March 3, 2013

My Dear Younger Self

My dear younger self, first let me congratulate you upon all your past birthdays - it has been a delight to grow old. Despite quite a few aches and pains.. But you will be happy to know that I never ceased to dance. I still dance to this day, a silver and wrinkly swan among unlined faces and young, firm things. There is no resisting the pull of gravity, but my dancer's body is putting up one hell of a fight! Looking back at your present fortysomething age, I wish you would enjoy your "ripeness" instead of worrying about grey hairs. My dear, you're still a plum - not yet a prune. There is bounce in your jump (which I now only dream of), you can turn without getting dizzy, and you have yet so much to learn and dance! Sweetie, you think it's odd to be old enough to be a mother to your fellow dancers? Just wait until you're old enough to be a mom to your teachers! Still, life is good - I have no regrets, at least not when it comes to dancing.

My dear younger self, I'm writing this so you might learn some lessons earlier than I did. First, do not be afraid. Your dancing life will eventually come to an end, so be sure to make it a good one. You don't have to dance every class like it's your last, but you're going to be so much happier if you don't hold back.  Make "someday" this day. Give yourself every chance to fail and try again and learn as much as you can. Failing in class is not equal to being a failure - it is part of learning and growing as a dancer. Falling on your butt does good too. There's no harm in pushing beyond your comfort zone.

My dear self, stop believing you're less of a dancer because you're not as talented as you would like to be. There are more aspects to classical ballet than perfect fifth positions, high extensions and bendy backs. Musicality, personality, artistry - all these are essential in dance. Be as it may, your turn-out isn't that bad, neither is your plié. You are able to stretch your knees, forward your heels, point your toes and elongate your back. This is not a bad instrument you have. You do not look like a ballerina, but sometimes you almost dance like one. Short but sweet moments, here and there. Enjoy every moment, and embrace all that you can do. Do not listen to the Shitty Committee, ever.

Let your personality shine through (and on very bad days, at least make an effort not to act like a grumpy old woman). Do not worry what others might think. There are worse things in life than looking silly in ballet class. Exercise your smile muscles, let your eyes sparkle, feel the music vibrating on your skin, the floor beneath your plié, the air under your jetés. Do not forget to breath. Breathing has never been overrated. Remember the advice your teachers gave you, and dance from your heart. While you do, keep working on the quality of your technique. It will carry you (us) into old age.

Finally, I would like to say this: It has been an amazing learning experience, from beginning to middle. A journey without end, and a helluva ride. 

14 comments:

  1. Johanna, that's great and just what I need at the moment, as extra kilos and grey hair begin to appear... Thank you. (And by the way, thanks to your blog I will always remember to keep my "popo" down.)

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  2. What a great post! Something to remember for all of us.

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    1. Thanks Aliénor! It is never too late, n'est-ce pas? :)

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  3. "Failing in class is not equal to being a failure - it is part of learning and growing as a dancer. Falling on your butt does good too. "
    Learning how to dance has helped me with my graduate studies as a PhD student. When experiments fail, I just keep trying because eventually, they will work (and if they don't, I can explain why!).
    And I've fallen on my butt many times because I'm not very good at turns (jumping is my thing). People are always worried when I fall but I just smile, knowing that I at least tried.:-)
    Thank you for such an inspiring post! Every couple of months I get frustrated with my lack of flexibility or high extension or whatever, but following your journey reminds me why I love to dance.

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    1. Yes! It's not about the height of your legs or how deep you can do the splits.. Artistry, and the love for dance are most important. Making mistakes or failing at some exercises is not a bad thing, it's just you learning and dancing. Gotta love the journey, because you're always going to be on the road! :)

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  4. I loved every word of this post. It summarizes so well what is important at the end of the day - the love of dance and enjoying it in every age. Thanks for writing this <3

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    1. Thank you! I needed to write this :)

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  5. Lovely post! I was just thinking about my graying hair today...

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    1. Thank you so much! I'm thinking about my graying hair right now, and whether I should cut it short again. But I would miss my ballerina bun :)

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  6. Oh, this brought tears to my eyes. Lovely post. I'm running off to link your blog to my blog roll so more adult ballet student readers (my preferred readership and subject) can enjoy.

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    1. Thank you, Terez. I just stopped by your blog, reading the Q&A right now. Liking it - so I added your blog to my blogroll as well. Nice meeting you!

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