classes and practices – or not. Like I said before, I’m still trying to figure it out, so I will go by what feels right and always be mindful of my motivations). Do I believe in this teacher’s approach – confidence before familiarity? Honestly, no, not at this time. Perhaps when I’ve been dancing for longer – and the memories of falling over in center have been forgotten – then it will be a different story. As it is, I don’t know if those memories will be forgotten – I didn’t start out at a comparable level to my classmates in Beginner ballet class, but as the worst dancer in the room, not just lacking technical skill but also balance and coordination. It’s not hard for me to remember what a mess I was, actually, because my dancing in ballet class back then was worse than my current ability – or lack thereof – at hip hop dance class. So I have a nice reminder twice a week that the only way I improve at dance is if I really work hard.
This ties in to something else I wanted to discuss: there are few things I find as aggravating as someone presuming to know more about me than me (meaning where I came from/where I started from, how incredibly difficult even simple things were). And it can be very frustrating – not to mention annoying – when I’m struggling with something and feel that I’m not allowed to express this. Many of the people I’m around in dance classes subscribe to the idea that “you can do anything!” and that if you don’t believe this you’re “being negative”. Perhaps it started out with good intentions – I mean I really want to believe it started with good intentions – but I feel it ends up veering into blaming people for not trying hard enough, for “not wanting it enough”. Clearly anyone can see that with our different bodies, strengths and weaknesses, different steps or moves may prove to be more difficult to some of us? I mean, if the average ballet student in my class back when I first started in Beginner was able to hold a releve balance on two feet (if only for a few seconds) during their first class, but it took me over a year to do this, then obviously we did not start from the same place. It would be ridiculous for me to expect the same progress in the same amount of time, but I feel like it is a very unpopular thing to admit. It seems to me that “you’re being negative” is code for “you’re saying things that contradict my world view, and I chose to take it personal”. Or perhaps that’s why I’m not “confident” , because I don’t expect the unlikely outcome to magically occur without putting in the work … and the time. How does saying “I CAN do this!” and then falling out of it make me more “positive” than admitting “I can’t do this YET?”. (Or maybe I’m showing my age again, since it seems to be mostly the young’uns that feel this way…)
At this point I’d like to interrrupt this admittedly whiny post by saying that despite all my grievances things have actually been going well in life. I have made a friend! I’ve mentioned before how difficult it is for me to make friends, so that explains what a big deal this is. Previously I’d made a couple of ballet friends, who I enjoy talking with about ballet-related things before and after class, but it was still somehow superficial – if specialized- small-talk. But with this new friend (who has been an acquaintance for about a year, but we’ve been interacting more lately) who is also a dancer, but more into Modern than ballet, I’ve been having real conversations – sharing hopes, ideas, dreams, fears, beliefs. Conversations with substance, getting deep, which as an introvert I crave and enjoy immensely.
Among many other things, I’ve discussed ballet with her, and since she’s not completely passionate about ballet I’m able to hear a more levelheaded – and openminded – point of view than I sometimes get from my ballet friends. She’s actually the first person (besides Boyfriend) with whom I’ve discussed in depth my choice to not pursue going en pointe as a goal. This is something else that I’ve felt that I can’t talk about with anyone – even on here, sadly, although this should be a safe place for me to express my ideas – because it’s so different from everyone else’s point (obviously, no pun intended) of view, and I’m really bad at making controversial statements. But going over it with my friend has helped me feel more secure in my decision – since I’m not pursuing a professional dance career, there is nothing wrong with me enjoying ballet in flat slippers. For a while now, I’ve had this worry that since my goal is not to get en pointe then I can’t refer to what I’m doing as “ballet” (not that everyone who does ballet recreationally IS en pointe, of course, but from the ladies who are not all I ever hear is that it is their dream and number one goal. For full disclosure, I feel I have to admit that one of my goals – which I can check off – has been to be strong enough to be allowed to do it, even if I choose not to). Perhaps instead of “ballet” I should refer to it as “flat-llet”?
Then again, I’m a big fan of ‘never say never’, so I’m not saying it will never happen. I’m just saying that with the way things currently are it is not my goal. Who knows what the future holds?