April 16, 2012

Letting Go

I had to skip my ballet class today. Apparently it's flu season and I caught me some, hacking cough included. I was already feeling it last Thursday, and even more so the next day - but I just kept going to class! And I don't regret it, even though I had to skip allegro on Friday and lie down for a while. That actually sounds more dramatic than it was. I did the first small jumps, then took a ten minute rest'n'stretch before continuing with pointe class. Really happy that I did, because we finished that First Variation from Paquita! It's the same variation that had me writhing in discomfort when our teacher introduced it. I didn't think it suited me, didn't think I could do it. Read about it here. Hah! It can be so good to be proven wrong.

Sometimes I take ballet a little too seriously. I have a tendency to over-think when I should just be dancing, and I tend to demand too much of myself. I'm not saying that you should leave your brain in the locker and say nay to any ambition, but you gotta chill a little. Give yourself the opportunity to fail before you eventually get better. If and when you make mistakes or mess up or look funny doing it, chuckle it off and move on. Once I realised that I did not have to pretend to be another pretty teen princess, but that I could go for elegant and womanly - someone with character - I relaxed into the dance. And of course I had made an unnecessary fuss about it, since we were not practicing that variation for the stage. Our teacher chose it because you get to learn a lot of technique, and dance too. Enjoy yourself, you know?

Last Friday I did just that. I don't know if it was the cough syrup, or the fact that the steps had finally sunken in. Up until then it had always been on the verge of a Monty Pythonesque silly walk, what with coordinating the tricky port de bras to the feet stepping on pointe. You can review the section here, I have timed the video link to the right spot. Alina Somova is dancing, and she does it lovely. For me, the being on pointe was the easy bit. I love doing those steps - you're so high up and it's not like any other kind of walking. Right, I hear you. It's ballet! The arms, however, were a challenge from the beginning. They have to be fluid, soft and alluring - but they don't have to be exactly the same for every dancer! Once I understood that, it gave me the freedom to let go. My feet already knew where they were going, and finally the rest of me followed suit.

And you know what? I felt so beautiful dancing it.


  1. I like how you put it "...but they don't have to be the same for everyone". This is something I struggle with in every form of art I've pursued. There's something to be said for self-expression. I'm happy you were able to "let go" and it clicked.

  2. Thanks, Kim.. But I want to make clear that the choreography was indeed the same for everyone - I'm talking shades, not colours. :)

    Still, you can let your personality shine through in your dancing!

  3. I know exactly what you are saying in this post! I am a fellow overthinker and overanalyzer who has to remember to let go and DANCE, and I have also had some of my breakthrough moments or best classes when I was feeling slightly ill or was very tired and I couldn't maintain my usual level of trying too hard or didn't have the energy to do anything but do the steps...and amazingly, I was able to let go and let it flow :)


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, ...