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I learned that I cannot be selfish in class, that a positive attitude is not only to help me but also vital to a healthy and happy group dynamic. What I have (finally) understood: there is no such thing as a bad day without good moments, or down moments that are not preceded or followed by something better! Ballet is very hard, and it takes time and patience, and proper teaching. That you have to be young, skinny and flexible to begin.And I’ve gotten much better at managing my moods, and finding inner calm even on the most challenging of days. We tend to focus way too much on the downs, but I guess that’s human nature. Of course, youth and a “ballet-suitable” facility are desirable and helpful, but adult students do not take class to become professional dancers. There’s not even such a thing as “your average adult student”.For others, it’s trying to find time and suitable classes. What is it like to be dancing for over 20 years as an adult?Compared to professional dancers/performers, it’s a very different experience: to be forever a student, but never a dancer.I also tend to be my own worst critic, so I need to remind myself to let go a little, dance “under”, and enjoy the process. As I mentioned before, I do sometimes struggle with keeping a confident and positive attitude... Get enough sleep, eat well, prepare for class, wear something that makes you feel pretty and confident… My main goal is to get rid of my bad habits, be a “clean” and elegant dancer, who is not shy to express… In an ideal/dream world, I would like to be able to teach. Don’t get me wrong: I think it’s great to make ballet more accessible to a wider audience, but it should remain ballet.As for my teacher, she’s very generous with positive feedback, regardless of your background, facility, age or skill level. When those negative voices take over, I’m not the most pleasant student to teach. I didn’t know it was so visible, nor that it could affect anyone else besides me. Everyone has bad days, and gets down moments, but it’s impossible to learn and progress without failing, making mistakes, or feeling stuck on learning plateaus… If you mean less abstract strengths, then I do have fairly strong legs, and a natural ballon. It's not about being elitist, but being true to the art form and its demands. What do you think is the greatest misconception adult dancers have about ballet?I borrowed/bought all the literature I could find (this was before internet), and I know a little French from high school, so I studied the theory as well. Music, musicality, certain dancers/teachers, other adult students, passion. (can be both positive or not-so-positive) One of the biggest challenge for me is correcting old & bad habits, like a sickled ankle in retiré during pirouettes, or losing that last bit of turnout in degagés (especially to the back and in ronde jambes), or not aligning my toes over knees in landings.Knowing the steps and how to pronounce them has helped tremendously. I have to make a conscious effort every time, instead of letting my muscle memory take over.
Also learning about directions, ecarté and effacé, and basically the entire French ballet vocabulary. 5 was missing from the original interview, so I came up with my own. What are the feedback you regularly receive from your teacher right now?
In retrospect, I’m glad that I didn’t start early, because inevitably there would have been disappointment and heartache. Long before I fell for ballet, I loved to watch musicals for their dance scenes.
I do not have the facility for a professional career. Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Cyd Charisse, all the classics.
Which is probably why they're also interested in the adult (recreational) ballet experience... Describe your journey in ballet from the start to now.
Not that it is so different at heart: professional dancer or not, we all share the love for ballet. When I about was eleven years old, my grandfather took me to the Finnish National Ballet to see Giselle.