January 3, 2012

Dancelutions 2012

I used to make New Year's resolutions. You know - eat more healthy, exercise on all days, pay bills before the due date, learn French, never be late, do not procrastinate.. Then I realised that if something really matters, I will make it happen regardless of promises made. And if it does not - who cares? Instead I do as I please, whether the year has changed or not!

With dance, who needs resolutions anyway? Ballet class may be hard work, but it is a labor of love. I love to push myself, I love to be challenged and I love to dance. And I love to have something to reach for, to have dreams and goals and good intentions. Call them dancelutions, if you like. Anyway, here is my list for 2012. Which is mostly the same as it was last year. What can I say? Dance is a work in progress!


I will try not to over-think. Or in the wise words of Samuel Beckett:
"Dance first, think later. It is the natural order."

It does not matter (so much) what other people in class (might) think of you and me. If you're kind to others, have respect for the art and try your best, you're on the right track no matter what. Even if that means stepping out of your comfort zone with the off chance of making an arse of yourself. Stop worrying what fellow dancers might think. If you never fail, you have never tried!

Present myself.  Today our teacher told us to pose like queens, and I thought of Queen, and queens and Queen Elisabeth -  when I should have been thinking of Elisabeth Platel. Seriously, with this one failure can hit too close home. Who cares if you miss a step or two, but if you look silly instead of majestic.. Well, let's just say major ego bruising ahead! I need to gather my courage for this, be less cautious in my poses and way more out there: Look at me!

Must stretch every day. You get older, you possibly get wiser. Everything else is pretty much down hill. That's why taking good care of the bod becomes paramount. Also, I need that full split on my bad side too. Just in case I have to grand jeté to the right come next spring recital.

Be the boss of me. I decide when to turn a neat double or whatever, it is not a game of chance!

Believe! Don't give up before you have tried. Then try again. Then do, not try.

Dance better than myself (Baryhsnikov said that, and you gotta believe The Man). Do not compare yourself to others, there is always someone who is more flexible, can jump higher or turn better. Look at others for inspiration and help, not to beat yourself down!

Breathe. Do not hold your breath while dancing. Relax. Remember to keep shoulders down. Pointe those feet to their maximum, at all times. Elongate lines. Popo down. Deeper pliés. Turn-out, more.

Make the most of what I can do, and never give up on improving the rest.

For the love of dance, dance with joy!

P.S. Thanks to my awesome ballet teachers Marie-Pierre and Gabriella for inspiring, motivating and sharing their knowledge and love of ballet!


  1. Nice post. My resolutions/goals for this year are: work on petit allegro (probably my weakest point), solidify double pirouettes and be brave enough to attempt triples, find pointe shoes that actually fit (not just in the store when I try them on). There are probably more but this is a start.
    Thanks for your blog. It's very inspirational. My first class back after the break is tomorrow and I'm so excited!

  2. You always hit the nail right on the head, Johanna...this is a wonderful list of ballet resolutions that I will use in crafting my own list. That list will definitely include improving petit allegro (which is MY weakest point too...yay to Stephanie for sharing my pain!) and taking more risks in my expression, carriage, and artistry, or as you so aptly put it, "presenting myself". I so adore the start of a new term, a new year, and another set of feels good to start fresh with good goals and a good mindset.

  3. love your blog! xx

  4. Great post! So true about presenting oneself. Lately I've noticed certain other dancers in class and thought, oh, they're so much better than me (which may be true), but I realize that half of what makes them sparkle is their carriage, their epaulement, just the feeling that they're enjoying themselves. So each time I (mostly) understand a step, I need to remember at some point to just go for it, not overthink it, and instead enjoy and be the movement! :)

    You inspire me! Happy new year!

  5. Amen to that!

  6. "Breath. Do not hold your breath while dancing. Relax. Remember to keep shoulders down. Pointe those feet to their maximum, at all times. Elongate lines. Popo down. Deeper pliés. Turn-out, more"

    Best dancelution ever XD

  7. Stephanie and Kaija - thanks to the both of you :)

    I purposely left out the nitty-gritty on my dancelutions, but that list is as long as the diagonale in our bigger dance studio!

    @Stephanie - to work on your petit allegro, focus on quick tendus and degagés. The accent needs to be "in". Whenever your feet come together, think of lifting out of your position. The heel of your working foot is almost off the floor. Don't forget to move through demi-pointe each time!

    Petit allegro is my strong suit, but not when beats are added. There's something else for my resolutions! :)

    Hope you find those pointe shoes, and try to do a 2,5 pirouette first - you just might end up turning thrice!

    @Kaija - "Present yourself" is a phrase used by my teacher Marie-Pierre. What I like about it is that you get to be you, not some role you're supposed to play. Yesterday M-P told us she wants to see our personalities when we dance! Though in ballet that's maybe an even bigger challenge.. Must find the confidence to show "me" and still look elegant and all that ;)

    Here's to fresh starts!

  8. Katarzyna and Alina - thank you! I'm glad if you found something you can use in your dancing :)

  9. Jeff - you got it! Often we focus so intently on learning the steps and remembering all the corrections, and getting it right - that we forget to dance out! You know, bring on the carriage and "the sparkle" :)

    You are allowed to enjoy the steps and music already before you learn to do them neat and nice! Have fun with your classes, work hard and present yourself proudly!

    P.S. I love to be an inspiration :)

  10. Thanks for these, I'm quite new to dancing so I really must learn to breathe and stop over thinking things. I'm going to try and just relax in my next class, that's my dancelution!

  11. @Ridgeway Cottage - thank you very much, makes me happy to know :)

  12. Hi Sara!

    You're very welcome - I hope you can put some into practice! Breathing is very important, for obvious reasons. But even before you would pass out from lack of oxygen, muscles tense up.

    Try this: before a cambré, breath in, elongate every inch of your body, then as you stretch over, release and breath out. If you tend to tense up during exercises, look out for those moments where you relax and gather yourself.

    But don't relax so much that you loose all readiness! :)

  13. The presentation is so important. My teacher told us that if we have the right presentation, we have 60% of our work done. For a person who doesn't know all the technical aspects of ballet, he will look at the artistic side of the dancer first and will not look at the feet. I think that this is a very good dancelution and i could definitely add it to my list. By the way, if you want to improve your French, my new ballet blog is in french.

  14. @parlonsballet

    Thank you for linking your new ballet blog - it looks very nice! I did not understand everything, my French dates back to high-school.. But it seems interesting! I also like your choice of photographs, very classy :)

    Yes, the presentation is de rigueur in ballet. You want to see 3-dimensional dancing, with personality and artistic espression. Technical bravado alone gets boring.. Of course, it's very nice to have ;)

  15. Thank you for your wonderful blog ! You are so inspiring and yes, I will work hard on presentation and enjoying myself rather than obsessing too much or overthink about the steps ! =) xoxo


To That Special Ballet Teacher

To that special ballet teacher, who not only teaches you about technique, but helps build your confidence, nurtures your inner artist, ...