January 19, 2015

Dancer's DNA

My DNA dictates that I do not have a beautiful body for ballet. My hips are too wide, my popo too square, my thighs too round, my arms and hands not graceful enough. My DNA dictates that I lack turn-out, hyper-mobility, and that my arabesques will always be low. My DNA dictates that I will never look like a ballerina. Well, to hell with those dictators!

My DNA has given me a strong body. It has muscles, legs that jump and stretch and toes that point. It has arms for port de bras, and fingers that can flutter like leaves in the wind. It has a rhythm and a heartbeat and lungs that breath. I can dance with this body.

My DNA dictates that I have a brain, and it has made up my mind a long time ago: my heart is in ballet.

So what if you and I lack the facilities and looks of a professional ballerina? It is not relevant when you dance for yourself. Our DNAs are unique, and if it makes us stands out in a crowd, let's carry it with pride and joy!

If you have a dream that dictates you must dance, then that is the only dictator you should follow.

xoxo - Johanna


This short post was inspired by Misa Kuranaga in SK-II's new ad campaign #changedestiny.

10 comments:

  1. Well said! I share some of the same body structure and have to fight with my experience of feeling dance from inside my body (internal, embodied, a tool that I live in and work with) and worrying about how it appears from the outside (external, disembodied, measured against an abstract "standard"). But a dancer is one who dances, at the heart of it :)

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    1. That's exactly it! The conflict of embodied vs disembodied... In comparison, I will always fall short. So it can happen, that it bothers when me a skinny (adult) ballet student gets the "you look like a ballerina", whereas I get the "you dance well" - even though it's the dancing that matters most!! Not how we look in a snapshot. But yeah, I've struggled with this since I started to dance, more or less. As girls, we are supposed to look pretty. And as (adult) ballet dancers... Well, there is no beauty more idealized than that of a ballerina. Impossible standards, really.

      Still, I dance. I work, I progress, and I love the process. And yes, I have a dancer's body.

      Thank you, Kaija, for your insight. Well said!

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  2. Inspiring post and video... I'll keep this in mind because I always have problems with comparison. But it's not about others, it's about what I'm choosing to do with my own body. ❤

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    1. Exactly. The thing is that even those gorgeous pros have their own issues... But you can only dance with yours. Think of your body as a dear friend, or something you wish to nurture, not put down. If you stand tall, and dance happy, the rest will follow.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment :).
      - Johanna

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  3. Yes! I love this. Your blog and Facebook posts give me so much inspiration and life! <3 I have very short legs and a very long torso, and it does make it hard to feel like a ballerina sometimes... but I love what I'm doing, I love dancing!!! and I think it's worth it to ignore anyone who says that I shouldn't be doing this. (:

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    1. Kiera, that makes me happy to hear! :) But you know what, I've seen plenty of beautiful dancers with less than perfect proportions. You have length in your torso - use it. Make the most of cambrés and port de bras, and imagine wearing the a magnificent necklace... Elongate, and present yourself! And what about those short legs? Okay, not the perfect ballerina ideal, but short legs are great for quick allegro. And when you stretch and point, and present your heel, they are just as pretty. I haven't got the longest legs either, but I kinda like my feet and toes. :)

      The most important thing: You love to dance. Like you said, ignore the rest.

      Thank you for commenting, it always make me happy to hear from readers <3.
      - Johanna

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  4. So true. Just before our intermediate level class begins, we get to see the advanced students finishing their class. There is this one woman: rather short, curvy, noticeable bust - definitely not the typical ballerina look. But, my, do I envy her movements: soft, but stong; relaxed, yet determined, concentrated, still free. Always smiling, a bit shyly, as to herself in enjoyment of the moment. Graceful. Elegant. The moment she starts dancing you forget that she's not blessed with the perfect ballerina DNA. There are other, more typically ballerina-bodied women in the advanced level class, but she stands out as soon as the music starts.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Anne. I needed to read that as much as I needed to write this post. <3

      - Johanna

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  5. Thank you for this... I am 36 and JUST starting ballet. So,so late but I wanted to be a dancer my whole life and never pursued it as I always thought I was too clumsy and never felt like it was possible for me to learn. Finally, after meeting a very good friend who is a dancer and teacher she told me she could teach me and I'm going for it! I know I have no possibility of ever being pro, ever reaching what I'd ideally like to achieve, and it will be hard work but I can at least know I tried my best. This post is such an encouragement for me!

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  6. This made me smile, I'm too short and fat to do ballet I've been told, I've had people laugh in my face when they've heard I do ballet, oh and I'm way too ancient, first ever class at 40. BUT first pointe class two years later and now thanks to an excellent teacher and hard work I'm not so bad, I'll never make it to The Royal Ballet but is that such a problem? Find the music that suits your personality and all is good, I'm not a light floaty personality so that music always feels wrong for me, but something a bit more robust and lively and I can shine in my own way. For those of us who were late starters just think, we have the advantage of experience elsewhere, we can accept our limitations, like never getting splits in arabesque, but make the best of what we physically have and other skills like planning! Ever attended a class where the young ones need to sit down halfway through because the don't know how to pace themselves? Smile and enjoy class is the main thing the rest will take of itself.

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